The 1st Question in Second Life (with Ebbe Altberg)

The First Question

Pooky Amsterdam alerted me to the return of The 1st Question, a fast paced science themed show that will be taking place at Scilands on Sunday, June 28th, at 12:00 noon SLT.

Creator, founder and host of the show, Pooky is staging the event in honour of Paradox Oblers (aka Bruce ‘Spike’ MacPhee in the physical world), who sadly passed away in 2019, and it features some special guests – including the Lab’s own Ebbe Altberg.

For those unfamiliar with Paradox, he was owner/manager of the Spindrift island Space Gallery where he was also a curator for the Intentional Association of Astronomical Artists art wing, a SciLands science Senator and Council member, an International Spaceflight Museum planner & head of operations, a NASA SL CoLab manager, and a MICA Advisory Council member. He was a long-time member of the New England Science Fiction Association and the founder of the small press company Paratime Press.

Bruce “Spike” MacPhee

In Second Life, he helped to establish SciLands, a region for educators, scientists and science related people. It was a safe space where universities and government agencies could set up shop. It did much to establish Second Life as a resource for learning, discussion, the promotion of science, thinking, and the sharing of ideas.

Memory works like a small film, and we can “roll” that film before our minds eye by pressing play on that moment … My memory of the day I met Paradox Olbers runs like that. There he was, standing outside the large virtual conference auditorium with some other people I interacted with.

Arthur C. Clarke had just died and we both spoke of being affected by his writings and sad he was gone … Paradox asked me if I wanted to see something cool; I said yes, so he disappeared in a cloud of orange smoke and soon a prompt to take a teleport to him appeared on my screen. And with an instinctual trust, I took it.

Then we were in a large dome shaped building, and a large man creature elf was playing the most illusory sounds with electronics and flutes. We sat and watched, and Paradox noted he wished he could get more people interested in SL. I said, “Well, I have an idea…” and so The 1st Question was born as a weekly show.

Hearing of his passing only recently, I must make the steps back to Second Life to remember and embrace Paradox’s memory here.

– Pooky Amsterdam, recalling Paradox Oblers

For the special edition of The 1st Question Ebbe Altberg will be joining contestants Troy McLuhan, Jimbo Perhaps (who also has a platform over Scilands where visitors can witness a to-scale model of the solar system and Larry Niven’s Ringworld),, and Korii Tiger. The show is being called The Guru edition, to mark Paradox’s role as a mentor and guru to many.

The game is science-focused, as noted, and offers the tag line If you have an answer – We have a question. It comprises four rounds:

  • Yay Me or Nay Me – 16 questions – are they the truth or not?
  • You’re So Elemental – with which element in the periodic table do each of the four contestants identify?
  • Word-Up – everyone has words they’ve made up at some point (mine are usually made up right after I’ve stubbed my toe on something or broken a finger nail…). Each of the four panellists is asked to reveal one of theirs, and the audience votes for their favourite.
  • Your Inner Geek – a quick fire, on-the-buzzer round of questions on recent science in the news, or scholarly discovery and work, or heroes of science. He who buzzes first – and gets the right answer – gets the point. But he who buzzes before the question has been fully asked and gets the answer wrong, gets locked out of answering again until the entire question has been asked.

The winner is the contestant earning the most points, and those watching can play along with the question-and-answer rounds for themselves.

With the Tiny Marauders on-hand to bring opening craziness to the mix and music from guest musical director Cypress Rosewood and Pooky and Hydra asking with questions, The 1st Question is a fun event and a fitting way to recall Paradox, who loved science and enjoyed the show and having fun. So why not hop along to the theatre or overflow gallery, or catch it via a You Tube live stream.

With thanks to Pooky Amsterdam.

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