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Augmenting NASA’s Mars Simulation for the Health of Astronauts

Eight-thousand, two-hundred feet above sea level on the northern slope of Mauna Loa in a place surrounded by the barren, lava-rock landscape of an abandoned quarry, six scientists are living in isolation for 365 days in a roughly 1,000 sq. ft. dome.

That’s tight quarters. That’s a year stuck in a space not much larger than a racquetball court.

The domed habitat is called HI-SEAS, the Hawai’I Space Exploration Analog and Simulation…

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The Most Pressing Problem in VR

If you’re following VR, you’re probably hearing a lot about presence. But what is it?

The definition is elusive. Presence in virtual environments has been described, measured, and theorized in all kinds of ways. Whether they have dedicated decades of their lives to the subject or they are part of today’s new generation with a fresh take on VR, researchers are still struggling to come up with a unified conception of presence.

As a huge new wave of presence-inducing technologies hits the market this year, for the first time many people will experience presence and broken presence in virtual environments, so understanding what works and doesn’t is important.

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Embodied Information Behavior, Mixed Reality, and Big Data

Professor Ruth West, together with two students and a University of Tasmania collaborator, published in the proceedings of the SPIE, The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality 2015. West presented the paper to an enthusiastic audience at the conference held in San Francisco Feb. 8-12, 2015, followed by a lively question-and-answer session.

The paper “Embodied Information Behavior, Mixed Reality and Big Data” is a snapshot of the current renaissance in virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technology and the promissory contexts in which those systems are developed.

Written with two xREZ Art + Science Lab students – psychology senior Max Parola and journalism graduate student Amelia Jaycen – the study outlines the process of innovation as it unfolds in developers’ laboratories and the consumer marketplace, where a narrative about a hybrid physical-digital future affects how the Internet of Things will become a part of our human lives.

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IPCC Climate Change Report makes a strong case for change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Nov. 2 issued its Synthesis Report – a combination three IPCC Working Group reports, which IPCC says are “the most comprehensive assessment of climate change ever undertaken.”

The report is the joint effort of 800 lead authors, almost 1,000 more supporting authors and a combination of 30,000 scientific papers. The report “distills and integrates the findings” and provides information critically important for policymakers, IPCC says.

But David Malakoff poses the pertinent question in his article in Science magazine: “whether the new IPCC report can help overcome the political and economic obstacles that have blocked major movement of reducing emissions.”

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Barents Summer School brings researchers face-to-face with local leaders

[Image: Students and local leaders in the Barents Summer School in Kirkenes, Norway. Credit: Amelia Jaycen]

Twenty-four Ph.D. students including Norwegian, Russian, Finnish and Swedish students, some of them representing the Sami population, and one student from Hong Kong gathered to establish international collaborative relationships and learn about conducting epidemiological research: Studies of disease patterns, causes and effects over time.

The one-week course centered around human health issues in the cross-border Barents region. Students who attended are researchers in a variety of subjects ranging from suicides among indigenous populations to the effects of pollution on infants born to exposed mothers.

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Researchers track West Nile Virus, study mosquito species

[Image: Amelia Jaycen]

University of North Texas Regents Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. James Kennedy is conducting his twelfth year of mosquito sampling and testing for West Nile Virus (WNV) in cooperation with the City of Denton, and this year is the first year samples are analyzed at UNT as well as sent to the Texas Department of Health State Services.

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