Dalai Lama addresses Mayo Clinic – and Second Life

Avatars representing the Dalai Lama and TV Radio personality Cathy W
Avatars representing the Dalai Lama and TV Radio personality Cathy Wurzer in Second Life during the Dalai Lama’s address to Mayo Clinic staff, Monday, February 29th

Monday, February 29th saw a special event take place at the chapel of Saint Marys Hospital in down town Rochester, Minnesota, when the Dalai Lama addressed Mayo Clinic staff in a special event which was livestreamed on the Internet and into Second Life, using the Mayo clinic’s in-world facilities.

The address, entitled Compassion in Healthcare, followed on from the 80-year old spiritual leader, who has been undergoing period treatment for prostate cancer at the clinic,  speaking for 3 hours – twice what had been planned – before a crowd of 3,000 people in Minneapolis on Sunday, February 21st. That event was to mark the Tibetan New Year, and his Holiness’ address, delivered in English and Tibetan,  focused on valuing education and compassion.

The Dalai Lama at the chapel of Saint Marys Hospital, Rochester, Minnesota, where he addressed Mayo Clinic staff (via event livestream)
The Dalai Lama at the chapel of Saint Marys Hospital, Rochester, Minnesota, where he addressed Mayo Clinic staff, with his words streamed to an audience in Second Life (image credit: event livestream)

The February 29th address was introduced by Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy, and moderated by Minnesota TV and radio host Cathy Wurzer. As the address began, both Ms. Wurzer and the Dalai Lama were represented in-world by avatars at the Mayo clinic’s Second Life conference centre. In both cases, care had been taken to ensure the avatars resembled their flesh-and-blood counterparts.

While I missed the first part of the session, when I did arrive, some 80 people from across Second Life were in attendance, and the Dalai Lama himself sounded energised and related stories with good humour and aplomb through his address, and responded to questions from the audience at the venue, it was not clear to me if any questions were taken from the in-world audience.

The Dalai Lama "addresses" the audience in Second Life
The Dalai Lama “addresses” the audience in Second Life

While some be tempted to critique the event on the basis that the avatar in-world was not actually operated by the Dalai Lama, they would actually be missing the point. While his holiness may not have been operating the avatar, being seated in the chapel of Saint Marys Hospital, the thoughts and words steaming into Second Life were his, and as such, the event offered a means for people who might never otherwise get to hear him speak, listen to and appreciate his wisdom in an almost first-hand way.

The address, with a question and answer session, lasted a little over 90 minutes. The livestream is currently being archived by the Mayo Clinic, and the event was also filmed in-world. I’ll update this article when either video is publicly available.

with thanks to Maxwell Graf for the nod!

2016 viewer release summaries: week 8

Updates for the week ending Sunday, February 28th

This summary is published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version:, January 15 – no change download page, release notes
  • Release channel cohorts (See my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Maintenance RC viewer version updated to on February 26 – 38 updates, fixes and tweaks for memory leaks (download and release notes)
    • HTTP updates and Vivox RC viewer updated to version on February 22 – combines the Project Azumarill RC and Vivox Voice RC updates into a single viewer  (download and release notes)
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers



  • Cool VL Viewer updated as follows: Stable version to and Experimental branch to, both on February 27th (release notes).

Mobile / Other Clients

  • Group Tools updated to version 2.2.37 on February 28 – no release notes

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: Martian “coral”, Planet Nine and Dream Chasers

The MER rovers first arrived on Mars at the start of 2004. One, Opportunity, is still operating today
The MER rovers first arrived on Mars at the start of 2004. One, Opportunity, is still operating today (credit: NASA / JPL)

Spirit, one of NASA’s two solar-powered Mars Exploration Rover (MER) missions, may have ceased communications with Earth on March 22nd, 2010 and the mission declared over on May 24th, 2011, but its science legacy lives on.

