By JOHN MARKOFF
New York Times, April 25, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO — Inside a darkened theater a viewer floats in a redwood forest displayed with Imax-like clarity on a cavernous overhead screen.
The hovering sensation gives way to vertigo as the camera dives deeper into the forest, approaches a branch of a giant redwood tree, and then plunges first into a single leaf and then into an individual cell. Inside the cell the scene is evocative of the 1966 science fiction movie “Fantastic Voyage,” in which Lilliputian humans in a minuscule capsule take a medical journey through a human body.
There is an important difference — “Life: A Cosmic Journey,” a multimedia presentation now showing at the new Morrison Planetarium here at the California Academy of Sciences, relies not just on computer animation techniques, but on a wealth of digitized scientific data as well.
Comment and Seven Graphics Below the Line…
Phi Beta Iota: John Markoff is a gifted reporter, but he made a complete mess of reporting on hackers in the 1980’s and 1990’s, being too often opportunistic, ignorant, and prone to hyperbolic threat rather than recognizing hackers for what they were and are: pioneers with the right stuff, pushing the edge of the envelope far beyond the boundaries of institutionalized knowledge. As wonderful as this hyperbolic article is, it fails to point out that the data is simply not there, nor is the strategic analytic model, nor are the algorithms for evaluating true cost in relation to all else. The US infrastructure is not up making this the norm, US academics and commercial enterprises are not up to actually stocking the sparse matrices with data, and neither the US public nor US politicians give a damn, which they should, because changes to the Earth that used to take 10,000 years now take three or less–less when we have a Gulf oil disaster or a Japanese tsunami-nuclear event.