Friday, September 30, 2005

A Call for Physicists

While snoozing under my virtual apple tree in Midnight City, it suddenly struck me. An apple that is ... right on the noggin! After telling Forseti to clear out of my tree, I pondered a rather blaring omission from our Second Lives. We in Second Life are blessed with a physics engine that, like an unruly police officer, "plays by its OWN rules!" But if every artwork has its critic, every dog has its day, and every cowboy has his sad, sad song ... why does our physics engine lack physicists?!

What is the nature of inertia in Second Life? Is SL's acceleration 9.8m/s^2? How do pendulums behave with respect to mass and arm? How many clowns can you fit inside a humorously small automobile? I DEMAND ANSWERS! I'm shocked that some of the more details oriented SLers haven't taken time away from learning Klingon in order to quantify the world we second live in!

To be fair, Second Life DOES have its very own Galileo Galilei, known as Ezhar Fairlight. Ezhar performed an exhaustive study of Second Life's sun, providing detailed position information and even discovered the presence of seasons! Sadly, Ezhar's work is no longer available on the wiki pages (presumably burned by atheists who took offence at Ezhar's finding that the sun moved around the grid!). But what about the rest of SL's unnatural sciences?

I for one would love to see our greatest minds quantify and develop a unified theory to explain the nature of the invisible semi viscous fluid through which we must all struggle known as LAG! If we could find a way to measure the lag produced by every kind of prim, cut, and texture we could develop the periodic table of lag! Such knowledge would help content creators answer questions such as "should I use a 512x512 texture on a single prim to display doors and windows? Or should I use 30 prims without textures to build the same doors and windows? Which would cause less lag?"

While some research into the details of our physical Second Lives may not SEEM immediately practical, there may very well be secrets locked up in the complex array of physical interactions that the Lindens never even imagined. YOU could be credited for finding a new way to teleport, to make lag-less hoochie hair, or even maximize the clown/automobile ratio.


  1. What are the names of those balls that go clack-clack? They were featured in NIN's "Only" video, along with PinArt.

    Those images you did really caught my eye, Aim—part of what the bottom image makes me realize is while we have fog, we don't have a more selective blur that fuzzies the background and lets the subjects in front stand out. Which is also attributable to physics—optical wavelengths and all that good schtuff.

    And your pictures also make me think of why we don't have more science buildings, even universities, in SL. (Even the universities that come to visit us don't have universities, hehehe!) Imagine taking a walk through the hallowed halls, dusty chalkboards and folded-up desks, only to meet the SL equivalent of STEPHEN HAWKING or MICHIO KAKU.

    Another thing which Chris Omega was wondering about awhile ago was specific coefficients pertaining to the friction of materials in SL. Currently, we have a lot of question marks???

  2. I find myself fascinated by the environmental studies that go on in SL. Ice Brody and Cadroe Murphy both have mapping projects going on. Many others spend time testing the limits of how prims can be manipulated and shrunk. I wonder about whoever discovered the technique for cell shading in SL, and how they discovered that technique. Was it serendipity, like the discovery of dynamite or the pacemaker, or was there some understanding of 3D rendering engines that led to the discovery?

    Will we see more physicists when Havok2 rolls out and the current frustration with Havok1 gets replaced with new excitement? Will we see meteorologists with the release of SL weather? I would guess yes indeed.

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  4. Can you edit comments or only delete? I wanted to edit a spelling error and had to delete my above comment. Actually it was full of foul language and sexist slurs so it was moved to off topic. ;-)

    Anywho, I think the reason we don't have much of a clue as to what makes the physics engine in SL tick is because if we did, the residents would become to powerful and possibly overthrow Philip. It's not for us to know such things Aimee. Stop asking questions.