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Discussion: Roundtable
Topic: Virtual Reality Technology

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Subject:   C. Dede's virtual reality research website
Author: Gayla
Date: Mar 16 2003
Thanks so much for providing this url.  Wow, this is very exciting stuff.  I
have had a chance to barely glance at the website, and will look at it more
thoroughly later.  

I have a question to throw out that is brought immediately to mind.  Can/could
virtual reality be used to present different geometries, so that, kind of like
in your Newtonian world (the only one I have looked at thus far), students could
have intimate outside observations, but also play different roles inside the

For instance, I have a squishy Sierpinski tetrahedron that I turn inside out,
and it makes a spherical structure with deep concavities, where the four outside
portions that would touch the outside of a sphere are what were the inner faces
of the Sierpinski tetrahedron, and the vertices of that tetrahedron are pointing
into the center.  But they don't fit nicely, they bunch together in the center.
I've wondered many times what this structure would look like in hyperbolic
space, say.  Could virtual reality put us into different geometries (such as
hyperbolic space) as though we were really there, to see how things would look
in different kinds of spaces?

At least physics gets attention, and good attention at that.  Geometry is
treated like a dinosaur, in terms of the attitude toward it.  Depending upon
what virtual reality is doing or can do with it, this subject could take on an
exciting new face, not just with math geeks or physicists and such.

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