February 14th will mark One Billion Rising for Justice around the globe, once again calling for an end to violence against women. In Second Life, it will see a gathering across four regions to mark the event.
The most recent update on the SL event from the organisers reads in part:
In Second Life, we are working behind the scenes at the moment to get everything ready for One Billion Rising for Justice in Second Life.
The four regions that will make up our stage area have been arranged with Fruit Islands, and will be delivered next weekend. Then we’ll be getting to work on terraforming them while the stage is built (by Victor1st Mornington, who built the stage for us last year). The artists will move in shortly after to set up their installations and this year, in addition to individual installations, there will also be galleries for 2D and 3D work.
Activities planned for the event include live music and DJs, with streaming provided by Lusch Audio, poetry readings, and opportunities to meet, chat and share. There will be kiosks across all four regions with information on One Billion Rising and on organisations that are working for justice for women across the globe.
Volunteers Still Needed
The organisers are still seeking volunteers to help with the event. If you’d like to offer your services, please make sure you sign up! There will be workshops throughout the weekend of February 8th and 9th for those who do volunteer – so there’s no need to worry about being dropped in the deep end.
One Billion Rising for Justice is about raising awareness of global issues through an event that combines giving information with a day of art, music, poetry and dance. Donations are not taken directly by the organisers, who request that people who want to donate find out more at the information kiosks and then select which organisations they would like to donate too.
The progress of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has slowed somewhat in January, the rover having covered around 265 metres (865 feet) in the month, bringing the total distance Curiosity has travelled since arriving on Mars in august 2012 to some 4.89 kilometres (3.04 miles).
Part of the reason for the slow-down has been due to the recent traverse of considerably rougher terrain during the rover’s trek towards its encounter with “Mount Sharp” having resulted in somewhat more wear-and-tear of the aluminium wheels than had perhaps been anticipated.
While not of a serious concern – the rover can function with quite substantial damage having being done to the wheels – the mission team has nevertheless been looking for ways and means for the rover’s progress to continue at a reasonable pace, but without exposing the wheels to excessively rugged terrain.
Most recently, this has involved examining a possible gateway to a smoother route down to the point at which they plan to commence explorations of “Mount Sharp’s” lower slopes. This gateway is a 1-metre (3-ft) high sand dune sitting between two rocky scarps. Dubbed “Dingo Gap”, the dune appears to provide access to a smoother route heading south-west and towards the rover’s ultimate destination.
“The decision hasn’t been made yet, but it is prudent to go check,” said Jim Erickson, NASA’s project manager for Curiosity. on January 28th. “We’ll take a peek over the dune into the valley immediately to the west to see whether the terrain looks as good as the analysis of orbital images implies.” The orbital images he referred to came from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, while the “closer look” actually took place on January 30th.
In addition to using alternative routes, the drive team has also been evaluating possible driving techniques that might help reduce the rate of wheel punctures, such as driving backwards or using four-wheel drive instead of six-wheel drive. This may help is situations where some of the wheel damage may have resulted from the force of the rear wheels pushing the middle or front wheels against sharp rocks, rather than simply the weight of the rover driving over the rocks.
As a result of the slow-down, JPL are considering introducing some evening and weekend drives into the February drive schedule.
As well as providing a route southwards, Dingo Gap may also allow the rover easier access to its next waypoint on the journey, where it is expected to carry out further drilling and sample-gathering activities. The site, identified as “KMS-9” is around 800 metres (half-a-mile) from Curiosity’s current position when measured in a straight line – but that is over rugged terrain the mission team would potentially avoid if possible.
The drilling site has been imaged from orbit, and holds significant appeal to the mission team, as Katie Stack, a science team collaborator explained. “At KMS-9, we see three terrain types exposed and a relatively dust-free surface. This area is appealing because we can see terrain units unlike any that Curiosity has visited so far. One unit has striations all oriented in a similar direction. Another is smooth, without striations. We don’t know yet what they are. The big draw is exploration and seeing new things.”
“KMS-9” won’t be the first rocky area examined by Curiosity in 2014. On January 15th, the rover examined a rock dubbed “Harrison”, which revealed linear crystals with feldspar-rich composition.
