I read somewhere the other day about Second Life, an apparently popular virtual reality online, in which you can meet and chat to people, move about, buy things and even hold physics conferences. The last one is really why I bothered – in the same week I read about physics connections made through Second Life I also found a Second Life group on the Nature Network. So I thought that I’d better have a look. I agonised for a while over the choice of an appropriate name (and I think that I’m proud of what I finally chose), and then set about exploring. The introductory location is on an island, and the disadvantage of this is that you can fall in to the surrounding water. Fortunately you don’t drown, so you can have a bit of a swim and then climb out again. Then my computer crashed and I gave up for the day. I tried again just now and I managed to buy a chain mail shirt (gotta be useful, right?), before it all slowed down and started responding like a reluctant dog being led to the bath. When it finally relaxed and speeded up, I found that I had fallen into the water again. After a few more attempts which all ended in the cryosphere, I gave up. If it won’t run even with all the other programs switched off and nothing fancy enabled, I guess it’s trying to tell me something. Something along the lines of “No MacBook Pro? Not even a dual-core processer? Pah. We don’t need your sort around here”
So I won’t get to the virtual physics conference, but maybe since I’m in sunny California and it’s February, I’ll go surfing instead. Real surfing. With real people. I may yet emerge from my first life crysalis to face the second stage, but for the time being it’s quite nice in here. Now, where did I put my wetsuit?