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 for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.
Official LL Viewers
Release viewer: version version 126.96.36.1994172, formerly the Apple Notarisation Fix RC viewer, issued September 24th and promoted October 15th – No change.
Recently opened at Mareea Farrasco’s IMAGOLand Gallery (level 1B), is an exhibition of art by Austrian artist Sophie de Saint Phalle (Perpetua1010). Entitled The Art of Water and Colours, it offers a selection of Sophie’s work which may also serve as an introduction to her broader portfolio of work than can be found at her own gallery spaces, of which more in a moment.
The Art of Water and Colour, as the name suggests, showcases a selection of Sophie’s watercolour pieces that might be split broadly into two categories: landscapes and life studies, although all of them are simply captivating that speak to a talent steeped in, and with an innate understanding of, art and artistic expression.
Such is the beauty and skill found within these pieces, none of them really need any form of exposition here; each speaks plainly and clearly as to it’s subject and nature – and to Sophie’s skill as artist and teacher. Each is presented in a style that befits its subject, from the more abstract seen within Bodensee and the pair of “Namibia” scenes, through to the ink-and wash studies of the human form to the sheer beauty and power of Tanz (Dance), these are very much are pieces that speak for themselves.
As noted, these pieces can form an excellent introduction to Sophie’s work, and for those who haven’t witnessed it previously, I would strongly recommend a visit to The Art of Water and Colours be combined with time at Sophie’s own gallery, the SUBCUTAN Art Gallery and Multimedia centre.
Here, across four galleries spaces one can more fully appreciate Sophie’s sheer versatility. From further studies of the human form through digital art that is as captivating to – at the time of my visit – the most glorious selection of political caricatures that are both fun and; this a richly diverse tour de force of art.
Set within a series of futuristic buildings by Colpo Wexler, which I know from experience – and as SUBCUTAN proves – are ideal as gallery spaces, SUBCUTAN also encompasses a small club and an information centre, which is rounded out by a fascinating media display that steps the visitor through her creative process in producing Lazy Afternoon, copies of which can be purchased on the upper floor of the main gallery.
For those with a love of art from the physical world, Sophie’s work is not to be missed; whether you explore it through her exhibition at IMAGOLand or via her gallery – or both, for as long as The Art of Water and Colour is open – I cannot commend it strongly enough.
Poking my nose into the Destination Guide recently caused me to spot an entry for Omerta City (actually now featured in the DG Highlights at the time of writing), a Full region design by Lux Voxel that leverages the additional private island Land Impact bonus.
An urban environment, this is a place packed with detail – although I’ll say up-front that this comes at a price; unless you’re running on a fairly robust system, you might find it heavy going if you tend to run the viewer with the likes of shadows enabled and / or a high Draw Distance, so be prepared to make some adjustments to your viewer!
Omertà is a Southern Italian code of silence and code of honour and conduct that is often associated with the Mafia, and I’d venture to suggest the selection of the name for this setting is no accident given it is sponsored through Lux’s own brand Mesh Mafia. Not that it is particularly mindful of Southern Italy or Sicily, being far more leaning towards being somewhere in the United States. However, it does have the feel for a corner of a city where one could well imagine organised crime keeping an eye – and hand – on things; and enforcing their particular brands of honour codes.
This is a location of multiple faces, with waterfront areas, low-lying and aging business areas overlooked by places of business topped by apartments occupying superior, elevated positions. Within all of this are a range of settings that make exploring the city something of an adventure. Many of the shops are outfitted with interiors that invite visitors into them; clubs and pubs present similar places to spend time within, at least one also containing the kind of racket one might associate with criminal activities as NPC exotic dancers seek to entertain those stepping through the doors.
Caught under a night-time sky by default, Omerta also has a sense of mystery to it: tucked away here and there are shops specialising in voodoo and magic, for example, whilst the bones of an old and long-deserted and ruined fun fair rises from and overgrown lot. There’s also a sense of life throughout: a corner that may have once been a shop topped by living spaces has been converted into a place for children to use their skateboards, as such corners so often get turned into places for childhood recreation where no formal parks or other spaces exist.
Elsewhere can be found roadworks and the suggestions that parts of the city may be about to undergo redevelopment. There’s also a feeling that the age of the city has lead to something of an unfortunate accident: the subway station sits with its platforms barred to public access, they and the tracks they serve being flooded.
As noted, Omerta can be heavy-going at times: there is both a lot of mesh and an impressive number of textures which can take time to load and render, particularly if you are prone to keep shadows running at all times (I actually had some issues with texture loading with shadows disabled); as such, it can be a frustrating visit at times (possibly not helped by the region surround / dome).
However, it is more than worthwhile persevering, as the city is also filled with photographic opportunities throughout – and not just under the default EEP settings; as the banner image here hopefully shows, Omerta lends itself to other EEP settings as well.
