Category Archives: second life

Getting real about our virtual future

When Nature Materials asked if I would write a Commentary on how I saw virtual worlds impacting our lives and science in particular, I was more than happy to share my thoughts.  You can access the Commentary(1) and accompanying Editorial(2) by Joerg Heber in the December edition of Nature Materials.   The following earlier draft on which the commentary is based, will I hope give Zoonomian readers unfamiliar with virtual worlds a broad introduction to some of their strengths, weaknesses and future potential.

Imagine an online phenomenon that you can engage with today, but which in ten years time will be bigger than the web, run on an infrastructure that makes Google’s hardware look like a pocket calculator, and can already deliver productivity and efficiency gains running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You would be there for that – right?

Be it ever so humble.  The author's Zoonomian Science Centre
Be it ever so humble. The author’s Zoonomian Science Centre

Well – maybe.  Because despite some futuristic projections and perhaps a little wishful thinking, we are still not seeing full-on mainstream engagement with virtual worlds: the three-dimensional immersive environments where, video game style, you use a mouse and keyboard to walk and talk your personal avatar around a simulated world.

Yet recent numbers coming out of Linden Lab, owners of the dominant simulation Second Life, give pause for thought.  For starters, Linden Lab say the virtual economy based on the in-world exchange of goods and services is now running at the equivalent of $500,000,000 per year.  (Linden’s own income derives from virtual land sales and rentals, and virtual-real currency exchange.)  Then there is the continuing enthusiasm shown for virtual worlds by big name business users like IBM, Sun and Intel – some of whom have developed their own simulations; and the host of educational and cultural institutions busily setting up their virtual shop, of which the University of Texas is the most recent and sizable example.

So what do the 70,000 or so users typically online in Second Life represent – a small entrenched community, or a portent of paradigm change in the nature of online human interaction?   And what are they all doing there anyhow?

Based on my virtual wanderings, I can safely assure you that most Second Life residents are not visualizing scientific data, developing business strategies, or attending conferences and virtual universities.  No – they’re mostly just having fun dressing up and forming a variety of friendships and relationships with real people projected into a fantasy setting.  They’re also creating some magnificent artwork.  I’m all for experiment – so good luck to them.

My own excitement about virtual worlds relates more to serious applications than fancy dress, reflecting perhaps my past life in physical and mathematical fluids modelling, or the sympathy I have as a former private pilot for  flight simulation.  I’m a recent convert, having discovered virtual worlds only last year while scanning for new and unusual science communication tools.  Basic Second Life membership is free but, keen to establish a presence and experiment with building techniques, it wasn’t long before I’d purchased the modest plot of virtual land needed to do that.  My initiation was complete when I met up with a team from Imperial College using virtual worlds for medical training – more of which later.

Visitor at science comics exhibition held in June (Zoonomian Science Centre)
A visitor at a Science Comics exhibition held in June  at the Zoonomian Science Centre

Yet mine is a minority interest.   Even within my real-world community of science communicators, barely a handful of colleagues have avatars, and virtual worlds are only now starting to figure in the curriculum of science communication courses.   Contacts in the UK museums sector likewise give the impression they are in no rush to engage – the argument being that the public are just not equipped or interested.

So what is the perception of users?  Geeky at best.  That the purpose of virtual relationships can be sexual (use your imagination) is a mixed blessing for Linden Lab:  attracting some users and scaring others away.   Recent measures taken to separate adult content should improve the balance.

What might it take then for virtual worlds to really take off?  Can we expect another Facebook or Twitter-style growth event any time soon?  Well, ask yourself why anyone might take the virtual leap?  People engage where they perceive value, and that perception changes with perspective.   The socialite or keen party animal, scientist, manager, and communicator will each focus on, understand, and value different aspects of virtual worlds.

First, there is a fundamental quality to virtual worlds that makes their use so attractive and could be the key driver for mainstream uptake.  This special quality is a sense of space and, strange to say, something akin to a feeling of physical presence.   That experience is enhanced by directional audio, such that you can hear footsteps behind you and voices get louder as avatars approach. Regrettably, this defining quality is also the most difficult to convey – you really have to experience it, which is worth remembering if you ever have to sell the concept.  Significantly, those implementing the University of Texas Systems’s virtual university – covering 16 campuses no less – cite how important it was for part of their pitch to the sponsor Chancellors to be made in Second Life itself.

