Saturday, June 16, 2007

George Washington on the Value of Science Museums

from his farewell address in 1796:
"Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."

Sunday, April 30, 2006

SketchUp and Google Earth

Google recently released a free versionof the 3D modelling program SketchUp. SketchUp makes it really interesting to make architechtural models, and it is tightle integrated with Google Earth. To learn SketchUp I created a 3D model of Adler and Doane and Uploaded then to the 3D Warehouse. As you can see the default model of Adler in Google Earth is terrible! (thats the image on the the top) To add my model to your version of G.E. go here and search on Adler, museum or planetarium. One problem is that I can't find a way to turn off the old Adler model, but keep the rest of the Chicago buildings. Nevertheless, SketchUp + Google Earth holds lots of promise for interesting projects (annotated tours of observatories and the like).

I uploaded this model a hour ago and there are already 30 or so more recent than mine. Its a really clever thing Google is doing. Right now they have simple models for a handful of urban areas. Now they will get the public to model the entire world for them.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cosmus image in Astronomy Magazine

The latest issue of Astronomy Magazine contains one of our cosmic ray airshower visualizations. Dinoj really deservs all the credit for this one. You can see the article here.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Cool Stuff at NextFest Part IV: Wrap Up

Well there were many more cool things, but those were the main ones I saw applications for (now if I only could think of a way to use brainball or the power assist suit). But there were a couple of other things worth considering. The panoscope 360 from the University of Montreal could be a great venue for my galaxy flythrough, particularily if we completed the other half of the sphere. Also the fogscreen is a pretty cool (video projection on a sheet of fog that you can walk through). I had been thinking about uses for the fogscreen before, so it was nice to see it in action. The image isn't great but people did really seem to enjoy it.

Cool Stuff at NextFest Part III: GelForce

Another interesting product out of the University of Tokoyo is the GelForce electronic touchpad. It has a deformable surface into which are embedded two layers of different colored LED's. A camera underneath the surface shows the displacement of these surfaces allowing the internal forces to be calculated. Eventually they imagine using this kind of setup to create robot skin. What they were showing at NextFest was basically just different maps of the force surface as you pressed the pad - one even distorting a Galaxy image. A possible application for the cosmology gallery would be just that - gravitational lensing. You could press the pad and see how it distorts the image - try one finger to simulate lensing by a black hole , your fist to represent a cluster of galaxies. I think it would be fun.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Cool stuff at NextFest: part II: AR on a PDA

A group from the Vienna University of Technology did some nice Augmented reality stuff using a Dell Axim pocket PC with a tiny little video camera. They had a layout of toy train tracks and when you looked through the PDA you could see a train superimposed on the tracks. You could also control the switches with the pen as could another person who had the second PDA. If you didn't switch properly two of the trains would crash -> they always crashed for me.

Surrounding the tracks were big black and white tokens (the standard ones from the ARToolkit). The developers said that they needed to be big because the resolution of the little camera was so low, and they needed a lot so that you would always have three in the field of view (although it seems to me that you should be able to work off of one). It worked pretty well, if you moved too fast there were problems though.

I could imagine using this in the cosmology gallery for a video version of our audio tours - "virtual" scientists would pop up in the exhibits and tell you about them.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Cool stuff at NextFest part I: Lumisight Table

Wired magazine's NextFest at Navy Pier was a lot of fun. There were so many cool things, and I got tons of ideas for the Planetarium and the new cosmology gallery that we are planning. So before I forget them, I thought I'd start blogging about some of the things that I thought might work in exhibits at Adler.

The Lumisight Table has a special surface that allows people at each of its four sides to recieve a different view. It works using Lumisity Film. The app. I'm imagining for this is one where you can select different galaxies and then walk around the table to view them in different wavelengths. There is a wonderfully magic effect when it switches from one view to another.

The app. they were running when I was there was poker - you could see your cards, but not those of the other three players - cute.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Back on the Blog Wagon

I've taken a bit of a hiatus whileI was at the SDSS collaboration meeting in Portsmouth etc. My presentation was well received even though it was thrown together at the last minute. Did do some some blog stuff though - helped my Dad start a blog for the cookbook he is working on.