Scientific research inside Second Life

This week's Science News discusses several real scientific research projects inside Second Life. For example, Drexel University neurobiologist Corey Hart (no, not that Corey Hart) is building a virtual frog to study the neural pathways involved in hopping. Meanwhile, Robert Amme, a physicist at the University of Denver, is modeling a nuclear reactor as a training tool. Indeed, many research institutions are leveraging the simple sim tools of SL to create immersive science learning experiences. From Science News:
Virtual Frog “Early on, when SL really got going, it looked like it was going to be a huge playground,” says Amme. “I thought personally, who needs a second life unless you don’t have a first one?”

Although SL retains a large recreational component, with fantasy, racy nightclubs and sex, the science islands have distinguished themselves as places to connect with the “outside” world. Scientist-avatars guide students through formal university educational programs – such as the University of Denver’s master’s degree in environmental engineering – or create exhibits designed to demonstrate scientific principles. Navigational tools let users zoom in and around objects, making SL a convenient place to investigate phenomena that would otherwise be hard to visualize or understand. Avatars can, for example, initiate chemical reactions with a touch of their hand, watch a tsunami form or stroll through the internal structures of a cell.


  1. Has anyone built an SL client that doesn’t require an insane (AKA I can’t justify it in the family budget)graphics card?

  2. This is extremely cool.

    I’m going to have to check these out when I get home. I admit, as severely cool as the idea behind it is, I’ve never been able to really get into Second Life, mostly because all I ever seem to be able to find are empty stores and porn.

    I’m sure there are fun and interesting things to do and see and people to meet, I just wish I knew where to find them.

  3. For God’s sake PLEASE spare us any more non-news from Second Life — the land of non-people who waste their lives doing non-things because they loathe themselves too much to turn off the damned PC and go outside now and then.

  4. @TGJerusalem:

    Come to Extropia! We’re hosting the NASA Future Forum today, the Editor in Chief of American Anthropologist tomorrow, the head of NASA’s virtuality efforts on Saturday – and that’s just this week!

    We’re on the web here, or search for “Extropia” in SL.

  5. @Lobster:

    Can I go populate the surrounding area with simulated mutated wildlife?

    Yes. I just ask that you be careful and don’t litter.

Comments are closed.