Snow! Wind! and November 12

Amazing. I actually am writing (and hopefully) posting on the correct day, as opposed to the day after.

Yesterday’s cold got ugly today with a dip of the mercury to 34 degrees (Fahrenheit). Combined with the wind it was more than a little brisk on my trek through the woodland path.  About 1/2 mile in it started dropping a snowflake…here….then…slowly…another one. And then by the time was at my mid-point, it was actually doing a little snow shower of sorts.  Small, hard little snow pellets under heavy leaden gray skies. Nothing moving really in the woods – I feel sure even the squirrels are buried in their leaf nests you can see high in the tips of the trees.  I kind of wonder how well those work out when the gales of November come early (my apologies to Gordon Lightfoot).

Today I got most of my herbal bitters decanted and filtered. It’s really quite amazing how the herbs and spices meld together to create an almost magical blend. A little of the woodland bitters splashed onto my hand and so (of course) I gave it a little lick…and almost derailed the bitters train entirely. It was so good I wanted to go make myself a little cocktail (ok, I LOVE bitters anyway, but still).

I added more of the aromatic/bittering agents to the Cherry bitters and checked on the Vanilla bitters (oh…..yum).  Started some Echinacea tinture – interestingly the menstruum is already working on dissolving some of the active ingredients and pulling them out into solution.  The Kyphi incense is getting slowly lighter in color. It doesn’t have as strong a smell as it originally had. Having never done this before I have no idea if this is how it’s supposed to work or not. I guess the test is in the burning.

The on-line seminar I’m taking, the Digestion Series, is amazing. I’ve learned so much already about how to make myself healthier, and eventually of course, to helping my future clients become healthier and well. I have had a suspicion for some time that GMO foods are just plain not good for us, but I got the actual science to show me why this is so.  It makes sense of course – it was modified, but we weren’t co-modified to be able to digest these new foods. So of course there would be issues, but I had no idea how toxic they really are. I had already pretty much cut the gluten out of my diet (with an occasional trip off the wagon, like the Cinnamon doughnut of Sunday) but I’m going to be even more aggressive about getting cereals out of my diet. The sugar is much harder to kick, of course. I have a sweet tooth – or maybe I should say my gut microbiome has a sweet tooth – but in any case I find sugar addiction really hard to break. It helps that I largely avoid processed food. Buying stuff in boxes to ‘home make’ something makes zero sense to me. But that’s just me. I’d rather attempt and butcher something where I know the ingredients than make ‘perfect’ cupcake from a box full of preservatives. Yuck.

I made a new immune tea today and started testing it.  It includes Elderberries, Rose hips, Astragalus, Elder flowers, Licorice root, Echinacea, Melissa and Peppermint.  It makes up into a purplish, rather toxic looking brew and it tastes mostly of mint but has a very astringent/bitter aftertaste that made it (to me at least, at least) initially unpotable. Then I added some raw honey to sweeten the matters (sweet tooth saves this day).  It still has a very ‘rooty’ aftertaste, but now it’s tolerable.


Singing Jello? Seriously? No, Seriously.

I’m always utterly fascinated by food science and the crazy stuff the foodies come up with (they’d likely say the same about fashion designers, too.)  One of the coolest things I’ve seen in days was this neat entry at the Amsterdam-based Materia database: ‘Musical Pudding‘ or as the designers themselves call it, ‘Noisy Jelly.’

Other than the fact this material was developed by some designers in France, it wouldn’t seem to have much to do with fashion or apparel. However, when I saw this I was immediately taken with what a clever application the whole concept of ‘Noisy Jelly’ was.

The designers came up with a wild way of creating a musical instrument that you play by ‘playing with your food’. Using some more-or-less commonly available kitchen items (agar-agar, colorant, water, dessert mold) packaged into a cute mini-chemistry lab along with an Arduinno sound board, you make little jellies from the agar-agar, let them gel, then turn them out onto the soundboard. The soundboard is a capacitative sensor that detects the distance and strength of a finger touch and transform the handling into audio signals. In other words, pet the jellies and they make sounds.

