Monday, July 04, 2005

Crab blog

I've had so much input the last 2 weeks that I could easily write a book about them. However I'll just narrow it down to a few photos and comments, and I will do that in a backwards manner, starting from the most recent events and then going back into the past.

I will start with the most impressive virtual reality presentation I've ever seen: The Hayden Planetarium.

It is part of the Natural History Museum in New York, and it is truly a work of art. In its core lies a space dome that is light years ahead of anything I've seen before.

In its core lies the most perfect Planetarium Projector in the world: Zeiss Mark IX.

This guy produces pictures of the night sky far better than most people in the world can see (due to light pollution). Stars, nebulas, planets, galaxies are just for starters. The stars have natural variations in their brightness (as in reality). Several objects in the sky require binoculars in order to be seen, just as in the real sky. The colors are most accurate. But the most important feature is that the projector's brightness allows someone to superimpose video at the surface of the dome without the starry sky being lost in the background. And this is where the fun starts.

As you sit down inside the dome, there are some faint purple lights; the show starts; the lights go down; for a few seconds there is darkness; then lights from the outer shell of the dome start spinning, revealing some of the structure behind the dome screen such as speakers and bars; the voice of Tom Hanks announces the projector as it rises slowly in the center of the dome; the lights go off; a magnificent picture of the night sky appears on the dome, which looks impossibly real; as the sky rotates, the constellations start appearing in the sky; the constellations become mythical figures; the figures become astronomical charts; the ecliptic is added; and before you realize it the sun has appeared and the trajectories of the inner planets of the solar system are drawn, as the camera moves through them at faster-than-light speeds.

It is a shame to try to describe the 3D feeling that the projection masterfully achieves. I think I wow-ed at least 10 times during the show, which overshadows all my previous wow experiences I have had. And this is all thanks to Bing's boyfriend's friend who kept insisting the night before to visit the Dome. 1000 thanks, dude!