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Re: armchairs, & other topics

Crpntr@ix.netcom.com (Kenneth Carpenter):

>5)  I don't foresee museum displays being replaced by on line visual 
>reality "museums" because of the enormous amount of money to get and 
>maintain a mainframe, and to digitize images.  Besides, given a choise 
>between looking at a photograph of the Grand Canyon and standing on the 
>rim, isn't knowing you are looking at the real thing part of the awe?  
>If you've never been to the Canyon, then I can not possibly describe the 
>FEELING (not the look).

Sorry, Ken, I'm afraid you missed my point completely.  On-line
museums will take off when VR equipment is readily available,
something Nintendo is taking care of for other purposes without
any help.  You will not be looking at "photos" - you will have
a full 3-D image which will provide evey bit of the "feeling"
you could get from standing next to the mounted - or live -
specimen.  You'll be able to walk closer or further away, or
circle the specimen and see it move in full perspective, and
it will occupy your _entire_ field of vision.

The cost of a "mainframe" - such as a DEC Alpha video server, for
instance - is far, far less than the cost of mounting even one,
small, specimen.  It is perhaps 1/10 the price of one year's
salary for one manager.  Today's on-line museums, such as the
ones at http://www.bvis.uic.edu/museum/Dna_to_Dinosaurs.html/,
http://nmnhwww.si.edu/nmnhweb.html/ or http://ucmp1.berkeley.edu/
are only a pale shadow of what will be available in, say, ten
years - and _during_ the next ten years, most specimens _will_be_
digitized in full 3-D for other reasons, including backup, access
for study by networked researchers content with current tools,
identification, and so on.

But we'll see more than mounting.  Computer morphing was developed
for Abyss and Terminator 2 at staggering expense - and is now used
in everyday commercials and TV series.  The computer animation in
JP is following the same path, perhaps even more quickly.  Ten years
from now, you won't _need_ a "mainframe" to animate a t-rex.  Maybe
not even a "home computer", I expect every video game on the market
to have the capability of doing it to at least TV resolution, and
every desktop computer to at least movie resolution.  Maybe even
sooner than ten years, but certainly no longer than that.  Ten years
ago, the state-of-the-art in processing power was an 8086.  Today
we have Pentiums that cost less.

Never underestimate what computers can do.  Paleontology has as
much potential to be changed radically by computers and networking
as computer science itself.  And I think it will be all to the

Larry Smith