I am reminded of an organic theramin. Words can’t really do this concept justice, you really do need to see the video.

Although they don’t say whether or not you can eat the jellies, how cool would it be if you could? Parents everywhere would stop discouraging little Janey or Jimmy from playing with their food! Martha Stewart could really do something with a dessert tray of these things.

Why I loved this idea so much – it takes some well-understood bits and pieces (capacitors, gels) and mashes them up into something very fun and funky.  Gels are interesting things at the best of times (they’re just so useful in so many ways), and when you add them to something that turns them into an instrument, well, what’s not to like?

Wouldn’t this just make just a super cute Science Fair project? You could change the chemical basis of the dyes to add or subtract salt quantities, change the shapes and volumes of the molds, and so on, to create a lexicon of sounds from the jellies. Or of course, couple the Noisy Jelly with a theramin and a digeridoo, and you’ve got an epic garage band. Of sorts. I can already see the you-Tube channel…




It’s That Time of Year for Things That Glow

Anyone who designs for Halloween, whether you are a professional commercial costume designer or designing for your personal ghosts and goblins will understand how challenging it can be to find the perfect light-emitting product to put on a costume.

There are many options out there, but one that crossed my desk recently was this nifty new luminescent plastic from Dutch scientists at the University of Technology Eindhoven (TU/e) in The Netherlands.  The plastic (with no catchy tradename as yet) differs from glow sticks and other products out there because of the addition of a molecular ring called dioxetane into the base polymer molecule.

When the physical item made of the new polymer is pulled, it causes the dioxetane molecules to break, releasing energy seen as light. If the plastic is pulled hard enough to rip it apart, a flash of light is seen as all of the dioxetane molecular rings release their energy at once.

While this is all wickedly cool, and of course has some immediate applications where you want to see if something is being stressed or torn, it’s really a one-use substance at the moment. The rings don’t ‘heal’ themselves when the tension is removed from the polymer.  However, for a performance gear company that conducts tests on their products as part of the product development process, this new material could have interesting applications to see where tension/stress points are.

You could literally see the tension areas glowing. Likewise, any sort of product that is developed where the designer wants to see tension points (for example, denim wear, trousers, lingerie) would benefit from having a fit sample made up of this material. I would have loved to have had fit gloves made up of this stuff when Iw as challenging and changing our size standard. Instead of relying on qualitative and subjective feedback from my fit models (how does that feel?) as part of the process, I could immediately see whether or not a glove fit correctly and accurately.

Want to read more about this rather cool new chemical? Check out the scientific article: ‘Mechanically induced chemiluminescence from polymers incorporating a 1,2-dioxetane unit in the main chain’ verscheen op 27 May als ‘advanced online publication’ bij Nature Chemistry (doi: 10.1038/NCHEM.1358). Authors Yulan Chen, Jolanda Spiering, S. Karthikeyan, Gerrit Peters, Bert Meijer and Rint Sijbesma, all TU Eindhoven.



Interesting New Material … Electronic Skin

I read this awesome article over on the IEEE Spectrum web site about a new pressure-sensitive membrane that was announced by researchers at the Seoul National University’s Multiscale Biomimetic Systems Laboratory. 

This new material is cheap compared to current systems.  The small size and use of platinum in the membrane’s manufacture means that ‘cheap’ is a relative term, but think about the potential uses for something like this in apparel – it’s so sensitive it registers the slightest touch – whether from rain, wind, or a physical touch from an animal or insect.  Applied to performance wear, it has the ability to sense surrounding weather conditions and register changes of the environment…and hooked up to other wearable devices, make changes in a garment.

Can you imagine a brand patch made of this membrane that registers the presence of water droplets, and can then instigate changes in other materials in the outer performance shell such as to increase its impermeability to water?