Originally designed with a 90-day primary mission duration, Spirit massively exceeded this, ranging across Mars for a distance of 7.73 kilometres (4.8 mi) over 1,944 days of mobile operations before becoming bogged down in a sand trap on May 1st, 2009, almost 5.5 years after it had arrived on Mars, after which it operated as a stationary research programme for a further 751 days.

During its mobile period, Spirit explored a small rocky plateau dubbed “Home Plate” in 2007 / 2008. Whilst exploring the rock, the rover imaged several peculiar small rock formations resembling cauliflower or coral.  Analysis by the rover’s Mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) revealed the formations to be almost pure silica (SiO2), a mineral associated with volcanic environments.

Silica is formed when water (rain or snow) seeps underground and comes into contact with rocks heated from below by magma. Itself super-heated by the rocks, the water is vaporised and rises back through the ground, dissolving silica and other minerals as it does so, which it deposits around the vents or fumaroles it uses to escape back into the atmosphere.

the "cauliflower" or "coral" formations imaged by MER rover Spirit around the "home Plate" plateau in 2008
the “cauliflower” or “coral” formations imaged by MER rover Spirit around the “home Plate” plateau in 2008 (credit: NASA / JPL)

Warm, rich in silica and minerals, on Earth these fumaroles and vents become havens for bacterial life which is known for creating curious bulbous and branching shapes in silica formations here on Earth which are strikingly similar to those imaged by Spirit. Such is the similarity, that planetary geologist Steven Ruff and geology professor Jack Farmer, both from Arizona State University, have been carrying out detailed studies in the high Atacama Desert, regarded as the most arid non-polar region on Earth, harbouring conditions thought to be very similar to those of ancient Mars.

In particular, they have been investigating the remote geyser fields of El Tatio, some 4.3 km  above mean sea level in an environment which has much in common with the Gusev Crater region of Mars, where “Home Plate” resides. This includes being exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light from the sun and extreme temperatures.  Their investigations revealed forms they call “micro-digitate silica structures” which are both remarkably similar to the formations on Mars, and to those found around fumaroles and vents at lower altitudes here on Earth which are formed by bacteria.

A comparison between images of the formations found on Mars by the MER Spirit (top right), and those images by Ruff and Foster in El titio, Atacama Desert
A comparison between images of the formations found on Mars by the MER Spirit (top right), and those imaged by Ruff and Foster in El Tatio, Atacama Desert (credit: S. Ruff, Arizona State University)

While the pair have yet to come up with definitive evidence that the El Tatio formations are the result of microbial activity, they believe the objects may be “micro-stromatolites”.  Nornally of a much larger size, stromatolites are formed by bacteria “cementing” mineral grains together to form a thin layer. Over time, these layers accumulate one over the last, forming a laminar mound or rock. The oldest stromatolites on Earth are estimated to be some 3.5 billion years old, a time when both Earth an Mars may have shared much closer atmospheric and geological similarities. So, if the formations found at El Tatio do prove to be the result of bacterial activity, then it offers a hypothesis that the formations on Mars may also have been the result of bacterial activity.

Dream Chaser: the Dream is Alive

In January, I wrote about NASA’s surprise decision to award an extended contract for uncrewed resupply missions to  the International Space Station to both of the existing contract holders, SpaceX and Orbital ATK, and to Sierra Nevada Corporation, who will use an uncrewed variant of their Dream Chaser space plane.  At the time I wrote that update, reader Devin  Vaughn indicated an interest in learning more about Dream Chaser, which has an interesting heritage.

As I noted at the time, the vehicle had been one of four private sector contenders to fulfil the role of “space taxi”, ferrying up to 6 at a time from US soil to the ISS. The idea being that by spinning-out the ISS crewed flights to the private sector (with financial support from NASA), the US agency could focus its manned space flight development programme solely on the Orion / SLS programme, which is intended to form the nucleus of US (and possibly international) crewed mission ventures well beyond Earth orbit.