At the same time as the efforts to select a candidate route have been underway, other members of the team have been carrying out further tests to validate capabilities for the rover to drill for rock samples on the kind of slopes it will likely encounter when exploring and climbing “Mount Sharp”.
In particular, the tests have been focused on the drill mechanism’s ability to withstand damage as a result of slippage when the rover is parked on a sloping surface. So far, results have shown that the drill mechanism can withstand slippage of around 5 centimetres (2 inches) in the rover’s position without any real damage occurring. Such slippage could be induced through a number of circumstances, including the angle of slope, cumulative damage to the wheels which may impact their ability to grip the surface beneath them, and material on the surface which may also impact the rover’s ability to sustain a solid grip on underlying rock.
In January I visited a Cathedral Dreamer, Gem Preiz’s Full Sim Art installation at the LEA featuring images of his amazing fractal art. At the time, I commented to Honour McMillan that I’d love to see something like his work translated into in-world, real-time constructs which could be explored. Little did I know that Mac Kanashimi would be on-hand from February through June to provide something very close to what I’d been musing about!
Dragon Curves is Mac’s installation as a part of the LEA’s round 6 AIR selection. Despite the fact the regions were only handed over to the artists at the start of February, it is already open to the public. Don’t let the quick opening deceive you – there’s some six months of work gone into the piece – and it is simply stunning, particularly if you’re of a mathematical bent.
Mac says of the 1216-metre high piece, floating over LEA 26: “The Dragon Curves exhibit showcases sim-wide variations of dragon curve art. The spectacular script-controlled dragon curve landscape changes continuously.”
For those unfamiliar with the concept of the dragon curve, the concept grew from the Harter–Heighway dragon first investigated by NASA physicists John Heighway, Bruce Banks, and William Harter, and documented in 1967 in Scientific American. Essentially, it is any member of a family of self-similar fractal curves, as depicted by Heighway, Banks and Hartner.
When seen from above, this pattern of self-similar curves is visible throughout this remarkable, ever-evolving piece in which the landscape within the three levels constantly changes as elements rise and fall and change colour (their colour being derived by height), and even resize themselves.
It is possible to find your way down from the arrival point at the top of the build to the lower platforms by way of the “dragon stair”, an 8 kilometre long, 1024m high stairway, itself a dragon curve, while each of the levels within the build comprise 10 dragon curves apiece and individual objects within the build comprise 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 or 48 prims.
It really is an amazing and dramatic piece, a companion to Mac’s Mandelbrot Art, which was featured on an LEA region in early 2013. When visiting, set your draw distance to around 500 metres, if possible, in order to see the installation more fully. Also note that there are six safe junctions (including the landing point) where you can stand as the landscape on each level changes. Mac also notes that there is an “Emergency button to derez the dragon curves in case of crises”(!).
It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in Voice, brought to Second Life by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library SL. As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.
Sunday February 2nd, 13:30: Tea-time at Baker Street: The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge, Part 1
Tea-time at Baker Street embarks on a new series of adventures as Caledonia Skytower, Corwyn Allen and Kayden Oconnell commence reading from His Last Bow. A 1917 anthology of previously published Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, His Last Bow originally comprised seven stories published byThe Strand Magazine between 1908 and 1917. However, later editions of the book saw an eighth story included, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, originally published in 1892. Today we hear the first part of The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge, a two-part story originally published in September 1908, and which forms the first tale in the volume. As a two-part story, the adventure comprises The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles and The Tiger of San Pedro. In the first installment, the gentleman of the title, Mr. John Scott Eccles of Surrey, arrives at 221B Baker Street in an agitated state, wishing to discuss something of a “grotesque” nature with Holmes and Watson. However, no sooner has he arrived than so does Inspector Gregson of the Yard, accompanied by Inspector Baynes of the Surrey constabulary. They wish to question Eccles about a murder at a house in which he had spent the previous night. Clearly shocked on hearing about the murder, Eccles proceeds to tell a tale which has all the hallmarks of intrigue and, possibly, passion. Mysterious coded messages, possible secret trysts, and behaviour by the murdered man which suggests to Holmes that he was attempting to use Eccles to establish an alibi prior to his death – but an alibi for what? Find out more by joining Caledonia, Corwyn and Kayden!
Monday February 3rd, 19:00: From an Alien Point of View
More thought-provoking sci-fi from the collection of Gyro Muggins.
