Earlier Highlights (13)

In June 2009, I visited the University of Twente, The Netherlands, where I gave a talk at a interesting new department, EWI that combined three rather different fields: electrical engineering, mathematics, and computer science. They will soon start an even more interdisciplinary undergraduate study, Creative Technology, which includes media study as well as the three mean areas already present in EWI. As an example of the breadth of this new program, I was invited to take part in a panel discussion on virtual worlds in a local artist cafe in Enschede.

Also in June, I visited the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Study, modeled in part on Princeton's IAS, in having four schools, two in natural sciences and two in humanities and social science. I gave a couple talks there, and also an impromptu lecture for a graduate seminar discussing time consciousness in phenomenology, at the Husserl Archive. Both visits were as inspiring for my work as the city of Freiburg is charming for any type of visitor.

<- In May 2009, we saw a great demonstration in Second Life of AstroSim, a package for visualizing the motions of stars in a star cluster, developed by Arturo Nakasone and co-workers. This demo was held on May 21 during a joint MICA/KIRA workshop series. For an impression, see this movie.

<- Also in May, we completed a paper on our work in OpenSim, an Open Source virtual world similar to Second Life, which we used as a gravitational laboratory; Will Farr was the lead author. Several astronomers, residing in very different geographical, can use OpenSim to meet on-line to create stars and let them orbit in an N-body simulation.

Also in May, a nice article on MICA appeared, entitled Simulate Star Clusters with Second Life Mod, in which Will Farr was interviewed about our work using OpenSim.

<- In April 2009, the Japan branch of the Kira Institute opened its Kira Japan web site. It is the first branch of Kira where English is not the dominant language, and a model for possible future Kira branches that may use other languages and hence embody other individual cultures, in contrast to now-dominant international English-based melting-pot approach.

Also in April, Open Shaspa was launched, a promising new virtual world environment based on OpenSim, for which I have been invited to be a member of their board of advisors.

In March 2009, I was invited to take part in the program The 1st Question, a quiz show in Second Life that plays with science related themes. Here is the page where a movie of the program can be found.

<- In February 2009, the Kira Institute, which I co-founded with colleages from Stanford University, Princeton University and other places, celebrated its Twelfth Anniversary.

Also in February, our work on N-body simulations in OpenSim is mentioned in an interview with Tish Shute. The article also highlights our work in MICA and Kira.

<- In January 2009, I gave a talk Kyoto University on the topic of interdisciplinary studies, with the title Knowledge of Knowledge. This talk, and my visit to Kyoto University, was sponsored by the Global COE Program, one of the Japanese Global Centers of Excellence. The COE program focuses on the notions of universality and emergence, in areas as diverse as solid state physics, elementary particles, and astrophysics.