More art at the Astral Dreams Project

Astral Dreams Project

The Astral Dreams Project has opened a further round of artist exhibitions. As I noted in July, when the installation first opened in July, the aim of the installation, itself a reproduction of the Piazza di Spagna in Rome, was to celebrate Italian arts and creativity in Second Life. However, for the latest exhibition, Oema Resident, the installation’s curator, has thrown her net a little wider.

Astral Dreams Project: Giovanna Cerise

Occupying the two 3D galleries (one of which occupies to location of the Keats-Shelley Memorial House) are home to exhibitions by JadeYu Fang and Giovanna Cerise. Both are striking artists, perhaps best known for thematic installations of their own.

For Astral Dreams, both offer pieces that appear to be influenced by some of those installations pieces. Giovanna, for example, includes a piece reminiscent of Clinamen Read here for more) and an element of From the Worlds to the World (read here for more). Meanwhile, JadeYu includes pieces that are reminiscent of her OpeRaAnxiEty (read here for more) among the selection of pieces for her exhibit.

Astral Dreams Project: CybeleMoon

Across the piazza, the twelve 2D art spaces present works by nabrej Aabye (physical world art); Dido Haas (avatar studies); Cullum Writer (physical world digital art); Kiana Jarman (avatar studies); CybeleMoon (Hana Hoobinoo) – mixed media / SL photography); Megan Prumier (avatar studies); Skip Staheli (avatar studies); Nekotto (avatar studies); Ambre (Ambre Singh) – avatar studies; Lam Erin (waterscapes); Naiike (avatar studies) and Ful Macchi (landscapes).

Of these artists, I confess to be drawn to the images and imagery of CybeleMoon – who creates the most fantastic stories through her art; the remarkable studies by Dido Haas, who has a way of capturing the very life of her avatar; the fabulous digital forms by Cullum Writer; and Lam Erin’s painting-like landscapes and waterscapes.

Astral Dreams Project: Cullum Writer

Which is not to say I don’t have an appreciation of the work by the other artists; truth be told, all over something eye-catching or unique. Together they all make an interesting exhibition, one that will be open through until at least the end of the month.

SLurl Details

Hounds, lamps, murder, wishes and road trips

Seanchai Library

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.

Sunday, September 9th:

13:30: Tea-time at Baker Street

The third full-length novel written about Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles is likely to be the one Holmesian story which – at least in outline – known to most, whether or not they have actually read any of Holmes’ adventures.

But how many of us know the story as it was originally written? Over the decades it has been adapted for film and television more than 20 times, starting as early as 1914/15 with the 4-part series, Der Hund von Baskerville, and continuing on through to Paul McGuigan’s The Hounds of Baskerville, featured in the BBC’s brilliant Sherlock series.

All of these adaptations have offered their own take on the tale. Some – such as McGuigan’s, have simply taken the title of the story and used it to weave a unique tale of their own; others have stayed true to the basics of the story whilst also adding their own twists and turns quite outside of Conan Doyle’s plot in order to keep their offering fresh and exciting to an audience.

So why not join Cale, David, Corwyn and Kayden as they read from the 1902 original, and discover just how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle unfolded this apparently supernatural tale of giant hounds and murder, and the pivotal role played by John Watson himself?

18:00: Magicland Storytime – Aladdin and His Magic Lamp

With Caledonia Skytower at the Golden Horseshoe.

Monday, September 10th 19:00: Murder is Bliss

Gyro Muggins reads the first volume in the Jasper Stone series by Ellen Anthony.

In the year 2179, police lieutenant Jasper Stone finds himself called upon to solve the high profile murder of Elizabeth West. The case appears to revolve around a valuable house  – and the leading suspect is West’s disabled son.

But then the son is murdered – and the evidence points towards West’s grand-daughter, Jewell. Only she appears to have a rock-solid alibi for West’s murder. So is there more than one crime, or will Jewell be the next victim?

