Earlier Highlights (12)

In October 2008, the Kira Institute, which I cofounded in 1997, moved into the virtual world of Second Life. Its new hub of activity is the Kira Cafe, where we host most of our events, adjacent to the Kira Campus and the Kira Science Park. The Kira Institute focuses its activities on research an education in its main theme of science in context.

<- In September 2008, our B612 Foundation made the report available of the detailed performance analysis on the gravity tractor, for which we had contracted JPL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The mission statement of the B612 Foundation is "To significantly alter the orbit of an asteroid, in a controlled manner, by 2015." In order to do this, we need tremendously accurate orbit determinations, both before and after such orbit alteration, something that the report addresses in great detail.

Also in September, I gave one of the two keynote speeches at the 8th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents in Tokyo, Japan. My talk was titled MICA: Doing Real Astrophysics in Virtual Worlds.

<- In July 2008, Eiko Ikegami and I published a paper Avatars are for Real: Virtual Communities and Public Spheres in the first issue of the open-access, transdisciplinary, and peer-reviewed Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. We show how artistic circles in Tokugawa Japan provided a "virtual world," a kind of early modern "second life;" see also the write-up in New World Notes.

Also in July, I participated in a panel discussion on Scientists and Science Outreach in Second Life, as part of Second Life's 5th Birthday celebrations. Here is my introduction at the start of the panel.

<- Also in July, our recent work in virtual worlds is featured in Astrophysics in Virtual Worlds: Implementing N-Body Simulations in OpenSim on the Ugotrade blog by Tish Shute, Tara5 Oh in Second Life; see also the write-up in New World Notes, one of the leading newspapers in Second Life.

In June 2008, I attended the 2008 NMC Summer Conference. Even though the conference was held in Princeton, I participated virtually, since at that time I was visiting Kyoto, Japan. So while I was the co-presenter at the Avatars in the Lab session, I spoke through virtual presence in a Qwaq session.

<- In April 2008, we launched MICA, the Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics, in Second Life. We start with a weekly set of offerings, including a popular talk on the first Friday of each month, a school for simulations on each third Friday, and two journal club sessions on the second and fourth Friday of each month.

Also in April, I started another Second Life activity, Play as Being. In daily meetings I invite visitors to join me in an ongoing discussion about how to view our own life as a laboratory, in an exploration of what we are versus what we have.