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are one of the strangest phenomena we’ve yet discovered in the cosmos – and they are also one of the most recent, the first one only being detected in 2007.
FRBs produce pulses in the radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum that last just a few thousandths of a second but produce as much energy as the sun does in a year. They are believed to originate within magnetars, a kind of ultra-dense neutron star (itself the collapsed remnants of a star) with an exceptionally strong magnetic fields which can warp their behaviour; however, this has yet to be confirmed.
Most FRBs have been detected originate in galaxies other than our own, and are very mixed in nature. Some FRBs emit energy just once but others can do so in repeated bursts. The thinking is that their intense bursts of energy is the result of some complex interaction between a magnetar’s massive magnetic field – trillions of times more powerful than Earth’s – and the outer layers of the neutron star itself, causing a massive explosion we later detect as radio waves.
One FRB that is known to recurring bursts is called FRB 121102, and is located in a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years from Earth. It was selected as a candidate for study using China’s massive Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), which only became operational in 2020. The hope was study of FRB 121102 would reveal the secrets of these strange objects, including their source and cause. Instead, the study has actually deepened the mystery.
Prior to FAST turning its attention on FRB 121102, recorded observations by the likes of (the now defunct) Arecibo radio telescope suggested it gave off bursts of 10 radio pulses on a non-regular basis. However, FAST is so sensitive, found FRB 121102 can generate up to 117 pulses per hour, with some just a few thousandths of a second apart, with 1,652 bursts detected in the first 60 hours of observations!
Exactly how it can do this remains a mystery – but it suggests that the current theory of magnet field / star “surface” interactions is incorrect. Such interactions would generate violent outbursts of matter from the magnetar, and these would have to collapse to prevent them interfering with further bursts – and a few thousands of a second is too short a period in which this could happen.
No direct conclusions can be drawn from the study of FRB 121102; the international team behind it stating they now need to use FAST to study other repeating FRBs to see if they can find similar “hidden” bursts from them, in order that a more complete picture might start to be built up as to what might be happening, why, and how.
The “‘Fridge” That Skimmed Earth
I’ve often written about NEOs, or near-Earth objects – chunks of rock in a range of sizes from just a few metres through to a few kilometres – that orbit the Sun in a manner that means that periodically cross Earth’s orbit or can pass relatively close to us. Such is the threat posed by these objects should one of the large ones actually collide with Earth, considerable effort has been put into finding and tracking them, using their close passages to Earth to better track and predict their orbits in years to come.
As a result, many of the large NEOs have indeed been located and tracked; but there are still many hundreds, if not thousands, which, while not threatening all of civilisation on the planet, could still do much to totally ruin people’s day were they to enter the Earth’s atmosphere and explode under air pressure or even survive and strike a centre of population.
October 24th, 2021 saw a small reminder of this threat, when a chunk of rock about the size of a refrigerator and dubbed Asteroid 2021 UA1, skimmed past Earth, passing just 3,000 km above Antarctica. While the rock was too small to cause any real damage, had it entered the atmosphere, it would likely have completely burned up, it was not actually spotted until it was moving away from Earth once more, its approach having been lost in the glare of the Sun – hence why it acted as a reminder of the threat poised by larger NEOs – that we might not actually see them before them become a problem.
This is what happened in 2013, when a cometary fragment roughly 20 m across entered the Earth’s atmosphere to explode at an altitude of 26 km over the the Russian oblast of Chelyabinsk. The blast yield of explosion was 400–500 kilotons of TNT, with the shockwave it generated damaging some 7,200 buildings in six cities across the region and injuring more than 1,500 people.
The passage of Asteroid 2021 UA1 is also a timely reminder that later in November, NASA plans to launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), an attempt to test a method for diverting asteroids by hitting them with high-speed remote-controlled vehicles, and I’ll have more of that mission in an upcoming Space Sunday report.
Hubble Remains in Safe Mode
As I noted in my last Space Sunday update, the veritable Hubble Space Telescope (HST) entered a “safe” mode intended to protect its science capabilities on October 25th, 2021. With science activities suspended, the instruments are said to be in “good health”. However, in providing an update to the situation, NASA revealed HST actually suffered two glitches in relatively short order.
On October 23rd, the telescope’s science instruments issued an error code indicating the loss of an automated synchronisation message issued by the main computer to provide timing information to the science instruments, allowing them to properly respond to commands. This issue appeared to be corrected when a command was sent to the science instruments ordering them to reset; however, the October 25th issue appears to be related, in that “multiple losses of synchronisation messages” were reported immediately prior to the safe mode being triggered.
Right now, Hubble engineers have no idea what triggered the loss of the messages, and the focus is on trying to obtain further data from HST so a more proper diagnosis of what occurred, and what is required to bring Hubble back on-line.