Tuesday February 4th, 19:00: The Te of Piglet
Winnie the Pooh may have been a Bear Of Very Little Brain often bothered by long words, but in 1982, through him, his friends in the 100 Acre Wood and their adventures, Benjamin Hoff found the perfect means of introducing a western audience to the principles and ideals of Taoism. That work was covered in a series of readings in mid-2013 by Caledonia and Kayden. Now they conclude their reading of the 1992 companion volume to that work, The Te of Piglet. Te is a Chinese word commonly interpreted to mean ‘power’ or ‘virtue’, but which has far more depth than either, being more a special quality of character, spiritual strength, or hidden potential unique to the individual. Through this book, Hoff further explores Taoist concepts, notably that ‘the virtue of the small’, showing how Piglet has great Te, not just because of his diminutive stature, but because he has Tz’u – a great heart, even if – as is so often the case – he’s generally unaware of the fact that he has. Taking a somewhat different approach to the original Tao of Pooh, this book uses the other characters from the 100 Acre Wood to show how our own humanity, in is different facets and forms, is seen by the Taoist as a series of impediments to our living in harmony with the Tao.
Wednesday February 5th, 19:00: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
In 1915, a 54-year-old Sherlock Holmes find his retirement to the Sussex Downs, where he is studying the habits of the honey bee, to be interrupted by the unexpected arrival of 15-year-old Mary Russell. American by birth, Ms. Russell had come to England to live with her Aunt following the tragic death of her parents in an automobile accident. Holmes is impressed by the young lady’s wit and intellect, ne before he knows it, he finds himself teaching her his former tradecraft of solving crimes. Thus was formed a new partnership is formed between the very modern young Miss Russell and the very Victorian Great Detective. Now Caledonia returns with more tales from the pen of Laurie R. King, and her series of stories for young adults which focus on the adventure Ms Russell and Mr. Sherlock Holmes shared.
Thursday February 6th
16:00: The Peapod Warrior
With Dubhna Rhiadra.
19:00: The Early Adventures of Finn McCool
Shandon Loring Concludes reading Bernard Evslin stories about the formative years of legendary giant Finn McCool – Fionn mac Cumhaill – the mythical hunter / warrior who appears in folklore spanning Ireland.
21:00: Seanchai Late Night
Details still TBA, so please check with the Seanchai Library blog as the week progresses. —– Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for January and February is The Xerces Society and their efforts at world-wide conservation and education for some of the smallest creatures on our earth.
The weather has been pretty lousy for many of us of late. The North American continent looks like Antarctica decided to head north for a bit of a vacation while if Britain receives much more in the way of rain, the country will end up looking permanently wrinkled when viewed from space. However, the weekend has actually seen us with clear skies and sunshine where I live. The wind chill means it’s not exactly weather to be wandering around the garden in a sleeveless top and shorts, but the sky has been a beautiful blue and almost cloudless. This being the case, I decided to seek out what signs of early Spring might be found in Second Life.
Actually, if I’m honest, I didn’t really look that far. I’d noticed earlier in the week that Small Town Green had thrown off its wintry shackles, so “seeking out ” really comprised a quick teleport followed by rambling around prior to RL life again demanding my attention. One of the things that makes Small Town Green popular is that it is always evolving and changing. This makes it something of a magnet for SL photographers (and those of us who attempt to pass ourselves off as such *coughs and avoids making eye contact with her reflection*), and also for those curious to see what has changed and where.
At the moment, spring and romance is in the air on an island that has again be transformed, but which still carries familiar motifs: the use of water, a train (this time right out in the bay), and similar. A clock tower sits on a rocky outcrop, dominating the main island, and down below is a venue for weddings. Bridges are also a part of the landscape this time around, crossing and re-crossing the river winding through the region, and also forming a link with a little offshore island complete with fairy ring and gazebo. As always, the attention to detail within the built will have the SL snapper camming around looking which is the best of many angles for a shot, while for those just wanting a place to sit and relax and spend time alone or with a friend, there are places to sit, lie, cuddle and dance waiting to be discovered. Just watch out for the lions. I’m not sure how friendly they are, and to be honest, wasn’t of a mind to find out, but they are certainly in a position to keep an eye on coming and goings.