The 8th Home and Garden Expo (HGE) in support of Relay for Life of Second Life and the American Cancer Society, opened its doors to the public on Sunday, February 14th, 2016, and promises to be another hugely popular event.
Taking place across 10 regions, all called Hope and a number (1 through 10), the event will run through until Sunday March 6th, 2016, offering some of the finest in home, garden, and furnishing designs available across the grid.
With over 100 exhibitors taking part, including those participating in the breedables exhibition, which forms a part of the HGE activities this year, the event offers something for anyone who is looking for a new home, ideas for furnishing and decor, wishing to improve their building (or other) skills, or who just wishes to keep abreast of the latest building / home trends in Second Life.
As well as providing the opportunity to discover the best in housing designs ans itself, there will be a wide range of events going on through the two weeks of HGE, including talks, classes, entertainment, the Expo hunt, a fun fair with bumper cars and a rollercoaster, gachas and more. For details on everything that is going on, please refer to the HGE website’s events schedule.
This year also sees artists exhibit at HGE, and I’ll be taking a look at who is exhibiting during the course of the exhibition.
Thursday, February 11th saw the announcement of the first direct detection of gravitational waves (not to be confused with “gravity waves”, as some in the media initially took to calling them, but which are something else entirely*), which are ripples in the fabric of space-time whose existence was first proposed by Albert Einstein, in 1916.
The detection came about partly as happenstance, in that the Large Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), a world-wide operation established in 1992 and involving 900 scientists from 80 institutions in 15 countries. However, the detectors in use up until recently had failed to provide direct evidence of gravitational waves.
Enter the National Science Foundation in the United States. Over the last five years, they have funded the development and construction of two “Advanced LIGO” detectors, themselves massive feats of technology and engineering, located 3,000 km apart in the United States. One resides Livingston, Louisiana, and the other in Hanford, Washington State.
These detectors started running in February2015, in what was called an “engineering mode”. However, in September 2015 work started on running them up to full operational status when, and completely unexpectedly and within milliseconds of one another, both appeared to detect gravitational passing through them.
The odds of such an event occurring almost precisely at the time when the detectors were starting to do the work for which they have been designed would seem to be – and no pun intended – astronomical. As a result the LIGO investigators wanted to be sure of what had just happened and verify what they had apparently detected; hence why the news was only released on February 11th, 2016, several months after the actual detection had been made.
Since the initial detection, the LIGO teams have deduced the gravitational waves were created by two black holes, each barely 150km across, but each travelling at around half the speed of light and massing around 30 times as much as our on Sun, spinning around one another and merging together some 1.3 billion light years away. As such, the detection marked two things: the first direct proof of gravitational waves and the conformation of a another theory: that black holes can meet and coalesce to create much larger black holes.
But what are “gravitational waves”, and why are they important?
Predicted over a century ago by Einstein in his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves are at their most basic, ripples in spacetime, generated by the acceleration or deceleration of massive objects in the cosmos. So, for example, if a star goes supernova or two black holes collide or if two super-massive neutron stars orbit closely about one another, they will distort spacetime, creating ripples which propagate outwards from their source, like ripples across the surface of a pond. The problem has been that these ripples are incredibly hard to detect, although the proof that they may well exist has been available since 1974.
It was in that year, two decades after Einstein’s passing, that astronomers at the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico discovered a binary pulsar (two rapidly rotating neutron stars orbiting one another). Over the ensuing years, astronomers measured how the period of the stars’ orbits changed over time. By 1982 it had been determined the stars were getting closer to each other at exactly the rate Einstein’s of general theory relativity predicted would be required for the generation of gravitational waves. In the 40 years since its discovery, the system has continued to fit so precisely with the theory, and astronomers have had little doubt it is emitting gravitational waves.
The LIGO detection however, provides the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, and with it comes the ability to see the universe in a totally new way.
“It’s like Galileo pointing the telescope for the first time at the sky,” LIGO team member Vassiliki Kalogera, a professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University in Illinois, said. “You’re opening your eyes — in this case, our ears — to a new set of signals from the universe that our previous technologies did not allow us to receive, study and learn from.”
Just as we’re able to study the universe in various wavelengths of light, using them to reveal things we otherwise would not be able to see, so gravitational waves will allow us to see the more of the dynamics in cosmic events which have so far remained hidden from us. We would in theory be able to see precisely what is happening in the heart of a supernova for example, and be able to detect the collisions and mergers of black holes, and more. So gravitational waves offer us a further means to increase our understanding of the cosmos.
(*In case you were wondering, gravity waves are physical perturbations driven by the restoring force of gravity in a planetary environment; that is, they are specific to planetary atmospheres and bodies of water, not cosmological events.)
One Billion Rising (OBR) will once again be taking place in Second Life on Sunday, February 14th, 2016, with the theme of Rise For Revolution.
When launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, One Billion Rising was the biggest mass action in human history; a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls who are at risk. OBR aims to bring people together, raise greater awareness of the plight of those at risk the world over, and bring about a fundamental change in how vulnerable and defenceless women and girls are treated.
OBR in 2016 builds on preceding years, and issues a call “to focus on marginalised women and to bring national and international focus to their issues; to bring in new artistic energy; to amplify Revolution as a call for system change to end violence against women and girls; to call on people to rise for others, and not just for ourselves.”
