Nuclear Energy & Education

There are many areas of science and engineering that are very dangerous and/or expensive to investigate, where experimentation in the meshverse is much safer and cheaper. Clearly, nuclear energy is one area. Learning in the meshverse can also be more effective too:

In a way, running experiments and teaching classes in Second Life offers a number of advantages over real life: students watching from their computer screens won’t have to wear expensive radiation badges or obtain clearance to enter an actual laboratory. Instead, they can attend in the guise of “avatars” — virtual likenesses, like personalized computer game characters, whose appearance and features can be customized.

They can also interact with other avatars, a key to making a successful virtual classroom, Amme said, and a major advantage over more traditional Web-based distance learning programs.

“We think that a hands-on laboratory experience is the best teacher, and to be able to do this in Second Life is a marvelous breakthrough, a marvelous opportunity,” he said. “The Web itself is rather benign by comparison because there’s no interactivity. … What’s missing in a lot of distance learning is the socialization [among] students.”

There are other benefits too: Avatars don’t flinch when they’re doing gamma ray spectroscopy. “We don’t have to be worrying about the control of actual nuclear specimens because they can’t be stolen,” Amme pointed out. And, “you don’t have to worry about using plutonium, for example, as a source of neutrons.”

Inside Higher Ed: In Second Life There’s No Fallout


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