Dream Chaser was unique among the commercial crew transportation proposals as it was based on a "lifting body" design , allowing to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and glide to a landing on a conventional runway - aspects which still make it a very flexible vehicle
Dream Chaser was unique among the commercial crew transportation proposals as it was based on a “lifting body” design , allowing to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and glide to a landing on a conventional runway – aspects which still make it a very flexible vehicle (credit: SNC)

Dream Chaser ultimately wasn’t selected for the crewed mission contract – which caused some friction between Sierra Nevada Corporation and NASA when it was announced in 2014 – but the US space agency continued to work with SNC to help develop the vehicle,  with the Dream Chaser Cargo variant being the result – although SNC has not given up on developed the crewed version of the vehicle.

Dream Chaser Cargo is designed to fly up to 5 tonnes of cargo to / from orbit. This can be both pressurised and unpressurised material, and the vehicle includes the ability for unpressurised cargo to be directly transferred from its cargo module to the exterior of the space station should this be required. As with the original crewed variant, Dream Chaser Cargo will launch atop a rocket, but return to earth to make a conventional runway landing, the latter greatly speeding up the transfer of returned cargo (e.g. science experiments material, etc.) from the vehicle to its intended destination.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: Martian “coral”, Planet Nine and Dream Chasers”

RFL 2016: Paint it Purple

Relay d'Alliez region: Paint SL Purple kick-off event, Sunday February 28th
Relay d’Alliez region: Paint SL Purple kick-off event, Sunday February 28th

Sunday, February 28th 2016 marks the start of RFL of SL’s Paint SL Purple week.

Running through until Sunday, March 6th, the campaign is aimed raising awareness and excitement as the official launch of the year’s fund-raising season for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society draws near, by encouraging residents to paint the grid purple, the official colour of RFL of SL.

So how does it work? The official description of the campaign explains:

Turn your world purple. Wear purple clothes, purple hair, even purple skin. Turn your house purple, paint your grass purple! Do you own a store? Paint your store purple. The goal is for people to take notice!

And why purple? Because it’s the official colour of Relay For Life, and is the colour representing  every type of cancer, while RFL raises money for research into all types of cancers.


The campaign will kick-off on the Relay d’Alliez region, with an afternoon and evening of music and fund-raising from 13:00 SLT runs through until 19:00 SLT, with the schedule lining-up as follows:

  • 13:00 – 14:00: Jen Waddington
  • 14:00 – 15:00: Relax Free Radio
  • 16:00 – 17:00: Savannah Coronet
  • 17:00 – 19:00: T1 Radio

As well as enjoying the music and offering donations, those attending the kick-off event will be able to grab Paint SL Purple kits and t-shirts from the supply stands near the lighthouse landing point. Find out more by visiting the Paint SL Purple campaign web page, and discovering some of the many ways you can help Paint it Purple!

SLurl Details

TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: performance art in Second Life

TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: the muse Terpsichore, presiding over the entrance to the Theatre of the Nine Muses
TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: the muse Terpsichore, presiding over the entrance to the Theatre of the Nine Muses

Caitlyn and I recently received an invitation to visit the new home TerpsiCorp ARTWerks, a relatively new art and performance company in Second Life. The invitation was extended by the company’s founder and director, Cassie Parker (nanki Hendes), and we were more than delighted to accept.

TerpsiCorpsARTWerks has been established with an ambitious vision to become a major force for performance art in Second Life, offering the potential to forge connections between performance art in the physical and virtual worlds whilst also supporting the arts in Second Life.

TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: looking towards the Belly Dance Pit
TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: looking towards the Belly Dance Pit

“From the very beginning, we wanted to create art that actually meant something … art that was more than simple entertainment,” Cassie Parker says of the company in an article she penned for Rez Magazine’s February 2016 edition. “I sought out artists that could bring a unique perspective to their performances, artists that were not only highly sensitive (as most artists are), but that could also bring a sense of intimacy to their performances on stage.”

