Monday, October 17, 2016

Science Friday

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

When the Editor, Bixyl Shuftan, mentioned this destination, he did not have details, but it sounded like the perfect location for this reporter to explore. Bixyl explained that it was a group in Second Life that gets together on Fridays to listen to a NPR radio program, called "Science Friday" and discuss the topics that are covered in the two hour program. Science and Art have been my two greatest interests, throughout this life time. While I am, technically, an amateur, some of my theories could stand their own against those of the pros. When watching science videos, narrated by celebrity scientists, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox and Bill Nye, I'll debate them in a heart beat. In a group debate, you'll find me sitting on the same side as Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku (my favorite). My top three theories include; What Dark Matter is and why we can't see it, The real story of the Big Bang and The True Shape of the Universe is a Big Donut. Recently, scientists have begun to confirm my donut, calling it a spherical torus.

Determined to find the group and location, we did several searches and found the group that hosts the event. The group's description stated that they conducted Friday meetings and that Second Life comments and questions would be linked to the live radio broadcast, but the location of these meetings was left out. To get the whole story, I joined the group and then opened group chat to ask for the LM. Within minutes, one of the members shared a LM. Armed with a time and place, there was only one question left, for this scientist to ask. What to wear??? Intuition hints that this event might favor coming in human form, so I selected my "Newser-Jade" outfit.  It turns out that, although most were human, we were joined by a cyborg, so it probably isn't important.

When Friday came, I was the first to arrive. in the center, there is a conference table, with a limited number of chairs and around the perimeter there are hanging basket chairs. As a newbie/observer, I selected a basket, with a good view of the room. As members arrived, I was invited to sit at the table. Each time that somebody sits at the table, it increases it's size and number of seats. One of the members, Beragon Betts, sent a friend request. Heavens YES, it's always good to have friends that out-rank us in the member's hierarchy and are more "in the know" than us. Beragon is friendly and helpful and has since come to visit Sunweaver Bay and Sunny Beach's Gathering Oak.

During the Science Friday event, I noticed there didn't seem to be communication between the group gathered and the radio program. I learned that, it had been so, in the past, until Linden Lab regulations stopped it. Linden Lab realized it shot itself in the foot, by ousting non-profit groups and reversed the rules. It may take time to heal, because schools are reluctant to return to teaching in a world that supports sex and vampires, over the acquisition of knowledge.

The radio program provided a number of topics, which we discussed in nearby chat. Some of the members were professional scientists and the group, as a whole, had an above average knowledge in science topics. The first topic was about research of gene editing to create bulls without horns and hey, we all like to talk a little bull, now and then. The second topic was about the continuing AI research needed to get computers to understand the spoken language. The sounds that carry our thoughts to others has always been of great interest to this writer. So much so that, I created my own True Type Font, called "DiJiFon," with a 40 letter phonetic alphabet, with each letter stored in only 8 bits, that can be displayed on any digital watch.
   Attending Science Friday is a great adventure, for it's friendly people and leading edge, on topic discussions. But Wait, there's MORE!!! It's all about Location, Location, Location.
   The Science Friday location is right in the midst of several science sims, including scale models of rockets, landers and satellites. I always get a thrill from the shift in perception of going from seeing it on paper to walking up to and going inside of the full scale model.
   Hop in the cargo bay bed of this Texas size pick-up, because Houston: We are go for launch. Come, 4...3...2...1... your way to some fun and start next week-end  with a sub orbital journey to Science Friday.

Editor's Note: Science Friday did have a presence in Second Life for a while, including the host having an avatar here and taking questions from residents. But in 2010 this came to an end, the cost of virtual land being stated as one of several reasons.

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