As is being widely reported, Mont Saint Michel has returned to Second Life.
Its return was first noted by Tyche Shepherd during her weekly grid surveys on Sunday, November 21st, and the news quickly spread – my thanks to all who contacted me on the matter.
An announcement about the region’s pending departure was originally made by the region holder, Moeka Kohime, in September 2015, saying the region would be closing at the end of that month. However it was still open to the public in November 2015, and didn’t vanish from the grid until October 2016.
Following this, there were numerous pleas from users on Twitter and other social media for the Lab to “step in” and “save” the landmark region. While such requests are understandable, they are perhaps not so easily fulfilled for a wide range of reasons.
However, as several people who contacted me about Mont Saint Michel noted, the region now appears to be held by Mogura Linden. It’s not clear whether this means the Lab is intending to preserve it – but I do know that they do take a genuine interest in these kind of matters. That said, I’d venture to suggest that as a personal business is connected with the region, any such act would require the original region holder’s OK; and as I’ve once again discovered for myself, getting a response from Moeka is far from easy. As such, it’ll be interesting to see how this develops.
In the meantime, if you’ve not visited Mont Saint Michel before, now is your chance to do so. It’s a stunning reproduction of the original, and well worth the effort.
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: 188.8.131.521518, dated November 10, promoted November 15 – formerly the Maintenance RC viewer download page, release notes.
The second of the three so-called “supermoons” which see out 2016 produced some dramatic photographs and video from around the world. Perhaps one of the most stunning came from cameras at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, monitoring Soyuz MS-03 as it stood on the pad at Launch Complex 1.
As I noted in my last Space Sunday Report, a “supermoon” occurs when the Moon is both full and at perigee – the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Earth as it travels around our planet in an elliptical orbit. Such events occur around every 14 months, and can see the Moon appear to be 14% bigger than its average size in our sky, particularly when seen low on the horizon.
The “supermoon” of November 14th was special because the Moon was about at its closest point to Earth in its orbit – “just” 356,509 kilometres (221,524 miles) from us and the Earth / Moon system is approaching the time of year when it is closest to the Sun (which will occur on January 4th, 2017), thus making the full Moon “extra” bright for those who were able to see it. The next time this will occur will be in 2034. However, December 14th will see another “supermoon”, albeit one at a slightly greater distance away from the Earth, so those who missed November’s – weather permitting – may still get to see one before the year is out. In the meantime, here’s NASA’s footage from Baikonaur – the film obviously speeded-up 🙂 .
Soyuz MS-03 lifted-off from Baikonur on Friday, November 18th, carrying aloft Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, American astronaut Peggy Whitson and rookie French astronaut Thomas Pesquet. It successfully docked with the International Space Station on Saturday, November 19th, marking the start of the Expedition 50/51 mission aboard the station, the crew sharing space with the Expedition 49/50 crew of mission commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko, who have been aboard the station since October and who are due to return to Earth in February 2017.
For Whitson, this is a double first: she is the oldest woman to ever fly to the ISS – she will celebrate her 57th birthday in orbit – and, come February, she will be the first woman to command the space station for a second time in its 16-year operational history, having already become the very first woman to take command during Expedition 16 in 2007. She is also NASA’s most experienced female astronaut, with nearly 377 days logged in space, including six space walks totalling 39 hours 46 minutes. By the time she returns to Earth, she will have spent more time in space than any other US astronaut, surpassing the 534-day record set by Jeff Williams in September 2016.
During their time aboard the station, Whitson, Novitskiy and Pesquest will conduct hundreds of experiments and studies in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science. A particular focus will be recording how lighting impacts the overall health and well-being of station crew members, and how the microgravity environment in orbit affects tissue regeneration in humans and the genetic properties of space-grown plants.
The crew carry with them some special meal time treats as well. Taking a leaf from British astronaut Tim Peake’s book, Pesquest requested fellow countrymen and renowned chefs Alain Ducasse and Thierry Marx develop a special menu for the crew. Highlights include beef tongue with truffled foie gras and duck breast confit.
“We have food for the big feasts: for Christmas, New Year’s and birthdays. We’ll have two birthdays, mine and Peggy’s,” the Frenchman said at the astronauts’ last press conference before the launch.
Pesquest, a former commercial airline pilot with Air France, is also set to offer some entertainment for the crew: a keen musician, he’s taken his saxophone to the ISS. As part of his work on the station, he has special responsibility for the Proxima research programme of 50 experiments developed by the European Space Agency and the French national space agency, CNES. The programme’s name was suggested by 13-year old Samuel Planas from Toulouse, France, following a nationwide competition among school children. It is taken from Proxima Centauri, with the X in the name both representing the unknown, and the fact that Pesquest is the tenth French astronaut to fly in space.
Oleg Novitskiy, a 45-year-old lieutenant colonel in the Russian Air Force, is also on his second mission aboard the ISS, having previously served as the Soyuz TMA-06M commander during the flight to the ISS, and as the station’s flight engineer during Expedition 33/34. He has spent 143 days 16 hours and 15 minutes in space.
Now open at Split Screen, curated by Dividni Shostakovich, is From Here On There Be Dragons by Alpha Auer. It stands as a celebration of these mythical, mystical beasts and much of what they represent both culturally and in terms of our own psyche.
Within an abstract environment of ornate towers lit from within and semi-transparent floors, sit the dragons of the title. From Alpha’s notes, they stand as guardians of self; that this strange structure is perhaps – if I might borrow from the current British television incarnation of a certain sleuth) – a “mind palace”, in which is hid the wonders and terrors contained within our deeper selves; countries of the mind through which we might only travel with care, and having accepted the challenge presented by the dragon standing before each one.
More than just a guardian, however, the dragon can be seen as a symbol of the challenges we might face in travelling those countries of the mind. As the protector of treasure, it stands as the guardian of Self; as a creature of power, harnessing a primal element – fire – it is a reflection of our own force of personality; it can also stands as a symbol of the fears we might want to overcome and of our own self-courage in doing so; and it may also reflect our baser emotions: anger, selfishness, temper.
But there is more here that introspection. As notes, this is a celebration of all that dragons can represent. Hence why the floor of this “mind palace” is inlaid with a leaf from Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (“Theatre of the World”), considered to be the first true modern atlas. It is, as Alpha notes, a reminder that dragons once represented the unknown and the need to take care in the world at large: that there were limits to our knowledge and understanding of all that lay around us.
Then there are the dragons themselves, a mixture of common western and eastern archetypes, all vibrant and alive in this ethereal setting. Within their claws many hold an egg; a further symbol of the dragon’s role in many creation mythologies. Of course, in some religions the dragon symbolises the End of Times. In fact there is hardly a culture in the world, east or west, north or south, where the dragon doesn’t resonate in some way.
Hence why Alpha notes, “Dragons have always been with us, although we have come to deny their existence and their potency.” Hence why, perhaps, she also includes an extract from T.S. Eliot’s Little Gidding, allowing it to stand as an echo of the fact that dragons have always been with us, and always will be.
From Here On There Will Be Dragons will be open through until the end of January 2017, and you can also pick up one of alpha’s free avatars during a visit.