Talking points

I have been most  impressed by the present and potential role for virtual worlds in education, and more generally as a platform for presentations and even full-blown conferencing.  The many hundreds of educational establishments represented in Second Life, including major universities, attest to a pervasive interest in applying virtual worlds to learning.  The arrival of large scale, well funded, projects like the Texas University System pilot, which has a research program for systematized knowledge capture built in, illustrates just how serious the ‘game’ of Second Life has become.  From pilot studies like this will flow the best practices, methodologies and protocols on which the virtual universities of the not too distant future will operate.

For conferencing, substitution of the many experiences that make up a real-world event is unrealistic, but that still leaves scope for one-off lectures, classroom-less teaching scenarios, and those occasions where the trade-off of a virtual presence outweighs having no representation at all.

xxxx discusses life on other worlds - beamed in from the Adler planetarium
Scott Gaudi discusses life on other worlds – beamed in from Chicago’s Adler Planetarium to an event held by ‘Astronomy 2009’ Island –  the official SL presence of the International Year of Astronomy 2009

A good example is the Solo09 Science Online conference, organised in August this year, that ran simultaneously in real life at the UK’s Royal Institution in London – where I was sitting – and in Second Life for anybody who couldn’t make the venue.  Virtual attendees participated fully in the discussions, and one of the speakers joined from Second Life.   And importantly, the cameras were set so that we could all see each other.

The events I have joined have mostly been technically flawless, although the occasional outright disaster  illustrates the danger of relaxing real world conference planning standards.  Bad planning of virtual world events damages not only the organiser’s reputation but, in these early days, the credibility of the concept.  Third party providers like Second Nature and Rivers Run Red with their Immersive Workspaces Solution are offering services to help clients get it right first time.

In the context of public lectures, there is a unique type of speaker-audience dynamic at work in virtual worlds  that I really like, whereby protocol has somehow evolved such that audience members can comment and question, via a communal text box, during the presentation itself.

It's o.k. to talk in class.....
It’s o.k. to talk in class…..   A popular astronomy lecture at MICA

This would be pretty rude behaviour in the real world, but virtual speakers in the know seem to engage with it well, taking comments as cues to amplify audience points or elaborate on areas of the talk where there is special interest.

On the other hand, I have a real problem with the absence of any meaningful facial expression on avatars. We take expressions for granted in real life, but they deliver a lot of conscious and subconscious information that is simply lost in virtual reality. Next time you are at a real world event, make a mental note of where you are looking – it will not be the guy’s shoes.  And I’m not impressed by the counter argument that expressionless anonymity makes strangers less intimidating to approach.

Good starting points for your first virtual public lecture are Second Nature at the Elucian Islands complex, NASA’s Education Island in the science rich apelago known as the SciLands, and for both public and more specialised professional astronomy talks – the Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA).  A list of science-related locations in SL can be found at this Science Center Wiki.

Private individuals and companies can hold their own virtual meetings and mini-conferences, which is a boon for geographically dispersed teams that need to work collaboratively.  The benefits come through as reduced travel time, budget, and carbon footprint – with Intel claiming savings of $265,000 against one real-world meeting.  Yet I suspect many traditional corporate managements are struggling to see the benefit of virtual worlds over good video-conferencing; and I do not envy anyone charged with selling virtual worlds to an unenthusiastic management.

The virtual versions of traditional collaboration aids that exist in Second Life, such as whiteboards and laser pointers, are good for highlighting features on slides and building basic flowcharts,but will disappoint those expecting the spontaneity of a flipchart. Yet workarounds that integrate ‘conventional’ two dimensional collaboration tools are possible, and we should remember that for the display of complex three dimensional objects – that can be walked around and entered – virtual worlds represent an improvement over real life. This kind of functionality is attractive to product designers, scientists, and engineers alike. A civil engineer might share a new bridge concept with a focus group, while an automotive designer might explore a vehicle prototype concept or visualise crash simulations.

In a purely commercial role, I can only envisage the most mechanical and uncontentious negotiations taking place across a virtual table; but that still leaves plenty of scope for collaborative activities including product and supply chain development.  (IBM holds its most sensitive meetings behind a firewall in their own virtual world, and Linden Lab have just released a special ‘Enterprise’ version of Second Life for businesses.)

