We have reports from a couple of Foresight members who have toured the Allosphere, part of the California NanoSystems Institute at UC Santa Barbara, and it sounds truly impressive. From their website:
The AlloSphere, a 30-foot diameter sphere built inside a 3-story near-to-anechoic (echo free) cube, allows for synthesis, manipulation, exploration and analysis of large-scale data sets in an environment that can simulate virtually real sensorial perception. It is a physical place designed to facilitate creativity and incubate ideas via collaboration. Researchers find a multitude of interactive interfaces for research into: scientific visualization, numerical simulations, data mining, visual/aural abstract data representations, knowledge discovery, systems integration, human perception, and many other areas of inquiry.
The main research/presentation space consists of a three-story, near-to-anechoic room containing a custom-built close-to-spherical screen, ten meters in diameter. The sphere environment integrates visual, sonic, sensory, and interactive components…
Scientifically, it is an instrument for gaining insight and developing bodily intuition about environments into which the body cannot venture: abstract, higher-dimensional information spaces, the worlds of the very small or very large, and the realms of the very fast or very slow, in fields ranging from nanotechnology to theoretical physics, from proteomics to cosmology, from neurophysiology to the spaces of consciousness, and from new materials to new media. [emphasis added]
If you can wrangle an invitation to see this, it’s definitely worth your time. Their site says that “members of the general public” are informed by the Allosphere, so there should be a way to get on the tour list. See also the recent article in Technology Review, costs $2. —Chris Peterson