Forget the Higgs boson: CERN confirms the existence of The Force

In a startling piece of news delivered on April 1st, 2015, it was announced that physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider have, in their search for all things force related, discovered positive proof for the existence of THE Force.

The CERN press release revealing the news opens:

Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider just recently started testing the accelerator for running at the higher energy of 13 TeV, and already they have found new insights into the fundamental structure of the universe. Though four fundamental forces  – the strong force, the weak force, the electromagnetic force and gravity – have been well documented and confirmed in experiments over the years, CERN announced today the first unequivocal evidence for the Force.

A spokesperson for CERN, merely described as “diminutive” and “green” in the press release, is quoted as referring to the discovery as, “very impressive, this result is.” However, other researchers are more forthcoming on the matter, including one Ben Kenobi, of the University of Mos Eisley, Tatooine, who is quoted as describing the new discovery thus: “The Force is what gives a particle physicist his powers. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us; and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

Despite not knowing precisely what causes The Force, CERN researchers are already putting in to use, as CERN librarian Tullio Basaglia demonstrates, returning books to their correct places on the shelves. Other uses of The Force arre said to include lifting heavy objects in swamps ... (images courtesy of CERN)
Despite not knowing precisely what causes The Force, CERN researchers are already putting in to use, as CERN librarian Tullio Basaglia demonstrates, returning books to their correct places on the shelves. Other uses of The Force are said to include lifting heavy objects out of swamps … (image courtesy of CERN)

Interestingly, the release goes on to note that while no-one is quite sure as to what actually causes The Force, CERN researchers and students have already started harnessing its unique properties. Apparently, practical applications that have already been discovered are listed as long-distance communication, influencing minds, and lifting heavy things out of swamps.

Kenobi is credited with first outlining the properties of The Force in his research paper, May the Force be with EU, in which he notes the vital role played by CERN’s new R2 units, and the Thermodynamic Injection Energy (TIE) detector, recently installed at the LHC.

However, the report also indicates that the discovery hasn’t entirely gone down well with researchers elsewhere.

Dark Matter physicist Dave Vader, who is apparently somewhat asthmatic, or at least a heavy breather, dismissed CERN’s announcement before stating he would be furthering his research into the Dark Side of matter physics, and opened an invitation for others to cross over and join him. Physicists who look good in dark robes are said to be particularly welcome.

The entire report makes fascinating reading, and I’d strongly encourage anyone with an interest in particle physics to give it a read. Assuming it remains visible after April 1st 😉 .

Bryn Oh’s Lobby Cam

Lobby Cam - click any image for full size
Lobby Cam – click any image for full size

Bryn Oh’s latest installation on her home region of Immersiva opened on Sunday, March 29th. Entitled Lobby Cam, it is, in keeping with her previous works there, a full region installation; albeit one which, on the surface at least, seems a lot less complex than pieces such as Imogen and The Pigeons or the more recent The Singularity of Kumiko. But as we know with Bryn, all is not always as it may first appear to be.

Bryn has always embraced the so-called digital divide, and by doing so remove it somewhat from people’s view. Her virtual work has often incorporated elements of her physical world artistry, while her work in the physical world has frequently encapsulated her virtual art. Lobby Cam takes this a stage further, as it places a number of Bryn’s paintings front-and-centre within the installation, which itself appears to have its origins painting possibly inspired by a trip to  Sasakatoon and the surrounding region of Saskatchewan in Bryn’s native Canada.

Lobby Cam
Lobby Cam

The artwork is on display in a lobby-like gallery to one side of the region – although this is not the lobby to which the title of the piece refers. Here visitors can obtain a HUD (free of charge) which presents the wearer with a journal forming the hub of an unfolding story.  From here, the visitor can progress through the gallery space, reaching a wall on which is mounted a copy of the painting on which a good part of the installation is based. As this is approached, the wall breaks apart, allowing access to the rest of the region.

Most of this is given over to fields of wheat which stretch off to the horizon, and from the midst of which a huge wooden grain elevator rises bluntly into the sky. This is not just any grain elevator, however; it is No. 888, originally built in Keatley, Saskatchewan in the late 1920s as a part of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, but which was moved in the 1980s to North Battleford, some 137 kilometres (86.5 miles) north-west of Saskatoon, where it was restored as a museum.

Lobby Cam
Lobby Cam

Such grain elevators where once widespread across the prairies, and early photographs of Saskatoon itself show just such an elevator located alongside the railway tracks on the edge of the town, forming something of a focal point. Within Lobby Cam, the elevator sits as a focal point within a broad spread of wheat, like some tall ship riding the sea, the rippling wheat, which moves to the SL wind, the waves beneath its prow.

Given its size, the elevator is a natural destination, and there are several floors within it to be explored, including the upper floor which links back to the HUD-based story, which I’ll get to in a moment.  Further across the fields, towards the south-east corner, sits the battered bulk of an old Toronto streetcar, doors and windows broken, a part of it boarded-up as vines wind their way through it. Elsewhere amidst the wheat visitors will also find the rusting hulk of a old pick-up truck, sitting like a raft in the middle of a yellow ocean.

All of these pieces are perhaps emblematic; a commentary on the passage of time and the changing of ways. They also help to attract one’s attention to elements of the unfolding story. As mentioned above, the HUD obtained at the start reveals a journal. Initially, only the first few pages can be read but, explore the region and you’ll come across more, which are automatically added to the journal as you do so, allowing more of it to be read. I’ll not say too much more on this, other than you should take a little time in your explorations, as there are pages and more to be found.