Scientific visualisations

Data visualisation and simulation are core functionalities in the virtual world where, in the scientific sphere, chemists manipulate complex molecules, climatologists visualise weather systems, and astrophysicists simulate stellar motion.

Interactive molecule at the American Chemical Association
Interactive molecule at the American Chemical Association

Modeling of fundamental physical phenomena in Second Life is constrained by the limitations of the simulation’s HAVOK physics model which, designed to support the games and movie industries, is only partly faithful to the laws of physics. Some tweaking is possible, but complex simulations require that visualisations be tied in to external processing. For example, mass in Second Life is independent of material composition but increases uniformly with object size. Different materials exhibit levels of ’slipperiness’ approximating to friction – yet viscosity and buoyancy are not represented. The delays in processing large amounts of information make accurate real time simulation problematic.

N body simulator at MICA
3 body star simulator at MICA
Yet within limits, some impressive visualisation tools – often open source and customizable – have been produced. As ever, third party solutions specialists such as Green Phosphor are on hand to help you move data between worlds.

To explore the possibilities of data visualization for yourself, you might set up a multi-body star system simulation with the help of MICA, or get up close and personal with some carbon nanotubes at the UK National Physical Laboratories nanoscience and nanotechnology hub in the NanoLands.

Nanotube animation at NPL's NanoLand
Nanotube animation at NPL’s NanoLands

Public engagement

 

Virtual worlds are opening up new vistas in public engagement, ranging from the use of interactive but primarily educational displays and visualizations, through to immersive virtual consultations that impact real world policy-making.

A good example of the former is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s presence in Second Life, where visitors can select weather systems from the Earth and other planets, and see them displayed on a giant walk-around globe – complete with audio commentary.  While at NASA, the visitor can inspect and be photographed sitting atop a full size reproduction of a Saturn V launch vehicle.

Visualisation of Martian weather at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Visualisation of Martian weather at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Saturn V at NASA Education Island
Saturn V at NASA Education Island

A good example of virtual engagement informing real world policy is the London Strategic Health Authority’s project in association with Imperial College, involving a virtual hospital of the future that members of the public can experience and comment on.

Patient simulation at Imperial College
Patient simulation at Imperial College

My most memorable virtual experience happened on this campus, when I found myself guiding and chatting with some of the 1000 or so visitors who had appeared from all over the world for an open day. Such an assembly of individuals  – with the multitude of interests, professions, and languages they represented – could only happen in virtual reality. I’ve blogged about this aspect of virtual worlds before, and you can listen to the short radio documentary I made at the time here:

 

That event showcased techniques for the training of medical professionals, but virtual worlds are also used for direct patient treatment. It is thought stress levels in patients facing surgery can be reduced by walking them through procedures ahead of time. And for the psychologically disturbed, virtual worlds can provide a controllable, non-threatening environment in which their condition can be monitored and improved – a technique the US military has used to gain a better understanding of combat stress.

The future

While the limited processing power of users’ computers prevents an immediate Twitter-style boom in avatar births, I firmly believe we will see huge growth in both the application and awareness of virtual worlds over the next two to five years.

As hardware costs fall and broadband becomes ubiquitous, the themes of integration and interface will dominate the technical and cultural horizons of virtual worlds.

Technically, a closer integration with communications and social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Google has already started; for example, I can now tweet from inside Second Life.  At Second Earth, a ‘mash-up’ of Google Earth data with Second Life visualization is signposting the way ahead.

Second Earth - A mash-up of GoogleEarth with Second Life
Second Earth – A mash-up of GoogleEarth with Second Life

An inevitable move to more open standards will free avatars and virtual goods to move between different virtual worlds and other media platforms.  The underlying physics models will improve, as will graphics and display technology. We will control our avatars via sensors that attach to, or remotely scan, our body and face; or we might use our brainwaves directly.

Culturally, we may find our daily routine moving seamlessly between the real and virtual worlds, in a future where avatars look and move exactly like their real world counterparts. Throwing off geek status, virtual worlds will become mainstream as more scientists, teachers, engineers, business people – and even some politicians – recognize the possibilities they offer.

