Earlier Highlights (14)

In April 2010, President Obama announced his vision to send astronauts on a mission to visit an asteroid. I was very pleased to hear about this formal proposal, given that our B612 foundation, which we founded in 2002, has been advocating asteroids as a more interesting place to visit for human space travel than the Moon, and a much closer target than Mars. Back in 2003 I wrote a similar recommendation.

In March 2010, the film maker Shekhar Kapur and I engaged in a fun and relaxed dialogue with the title Does Chaos Have Meaning?, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. Here is a link to the 90 minutes video of the event.

Also in March, a quote from an interview with me about the movie Avatar appeared in The Hollywood Reporter and was picked up by Reuters; in the interview I comment on the degree of realism of the film, which I thoroughly enjoyed watching, for its content as well as its technical execution.

<- In February 2010, I had a great time one evening giving a guest lecture at Columbia University for a class taught by Stuart Firestein. His class has the intriguing title of Ignorance, and the idea is to concentrate on what we don't know rather than what we do know in science. My presentation was based on a paper on phenomenology that I had presented earlier at the Husserl Circle.

In January 2010, the Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) opened its newly constructed building on a campus of the University of Tokyo, while I was visiting there. The building reflects the originality and diversity of IPMU, the first research center that I have visited in Japan where half the faculty and visitors are non-Japanese.

<- In December 2009, we opened our first MICA OpenSim region, in the open source virtual world of OpenSim on the ScienceSim grid. The region was set up by Rob Knop on a server provided by Simon Portegies Zwart. We immediately started playing with N-body simulations within our region. If you like to join us, come visit our weekly MODEST workshops.

In November 2009, I was one of the organizers of the workshop MODEST-9e: Development of MUSE The Multiscale Multiphysics Scientific Environment, at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. We had some vigorous discussions about the challenges of developing a software framework containing toolboxes for the various physics modules needed to model dense stellar systems.

In October 2009, Eiko Ikegami and I held a one-day workshop on Avatars, Selves, and Virtual Communities at the Institute for Advanced Study, in collaboration with the New School, as a mixed Second Life / Real Life event. This event was supported by NSF, and remotely present were students from as far away as Poland and Japan.

<- In September 2009, I was one of the organizors for the MODEST-9c workshop Using Virtual Worlds for Interactive Simulations of Star Cluster Evolution in Tokyo. Part of this workshop was held at NAOJ, the National Astronomical Organization in Japan and part was held at the National Institute for Informatics, both of which are located in Tokyo.

Also in September, my explorations in virtual worlds were mentioned in an article How Online Social Networks are changing Backyard Astronomy in the September 2009 issue, p. 74, of the magazine Sky & Telescope.

<- In August 2009, I participated in the Second Life Community Convention. It was a great opportunity to meet the people behind many of the avatars in Second Life, old friends and new. Pictured here with me is Wagner James Au, the author of the most interesting history of Second Life.

In July 2009, three of the core members of MICA received an NSF grant, in the category of Human Centered Computing, for our Collaborative Research Proposal Exploring the Use of Immersive Virtual Reality Technologies for Scientific Research, Communication, and Outreach; the three Principal Investigators are George Djorgovski, Steve McMillan, and me.