I love how the membrane itself is ‘created’ by naturally occurring physics, e.g., the sheets of cilia are held together by Van der Waals attraction. I have to confess my technical designer mind really goes into high gear thinking about how this membrane could be put to work and how a garment could be built using this material to help make an even higher performing performance garment!



Fashion Research Institute Announces Science Sim Land Grant Program Awardees

New York, NY November 1, 2011 – Fashion Research Institute Announces Science Sim Land Grant Program Awardees

Fashion Research Institute has been collaborating with Intel Labs since 2009, helping to push the limits of content development, and overseeing the Science Sim Land Grant Program. The program consists of awards of campuses of four ‘supersized’ 3D volumes called regions, which can support 100,000 primitive units. These campuses are awarded for a six-month period to educators, scientists, and researchers who wish to explore using OpenSim for their work, and who need the power and control of their projects that a campus provides them.  The campuses are provided for nine months beginning September 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2012.

We are pleased to share the 2011-2012 awardees, in alphabetical order.

The Abyss Observatory ( The Abyss Observatory is a museum of earth science, undersea technology and also Sense of Wonder for the mysteries of Earth & Life in 3D virtual world, established mainly by Japan and US volunteers, supported by SciLands, NOAA, JAMSTEC, Open University UK and Science Circle.

“Earth system science research fields are spread world-wide and far from human habitation.  To gain a better understanding of global issues, visualization in immersive virtual world is powerful tool.  Our students can develop observation methods of virtual environment phenomena or law of physics easily, cost-effectively and safely,”says Hajime Nishimura (JAMSTEC,

The Cyprus University of Technology Chrysanthos Voutounos is a doctoral student at the Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts in Cyprus. His research work negotiates the design of serious virtual and multimedia applications that deal with the presentation and preservation of Byzantine heritage. The Byzantine heritage of Cyprus is globally known and many monuments on the island are included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, like the monastery and the museum of St. John Lampadistis which Chrysanthos aims to design in ScienceSim as part of his research.

My main research objective is to design and evaluate a virtual museum of Byzantine art applying methods that will enable a cross-cultural and cross-aesthetic mediation of Byzantine Aesthetics; providing a meaningful mediation of Byzantine artifacts and a spiritual experience to users.” Said Chrysanthos Voutounos.  “The opportunity given to implement this work on ScienceSim ensures the serious concept of a virtual heritage project; ScienceSim platform hosts a unique of its kind research on virtual worlds (1000 avatars on a region, security of digital content and other achievements). Many thanks to Intel Labs and the Fashion Research Institute for their support!

The EdLab Group Foundation ( ) Hypatia World is supporting and expanding the reach of the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) in a 3D virtual environment. Hypatia World provides a safe space for the 5.3 million girls in the NGCP network to access online activities and participate in collaborative projects. The NGCP is committed to informing and motivating girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). NGCP currently supports 21 Collaboratives, serving 31 states to provide support and local resources to STEM practitioners. Hypatia World will host the first 3D virtual Collaborative, providing an online place for the girls and their mentors to interact and participate in STEM activities and events. Through collaborative relationships with partners such as NASA, quality content will assured.

Project Manager, Lindy Orwin, explained, “Hypatia World will provide opportunities for girls to access online mentors and 3D content expanding the opportunities for networking and support for girls interested in STEM and keeping them interested in STEM.”

The Honor Engine ( The Honor Engine has created a customizable set of tools built for quest based learning and game development into the virtual world.  The Honor Engine Toolset allows educators, content developers and game designers complete control over their content . The goals of The Honor Engine are to explore the potential uses of quest based learning in education for children and for the workforce. Already well established in SL as the HONOR Roleplay System, the Honor Engine is now expanding their toolset into OpenSim virtual worlds.

Our key focus in moving The Honor Engine into the ScienceSim is to provide a toolset for educators and other creators to scale their interactive content with simple interfaces, quick content creation and adaptation and easy to access metrics to help them define success.”   Bill Jobes, owner and creator of The Honor Engine.  “Quest-based learning that is teacher planned and driven is what the Honor Engine provides. Teachers will be completely free to set up learning scenarios to suit their students  needs. The students play to learn and learn as they play. Classrooms full of students can work together in the virtual world increasing their content knowledge, their literacy skills, and their 21st century skills, all of which will be vital to their success throughout the rest of their lives.

