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 184.108.40.2069115, dated September 22nd, promoted October 13th – formerly the “Moonshine” Maintenance RC – no change.
Following their recent call for venues, Linden Lab announced the route for this year’s Halloween Creepy Crawl on Monday, October 30th, via a blog post by Xiola Linden.
The Creepy Crawl is a growing tradition whereby Lindens and Residents get dressed up in their best Halloween costumes and roam from spooky spot to spooky spot for music, dancing, and celebrating.
Costumes are strongly encouraged for this event – and L$5,000 is available in a special costume contest (rules here). Just keep in mind that this event is for General and Moderate audiences when perfecting your look. There is also a special witch hat pack from DevilAii available from vendors placed along the Crawl route.
As Xiola has blogged, the event will take place between 10:00 and 14:00 SLT on Tuesday, October 31st, and will be moving through a number of selected venues:
In the middle of all this, from 12:00 noon to 13:00 SLT, there will be a stop-off for the Pumpkin Smash Fight. This will take place at the old snowball fight arena, which has been specially redressed for the occasion.
The Silent Mind is a beautiful retreat occupying a Homestead region. It was suggested as a place to visit by Shakespeare and Max (once again! ♥), designed by Belfana, who describes it as “A quiet, cosy place.” I actually think she undersells it; The Silent Mind is an absolute delight, mixing multiple elements – the every day, fantasy, fairy tale and even a little hint of seasonal curio and a dash of whimsy.
The setting is that of a rugged island, temperate in looks and feel, where a visit begins on the west side, mid-way up the tall cliffs that rise step-like from a curved beach. Here sits the first hint of fantasy: the landing point occupies a ring of elven arches, a friendly troll standing in greeting. A bicycle, basket laden with sunflowers, offers a subtle pointer that this is not purely a realm of fantasy. A look over the edge of the cliffs to the beach below will further confirm this, parked on the sand is a little VW Beetle and camper parked, a surf board lying in the waves.
A stone path and stairs offer a route down from the landing area, passing a look-out point complete with dance machine (one of several to be found across the island), to eventually arrive at a low-lying coastal track, offering two routes of exploration to the east and north. However, walk out onto the cinder shore, and you’ll be able to see the southern spur of the island, apparently reached by wading through the shallow waters.
At the time Caitlyn and I visited, part of this southern headland was given over to a little nod towards Halloween, with mists lying around arched thorns, a cloaked figure and two Gothic vampires waiting to greet those treading the path under the thorny arches. Beyond these, across a greensward, sits a charming wooden house built out over the water, a ribbon of beach passing under it. The house is open to exploration, and the beach offers a way to where the little Beetle car and its caravan are parked.
For those wishing to follow the tracks from the foot of the cliffs, the one pointing inland quickly brings you to a small lake, crossed by wooden walkways. It is here that another taste of fantasy can be found: ancient ruins built back into the cliffs and seemingly guarded by the skull of a dragon – one of two to be found on the island. This is also a place for romance as well; a little seating area can be found within the ruins, close to where water tumbles down from ancient aqueducts, and a dance machine is close by.
One of the wooden walkways connecting the ruins to the rest of the island re-joins the main track to the north. It’s along this track, and it curves around the island from the foot of the cliffs, that the fairy tale touches can again be found: more friendly trolls stand by the track and story books wait to be read. There are also delightful touches of whimsy as well – keep an eye out for the chinchilla enjoying a bath and a tropical drink.
Sitting off the north side of the island is a little green house, reached by a path of foam over the waves. facing it, beneath the shade of a great tree with leaves turning and autumn red, is a garden picnic watched over by chipmunks. Nor is that all. Across the island are little scenes worthy of discovery – although some might take a little careful walking / climbing to find – and places to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.
The Silent Mind really is superbly designed and laid out, and as Belfana says, it is an ideal location for those seek peace and relaxation, whether on their one or with a friend or companion. All-in-all, a genuinely delightful visit. Should you enjoy your time visiting, please consider tipping one of the trolls!
Studies of Ceres, the largest dwarf planet within the orbit of Neptune, and the focus of the joint NASA / ESA Dawn mission for the last 30 months, are beginning to be published at a high rate of knots. In my previous Space Sunday I covered the report that the water ice discovered around Ernutet crater was likely of local origin. Now, two further studies point to Ceres once having a liquid water ocean.
The first study used gravity measurements to characterise Ceres’ interior, the second sought to determine its interior structure by studying its topography. Both came to similar conclusions.
The NASA team conducting the gravity measurements used data gathered by the spacecraft, together with an analysis of gravity-induced variations in the vehicle’s orbit around the dwarf planet as tracked by NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) and an analysis of the gravity anomalies associated with four of Ceres’ most notable surface features: the craters Occator (famous for having bright deposits in its basin which caused excitement in the early months of the spacecraft’s time at Ceres), Kerwan and Yalode, and Ceres one significant mountain, Ahuna Mons. This allowed them to draw a number of conclusions, the most notable being Ceres was once very geologically active, and that its surface crust has an overall density closer to that of ice than rock.
The second study focused on investigating the strength and composition of Ceres’ crust and deeper interior by studying the dwarf planet’s topography. By modelling Ceres’ crustal flow, the researchers determined that it is a mixture of ice, salts, rock, and clathrate hydrates, crystalline water-based solids resembling water ice but with up to 1,000 time its strength.
The researchers further determined this high-strength crust probably rests on a softer layer that contains some liquid, allowing Ceres’ topography to deform over time, smoothing down features that were once more pronounced and producing the surface environment we see today.