All of which makes now a great time to put prejudice aside, get ahead of the game, and start checking out some of the amazing creative content and ideas that await you in the virtual universe.

Update 7/7/20011 –  The Zoonomian Science Centre is no longer active, but you can still contact me in Second Life as Erasmus Magic.  Or or course drop me a real-life email from the blog.

Tim Jones’s name in Second Life is Erasmus Magic

References

(1) ‘Getting real about our virtual future‘ in Nature Materials 8, 919 – 921 (2009)

doi:10.1038/nmat2580

(2) Editorial in Nature Materials 8, 917 (2009)

doi:10.1038/nmat2582

Related Links

Joanna Scott’s retrospective on the SOLO09 conference here at Nature Network

Update / Other Info

The Dutch Royal Academy of Arts and Science ‘Jonge Akademie’ invited me to talk about the themes covered in this paper and virtual worlds in general.  Here are the slides from the event.

 

August 2010 – Linden’s attempt at a business only product just didn’t work for them.  Interesting analysis here at Hypergridbusiness.com, including comments from IBM.

Exquisite Corpse of Science – Week 1

Latest News: The video of Exquisite Corpse of Science won Imagine Science Films‘ ‘Film of the Week’ Competition.  Cool huh?

For latest status of the project and instructions for taking part, CLICK HERE

It’s just over a week since I invited the world to take part in the Exquisite Corpse of Science project. It’s very simple: you send me a picture that represents what you think is important about science, and as an option you can add a short audio file describing what you’ve drawn.

One way to launch your artistic views.....
One way to launch your artistic views..... (Mosaic software credit AndreasMosaic)

I’ll then combine these into a single artwork in the manner of the Surrealists’ Exquisite Corpse – and further present the project in ‘fly-around’ 3D in Second Life.  A couple of high profile events have shown interest in relaying this project – so no promises – but watch this space.

So how’s it going?  Well the original post has had over a thousand hits, and the enthusiasm for the idea from individuals and organisations involved in science and science communication is encouraging.

Twitter seems to be the main vehicle by which word is getting around. Many thanks to those who have blogged on the project, and Twitter friends who are promoting it via the infamous ‘Re-Tweet’; especially: Andrew Maynard & family @2020science, @frogst, @imperialspark,@garethm (BBC Digital Planet),@vye, and the organisations @seedmag (SEED Magazine), @naturenews (via Matt Brown/@maxine_clarke), @sciandthecity (NY Academy of Sciences), and @the_leonardo in Utah.  Also, thanks to Dave Taylor (@nanodave) at Imperial College – who is working with me on the Second Life virtual incarnation of Exquisite Corpse.

I want to doubly stress that the Exquisite Corpse Of Science is most definitely not just for scientists and engineers; it’s for literally everybody.  And it’s absolutely not about producing a Leonardo or Rembrandt……So get your Gran’ma on the case.

I’ve so far received 11pictures (+ 7 more I know are in the pipeline), and 4 audio accompaniments.  So keep the pics coming in to make the definitive ‘WALL OF SCIENCE’ big and beautiful.  Come on guys, how can I inspire you !  I know, the pictures so far….

Clare Dudman
Clare Dudman
Joerg Heber
Joerg Heber
Andrew Maynard
Andrew Maynard
Evren Kiefer
Evren Kiefer
Bill Weedmark
Bill Weedmark
Alex Maynard
Alex Maynard
Andreia soares Azevedo
Andreia Azevedo Soares
Andrew Maynard (abstract)
Andrew Maynard (abstract)
Edmund Harriss
Edmund Harriss
Richard Lanzara
Richard Lanzara
Kathryn
Kathryn
Exquisite Corpse in Second Life (building the 3D 'fly around' wall)
Exquisite Corpse in Second Life (building the 3D 'fly around' wall)

For latest status of the project and instructions for taking part, CLICK HERE

Imperial College Virtual Medicine Showcased by Linden Labs

For the next 24 hours or so, Linden Labs are providing a link from the main Second Life log-in screen to Imperial College’s virtual medical facility.

Virtual Operating Theatre
Virtual Operating Theatre (with me, Erasmus Magic)

You can link there directly via this SLURL http://slurl.com/secondlife/Medical%20School/48/133/26 .  Over a thousand visitors in the last 24 hours.  All very interesting; so check it out.   I’ll be in-world over the next day (Erasmus Magic), so say hi if you see me.  And make sure you listen to the audio on the music channel, where I’m talking with some  of those involved in the development.

