Kimmy LittleBoots is a highly regarded second Life photographer whose work graces many Flickr groups – and is often selected as a banner image for those groups. Specialising in avatar studies, she works in both colour and black-and-white, covering a broad spectrum of moods and settings, from the seemingly every day through to the sensual, to emotive self-studies.
Throughout February 2018, a small sampling of Kimmy’s work can be viewed at Artful Expressions gallery, curated by Sorcha Tyles. Simply entitled An Exhibition in Black and White, it features seven studies, each one of which embodies a specific feeling or condition in a beautifully evocative manner – a mouseover or right-click for Edit will reveal the title of each.
Each of the pieces on display is worth an essay in its own right; there is a richness of expression and depth of sentiment in each which is captivating. So much so that I found myself repeatedly drawn back to each image time and again, repeatedly drawn into its story.
In this, the use of black and white photographs is a masterful stroke. Being monochrome, the images are from the outset more easily seen as a whole statement. Yes, we are obviously drawn to the central figure in each, but as there are no strong colours either in the background or off to one side or the other, so we are not distracted into focusing on them. Instead, we are encouraged to see each picture as a whole, to appreciate the balance between figure and setting more evenly, taking in everything as a single expression of mood, thought, or condition. Thus, each image is brought to life far more effectively than had each been rendered in colour, drawing us ever more deeply into each one.
Exhibition in Black and White really does speaks for itself, although I’d perhaps suggest a title plaque for each would be of benefit, given how closely image and title are linked. For those with an interest in avatar studies and SL photography, it is an exhibition not to be missed, and I strongly encourage a visit to Artful Expressions to witness it. And while there, do take time to explore the gallery’s garden, which now features a cosy little beach side café offering a quiet corner in which to relax.
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 126.96.36.1991732, dated January 9th, promoted January 16th formerly the Alex Ivy Maintenance RC – no change.
It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.
Monday, February 5th 19:00: Sentenced to Prism
Prism is a planet with a uniquely crystaline environment and which supports both silicon and carbon-based life forms. It is a planet where even the tiniest creatures are living jewels.
For some time, the Company has been illegally exploiting Prism, but now all contact has been lost with the research team there, leaving the Company with a problem. Any attempt to launch a rescue mission will draw unwanted attention both to Prism and to the Company’s activities. Something else must done; so they call on the talents of Evan Orgell.
A smart, self-confident and successful problem-solver, Orgell has access to the best equipment available within the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, and as Orgell discovers, Prism is a harsh and hard place – a lot harder than his state-of-the-art environment suit. When that succumbs to the local flora/fauna, Orgell finds himself exposed to the hostile environment and fighting for his survival without any protection, dependent upon little more than his wits.
Then help arrives from an unexpected quarter: a sentient life-form native to Prism calling itself A Surface of Fine Azure-Tinted Reflection With Pyroxin Dendritic Inclusions – which Orgell decides to call “Azure”.
Join Gyro Muggins as he reads a standalone story from Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth series.
Tuesday, February 6th 19:00: 21 Balloons
Faerie Maven-Pralou reads from William Pène du Bois’ 1947 children’s classic, The Twenty-one Balloons.
A steamship en route across the North Atlantic comes across the strange wreckage of twenty deflated gas balloons and rescue, much to their surprise, a lone man – one Professor William Waterman Sherman.
The professor had last been seen some three weeks previously, departing San Francisco aboard a giant balloon, determined to spend a year aloft and drifting on his own.
Now, as word spreads that the professor has been found alive and well – and in completely the wrong ocean to the one he had last been seen flying towards – the world awaits the story of how he came to circumnavigate the globe in record time, only to be fished from the wreckage of twenty balloons when he had started with just the one. When he has sufficiently rested and recovered after receiving a hero’s welcome on his homecoming, the good professor tells a tale most fantastic…
Wednesday, February 7th 19:00: Corwyn Presents Or Else!
Unexpected poetry with Corwyn Allen
Thursday, February 8th
19:00: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
With Shandon Loring. Also presented in Kitely (hop://grid.kitely.com:8002/Seanchai/144/129/29).
The featured charity for January / February 2018 is Reach Out and Read, giving young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into paediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.
In March 2000 a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket lifted-off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. It was carrying NASA’s Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE), built by the South-west Research Institute (SwRI) Arizona, which was placed in a highly elliptical 1,000×46,000 km (625 x 28,750 mi) polar orbit, passing around the Earth once every 14.2 hours.
This orbit allowed the satellite to carry out its mission – to study the global response of the Earth’s magnetosphere to changes in the solar wind, the first ever such mission to be fully dedicated to an in-depth study of the magnetosphere – with great success. In fact, the mission was so successful, it was twice extended, from 2002 to 2005, and from 2005 through until 2010.