Taken together, these studies suggest that Ceres once had a sub-surface ocean, likely kept liquid by internal heating (which has been suggested by other studies). This ocean may have been similar to the liquid water oceans thought to exist under the surfaces of Europa and Enceladus today. However, in the case of Ceres, much of it has long since frozen out into the dwarf planet’s crust. Most, but not all. The studies, together with the visual evidence of cryovolcanism on Ceres suggest that beneath the frozen crust there is a “soft” layer, possibly a slushy, semi-frozen layer of liquid.
It’s not clear how liquid this residual ocean might be, but as Julie Castillo-Rogez, the Dawn project scientist at JPL and a co-author on both studies, explained, “More and more, we are learning that Ceres is a complex, dynamic world that may have hosted a lot of liquid water in the past, and may still have some underground.” It is also further evidence that many of the smaller bodies in the solar system from Pluto to the asteroid belt, have histories every bit as complex as the major planets in the solar system.
Have We Just Witnessed an Extra-Solar Visitor?
We’re familiar with the concept of comets. They generally originate from one of two points in the outer solar system. The Kuiper Belt, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun, gives rise to what we call “short period” comets which follow a predictable orbit that swings them past the Sun on a regular basis. Halley’s Comet, with its 76-year period, is perhaps the most famous of these.
Then there is the Oort Cloud, predominantly comprising icy planetesimals believed to surround the Sun to as far as somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000 AU (0.8 and 3.2 light years), and thought to be the origin for “long period” comets with orbits around the Sun measured in the hundreds of years.
However, some astronomers believe the solar system might currently be being visited by an altogether rarer type of comet: one that originated in another star system.
A fast-moving object, designated A/2017 U1, was initially spotted on October 18th in Hawaii by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope. Since then it has been closely tracked by astronomer around the world. What is particularly interesting about it is that Sun-orbiting eccentricity of between 0 (a circular orbit), and 1 (a parabolic orbit). Anything above 1 would tend to point to an object being entirely extra-solar in origin. A/2017 U1 has an orbital eccentricity of 1.2.
Because of this high eccentricity, the Minor Planets Centre put out a call for more observations on the object in attempts to confirm it is likely extra-solar in nature. It passed around the Sun on September 9th, and was detected as it crossed back over Earth’s orbit on its way back out into space. At the time it was spotted, the comet was about 30 million km (19 million mi) from Earth, and travelling at a velocity of 26 km/s (16 mi/s) – much faster than the velocity required to escape the Sun, but within ~5 km/s of other stars within the Sun’s stellar neighbourhood, further indicating an interstellar origin.
The object’s trajectory is also unusual, approaching the Sun from high above the plane of the ecliptic, and observations made from the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii, the William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands and the Very Large Telescope in Chile suggest the comet is a rocky / ice object roughly 160 metres along at least one of its axes.
Tony Dunn, an undergraduate physics and astronomy teacher at San Francisco State University has been running a series of computer simulations using tracking data on the comet, which he has been publishing on his Twitter feed. These suggest the comet may have originated as a body orbiting the star Vega, some 25 light years from the Sun; however, the likely point of origin is still being hotly debated and may never be accurately known.
If the object did originate in another star system, then it would suggest the other stars have rings or clouds or material surrounding them at great distances in a manner similar to the Oort cloud. It would also be confirmation of the idea that other stars passing within a few light-years of the Sun disturb the Oort cloud, causing objects there to be disrupted in their orbits, some of which fall towards the Sun and become long-period comets. Presumably, the Sun and other stars can influence rocky clouds around their neighbours in the same way – and that as well as falling towards their local star as comets, the disturbed objects can be kicked out of their local system to become interstellar wanderers.
“We have been waiting for this day for decades,” said Paul Chodas, responsible for NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which has also been observing the object. “It’s long been theorised that such objects exist — asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system — but this is the first such detection.”
“We have long suspected that these objects should exist, because during the process of planet formation a lot of material should be ejected from planetary systems,” Karen Meech, an astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy, Hawaii which operates the Pan-STARRs telescope, added. “What’s most surprising is that we’ve never seen interstellar objects pass through before.”
I don’t know how many souls I have. I’ve changed at every moment. I always feel like a stranger. I’ve never seen or found myself. From being so much, I have only soul.
This is the opening stanza of Fernando Pessoa’s lament about our relationship with self, I don’t know how many souls Ihave, the first two lines of which serve as an introduction to Theda Tammas’ Dissected Soul, now on display at Split Screen, curated by Dividni Shostakovich.
The poem examines the idea that throughout our lives, we never really know precisely who we are. Are we ever really just one person? Or are we an amalgam of experience and reaction – reaction to what we’re feeling, the environment around us, the situation we are in – and the way in which those around us perceive us at that point in time? And how are we affected by the masks we willingly wear according the circumstance – the parent, the lover, the work colleague, the confidante, et al? How do they affect our perception of who we might be – or who we think we are? Is it possible that throughout our lives, the only one who knows the mystery of who we are is God?
Against this backdrop, Theda presents an intriguing series of sculptures reflecting this idea of multiple selves. They are fractured, dissected, even presenting one face whilst holding aloft another. Through them wind red lines – heart lines perhaps, a reflection of the time we are given in life. Curling around these lines are strings of barbed wire; a metaphor, possibly, for the blades and sharpness of life which can so easily cause us to change our perception of self and step further away from really knowing ourselves. Central to all of this is a shattered heart, seat of the soul, further echoing the idea of dissected self, broken by our confusion over who we really are.
Given that Second Life is a place which allows us to wear whatever mask we choose and express ourselves in so many different ways, the lament perhaps has special significance; just how many of those masks we use within Second Life, the identities we adopt, further distance us from our core self – or soul?
Dissected Soul, is a fascinating, thought-provoking piece, both questioning who we are and presenting a new facet on the discussion of Second Life and identity.