Archive for the 'virtual reality' Category


Cartography Becomes Augmented Reality

If you’re a Google Earth/Google Maps fan–as I am–you probably haven’t kept up with what Bing Maps is doing over there, in the competitor’s home. I came across this video on TED and was blown away. Blaise Agüera y Arcas is the architect of Bing Maps at Microsoft, building augmented reality into searchable maps.

I could explain that, but a four-dimensional picture is so much better. Watch Blaise Aguera as he shows it to the TED audience:

–reprinted with permission Ask a Tech Teacher © 2010



A Tangible VR is Here

This is very cool…

EU scientists make virtual reality touchable

[Date: 2010-07-20]

It sounds like science fiction, but a team of European researchers has ‘virtually’ teleported real objects through cyberspace, ‘touched’ virtual reality (VR) and even felt the movements of a virtual dance partner thanks to advances in haptic technology and a new approach to generating VR content. EU support for the research came from the IMMERSENCE (‘Immersive multi-modal interactive presence’) project, which received EUR 5.5 million from the ‘information society technologies’ (IST) Thematic area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

The scientists built on advances in haptic technology – technology that interfaces with the user through the sense of touch – and a new approach for generating VR content to create virtual experiences that are far more realistic and immersive than anything ever achieved before. In addition to seeing and hearing their virtual surroundings, objects and avatars, users can now touch them, paving the way for new applications in telepresence, telemedicine, industrial design, gaming and entertainment. Continue reading ‘A Tangible VR is Here’


Robots Replace Teachers–Say it Ain’t So!

Don’t worry too much yet. This article is talking about robots to teach English in Korea–not all classes. It’s a peek into the future of an already beleaguered industry. America is reamed constantly by international and national academicians for our inability to compete globally on knowledge tests. (Here’re my reasons for not stressing over our dismal showing). I don’t know if blaming robots would be any better.  Continue reading ‘Robots Replace Teachers–Say it Ain’t So!’


Can You Believe Your Eyes Anymore?

The art of painting invisible hasn’t reached American shores yet, but it seems to be all over the world. Here’s a post my colleague WordDreams did on a British student artist–amazing work–but no more stunning that what you’ll see of Mr. Liu Bolin, from China.

How do they do this? Continue reading ‘Can You Believe Your Eyes Anymore?’


8 Great (Unknown) Science Websites

Videos on science topics


Visit a Virtual Farm


Virtual weather, machines and surgery


National Geographic Kids


NOVA Videos—great topics Nova video programs


Science Headlines—audio (grades 3+)


Great site on yucky stuff (great fun site)


Virtual tours




Is the Virtual World More Real than Life?

lifeSecond Life is a 3D virtual world created by its Residents (people like you) that’s bursting with entertainment, experiences, and opportunity. Not only is it a play world for adults, a place they can be anyone they wish, with radically different physique and goals than they’re saddled with in real life, Second Life offers an array of virtual tools to the business and scientific world. They call this Second Life grid. already, it’s being used by corporations, education, non-profits, to simulate challenges they face and test out solutions.

Second Life Work offers a virtual world for meetings that are affordable (no one goes further than their computer), environmentally-friendly with exactly the business climate you’d like. There, you can hold meetings and events, conduct training sessions, or create simulations that address a wide variety of business problems and situations.

It also can be used as a virtual lab, where tests that can’t be completed in the real world, can be exhaustively studied in a 3D environment:

A Virtual Laboratory

Residents of Second Life—an online computer game in which players can do almost everything they can do in real life, such as buy and sell property, take classes and date—tout their world’s realistic settings and social opportunities. Now a growing number of scientists are beginning to take notice and are bringing their human behavior research into the virtual world.

Second Life allows researchers to study scenarios that they cannot in real life…(more)



A 4-D Data Picture Has Arrived

UCSB Allosphere

UCSB Allosphere

The only reason Allosphere–UCSB’s virtual reality world–wasn’t invented sooner is processing speed. A holographic world, ala Star Trek’s holodeck, is a simple matter of collecting the data and feeding it out as fast as the eye can focus on a new portion of the surroundings. To date, no computer approaches the brain’s processing speed of 20 million billion calculations per second. If AlloSphere wants to live up to its hype, it’ll have to work at least that hard.

In the 2006 TOP 500 list, which ranks supercomputers by speed, the top three were:

1. IBM’s BlueGene/L – 360 teraflops
2. IBM’s BGW – 115 teraflops
3. IBM’s ASC Purple – 93 teraflops

This is far too slow for a virtual reality world. It has been estimated by many Who Should Know that we will have a computer as fast as the human brain within a few decades.  That means it will be able to make a really simple decision–like naming a picture or reading a word–within 300-700 milliseconds.