This is where you will arrive - Get a free set of 'scrubs' too!
This is where you will arrive - Get a free set of 'scrubs' too!

Virtual Medicine

In this podcast I meet a team from Imperial College who are leading the field in the application of virtual worlds for medical training. The package was originally broadcast on the radio show Mission Impossible on ICradio.com on 23rd June 2009.

1137

 

 

Search for Life in Second Life

A little bleary-eyed this morning, having stayed up to watch the Kepler launch on NASA TV.

Kepler’s mission is to locate rocky earth-sized planets around other stars.  The satellite carries an instrument called a photometer, or light meter, that measures the very small changes in a star’s brightness that occur when an orbiting planet passes in front of it.

The real interest is in worlds that orbit in a ‘habitable zone,’ not too near and not too far from their star, where liquid water, and possibly life, could exist.

The build-up to Kepler has prompted much discussion around the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.  A couple of weeks back I joined ‘The Search for Life Beyond Earth‘  at the Royal Institution.  Last night, via a live feed into Second Life from Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, I joined Scott Gaudi of Ohio State University on a ‘Quest for our Origins – The Search for Other Worlds and Life in The Universe,’ including a review of the latest techniques for remotely identifying earth-like planets.

The technical quality of this event was excellent, with live streaming video, multi-screen slides, and sound.

There is another event tonight at 10 a.m Pacific Time (6 pm UK), about the early universe and the cosmic microwave background.  Just time for you to sign up; see you there (SL name Erasmus Magic).

Here are some photos from last night:

Auditorium in SciLands
Auditorium in SciLands

Scott Gaudi speaking from the Adler Planetarium into Second Life
Scott Gaudi speaking from the Adler Planetarium into Second Life
Multi-screen live presentation
Multi-screen live presentation
The Quest for our Origins
The Quest for our Origins
Scott Gaudi
Scott Gaudi
Microlensing (slide from Scott Gaudi's presentation)
Microlensing (slide from Scott Gaudi's presentation)
Colourful characters in SL
Colourful characters in SL

Second Earth

This is pretty cool.  A getting together of Google Earth and Second Life to make ‘Second Earth’, located on (above?) the SciLands virtual continent, which I stumbled across while checking out a SciLands event this weekend.

Essentially it’s  a way to represent 3D data in Second Life, with the vertical scale exaggerated.  Explanatory video here plus a couple of my own InWorld pics.

Second Earth - A mash-up of GoogleEarth and Second Life
Second Earth - A mash-up of GoogleEarth and Second Life
UK on Second Earth - Looking a bit flat?
UK on Second Earth - Looking a bit flat?

Presumably it’s therefore possible to map the entire Google Earth contour data set into Second Life or a similar virtual world.  And, it follows that,  when our avatars are sufficiently programmed up with our personalities and such like, we can just set the thing running and jump into a hole in the ground with some sleeping tablets.  Matrix here we come – yeh!

I’m getting cynical.  Must be February.

Appearances Can Be Deceptive

I keep running into this demonstration of how strange our brains can be, so thought I’d have a go myself.

Have a look at the inverted face below.  Upside down, but still pretty cute eh?

Cute
Cute

Now look at the next picture where she’s turned the right way round – yuk!

But it’s exactly the same picture just inverted.  Our brains somehow pick out the individual elements of the face and reconstruct them as we normally expect to see them – I guess?   Personally, I can’t see a glum person in the top picture without turning my head to a degree – I’ve just discovered – not so good for my neck.

Not so cute.  Well, not so happy anyhow.
Not so cute. Well, not so happy anyhow.

This simple example was made by cutting, rotating, and pasting the mouth of the girl in the painting.

I saw something like this a couple of years back at the Exploratorium Science Centre in San Francisco.    The most recent demonstration I’ve seen was at the Weird Science event here in London earlier this month, where Richard Wiseman had us all in hysterics with a doctored picture of Margaret Thatcher.  That was doubly strange, as: (a) he’d turned the eyes round as well (which is the correct thing to do, but my painting struggles because of the hair) and, (b) rotated the image slowly, which revealed there is a certain point where the brain clicks over to seeing the ‘new’ image – the gestalt switch moment.

