Monday, 22 February 2016

People in Glass Houses

Although intermixed with a few other topics en route, I have now posted seven themed personal reflections on my career from the perspective of an ‘apprentice’ retired person (see here for the most recent, which includes links to the other six). I need another break from this defined theme; maybe I’ll go back and write the final two – on teaching and on the building and development of major national/international research facilities – or maybe I won’t: watch this space. For this particular post I wanted to reflect on the way in which my interests as a research scientist have even seeped into playing MineCraft (for the unitiated, please see the promotional video below) with one of my grandsons. Moreover, I’ve adopted what is, in the context of my blogging, a novel way to present the material – I hope you enjoy it.

At the outset I ought to confess that I dislike computer games as a rule: any game, any computer platform. I am not very good at them and they don’t interest me – facts which are likely to be coupled I suspect. However, the chance of spending time with either of my grandsons is a powerful incentive, and slowly, very slowly, the older of the two – who is a MineCraft ‘master’ at the age of eight – has trained and coaxed me enough that I can join in with simple tasks in the virtual world initially set up for him by my 30-something son. (The process of learning from an eight year-old is itself interesting, but I’ll defer that to another post.)
A 1-minute promotional video outlining the essence of the MineCraft concept.

What emerged very quickly, as I graduated from following his avatar around and acting as the hapless target for various forms of combat practice, or the stool-pigeon for one of his cunning traps, was the realisation that I am as inspired by glass in the virtual world as I am in the research realm. To illustrate this, using a series of screenshots as the basis for a narrated slideshow tour, I present here the first house I built. I realise that this tongue-in-cheek exercise shows conclusively that I’d never make a good estate agent (- realtor for the few who read this in America) and that vlogging is unlikely to become my forte, but I hope that will be forgiven. The key thing is to discern my all-too-obvious fascination with glass. Although there’s not a great deal of overt glass science in this, I have already uploaded several posts on the subject should you wish to learn a little more:
Celebrating Disorder
Something good this way passed
Beyond ‘Fun with Flags’
Finding the needle
My tongue-in-cheek narrated slideshow created to accompany the blog post (- 5 min. long).

What next for my small corner of this virtual world? I think I may unleash my inner Capability Brown and try a little landscaping, followed perhaps by my inner Gertrude Jekyll for garden layout and then exploit my inner ‘Farmer’ George III in order to expand into farming; who knows. In the meantime, to put my paltry efforts into perspective, my grandson has recently built a highly credible version of the International Space Station and placed it in geostationary orbit above the virtual world: it has working airlocks, solar panels and a docking bay for the fully functioning supply rocket which visits regularly from the ground. Oh well, c’est la vie.

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