Saturday, January 30, 2010

I know I have been quiet...

But there is a lot going on. First of all I am busy moving and tweaking some of my projects from Spring and its always interesting to revisit scripts with a bit more maturity and say to one's self. "Gee that's sloppy" or "hmm why didn't I do it this way".

At any rate
some of my online students will be able to work on my college's island and use some of my materials for their course work and I will be using some of the simulations in lecture as well.

Also, as if that isn't enough, I have a six month land grant for a larger scale project at INTEL's Science Sim using OpenSim and am starting an artificial life type simulation to visualize some of the interesting effects spatial distribution and simple behaviors can have on group properties and evolution. This is inspired both by my Second Life sabattical project on evolution but also by my interest in social insects where complex group behavior arises from simple individual behaviors. And it is inspired by Aaron Duffy's work on fern genetics at Science Sim.

The difference between my project and Aaron's is that his is a special purpose project focused on fern genetics while I am working on visualization of more general sorts of models that visitors can work with and watch evolve over time. My project is more like some of the Artificial Life described here:

So this is quite different than my earlier simulation which uses population wide parameters such as fitness to determine what mix of critters to have as you go from one generation to the next. It is also a bit like the now defunct (unfortunately) ecosystem project in Second Life. One big difference is that I am going to use LSL and Opensim functions to change the characteristics of the critters (within certain limits so as not to blow stuff up and crash servers) in response of changes in an underlying "genetic" system. So organisms of different sizes, shapes and with different rates of movement and types of behavior would be allowed to mutate and evolve.

I will be reporting on this throughout the Spring. The attractiveness of OpenSim is that depending on your server many of the limits of Second Life such as the small number of prims available to the user in a parcel. For instance I have use of an OpenSim region that supports 6,000 plus prims. This is all part of INTEL's land grant program. If you are interested you can learn more at or at:

If want to see what can be done at ScienceSim in terms of large scale simulations check out these pictures of the ScienceSim model of Yellowstone Park: Yellowstone without the bears. The picture in this post show me, actually my ScienceSim Avatar, and some of the critters I am working on. These guys look to me a lot like Paramecia but one visitor thinks they are more like banana slugs. Right now they don't do much but wander randomly around the parcel and when they encounter each other they stop for a bit and alternately blink red and white. I will not tell you what my wife thinks they are doing ...that may be a bit TMI.

For those interested here is a bit more about using geological data with OpenSim at ScienceSim.

As always, you can contact me in SL as Simone Gateaux or now in ScienceSim as Paul Decelles.

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