The more he investigates, the more Stone finds himself entangled in a complicated web of motives and a situation involving not just murder, but drug smuggling and blackmail. And the more he investigates, the more he might just be protecting the woman behind it all.

Tuesday, September 11th 28th 19:00: Wishtree

Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighbourhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighbourhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

A contemporary tale for the times we are witnessing, told with sensitivity and humour. The protagonist (and in may ways the victim of prejudice as unsought as that received by the family in question) may well be a tree, but she has a lesson to teach all of us about tolerance and understanding and a need to heal.

Join Faerie Maven-Pralou as she reads Newbery Award winner Katherine Applegate’s 2017 story.

Wednesday, September 12th, 19:00: Roll It! An Original Tale

With Ktadhn Vesuvino.

Time is a fixed resource. Mass requires work. The wheel is a lever that can move time around. “Roll It!” is an exploration of idea, process and implications, 20 years of experience collected, distilled and condensed into an hour.”

Thursday, September 13th, 19:00: Don’t Make Me Pull Over!

In the days before cheap air travel, families in America didn’t so much take vacations as survive them. Between home and destination lay hundreds – perhaps thousands of miles of road, and dozens of annoyances.

During his childhood, Richard Ratay experienced all of them; from being crowded into the back seat with noogie-happy older brothers, to picking out a souvenir only to find that a better one might have been had at the next attraction, to dealing with a dad who didn’t believe in bathroom breaks.

Now, decades later, Ratay offers a paean to what was lost, showing how family togetherness in America was eventually sacrificed to electronic distractions and the urge to “get there now.” Through his words he paints large what once made Great American Family Road Trip so great, from twenty-foot “land yachts” to oasis-like Holiday Inn “Holidomes” and Smokey-spotting Fuzzbusters to the thrill of finding a “good buddy” on the CB radio …


Please check with the Seanchai Library’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule.

The current charity is Feed a Smile.

Space Sunday: taking an elevator into space

An artist’s concept of a “carrier” – the “elevator car” of a space elevator – climbing the elevator cable. Credit: unknown

The space elevator is perhaps one of the most intriguing ideas for reaching space. It was first conceived as a thought experiment in 1895 by the grandfather of astronautics, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. In it, he considered the building of a massive tower reaching up to geostationary orbit at 35,756 km (23,000 mi) above the surface of the Earth, and which at the top would have sufficient horizontal velocity to launch vehicles into orbit. The vehicles themselves would be carried aloft by elevators like the ones climbing the Eiffel Tower.

Tsoilkovsky knew the construction of such a tower would be next to impossible, there simply were no materials capable of withstanding the compressional pressures exerted the mass of such a tower as it was built upwards – nor are there today. However, in 1960, another Russian,  Yuri N. Artsutanov suggested that rather than building the elevator up from the ground, it could be built both down and out from geostationary orbit, using tension along the cable from its lower end and through the “counterweight” of the outward extent of its length to maintain is tautness and balance. Referring to the design as a “heavenly funicular”, Artsutanov estimated it would be capable of delivering up to 12,000 tonnes of payload to geostationary orbit per day.

An artist’s impression of a solar-powered car ascending the “Sky Hook”. Credit: unknown

Six years later, working entirely independently of Artsutanov, four American oceanographers – John Isaacs, Hugh Bradner, George Bachus and Allyn Vine (after whom the deep-ocean research submersible Alvin was named) – published their idea for a “sky hook” that essentially used the same approach: build a cable both “down” and “out” from a geostationary starting point. Their idea became the inspiration for Arthur C. Clarke’s 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise, which did much to promote the idea of space elevators in the public mind.

Since then, the idea has received many re-visits, and has also given birth to a number of experiments and ideas for the use of tensile cables  – referred to as “tethers” for doing things like “lowering” experiments into the upper atmosphere for research (such ideas being tested during the space shuttle era) and for creating “artificial gravity” in spinning space vehicles travelling to Mars. A space elevator even appeared in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy as the means to get from orbit down to the surface of the planet. Today, the space elevator is the subject of study by the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC), which holds annual conferences on the subject and supports research programmes into space elevator concepts.

