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More news about NASA and virtual worlds.

This weekend's Virtual Worlds and Immersive Environments conference was held at the space agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Two days with some big names in virtual worlds should place NASA even more squarely on the virtual government map than it has been. NASA already has issued a call for help creating its own synthetic world and multiplayer immersive game.

Here are the organizing principles for the confab:

1. We all get to go: The ability to engage anyone in being a part of or contributing to an experience (such as a space mission), no matter their training or location. A new paradigm for education, outreach, and the conduct of science in society that is truly participatory.

2. Remote Exploration: The ability to create high-fidelity environments rendered from external data or models such that exploration, design and analysis that is truly inter-operable with the physical world can take place within them.

3. Become the data: A vision of a potential future where boundaries between the physical and the virtual have ceased to be meaningful. What would this future look like? Is this plausible? Is it desirable? Why and why not.

NASA is hosting some big virtual world names. Among the lecturers will be Corey Bridges, who founded Multiverse, a company of former Netscape folks who want to put the tools of synthetic world creation into the hands of the masses, so to speak.

Underlying NASA's growing interest and presence in the virtual world appears to be a belief that it's more than just a place to attract kids to science. NASA seems to be envisioning a future in which space missions occur not just in physical outerspace, but simultaneously in the ethernet.

Here's a telling quote from the conference welcome: “This workshop will focus specifically on the convergence of underlying technologies necessary to achieve high-fidelity virtual environment experiences, and possible architectures of that convergence. There will be a particular emphasis on how these technologies can support scientific and engineering visualization and analysis.”

Kind of gives new meaning to the idea of “space,” eh?

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