It a fascinating piece to read, tracing the creative process that led Cassie from a casual introduction to in-world performance art and the SL art scene as a whole, through the formation of TerpsiCorps ARTWerks to their first in-world performance in September 2015, and onwards to the founding of their new base of operations at TerpsiCorps Isle.

TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: Dionysus Workshop Pavilion
TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: Dionysus Workshop Pavilion

The forcal point for this new home is a magnificent sky platform which officially opened on Sunday, February 21st. Designed by TerpsiCorp’s Artistic Director, Chrissy Rhiano, assisted by Cordelia Cerise, it is largely built along the lines of classical Greek architecture and is a work of art in itself, offering a range of public facilities in celebration of the arts.

Visitors to the centre arrive on a stone-paved avenue lined with olive trees and alcoves featuring the nine muses. This is bookended by two stunning theatres, one of which, The Theatre of the Nine Muses, continues the classic Greek theme, its entrance presided over by Terpsichore, one of the nine muses of dance, and from whom the company takes its name. At the other end of the avenue is the Belly Dance Pit, a structure of distinctly Arabian influence, offering an intimate theatre in the round design and which hosts performances of conventional and other styles of belly dance.

TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: Molly Bloom
TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: Molly Bloom

Between the theatres, and set back within lush wooded groves, lie three gallery spaces. Two of these are respectively dedicated to the work of Molly Bloom and Bryn Oh, while the third is offered to emerging artists within Second Life. Most recently (at the time of writing) this housed an exhibition by Lantana Silverweb, who is also the company’s official photographer. Also accessible from the central avenue is the Dionysus Workshop Pavilion, offering both a workshop space and room to host music events.

Nor does it end there. Reached via two flagstone paths flanking the entrance plaza to the  Theatre of the Nine Muses, lies the Trail of the Muses: a walk designed by Cordelia Cercise which takes you around the theatre through eight shrines dedicated to each of the remaining muses. Within the lush wooded gardens there is more so discover: wildlife in the form of giraffe, elephant, caribou, and deer, as well as glades and water features.

TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: the garden wildlife
TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: the garden wildlife

The official opening of these facilities was marked by a performance of the company’s Gothic Opera at the Theatre of the Nine Muses. Such was the interest in the event that some 80 people were in attendance, with more wishing to see it. To this end, an encore performance is to be staged on Sunday, February 28th at the theatre, with curtain up at 19;00 SLT. However, if you do plan to attend, an earlier arrival might well be in order to secure a seat.

There is still some work to be done in support of the company’s activities; as I mentioned to Cassie (although she was already aware), the platform could benefit from some discrete information boards, or have gallery name boards and production advertising offer information note cards. These, I gather will be added. There are also plans for an associated website, but for now the best place to find out more on the company is via its Facebook page.

TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: Theatre of the Nine Muses
TerpsiCorps ARTWerks: Theatre of the Nine Muses

All told, this is a fabulous and fascinating venture, and I genuinely look forward to both witnessing more of TerpsiCorps ARTWerks activities as they continue to develop both their productions and the region, and to reporting more about their activities through the pages of this blog.

SLurl Details

Bicycles, harmonicas, and backpackers

It’s time to kick-off a week of story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, February 28th

13:30 Crazy Eights: Tea Time at Baker Street

Crazy Eights sees Caledonia, Corwyn and Kayden reading from The Return of Sherlock Holmes every Sunday from the living room of 221B Baker Street. Holmes-return

The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist finds Holmes and Watson embroiled in a conundrum of a case when they are visited by Miss Violet Smith, who has travelled up to London from Surrey to seek their advice.

