Author Archives: Inara Pey

About Inara Pey

Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life, VR, virtual environments and technology.

Hidden Faces in Second Life

Hidden Faces, now open at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery curated by Dido Haas, is an exhibition of photography by Monique Beebe. While no stranger to Second Life – she has been involved in the platform for the last decade – Hidden Faces marks the first public exhibition of her photography.

On display are twelve self-studies by Monique (or Moni, as she signs herself), offered in the familiar large format at Nitroglobus, which reveal the reason behind the exhibition’s title: in not one of them does the artist fully reveal her face. The most we see in those where her face may be partially exposed is the curve of cheek, soft line of jaw, sweep of nose and flare of nostrils and most particularly, the fullness of lips.

These glimpses are tantalising, sensual, and in at least one case – Thinking (seen at the top of this article) – edged with pensiveness. They draw us into the pictures in a physical way, the desire to reach out and caress a cheek, cup and gently lift a chin, to see the eyes that remain hidden, is powerful to the point of mesmerizing.

Each of the poses offered is equally as sensual, with a couple probably NSFW. In many Moni is dressed in little more than her underwear or in sheer slips and tops; her poses nuanced, the dark backdrop to each piece further heightening its sensual feel. In two of those where her face isn’t visible at all, their sensual nature is carried in other ways: the lace ribbons tied around wrists, the drape of pearls down a naked back…

But there is more here has well. While Moni may be shy about revealing herself fully in the spotlight of an art exhibition, but because the images are so personal – both to her and in our reaction to them, they imbue a feeling of closeness with her without in any way casting us into the role of voyeur. Rather, the suggestion is that these are intimate moments being willingly shared with us, because we are trusted.

Hidden Faces is a beautiful portfolio of work specifically created for this exhibition by an artist who may well be new to the SL exhibition circuit, but whose work is fully deserving of being seen by a wider audience. As such, I hope we’ll be able to see more of her work displayed at galleries in-world in the future. In the meantime, Hidden Faces will remain open through until late March.

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Space update special: the 7-exoplanet system

An artist's impression of the sky from the outermost of the three TRAPPIST exoplanets in the star's habitable zone (see the 360-video below)

An artist’s impression of the sky from the outermost of the three TRAPPIST exoplanets in the star’s habitable zone (see the 360-video below). Credit: NASA

On Wednesday, February 22nd, US space agency NASA, working with a team of European astronomers, confirmed no fewer than seven extra-solar planets are orbiting a star some 39 light years away – with three of them within the so-called “Goldilocks zone” of habitability.

The star in question is TRAPPIST-1, named for the instruments used in its discovery, the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST),  and more formally known as 2MASS J23062928-0502285. Regular readers of my Space Sunday column might remember that I referred to the system back in November 2016, whilst discussing the James Webb Space Telescope and the hunt of exoplanets. The NASA announcement, which coincides with the publication of a new paper by the TRAPPIST team, adds dramatic new information to the distant star system.

The first two of the planets orbiting the star were located in May 2016, after the TRAPPIST team had studied the results of a continuous series of observations of the star between September and December 2015 using the telescope, located at the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Artist’s concept showing what each of the TRAPPIST-1 planets may look like, based on available data about their sizes, masses and orbital distances. Credit: NASA

Artist’s concept showing what each of the TRAPPIST-1 planets may look like, based on available data about their sizes, masses and orbital distances. Credit: NASA

What was intriguing about the two world was that not only were both within the so-called “Goldilocks zone” of their parent planet, where conditions might be “just right” for life to start, but both were roughly comparable to Earth in size, and therefore likely solid bodies, and spectral analysis suggested both have atmospheres.

A third planet, TRAPPIST-1d was also discovered the the same time, but it was behaving oddly. This prompted a further extended period of observation between September and October 2016, using both the ESO’s ground-based Very Large Telescope, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. This work revealed at “TRAPPIST-1d” was not one, but three worlds, again, all roughly in the Earth-sized category. Spitzer’s data additionally revealed two more planets of roughly the same size, taking the total to seven. Following this, Hubble turned its attention on the planets, looking for signs of hydrogen and helium – the chemical signatures that would indicate if any of them might be gas giants. It found none, further confirming they are likely rocky in nature.

The size, mass and density of the planets were obtained by measuring the periodic dips in TRAPPIST-1’s luminosity as a result of each of the planets passing in front of it. This allowed the international team studying the system to further assess whether each world was rocky, icy, or gaseous and determine which might be habitable.

trappist-1-3

Via: Space.com. Click for full size

TRAPPIST-1 is an ultra-cool red dwarf star only slightly larger than the planet Jupiter, and about 2,000 times dimmer than the sun.

Such stars, designated Class M, are the most frequent type of star in the Universe – making up an estimated 70% of stars in our galaxy alone. However, they do not radiate energy like our own sun, instead they are very volatile; all activity within them is entirely convective in nature, giving rise to massive stellar flares.

Given TRAPPIST-1 is so small, all of its planets orbit in very close proximity to it – closer than Mercury is to the Sun (the nearest orbits its parent star once every 1.5 terrestrial days, and the outermost, about once every 20 terrestrial days). This makes them very vulnerable to violent outbursts by the star, and could affect their surface conditions and their ability to retain an atmosphere.

This close proximity also means all of the planets are tidally locked – they always have the same side facing their sun. Thus they all are likely to have extremes of temperature, and those with an atmosphere are likely to have quite extreme weather as well. However – and conversely – it also means they could have the potential for liquid water to exist on their surfaces.

