September 17th, 2008 |
From Fairbanks to Barrow
Our first full day in Alaska started out at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center
’s Discovery Lab
. To get there we descended to the lower depths of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Rasmuson Library
This location is fitting, because the D-Lab, as it’s known, feels a lot like a cave – a cave from the future, that is.
The room is dark except for a huge 3-walled screen, onto which you can project all kinds of interesting imagery. It makes for a very immersive environment, and the lab has been used for projects ranging from virtual reality experiments
to virtual dance performances
We spent the first part of our day there, demonstrating Google Earth and talking to representatives of the University and local press. Next we stopped off to visit UAF’s Geophysical Institute, where our friend John Bailey, a volcanologist and avid geo developer, spends his time. He gave us a tour of the Alaska Volcano Observatory, where researchers track volcanic activity using Google Earth and other tools. These very cool animations simulating the movement of volcanic ash caught my eye.
We arrived in Barrow just in time for dinner
and a windy stroll. We're only a little over an hour away from Fairbanks
by air, but it’s unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. Polar bears are regularly spotted in town (here's one checking out the football field
), and our hotel has thermal shields to keep it from melting the permafrost. Here are some pictures from our first day, and we’ll be back tomorrow with stories from our time in Barrow