The appeal of space elevators  – if they can be built – is that they could deliver huge amounts of payload and manpower to orbit around Earth for a relatively low-cost when compared to using traditional rocket launches. And deliver them not just to geostationary orbit, but to other points above the surface of Earth, referred to as “way stations”.

For example, a “way-station” at around 420-450 km (262-281 mi) altitude would impart a horizontal velocity for vehicles “launched” from it to keep them in a low Earth orbit. similarly, a way station placed above the geostationary orbit point, at say 57,000 km (36,625 mi) would impart enough horizontal velocity to a vehicle “launched” from it that it could escape Earth on a flight to Mars.

The space elevator concept, show an ocean anchor point, and the various “way stations” along its length, capable of supporting operations a low Earth orbit (LEO), geostationary orbit (GEO) and high earth orbit (HEO) altitudes, the latter of which could support missions to Mars and further out into the solar system. Credit: ISEC

But before this can happen, there are some significant issues to overcome. The “simplest” of these is that of finding a suitable anchor point on Earth.

To work at geostationary orbit, the primary station on an elevator would have to be positioned over the equator. The problem here is, an awful lot of the equator is ocean (78.7%), making the construction of such an anchor-point at best difficult. While the remainder of the equatorial region is over land, it brings with it the overheads of political haggling and leveraging to gain an anchor-point.

In The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke solved this problem by conveniently moving Sri Lanka (which he called by its ancient Greek name of Taprobane (Tap-ro-ban-EE) 1,000 km (625 mi) south of its current position to straddle the equator. Unfortunately, we can’t do that in the physical world.

The more significant issues, however, are exactly how to build the elevator tether and how to gradually and safely lower it through the denser part of Earth’s atmosphere, and without its “downward” mass simply ripping it apart before it can be anchored.

The most promising material for the tether construction is carbon nanotubes (CNTs). These are artificially “grown” structures with a number of unusual properties, one of which it their sheer strength: up to 10 times that of an equivalent steel cable, which comes at a fraction of a cable’s mass. CNTs have been known about for around 20 years and are seen as having a range of potential applications: construction, electronics, optics, nanotechnology, etc. However, there is one slight issue with their use in large-scale projects. So far, no-one has successfully “grown” a nanotube longer than 1.5 metres.

Even so, experimental cables have been lifted to altitudes of around 1 km (0.6 mi) using weather balloons and had scale “carriers” run up and down them to test how an elevator tether and its payload would react to the influence of wind and weather. Now, researchers at the Shizuoka University Faculty of Engineering are taking the practical research a step further, by deploying an experimental “space elevator” in space.

On Monday, September 7th, 2018, the  Kounotori-7 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) resupply vehicle is due to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS). As a part of the six tonnes of supplies the vehicle will be carrying will be two small “cubesats” – satellites that are each just 10 cm (4 inches) on a side.

Computer model of the cubesats and their (not to scale) tether deployed in Earth orbit. Credit: Shizuoka University

These will be deployed in space, connected by a 10 metre (33 ft) tether. Once the tether is under stable tension, a little electrically powered “car” will traverse it, marking the first time a vehicle has travelled along a tether in space. The test is intended to see how a space elevator tether might react to payloads moving along it in whilst in the “vacuum” of space, together with the stresses placed on it and its “anchor points”, etc.

It’s a small step along the way to establishing a space elevator, but the test will be watched with interest by Japan’s massive construction firm, Obayashi Corporation. In 2012, they announced they would have the world’s first space elevator operating by 2050. They are actively sponsoring research into CNT development, and believe the issues of growing long strands of CNTs and “knitting” them together into a tether will have been resolved by 2030.

Obaysahi Corporation’s design for their GEO station on the space elevator, which the company says will use “inflatable” modules to reduce mass. Credit: Obayashi Corp.

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