From Smithsonian magazine and the
ocean acidification stupid, it burns! department comes this giant load of crap masquerading as science. No really, that’s what it is. From the article:
It’s not easy to get people exercised about ocean acidification. Yes, it’s a nasty consequence of climate change, a potential death sentence for oysters, clams, sea urchins and, most of all, coral. But it’s slow-motion extermination, out of sight of most humans, and that makes it difficult for us to feel much of a connection—let alone any responsibility—for the calamitous process.
The Stanford team worked with marine biologists to build a virtual replica of a reef around the Italian island of Ischia. Underground volcanic vents there have been spewing carbon dioxide, and that has given researchers the opportunity to closely analyze the effect on marine life—specifically how, as ocean water absorbs more carbon dioxide and becomes more acidic, it corrodes coral and the shells of crustaceans.
From that model, the researchers programmed a VR experience that speeds up the destructive process, allowing a person to first interact with a reef full of life, and then be an up-close-witness to decay as species disappear. Ultimately, the person takes on the perspective of a coral, one whose branches break off with an audible crack.
At its best, virtual reality, says Bailenson, enables you to have a “dual presence,” where you know you’re still in a room wearing a headset, but also actually can feel that you’re at the bottom of the sea. It’s important, he says, for the VR environment to respond your body’s movements.
It also should to be an experience that stimulates multiple senses, including touch when possible. The coral reef VR, for instance, creates the sensation of a fishing net brushing against you. If it feels natural, notes Bailenson, the brain is able to treat the experience as authentic.
Gosh, but what if coral reefs didn’t actually go through a “destructive process”?
What if they actually come back to life when they have been declared dead?
Or what if it isn’t “Ocean Acidification” after all? What if it’s all the oily tourists with underwater cameras?
I’ll bet they don’t have a VR segment for that one.
h/t to Tom Nelson
Added: On Twitter, this reaction amused me.
As did this one: