Burn2 Winter Burn 2019 announced

The BURN2 team have announced the dates and theme for the BURN2 Winter Burn event – and with them comes an invitation for people to get involved.

Winter Burn this year will take place on the weekend of Friday, January 25th through Sunday January 27th, 2019, and takes the theme, Seasonal Perceptions.

Perception – the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

This is particularly important as we move through the seasons, especially the holidays. However, our perceptions are affected by our environment, the things and people around us; even the weather! At this time of year, one person might be shovelling the snow off his driveway while another might spend the day surfing the waves off the coast of Australia.

But it is also influenced by our imaginations. Michael Whelan, a world-renowned artist, once did a painting of his young daughter who loved playing in the sandbox. What he did differently is depict his daughter wearing a spacesuit and playing in a lunar sandbox.

Our perceptions are a driving force in how we interact with the world around us. But imagination is also a strong influencer. Given all that, how would you perceive the seasons? Would you reflect the environment around you or imagine something completely off the wall and different? Show us your “Seasonal Perceptions!”

– Burn2 press release

Those wishing to participate in the event can do so in a number of ways.

  • Builders: can participate by building individually (with an invitation to be a part of a Ten Principles Hunt), or by being part of a collaborative team of up to six people to create an art installation. Builders are invited to apply via the Seasonal Perceptions Builder sign-up form.
  • Performers: are invited to use the main stage or, if a performance troupe with a stage set, space provided near the main stage. A sign-up form will be made available via the Burn2 website soon, and in the meantime, interest in being a performer can be passed in-world to Cuga Rajal.
  • Fashionistas: are invited to bring their style and skill to Seasonal Perceptions. see the Be A Fashionista! Burn2 page, and contact Vickie Maidstone in world,

General questions concerning the event should be addressed in-world to Event Lead Cuga Rajal.

About BURN2

BURN2 is an extension of the Burning Man festival and community into the world of Second Life. It is an officially sanctioned Burning Man regional event, and the only virtual world event out of more than 100 real world Regional groups and the only regional event allowed to burn the man.

The BURN2 Team operates events year around, culminating in an annual major festival of community, art and fire in the fall – a virtual echo of Burning Man itself.

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2019 viewer release summaries: week #1

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, January 6th

This summary is generally 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.
  • Note that test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5th, promoted December 13th. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5/V6-style

  • Black Dragon updated to version 3.3.9 on January 1st (release notes). On January 6th, this release was updated to 3.4.0 AVX and non-AVX versions.

V1-style

  • Cool VL updated to version 1.26.22.28 on December 29th and then to 1.26.22.29 on January 5th – release notes.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Windlight Gallery re-opening exhibition in Second Life

Windlight Gallery: anyia and Maaddi Benazzi

Kultivate magazine and the Windlight Art Gallery are celebrating the re-opening of the latter – now housed in a new gallery building – with their first art exhibition for 2019.

Officially opened on Sunday, January 6th, 2019 at 13:00 SLT (a time I was unfortunately unable to make in-world, despite being one of the artists – my apologies to all), the exhibition features work by 18 artists: Camellia (captainofmysoul), Marcel Mosswood, Maaddi Benazzi (maaddi), Caly (CalystiaMoonshadow), Dream Kolda (DreamMakerXDreamBreaker), Kayly Iali, artandsoul Constantine, Cybelle Moon (Hana Hoobinoo), anyia, Jamee Sandalwood Hiess (Jamee Sandalwood), Tequila Mockingbird (Tequila Krovac), Pieni, Kody Meyers (KodyMeyers), Fuyuko ‘冬子’ Amano (Wintergeist), John Brianna (johannes1977), Karma Daxeline (Karma Weymann), Seraphim Placebo and, as noted, yours truly.

Windlight Gallery: Jamee Sandalwood Hiess and Cybele Moon

Such a gathering brings together a rich mix of art and images, encompassing both the physical and the virtual. John Brianna, Kayly Iali, Marcel Mosswood and Pieni, for example, offer a mix of their own paintings and drawings, Cybele Moon presents more of her captivating fantasy images, and artandsoul Constantine offers a selection of physical world photographs.

As might be expected, the SL images largely split themselves between avatar studies and landscapes, although Kody Meyers present some quite stunning interpretations of Mistero Kifeng’s sculptures. I also have to admit to being drawn to both the marvellous monochrome winter images by Jamee Sandalwood Hiess and aniya’s self-portraits.