Lobby Cam
Lobby Cam

Throughout the build, there are many references to some of Bryn’s other works, some obvious, some perhaps less so. Such motifs are not uncommon to her work, and they add both depth and familiarity to her pieces.

In the default windlight (I’ve taken the liberty of using a different windlight in the images here), the entire installation has something of a “rough” look to it colours in places – such as on parts of the grain elevator – can look a tad odd to the eye, which the old Toronto streetcar might at first look like a badly-made model. However,  this is entirely intentional.

As already noted, the entire installation is essentially the recreation of a painting; thus, the colours and rough uneven surfaces and (in places) blocky finish to various elements in the installation are all redolent of the colours and textures found in the original painting.

Bryn’s work can often be taxing for some computers, and Lobby Cam is no exception, although Bryn has once again put considerable effort into minimising any loss of performance that might be experienced. She also offers some notes on how to lessen the potential impact and improve your experience – including trying SL Go (Bryn has no affiliation with the service, but recognises it as a means by which those on lower-end systems can perhaps better enjoy the installation). These notes can be read directly in-world at the HUD dispenser, or obtained via note card by clicking the information board above the HUD dispenser, or via Bryn’s blog, which includes the introductory trailer video I recommend you watch, if you haven’t already.

Lobby Cam offers-up another intriguing piece from Bryn, which as noted at the top of this article may initially appear less complex than some of her other work, but which is actually beautifully layered.

Lobby Cam
Lobby Cam

Related Links

SL project updates week 14/1: server and viewer updates, misc items

Piony Hideout, Lions Hill; Inara Pey, March 2015, on Flickr Piony Hideout, Lions Hill (Flickr) – blog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread in the forums for the latest information and updates.

There was no deployment to the Main SLS channel on Tuesday, March 31st, due to the inventory issues arising from the week #13 RC deployment – see my update here for details.

On Wednesday, April 1st, all three RCs will receive the same update to the current server maintenance package. This update is specifically aimed at correcting the trash purging issue reported with BUG-8877. However, the fix does not address the issue of inventory fetching hanging if HTTP Inventory has been disabled within the viewer.

This is because the Lab regards UDP inventory fetching as a deprecated protocol path, as indicated by the release notes, and non-HTTP based inventory fetching is now being phased out. As such, it is anticipated the option to disable HTTP Inventory within the viewer is likely to be hidden / removed at some point in the future.

SL Viewer Updates

The Tools update RC viewer updates to version on Monday, March 30th, bringing it into line with the current release viewer (3.7.26 with Avatar Hover Height).

The Maintenance RC viewer updated to version on Tuesday, March 31st. also bringing it into line with the current release viewer,  and includes fixes for many of the bugs and issues encountered with the initial release of the RC.

Other Items

Diagonal Region Rendering Issues

A fair while ago now (late 2012 / early 2013 in fact), I reported on issues that had been noted with regions seeming to be “missing” when seen from other regions.The problem was originally reported in SVC-8130, which is still marked as “unresolved”, and it had been hoped that fix for SVC-8019 would address the problem as well as dealing with other issues. However, the problem has continued intermittently ever since, with numerous issues marked as duplicates of SVC-8130 being reported, with the issue most recently being seen when looking at regions diagonally opposite Brocade on the Mainland.

The return of the missing regions issue (if it ever really went away): looking north-east from Brocade towards where Mullein isn't on the Mainland. Not, as well, the region kitty-corner beyond Mullein is also absent the view, although both appear on the map
The return of the missing regions issue (if it ever really went away): looking north-east from Brocade towards where Mullein isn’t on the Mainland. Not, as well, the region kitty-corner beyond Mullein is also absent the view, although both appear on the map

The problems are regarded as handshaking / communications issues between region, and are generally resolved through a region restart; although understandably, some holding regions on Mainland are reluctant to request a restart as this can affect multiple other region as well.

Multiple Calling Cards

Most of us are familiar with calling cards in the viewer. They can be obtained by friending someone, or by someone giving you their card (or you giving them your card, and are useful for things like  opening people’s profiles from inventory (particularly handy in cases where you haven’t friended someone, and so don’t have to use search to locate them), or initiating an IM conference call.

One of the many calling cards issues - spawning multiple copies of the same card (images via Jessica Lyon)
One of the many calling cards issues – spawning multiple copies of the same card (images via Jessica Lyon)

However, within v3-style viewer they can also be annoying, as they have a tendency to multiple for no readily apparent reason. People can often have a set of calling cards under the Calling Cards folder, which can be partially replicated in the Friends sub-folder, and then fully replicated in the All sub-folder beneath that, for example. Or individual cards can get spawned multiple times across one or more folders for no readily apparent reason.

The problem here is that having a high load of calling cards can generate problems logging-in to SL, where they run out of curl multihandles, causing log-in to hang or for them to disconnect on logging-in. This can usually be solved through … wait for it … disabling HTTP Inventory and then logging-in and deleting them, but this may not be an option in the future (see the notes at the start of this report). Given that calling cards get re-spawned following a re-log after deletion, and can start multiplying again, Oz noted in the SUG meeting that they are now an area “worthy of some study”.

Rendering / Rezzing Failures and the CDN

In week #13 I reported on rendering / rezzing issues being experienced by some people in the Florida / Alabama region of the USA. Since that time, the Lab’s investigations through the CDN provider have suggested the the ISP in question (Mediacom) has degraded the service, possibly due to the volume of traffic coming from the CDN. This was a concern voiced early-on during the CDN implementation, but this appears to be the first time such a move has been confirmed. In the forum thread on the matter, which has seen more input on the situation, Monty Linden has offered some interim ideas that may help users experiencing problems, while also emphasising the Lab is still working with the CDN providers to further refine the service.