Having been left with very little money following the death of her father, Violet Smith and her mother are rather surprised to learn that they are being sought-out by two men recently returned from South Africa, a Mr. Carruthers and Mr. Woodley. They are an odd couple, about as alike as chalk and cheese: Carruthers seemingly a gentleman, and Woodley little more than an oaf and a bully. They claim to have known Violet’s Uncle Ralph whilst in South Africa, and report the sad news of his destitute death – and that he asked them to seek out his relatives in England and ensure their well-being.

Violet finds this strange, given that her Uncle Ralph has gone unheard from  for 25 years. Her concerns deepen as Carruthers offers her £100 a year – twice the going rate – to be his daughter’s live-in music teacher, allowing her to see her mother on weekends.

Despite her misgivings, Violet accepts the post, and while Carruthers is ever the gentleman in her presence, Woodley is most certainly not. While visiting the Carruthers’ household, he makes unwelcome and lewd advances on her, resulting in a breakdown of his odd friendship with Carruthers. Not long after this incident, a third man seems to enter the equation, as Violet finds herself followed by a mysterious bearded individual on a bicycle as she cycles to and from the railway station for her weekend visits to her mother…

18:00 Magicland Park: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Mied-up FilesWhen running away, it’s always handy to have some idea of where to run to. In Claudia Kincaid’s case, the ideal place is the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. As her younger brother has money, Claudia decides he should come with her to help on the finances front.

The museum proves an interesting place to settle into, but when the museum purchases what appears to be an early work by Michelangelo, a statue of an angel, for the unbelievable price of $225, Claudia and Jamie, her brother, find themselves taking on the role of investigators.

Is the statue genuine? Has the museum bought itself a bargain, or is the statue something else? Digging into the matter, Claudia and Jamie are led to the remarkable Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, former owner of the statue and the owner of some remarkable files which promise to led Claudia into some discoveries about herself.

Join Caledonia Skytower at Magicland Park as she reads from E.L. Konigsburg’s engaging story.

Monday February 29th 19:00: Wizard of Karres

Gyro Muggins returns to the universe created by James H. Schmitz and given form through his 1949 novel, The Witches of Karres, as he concludes reading the 2004 sequel, The Wizard of Karres, penned by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer. So why not join Gyro as he once more traces the adventures of Captain Pausert and his companions, Goth and the Leewit, the Witches of Karres.

Tuesday March 1st, 19:00: Echo

EchoCaledonia Skytower reads Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Newbery Honour novel. Three entwined stories focusing on a magical harmonica, which start with the tale of 12-year-old German boy Friedrich. He dreams of being a conductor; so much so that he cannot stop his hands rising to guide the music only he can hear. Such public displays, coupled with the birthmark which disfigures half his face leads to him being shunned and regarded as his peers as being Monster Boy.

Faced with this, and the rising threat of Hitler’s National Socialists, Friedreich is determined to gain entry to the local music conservatory, but while preparing for his all-important audition, he happens across the harmonica. Playing it, he gains strength and courage to face those who shun him and the rise of Hitler’s power. But as each day brings some new threat, the chances of Friedrich achieving his dream, or even keeping his family together, grow more and more faint.

Wednesday March 2nd 19:00 Crazy Eights: The Hunter’s Moon

HuntersAoife Lorefield commences reading the second in the Crazy Eights series of monthly Featured books

When she arrives in Ireland to visit her cousin Findabhair (Finn), American Gwen expects a fun backpacking trip to sites of the fairy lore they’re both fascinated with. What neither cousin knows is that it’s the summer of the Hunter’s Moon, a dangerous time for mortals to meddle in the kingdom of Faerie.

Whilst camping out, Finn is kidnapped by the handsome Faerie king, and Gwen must rescue her. In attempting to do so, she travels between modern day and mystical Ireland. And when she does finally reach Finn, she finds her biggest challenge might be actually persuading her cousin she is in need of rescue!

Thursday, March 3rd

19:00 Drabne of Dole

Shandon Loring  brings us another tale 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

Contemporary science-fiction with Finn Zeddmore.


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 / February is Heifer International, working with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.

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