Windlight Gallery: Kody Meyers, Fuyuko ‘冬子’ Amano and your’s truly

The new Windlight gallery building is a design from the Fanatik range and which is popular among gallery owners. It offers plenty of space, with high ceilings and good lighting, while an upper level offers additional display space, its mezzanine design avoiding any feeling that the space is crowded.

SLurl Details

Space Sunday: Ultima Thule and Chang’e 4

An artist’s impression of how the surface of Ultima Thule might look, based on the images and data returned by New Horizons thus far. Credit: NASA

We set a record. Never before has a spacecraft explored anything so far away. Think of it. We’re a billion miles farther than Pluto [and] Just like with Pluto, we could not be happier. What you’re seeing is the first contact binary ever explored by spacecraft: two completely separate objects that are now joined together.

– Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator

The astronomical year got off to a flying start on January 1st, 2019 when NASA’ New Horizons vehicle – the same craft that flew by Pluto and Charon and their attendant moons in 2015 – shot past (486958) 2014 MU69, a trans-Neptunian Object (TNO) residing in the Kuiper belt. A relatively tiny object, and dubbed Ultima Thule, it wasn’t even known about when the New Horizons mission launched in January 2006.

As I noted in my previous Space Sunday report, Kuiper Belt objects are of particular interest to planetary astronomers and scientists as they represent the oldest near-pristine material in the solar system, and so could contain many secrets, from how rocky planets formed through to the origins of life. Ultima Thule itself has been of particular interest because data gathered from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) suggested it might be a binary object due to its apparent brightness fluctuating, suggesting two bodies orbiting one another. However, as New Horizons slipped into the final days leading up to the fly-by, it seemed to report no variance’s in the light reflected by the object.

The space craft reached its point of closest approach to Ultima Thule at 05:33 UT on the morning of January 1st, 2019. However, the nature of the approach, coupled with the huge distance between Earth and the vehicle meant that the first images and data wouldn’t be received for several hours after the probe has passed the object (it takes over 6 hours for radio signals to reach Earth from the vehicle), so at the time of closest approach, scientists and the public had to make do with the images received in the 24 hours preceding it.

Left: a composite image of Ultima Thule taken by New Horizons on December 31st. 2018, at a distance of approx. 1.2 million km revealing the object to most likely be a “contact binary”. Right: a sketch showing the estimated rotation axis of the object relative to New Horizons, helping to explain when no variances in brightness were recorded ahead of the encounter. Credit: NASA / JHU APL / SwRI; James Tuttle Keane

These images, captured while New Horizons was still more than 1 million kilometres (635,000 mi) from Ultima Thule, were enough to confirm that, rather than being either a single elongated object (as suggested by the lack of variance in brightness the probe was recording) or two objects orbiting one another, Ultima Thule is in fact a “contact binary” – objects conjoined after gently colliding with one another, to form a shape initially referred to as a “bowling pin” (this latter changed to “dirty snowman” as clearer images were received). They also revealed why New Horizons wasn’t seeing any brightness variations: whereas Hubble was seeing Ultima Thule from more of an “end on” angle (like a bottle tumbling through the air towards you), New Horizons was approach it more-or-less along its axis of rotation (like standing in front of a slowly turning propeller), so it was always reflecting the same amount of light.

The initial images led members of the New Horizons mission team to call Ultima Thule the “first ever” contact binary object to be explored. However, this might be disputed; the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, as seen by ESA’s Rosetta mission, as has two lobes connected by a narrow “neck” region which could mark it as a contact binary.

This first colour photo of Ultima Thule reveals its red colour as seen by New Horizons spacecraft from a distance of 137,000 km (85,000 mi), captured on January 1st, 2019, shortly ahead of the point of closest approach. From left to right: an enhanced colour image, a higher-resolution black and white image, and a composite combining both into a more detailed view. Credit: NASA / JHU APL / SwRI

Nevertheless, there is still something magical about the way the two lobes came together – as a member of the New Horizons team put it, the bump of them joining would have been so gentle, had it been caused by a car bumping your own, it wouldn’t result in any real damage. The lobes themselves are of unequal size; at 19 km (12 mi) across, the larger has been dubbed “Ultima”, while the smaller lobe has been dubbed “Thule”, and is 14 km (9 mi) across. Combined, these give the object an overall length of some 33 km (21 mi). That they came together so gently has already been seen as a confirmation of the pebble accretion theory of planetary formation.

The exterior of both lobes is probably a mix of water, methane and nitrogen ices, doubtless mixed with other elements  / minerals, and the reddish hue revealed in the colour images thus far returned is likely the result of the irradiation of ices on its surface – a process witnessed on Pluto. However, it will not until photographs taken much closer to the object – notably those at closest approach, a mere 3,500 km (2,200 mi) – are received in mid-February, that we’ll have a clear view of the object’s topography.