How is it possible to create a computer that processes that quickly? Simple–theoretically. Instead of using silicon, use the same materials used in the human computer: DNA. DNA computers operate parallel to each other, like StarTrek’s Borg, all working to solve a problem. A silicon computer works at blazing speed on one problem (think of 7 of 9 when she was separated from the hive).


Speed is one part of our brain’s amazing structure. The other is storage capacity. According to Dr. Chris Westbury at the University of Alberta:

“Let’s assume that a change in any connection strength between two connected neurons is equal to one bit of information and further assume (a huge over-simplification) that neural connections have just two possible strengths (like a bit in a computer, which is either 1 or 0). Then each neuron has ‘write’ access to 1000 bits of information, or about 1 kilobyte. So we have 100 billion (number of neurons) X 1 K of storage capacity, or 100 billion K. That’s about 100 million megabytes. Since in fact neural connections are not two-state but multi-state and since neuron bodies can also change their properties and thereby store information, this is a very low estimate, so you can see why some people have estimated it to be functionally infinite.”

This is about 167 hard drives (at 600 gig per). Then again, a DNA molecule inside your cell contains about 750 megabytes of information.

Most scientists consider the brain’s storage capacity to be infinite. Why are they probably right? Because your brain, with its DNA-based computing power,  is made up of about one trillion cells with 100 trillion connections between those cells. which could be 10 quadrillion instructions per second.

What that means is that the data and speed necessary to create a virtual world boggles the mind. Still, AlloSphere is a good start and shows us all we’re that much closer.

A 360-Degree Virtual Reality Chamber Brings Researchers Face to Face with Their Data

Scientists often become immersed in their data, and sometimes even lost. The AlloSphere, a unique virtual reality environment at the University of California, Santa Barbara, makes this easier by turning large data sets into immersive experiences of sight and sound. Inside its three-story metal sphere researchers can interpret and interact with their data in new and intriguing ways, including watching electrons spin from inside an atom or “flying” through an MRI scan of a patient’s brain as blood density levels play as music. (more)

More on DNA computers:

DNA Computers–Think Origami, or Brain Folds

Why isn’t DNA Computing Further Along?

DNA Computers Moving from SciFi to Reality

Ten Weirdest Computers


What’s in this blog

Discover the sizzle in science. It's not that stuff that's always for the smart kids. It's the need to know. The passion for understanding. The absolute belief that for every problem, there is a solution. The creative mind seeking truth in a world of mystery. The quest for the Holy Grail.

That's science.

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Books I’m Reading

Great Science Books

Assembling California
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
The Forest People
Geology Underfoot in Southern California
The Land's Wild Music: Encounters with Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest William, and James Galvin
My Life with the Chimpanzees
Naked Earth: The New Geophysics
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness
Sand Rivers
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The Tree Where Man Was Born
The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animal and Plants of the Region
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography

Jacqui's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with Jacqui, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • The Old Way: A Story of the First People October 4, 2017
    author: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas name: Jacqui average rating: 4.19 book published: 2006 rating: 5 read at: 2017/10/04 date added: 2017/10/04 shelves: history, early-man review: […]
    Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
  • Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC December 11, 2016
    author: Bonnye Matthews name: Jacqui average rating: 4.24 book published: 2012 rating: 5 read at: 2016/12/11 date added: 2016/12/11 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Bonnye Matthews
  • Meeting Prehistoric Man October 4, 2014
    author: GHR von Koenigswald name: Jacqui average rating: 4.00 book published: 1492 rating: 5 read at: 2014/10/04 date added: 2014/10/04 shelves: early-man review: Meeting Prehistoric Man by GHR Von Koenigswald is a journey throughout the world in discovery of early man as paleoanthropologists understood him during VonKoenigswald's time, circa 1950' […]
    GHR von Koenigswald
  • Letters from the Field, 1925-1975 September 13, 2014
    author: Margaret Mead name: Jacqui average rating: 4.20 book published: 1977 rating: 5 read at: 2014/09/13 date added: 2014/09/13 shelves: early-man review: If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I […]
    Margaret Mead
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.16 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
    Guy Deutscher
  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.07 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Linda Lay Shuler
  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution Of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.14 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
    Christopher Wills
  • The Origin Of Humankind July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.98 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
    Richard E. Leakey
  • Lucy: the beginnings of humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.12 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
    Donald C. Johanson
  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
    Jane Goodall
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