In the eye of the beholder

Crown Copyright 2006
I’ve just been scooped by Troy McLuhan, who has blogged about NPL’s latest sponsored activity in Second Life, the new NPL Science Exhibition at Info Island II (called ‘Aspects of Appearance’). Since Troy built most of this exhibit over the course of the last 3 weeks (often while I was at work or asleep) I think that’s fair.

There are several exhibits about appearance, particularly color (‘colour’ in the UK), and how NPL has been involved in the science of appearance over the years. I intend to use this exhibition to challenge scientists involved in the measurement of appearance to extend the exhibits over time by collaborating in Second Life.

Interactive sensor display, now outside the roomTroy’s blog entry describes the ‘Protanopia Room’ which changes from normal vision to a simulation of how it would appear to someone with this common form of color blindness. Outside the room an interactive display shows the light sensors for daytime vision (called cones, three types for normal color vision) and nighttime vision (called rods) – when a visitor clicks on one of the many types of color blindness the affected sensors go up in smoke (literally).

From my own experiences collaborating in Second Life is fun and rapidly builds trust between collaborators around the globe. I see it as a new form of publication, much more compelling than a powerpoint file or word document on a website. Others have described SL as a 3D wiki or instant messaging with legs – and I think those are appropriate too.

I’ve included a lecture by Teresa Goodman as part of the exhibition, as she describes one of the projects I mentioned in my blog posting on SL reducing carbon emissions called ‘measurement of naturalness’. This is a good introduction and explains the importance of appearance for product manufacturers and how we can measure it. If you don’t have access to Second Life you can view the movie here (or subscribe to the NPL Lecture Series as a podcast).

Newton's Apple Tree. Crown Copyright 2006Visitors to the exhibition can also catch a glimpse of Newton’s Apple Tree – with DNA traceable to the apple that allegedly caused Newton to realise that gravity was universal.

I’m attributing the 3D wiki comment to Wagner James Au while being interviewed by Creative Commons and Ian Hughes who described SL as “the web and a 3d wiki, but with rich presence of others”, commenting on Mitch Kapor’s speech at the SL Community Convention, but I can’t recall who to attribute the instant messaging with legs analogy to – who will be the first person to let me know?

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One response to “In the eye of the beholder

  1. Excerpt taken from Quanta, under sub-heading seen & heard p3 Physics World (2007) Vol 20 no 1. Article Title “Unnatural Nature”

    If the word physics is unsexy, then how about “psychophysics” ? ….
    That apparently, is the name given to the branch of science that deals with the relationship between purely physical measurements and human perception.
    It is an area of study taken up by researchers at the UK’s National Physical laboratory…

    Remember you heard it here first:
    Ladder of Uncertainty – http://www.polytype.wordpress.com

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