Following the fly-by, the images received by mission control were taken at distances between 137,000 km (85,000 mi) and 28,000 km (18,000 mi) from the object, and part of the initial data transfer. In all, some 7 Gb of data was gathered, but due to the complexities involved, it will take 20 months for all of it to be received on Earth. In fact, at the time this article was written, and due to the passage of the Sun between the spacecraft and Earth, data transfer has been suspended for five days (January 5th through 10th, 2019) to prevent data loss due to solar interference. Even so, the images that have been received have been enough to not only reveal some of Ultima Thule’s secrets, but to also create new mysteries about it.

Alan Stern, the principal investigator for New Horizons, high-fives Alice Bowman, the mission operations manager at JHU APL, after controllers received a transmission from the spacecraft confirming a successful fly-by of Ultima Thule on January 1st, 2019. Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls

One of these mysteries is that computer modelling suggests that given the way the two lobes came together, Ultima Thule should have a rate of spin to complete one revolution every 3 or 4 hours. However, data from New Horizons indicates it is spinning far slower: one revolution every 15 hours. So something must have slowed it down – the question is, what?

The most obvious explanation would be the gravitational influence of nearby objects – say two or three small moons orbiting Ultima Thule. However, due to the risk of collision, the space around Ultima Thule was surveyed well ahead of the fly-by, and astronomers are convinced there is nothing orbiting it either beyond 800 km (500 mi) or closer than 160 km (100 mi) – although that does leave a fairly large sphere of space between the two which may yet reveal one or more objects. More will be known on this in late January, when data on New Horizons’ own studies of the space around Ultima Thule should be received by mission control.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: Ultima Thule and Chang’e 4”

Of ringworlds, time and field agents

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.

Monday, January 7th 19:00: Ringworld

Gyro Muggins opens the covers of the first in Larry Niven’s science fiction series focused on a gigantic artificial ring, the Ringworld, built around a distant star at a distance roughly equivalent to the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.  About 1.6 million km wide, it rotates to provide a gravity on its inner surface roughly equivalent to that of Earth and has an atmosphere suitable for humans. It was built by a race known as the Puppeteers, who have been working to affect both humans and the cat-like, warrior Kzin.

Regarded as a classic, Niven’s novel (and later series) is also curiously contradictory. On the one hand, it is focused on exact science of advanced technologies, but on the other it engages in bizarrely pseudo-scientific fantasy conceptions.

The series sits within Niven’s broader Known Space series, the fictional setting of about a dozen novels and several collections of short stories, and which encompasses his Man-Kzin wars series. In addition, the idea of the ringworld found within the series is regarded as the inspiration for the Halo series of video games, and there are multiple similarities between the two.

Tuesday, January 8th 19:00: The Time Keeper

The inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years.

Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world – now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began – and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, Father Time must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

Join Caledonia Skytower and Kayden OConnell as they read Mitch Albom’s 2012 novel.

Wednesday, January 9th 19:00: The Jennifer Morgue

Corwyn Allen reads the second volume in the Laundry Files by Charles Stross.

Bob Howard is an IT expert and occasional field agent for the Laundry, the branch of Her Majesty’s Secret Service that deals with occult threats. In this second outing, Bob Howard finds himself dragged into the machinations and conspiracies of megalomaniac multi-billionaire Ellis Billington, The Black Chamber and The Laundry…

Dressed in a tuxedo (what else for a globe-trotting British Secret Agent?) and sent to the Caribbean, Bob must infiltrate Billington’s inner circle via his luxurious yacht. His mission? Prevent the Billington from violating a treaty that will bring down the wrath of an ancient underwater race upon humanity’s head.

Offering a wonderful pastiche on both the world of James Bond and a wonderful mimicking of Ian Fleming’s style of writing, Stross produces a novel that also evokes Lovecraftian overtones that is delightfully entertaining to read. In true Bond style, Bob is (reluctantly) partnered with an American agent – in this case a stunningly beautiful woman who also just happens to be a soul-sucking succubus from another dimension. Which, being the case, marks Bob’s mission somewhat differently to those of Bond: not only must he stop the bad guys and come through this at best shaken, he must totally avoid being stirred towards getting the girl…

Thursday, January 10th

19:00: Moana Part 1

With Shandon Loring & Caledonia Skytower. Also in Kitely grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary science fiction and fantasy with Finn Zeddmore.