Archive for September, 2015

The Man Who Created Second Life Thinks We Can Make an Earth-Sized Virtual World – Facts So Romantic

September 28, 2015

Over 10 years ago, a digital experiment called Second Life launched, and excitement surged about the idea of interacting in online virtual worlds. Created by Linden Labs, a company founded by Philip Rosedale, the platform gained popularity as people swarmed to participate in a new form of social connection. But, Second Life’s period of rapid growth was brief. By 2010, its population of 88,000 concurrent users had withered to nearly half its former size.

Philip RosedalePhoto courtesy of Kiki Sanford

Yet, technology advances, and now virtual space is becoming much more real with the appearance of immersive, virtual reality headwear, manufactured by companies like the Facebook-backed Oculus VR and Microsoft.

Riding this wave of virtual reality expansion, Rosedale’s new company, High Fidelity, is developing the successor to the Second Life experience. I spoke with him about his thoughts on the future of VR and human interaction. We used Google Chat. It was virtually real.

How will virtual reality change human society?

If you look at Second Life today, as a sort of a terrarium for looking at that question, it already has. It demonstrates that we go after and exploit and enjoy the benefits of any increase in tools that…

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Are Museums the Perfect Climate Change Education Tool? – Facts So Romantic

September 26, 2015

When Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the New York and New Jersey coastlines, in October 2012, the looming threat of climate change abruptly became personal for a large portion of the East Coast—specifically Miranda Massie, a former public-interest lawyer. Seeing her city wasted, she realized that there was nowhere for the public to assemble and discuss what their future on a warming planet might look like.

A taxi terminal in Hoboken, NJ, inundated by Hurricane Sandy.That Hartford Guy/Flickr

So, she started the Climate Museum Launch Project, with the goal of building an education hub to, as its website states, “move climate awareness to the center of public life.” If the Climate Museum Launch Project secures funding, New York City would become home to the world’s largest, most ambitious climate-change museum. And it would be the first in the US dedicated to tackling a challenge all science museums face: how to represent changing and politicized science.

But how does a museum, something that by its very nature enshrines ideas of the past and present, become a forum for talking about the future?

That science museums could be effective at promoting conversations about climate isn’t just a groundless hope. According to <a href=""&#8230;

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Know When to Hold ’Em – Issue 28: 2050

September 25, 2015

The last customer from the after-bar rush left, leaving a dozen snow-dusted cars scattered across the half-acre lot. These were the folks who’d gotten lucky enough to go home with someone else, or drunk enough to go home in a cab.

Huddled in the tiny attendant hut, Jonas checked, for the third time, the knob on the ancient space heater. It was still set on max. Usually the booth swung between hot and cold as the heater cycled on and off, but this evening the sub-zero winds of a Lake Huron cold front invaded Detroit, and the tiny glowing heating element fought a non-stop, losing battle.

It would be a long night.

Jonas pulled out his phone, reluctantly slipping off his gloves to unlock the touch-screen and launch MicroRisk™. The app flashed dollar signs as it launched.

Rosalinda, Jonas’s ex, told people Jonas had a MicroRisk addiction. Jonas disagreed. He had a MicroRisk commitment.

You have Two Updates:

9:34 pm: Contract 2434B (Fashion) has closed with no claim. Your MicroBond™ has been released and your account credited with your payment. Your current collateral balance is $284.34

10:33 pm: Contract 3923G (Pop Quiz) has been claimed for $50.00. Do you wish to Audit the claim? Yes|No.

Jonas clicked No.…

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This Man Was Accused of Trying to Pull Earth Out of Its Orbit – Facts So Romantic

September 23, 2015

Gregory Laughlin has a funny story: While he was working as a planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in the early 2000s, he was accused in the press of trying to shove Earth into a new orbit, farther from the Sun.

“I got into major trouble,” Laughlin remembers in a conversation with Nautilus. “All my own fault, I have to admit.”

He wanted to think of a project NASA could do that would promise high risk and high reward. Well, as the Sun gets bigger and hotter, turning into a red giant, he thought, wouldn’t it be swell to save Earth some sweat by nudging it into a cooler orbit? “We could keep pace with the brightening sun and extend the duration of the biosphere of Earth by billions of years.”

The risk, Laughlin says, is of course in the way you do this: “By passing asteroids close to the Earth and using their gravitational tug to gradually push the Earth outward.”

When his group at NASA published the theoretical details, the media viewed it from a “jokey perspective” at first. But then a reporter from a London newspaper came calling and published a story headlined, “Nasa…

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Climate Change Is the Moonshot of Our Times – Facts So Romantic

September 19, 2015

Consider this scenario: Suppose astronomers had tracked an asteroid, and calculated that it would hit the Earth in 2080, 65 years from now—not with certainty, but with, say, 10 percent probability. Would we relax, saying that this is a problem that can be set aside for 50 years, since people will by then be richer, and it may turn out that it misses the Earth anyway? I do not think we would. There would surely be a consensus that we should start straight away and do our damndest to find ways to deflect it, or mitigate its effects.


Why do our governments, in contrast, respond with torpor to the climate threat? It’s because concerns about future generations (and about people in poorer parts of the world) tend to slip down the agenda. And of course because the hardest challenges get parked in the “too-difficult box” rather than reacted to. The task of weaning the world away from dependence on fossil fuels is indeed a daunting one. I’m rather pessimistic about “top-down” attempts to constrain emissions, like the UN conference in Paris this year. It’s far more realistic to push forward with new technologies so that they can compete economically with…

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Should Your TAS Pursue a Niche Strategy?

September 10, 2015

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD There is nothing wrong with being a generalist, but if you are a broad-based telephone answering service, you might decide to grow your business by pursuing strategic niches. But how do you determine which niches … Continue reading

The Dog Days of Summer

September 2, 2015

By Peter DeHaan I’ve never seen an answering service that didn’t have seasonal traffic fluctuations. Most experience an increase in the summer months. This is likely a result of vacations at their clients’ offices and those clients using the answering … Continue reading