The innermost of the three planets in the habitable zone, TRAPPIST-1e, is very close in size to Earth, and receives about the same amount of light as Earth does, and may well have similar day time temperatures. The middle planet of the three, TRAPPIST-1f, meanwhile, might be a water rich world, also roughly the same size as Earth. It has a 9-day orbit, and receives about the same amount of light from its sun as Mars does from our own.

Another artist's impression of how the TRAPPIST system might look from the surface of one of the worlds - assuming they have liquid water present

Another artist’s impression of how the TRAPPIST system might look from the surface of one of TRAPPIST-1f, the middle one of the three planets in the star’s habitable zone – assuming it has liquid water present. Credit: NASA

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An appeal on behalf of Second Life creator Elicio Ember

Cerridwen's Cauldron; Inara Pey, January 2016, on Flickr Cerridwen’s Cauldron – Ground Level

Elico Ember is a brilliant Second Life creator and a friend, I’m therefore posting this article in support of him and his family, after learning via Saffia Widdershins about a familial health crisis he is facing, and a call for help he has put out via Facebook.

You can read the full details on Saffia’s post. Suffice it to say here that Elicio’s father has suffered a stroke which has left him with neurological damage. As Elicio explains in his Facebook post (which Saffia provides in full on her blog), circumstances mean that his father is without health insurance, despite having been employed by the state teaching languages at a local university. In order to ensure he gets the required treatment, the family has been forced to turn to private medical assistance, and thus are facing exceptional medical (and potentially other) bills as a result.

To help them meet these costs, Elicio is making a simple request: that people consider buying his Second Life creation, and thus boost his available income.

Cerridwen's Cauldron; Inara Pey, January 2016, on Flickr Cerridwen’s Cauldron – the skyborne store

For those of you who may not know him, Elicio is the man behind the incredible Cerridwen’s Cauldron, which I wrote about in 2012 and again in 2016. He is a regular designer of regions for Fantasy Faire and – if I may repeat some of Saffia’s words, is one of the warmest, kindest and most giving hearts in all of Second Life. His warmth and generosity simply know no bounds.

Elicio creates beautiful plants with an otherworldy feel (indeed, “Otherworld” was the name of his 2016 Fantasy Faire build). His work can be found in many fantasy regions, art installations and gardens looking for and exotic look. Those who have come across his work tend to find it unforgettable.

So – and to again borrow from Saffia – if you only do one thing in Second Life today or over the next few days, please consider making it a purchase of Elicio’s marvellous creations, either from his in-world store or via the Marketplace – and do, please, tell friends, share this and Saffia’s posts, and help one of the kindest people you might ever hope to encounter in Second Life.

To remind you of his incredible talent, I’ll close with a video of Otherworld I recorded at 2016’s Fantasy Faire.

ALS awareness week 2017 in Second Life

Now open through until Sunday, February 27th and running through until Sunday, February 28th is the Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week, a charity event intended to both raise awareness of ALS and raise funds for continued research into the disease.

Dedicated to the memory of ALS victim and Second Life resident Harvey22 Albatros, the week focuses on music and art, with both live performers and DJs offering sets throughout the week, and a number of SL artists offering pieces for auction, with all proceeds as well as donations during the week going to AISLA, the Associazone Italiana Sclerosi Laterale Amiotrofica.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes also referred to as motor neurone disease (MND) or by the synonyms Lou Gehrig’s disease and Charcot disease,  is a specific disorder that involves the death of neurons that control voluntary muscles. For about 90-95% of all diagnosed cases, the precise cause of the disease is unknown; for the remaining 5-10% of diagnosed cases, it is inherited from the sufferer’s parents. There is no known cure, and symptoms generally first become apparent around the age of 60 (or 50 in inherited cases). The average survival from onset to death is three to four years. In Europe and the United States, the disease affects about 2 people per 100,000 per year.

2017 marks the third year of the event, which features a daily schedule of music running from 07:00 SLT through to 18:00 SLT, and featuring a mix of live performances and DJ sessions lasting between one and three hours.

Wednesday, February 22nd
07:00
DJ Samira
08:00
iClubs Disco
09:00
DJ Maurizio  Mitico
Noon
DJ Erya la Bionda
13:00
Maria Brandi
16:00
Michael Arabelol – Live
Thursday, February 23rd
07:00
 DJ Paolo55
09:00
Lucrezia Angel – Live
10:00
Karaoke Party & Latin Dance
12:00
DJ
13:00
DJ
14:00
TBA
15:00
TBA
16:00 – 18:00
DJ Lucios
Friday, February 24th
07:00
Dj Phill
09:00
DJ Lucifero Verne
Noon
Laura – Live
14:00
PlaiRob – Live
16:00 – 18:00
Le Cigalon
Saturday, February 25th
07:00 DJ Tarall Digg
09:00 DJ Coso Deroma and Momi Hallison
Noon
Capricorn Club
14:00
DJ Jane Morli
15:00
DJ Ux Hax
16:00 – 18:00
Myo & Gera’s Lurido Rock Bar
Sunday, February 26th
07:00
White Beach
09:00
Guilia Elton  Live
10:00
Josie Anderton Live
Noon
DJ Francesco Ansari
14:00
Phoenix Joom
15:00
Hogman
16:00 – 18:00
DJ Jill

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