Activities in Second Life commence at 00:00 SLT on the morning of February 14th, and will continue through a full 24 hours across the four OBR regions of Listen, Rise, Create and Act. Around the central stage area located at the four adjoining corners of these regions, are art displays and information areas where people can learn about organisations around the world working to end violence against women.
A critique sometimes levelled at OBR / OBR in SL is that the issues it raises cannot be solved by dance. Well, that’s absolutely true, just as marching through the streets carrying placards and banners is unlikely to have a lasting impact on whatever it is people might be marching about.
BUT like marches and protests, dance and music does serve to draw attention to matters; it provides a means by which people are encouraged to stop and think for information and ideas disseminated.
More importantly, in countries where the right to march or protest freely does not exist, dance and music are both far less confrontational and antagonistic, and perhaps provide the only means of making a public statement. Isn’t that worth considering before critiquing the movement?
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.
Holmes and Watson find themselves drawn into The Adventure of the Norwood Builder after they are visited by a young lawyer, John Hector McFarlane, who is being sought by the police for the murder of builder Jonas Oldacre.
McFarlane explains that Oldacre, a client of his, had surprised him the previous day by visiting McFarlane’s office requesting the young lawyer draw-up his will in which McFarlane himself was named sole beneficiary and heir to a considerable bequest. Oldacre explained his reasons as being due to a lack of heirs and a previous relationship with McFarlane’s mother.
In order to complete the work as requested, McFarlane returned with Oldacre to the builder’s home in Norwood in order to study some legal papers there. As it took him a while to complete his review of the documents, McFarlane opted to stay at a local inn overnight. Catching the train the next morning, he was horrified to read of Oldacre’s murder and that the police believed him to be responsible, thus prompting him to come to the Great Detective’s office and petition his assistance.
Join Caledonia Skytower, Corwyn Allen, Kayden OConnell ain the living room of 221B Baker Street on Seanchai’s Crazy Eights installation, as they continue reading the collected adventures of Holmes and Watson, first published in the Stand Magazine in 1903-04, and gathered into the single volume, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, published in 1905.
18:00 Magicland Park: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
When 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 15th 19:00: Peter Robinson
Gyro Muggins concludes a tale from the universe of Larry Niven’s Man-Kzin Wars.
The Kzinti, are a warlike race Niven first introduced to the world in his 1966 story The Warriors. They permeated many of his stories set in the Known Space series, and well as appearing in his Nebula and Hugo award-winning Ringworld. In his stories, Niven references a series of conflicts between Kzinti and humans, but did not write about the wars himself. Such was the demand for more information on the wars, however, he allowed the Man-Kzin wars to become a shared universe series, with the majority of the stories written by other science-fiction authors such as Hal Codebatch, Poul Anderson, Dean Ing, Jerry Pournelle, S.M. Stirling, Greg Bear and others.
Peter Robinson is a short story written by Australian author Hal Colebatch, and forms one of 18 stories he has written for the series. It first appears in Man Kzin X: The Wunder War, and is one of four stories, all by Codebatch, which make up the volume.
In it, an expedition by the Institute of Knowledge on Jinx, funded by the Puppeteers sets of to explore a recently detected slaver stasis box, an artefact of the ancient Thrintun (Slaver) Empire. Arriving at their target, the team of mixed races, including human and Kzinti, discover that it is nine miles in diameter, the largest box ever discovered.
Tuesday February 16th, 19:00: Poetry This Year
Caledonia shares some of the poems chosen by students in her state from the 900 available in the Poetry Out Loud on-line anthology.
Wednesday February 17th 19:00: More Silence of the Loons
While writers from the southern American states turn to tales of crime, inevitably the broiling heat of humid summer days is an ever-present backdrop. But when the stories of criminals and their ways are moved northwards to Minnesota, it is the brutal cold of hard winters which offers a frame for many of the tales.
In this collection, 13 of the state’s top crime writers present a series of tales of mystery, all of which are linked by the same 8 clues, which lead the reader through their dark twists.
Join Kayden Oconnell as he reads from this fascinating anthology.
Shandon Loring and Caledonia Skytower, continue reading the February choice for Seanchai Library’s Crazy Eight’s Featured books reading, On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves.
Anna Emerson, a 30-year-old English teacher accepts s position as private tutor to 17-year-old T.J. Callahan, a young man who has been undergoing treatment for cancer. For Anna, it is a plum assignment, requiring as it does travelling to the Callahan Family’s summer rental in the Maldives with the teenager. T.J., however, is less than happy; with his cancer in remission, he’d rather stay at home with friends, and not carted off half-way around the world with the dead weight of lessons to catch-up on.
Before they can reach their destination however, the pilot of the charter plane taking them to the Maldives suffers a heart attack, the ‘plane ditching in the Indian Ocean. Making it to a deserted island well off the beaten track, Anna and T.J. must work together to survive as days turn to weeks, and weeks to months without sign of rescue. As the time passes, Anna realises that her biggest challenge may not be caring for T.J. should his cancer return – but the fact he is growing into a young man.
Note: On the Island is also to be presented at Seanchai InWorldz. Check Seanchai session posts during the week for specific grid locations).