Or that was the plan. Unfortunately, on December 18th, 2005, the vehicle fell silent, missing a scheduled data transfer – which took place one average between once and twice a day. An earlier transfer the same day had passed without any indication the satellite was experiencing any problems. Despite numerous attempts to re-establish contact, IMAGE failed to resume contact with NASA’s Goddard Applied Physics Laboratory, responsible for managing the mission.
The mission was officially declared lost in September 2006. However, fault analysis suggested the satellite may have shut itself down as a result of a false indication of an short-circuit in part of its own power supply as the result of a ionised particle impact with it solid state power converter. This would cause the spacecraft to place many of its system in a “safe” mode. Engineers calculated that the vehicle could be recovered if the power converter could be tricked into resetting itself. Unfortunately, there was no means to manually trigger such a reset – but there was a potential for a reset to occur naturally.
As a result of its highly elliptical orbit, coupled with the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, IMAGE would spend an extended period in Earth shadow early in October 2007. If sufficient enough, the drop could trigger the desired reset.
Sadly, following the period of eclipse, no signal was received from the craft, and it was again considered lost. And it remained so, right up until January 2018, and the USA-280 spy satellite mystery.
In January 2018, the super-secret spy satellite no-one in the US government will admit to owning and code-named “Zuma”, was reported lost not long after launch. The nature of the mission and the mystery of its loss – which has still not been publicly confirmed – led radio hams and satellite trackers to scan the skies in attempts to locate the satellite’s transmissions.
On January 20th, 2018, one of these radio hams, Canadian Scott Tilley, detected S-band transmissions which he thought were from “Zuma”, and forwarded his findings to NASA. A team from Goddard, using five separate antennae were able to confirm they were receiving transmissions consistent with expected frequency fluctuations in s-band broadcasts from IMAGE, on January 24th. Further, the signal had an oscillation consistent with the last known spin rate for IMAGE. Following this, on January 30th, analysis of further received data, the Goddard team were able to obtain an identification number from the craft: 166 – IMAGE’s “call sign”.
The challenge now is determining the spacecraft’s overall condition. This is a problem because the hardware and operating systems used to manage IMAGE no longer exist, so engineers are having to reverse-engineer current systems to analyse the received IMAGE signals. So far, this has allowed them to read some basic housekeeping data from the spacecraft, suggesting that at least the main control system is operational. The hope is that over the next several weeks, it will be possible to analyse IMAGE’s overall condition, and possibly even re-activate its on-board science systems. In the meantime, re-examination of old data recorded by Tilley and fellow satellite tracker Cees Bassa shows they picked-up transmissions from IMAGE in May 2017 and October 2016 without realising they had.
Discovering Planets in Another Galaxy
Exoplanets – planets orbiting stars other than our own – have been a subject of many of my Space Sunday reports. As of February 1st, 2018, 3,728 planets have been confirmed in 2,794 star systems, 622 of which have more than one planet. However, a study published on February 2nd, 2018 points to the first discovery of a planet in another galaxy.
Gravitational Microlensing uses the gravitational force of distant objects to bend and focus light coming from a star. As a planet passes in front of the star relative to the observer (i.e. makes a transit), the light dips measurably, which can then be used to determine its presence. So far, 53 planets have been discovered within the Milky Way galaxy using the technique.
RX J1131–1231 is located 3.8 billion light years away and at its heart it has a super-massive black hole (SMBH). This has made it an ideal subject for a number of microlensing studies, including measuring the Hubble Constant – a fundamental quantity that describes the rate at which the Universe is expanding.
In this case, the team were able to use the microlensing properties of this black hole to observe line energy shifts among the quasar’s stars and study fluctuations within them which could only logically be explained by the presence of unbound – or rogue – planetary bodies between the quasar’s stars.
While none of the planets can be directly imaged, the team used the super computer facilities at the University of Oklahoma to analyse the high frequency of the microlensing signature. This provided them with some determination of the broad mass range of the planets, indicating they likely range in size from bodies roughly the size of the Moon up to planets at least the same size as Jupiter.
Prior to this study, the presence of planets in other galaxies had been hotly debated, with some doubting any such bodies could exist. Xinyu Dai and Eduardo Guerras have now opened the door for the discovery of planets far beyond our reach – abeit worlds beyond our ability to study them directly. Their work may also help refine our ability to detect planetary bodies much further afield in our own galaxy. What’s more, with the range of extremely large telescopes (ELT) currently under construction, such as the European Southern Observatory’s OWL (that’s “OverWhelmingly Large”) telescope, as well as new orbital facilities such as the James Webb Telescope, we’re bound to make more discoveries of planets within – and beyond – the Milky Way.