Take Your Better-Looking Avatar to Stonehenge Second Life

Built in Second Life by Ewan Haggarty, sent to us by Pete Glastonbury

We don’t know much about Second Life. We haven’t figured out how to do something worthwhile with our first life, and we’re pretty sure spending more time on line than we already do isn’t the answer. But of course most people have their act together much better than we do, so for them having a second, virtual, life is an option. It’s probably a relief to enter a place away from routines and mundane concerns.

Second Life (Wikipedia explanation here) has all kinds of places to go, and people can build things there. So naturally there are Stonehenges. We mentioned a couple when we did a post on virtual Stonehenges before. As far as we know, each one is, in its context, a real Stonehenge, not a replica, although–who knows!–there may be virtual Stonehenge replicas there, too. If you know of any, do not hesitate to let us know!

Here’s a link to another, quite accurate Stonehenge made for Second Life. Here’s another Second Life Stonehenge on Flickr. We confess this is all mind boggling to us. We have this strange feeling that all these Stonehenges will have to come to blows someday like male mountain goats vying for the harem. We can see it now, all those huge stones hurling themselves at one another, trying to establish which is the real Stonehenge. When that happens, Second Lifers, get pictures!

Even with a virtual henge we can do what we do. Let’s see: bluestones? Check. Aubrey holes? Check. Sorta-kinda the ditch and bank. Half check. The stones are the wrong proportions and shapes, of course, but in the right places and anyway it’s catchy and you can dance to it. We’ll give it 7½ druids. (See how we’re just ignoring the floating orb, the small pyramid and the wasp-ish thing with breasts? We’re good at what we do! Do not try this at home!)

Who builds these Stonehenges in Second Life? Astronomers? Engineers? Druids? We’d be curious to know. But we’re glad to know that people take the things that inspire and awe them with them wherever they go!

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4 thoughts on “Take Your Better-Looking Avatar to Stonehenge Second Life

  1. Don’t get me wrong–7 1/2 is a good score for a virtual henge!There are some virtual Stonehenges out there, done from 3D laser scans of Stonehenge done on site (http://stonehengelaserscan.org/), but they’re expensive and I’m sure you’re right about the download time. Anyway, the variation among replicas is our stock in trade–we wouldn’t want them to be perfect and uniform, one to the other! The differences are what interest us. The one you’ve made is more than adequate to its purpose.

    Maybe sometime we’ll think about signing up for Second Life, but we weren’t kidding about needing to get a first life before we do. When we do, we’ll look you up! You’re a friend of Pete, right?

  2. You are absolutely correct – the natural shapes and elaborate man-made shaping of The Stones are one of the most appealing aspects of them.

    It is possible to make more realistic shapes in SL using special objects called ‘sculpties’ – however, with 160 stones in this model, and each one being unique, that is a lot of ‘virtual carving’! OK, it cannot be as hard as biffing one small sarsen rock off another, but it is a considerable challenge. Available data to make a good job of this is also difficult to come by. The other more ‘naturalistic vitruahenges’ are actually simpler ‘rock’ shapes than the real thing and I think a rather more utilitarian block is probably just as accurate.

    Another penalty of more realistic shaping is the more complex shapes take a longer time to download and more computer processing to ‘rez’. This would affect badly how this build is perceived by visitors.

    As always, the art of compromise is in effect. My aim here was to create a model that behaved realistically and well for astronomical alignment investigation and secondarily have some of the ‘impact’ when ‘walking’ near and amongst The Stones.

    Please visit – I’d love to show you around.

  3. Thank you for the information. Fascinating and just the kind of thing we’re curious about! I think the astronomical accuracy earns you a half point: 7 1/2 druids.

    We could go further if the stones were shaped more like the originals. Some think that the individual shapes of the stones are important, possibly affecting the astronomical as well as the ritual significance of the monument.

    We’ve observed before on the blog that astronomers and engineers tend to miss the aesthetically pleasing variations of shape and proportions among the stones. But, to be fair, those who reproduce Stonehenge as art miss the precision of its alignments. I guess that’s why although they all represent the same thing, no two Stonehenge replicas are alike.

    Thank you again and well done!

  4. Who builds Stonehenges in virtual environments? Well, I’m a Communications Engineer with a long-term interest in prehistory and archaeoastronomy – thank you for your positive comments on my build in SL. This Stonehenge is a 1:1 model built as accurately as the SL virtual environment will allow (and I won’t bore you with techy details here, other than dimensionally it is accurate to better than half a metre everywhere – that’s overall dimensional accuracy within 0.5%). It incorporates the slight SW to NE tilt of the ground and is surrounded by an accurate far-field horizon – so it is actiually both proportionate and precisely aligned.

    I built it here as where else can you work real-time with an accurate model of the real-thing, walking amongst the stones and in the henge itself?

    Unfortunately, what you cannot see in a still picture is the fully working and a very accurate planetarium that surrounds the structure moving the Sun, major planets and Moon – with phases – around. This has a highly detailed night-sky and has the capability to simulate both lunar and solar eclipses. This planetarium has been built by my friend JeanPierre Euler, who is a for-real Mathematics Professor. As Stonehenge could be viewed as a ‘celebration of the sky’ any model of it without one would be missing the point! Transitions from day to night via a red sunset and sunrise are simulated too, adding quite a lot to the experience of visiting the model.

    JP and I now have a working ‘tour vehicle’ that takes visitors to the correct locations and viewpoints within the model so they can ‘observe’ events such as Lunar Minima/Maxima and Solstices – we are programming in more of these ‘scenarios’ as we go. Visitors with more patience can ‘talk’ to the planetarium computer, which is housed in the pyramid in the picture, to configure the sky to any date and time they wish to observe. Why a pyramid? Well, it is clearly not part of the real Stonehenge and geometry demanded it had to be in the middle of the structure, so it was made deliberately to look slightly out-of-place.

    The dimensional accuracy of this Virtual Stonehenge and JP’s planetarium has made it possible for me to verify the alignments described in MW Postins ‘Stonehenge – Sun, Moon, Wandering Stars’ book and try out several ideas presented by Hawkins in ‘Stonehenge Decoded’ – amongst others.

    You didn’t spot the Station Stones or the stood-up Slaughter Stone and its companion in the picture – is that worth some more druid points?

    As for the wasp-waisted droid and her ‘bot in the picture? I can assure you there are way stranger things in SL…

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