The Exploratorium exhibition also included so-called hybrid images of faces that change expression depending on how near or far you stand from them.  The effect still works very well on a computer screen, but you need to stand a long way back.

Not entirely sure how the brain processes compare for the two types of phenomena, but I find the ‘switch’ is more gradual with the hybrid images.   In deference to copyright I’ll not share the snaps I took, but you can find something very similar at the ‘Hybrid Images’ website owned by Dr.Aude Olivia, Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT.

See Sophie smile and scowl and smile and scowl and smile
See Sophie smile and scowl and smile and scowl and smile

Zoonomian Launches in Second Life

It was inevitable.   The indefinable, yet almost tangible buzz of excitement that has for weeks held cyberspace in a grip of nervous anticipation: it all  makes sense now.  For yesterday evening, to tumultuous public acclaim, the Zoonomian Science Centre opened its doors to residents of Second Life.

Zoonomian Science Centre in SL
Zoonomian Science Centre in SL

O.K. – if my brother hadn’t monopolised model railway construction when we were kids, maybe I’d have gotten this sort of thing out of my system earlier.  But all the same, putting this creation together has been a lot of fun and there is a serious side to it all.

A visitor on the Conference Floor on opening night
A visitor explores the Conference Floor on opening night

Virtual worlds have been with us for a while, as has their use for promoting interaction in science and technology; and indeed, for science communication.

There are many real world businesses, universities, museums, and even embassies represented in Second Life; most of which you can just turn up to and walk right in.  I particularly like NASA’a site, despite their copy restrictions preventing my placing the Saturn V launch vehicle as sentinel to the ZSC.   The NASA site is part of what is probably the major nexus for science and technology in Second Life: the  SciLands Virtual Continent.   The Nature Publishing Group and Macmillan Publishing also have a substantial SL presence at the Elucian IslandsSecond Nature – which hosts events such as the recent Virtual Conference on Climate Change and CO2 Storage, held in association with my own Imperial College.

Second Life is the best known virtual world, but there are dozens of others – some, like OpenSim, snapping at its heels.

Entrance lobby
Entrance lobby (I'm most comfortable constructing as a meerkat)

I’ve previously discussed Second Life here, in the context of societies with boundless resource; and most recently here, when I first bought land and installed a giant gibbon on it.  (If anybody is missing the gibbon, don’t worry, she and others are likely to return with a vengeance.)   In the former post, I referred to owner Linden’s claim that 70,000 thousand residents were  ‘in-world’ at any one time; I’ve seen  between 45,000 and 75,000, so that seems realistic.

Entrance lobby and conference level
Entrance lobby and conference level

So, much more importantly – what am I going to do with this space?

As a conventional museum with exhibits, there are no limits –  save those dictated by the bounds of copyright and creative ingenuity; but mainly cost – of time and money.   Media: such as web pages, music, and movies, can be streamed into the Centre via two media panels.  The default is set to this blog, with which you can interact from within SL.

There is also the potential for groups to meet up at the centre to  share media materials, films, podcasts etc, and to hold mini-conferences to which a broader public might be invited.

Conference Level
Conference Level

And I guess this brings us to the big difference bewteen a straight web page interaction and an interaction in Second Life.  SL and its ilk are spaces where people who are geographically far apart in the real world can meet to share content and have discussions.   You might say you could do that sitting at your PC?  But then of course that’s exactly where you would be.  The claim is that a virtual world gives you more degrees of freedom for expression.  For sure, if during an SL discussion at the conference table, a guest gets up and orders a drink from the bar (did I not mention the bar?), then spends the rest of the meeting pacing around, that would send a certain kind of message.

If you want to visit the Zoonomian Science Centre, you will need to register for free at Second Life and get yourself a name.  Then come to this location in the Haddath Region.   Haddath has ‘mature’ status – so adults only please.   The Centre is normally open to all, but just come back later if not; it just means I’m working on the place and don’t want to jump out of my skin when someone walks up behind me and starts chatting.

Of course, the main pupose of the Zoonomian Science Centre has been as a learning exercise for me; Second Nature can relax after all.  That said:  “from small acorns……”

Oh yes – if you are reading this at the Centre…..Welcome !   Enjoy!