The Oregon L5 Society( Oregon L5 Society ( ORL5) is using some of their 25 years of research into using planetary caves as centers of human activity on the other worlds of the Solar System as models in virtual worlds. These concepts can be explored in ScienceSim, where ORL5 is creating VW lunar lavatube cave bases and settlements, and similar asteroidal and Mars bases.

These are conceptual models of how such human activity can settle the Solar System in real life.

We use these virtual world projects to contact other researchers, educate the public about how human spaceflight can become more widely affordable, and model specific projects we can then promote to the Space Research community more effectively.” says Tom Billings (Oregon L5 Society Representative).

Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA) Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA) ( is the first professional scientific organization based in virtual worlds.  The goals of MICA are to explore the potential uses of immersive VR as a scientific and scholarly platform.  Already well established in SL, MICA is now expanding their activities into OpenSim worlds.

Our key research goal is to develop novel techniques and applications for immersive, collaborative data visualization,” says the MICA Director George Djorgovski, a professor at Caltech.  “Scalability is important for massive data sets, and that is one of the main reasons we are in ScienceSim.”  He adds, “Effective visualization of complex, multi- dimensional data is emerging as one of the key challenges for the data- driven science in the 21st century.  As we continue to move our work and collaborations into cyberspace, immersive VR may become a fundamental platform for scientific research.

Preferred Family Healthcare ( Preferred Family Healthcare has been delivering counseling services in virtual worldspace for the past three years and it is on the forward edge of organizations using OpenSim and Jibe/Unity for these purposes. PFH will continue to explore the potential for delivering mental health and substance use disorder services to clients who experience accessibility challenges due to distance, time, travel, physical handicap, social phobias and other complications.

PFH intends to continue to be a leading innovator of technology utilization to make accessible behavioral health interventions available to all who need them,” notes Dick Dillon, Senior VP at Preferred Family Healthcare. “Challenges which have existed for decades are being resolved by the smart application of global connectivity tools. We believe in the potential of virtual world-based service delivery systems, and several pilot projects are already showing excellent results for client retention and participation, with treatment outcomes as good or better than traditional methods.”

Science Circle. The Science Circle is an alliance of Scientists from various disciplines dedicated to connect scientist and students worldwide. We use digital mediums like Second Life® to hold seminars and we are starting in 2011 with various courses for our student group.

“The Science Circle wants to offer our members the possibility to discover OpenSim. Like MICA we are convinced that 3d platforms based on OpenSim are a great tool to offer education. The Science Sim Land Grant program is a great initiative that enables us to do that,” says Agustin Martin on behalf of the Science Circle.

BIO-SE project (Biological Interactive Objects for Science Education)The goal of the BIO-SE Project is to create interactive learning modules targeted to the high school or college freshman biology curriculum. Its primary aim is to have its learning modules be instructive but also designed for first-time users of virtual worlds. Lesson planning and instructor resources will be created as well but do not necessarily require faculty to be conversant with using virtual worlds. The core lessons all come from biologists who have multiple years of experience teaching in Second Life and developing course content there.


About Fashion Research Institute, Inc.: FRI is at the forefront of developing innovative design & merchandising solutions for the apparel industry.  They research and develop products and systems for the fashion industry that sweepingly address wasteful business and production practices.

Science Sim is part of an evolution toward online 3D experiences that look, act and feel real. Sometimes dubbed the “3D internet,” Intel Labs refers to this technology trend as immersive connected experiences, or ICE. ScienceSim is differentiated from most virtual world environments by its open source architecture. ScienceSim leverages open source building blocks (installation utilities, management tools, client viewers, etc.) based on OpenSimulator (OpenSim) software.

Fashion Research Institute Oversees a Third Round of the Science Sim Land Grant Program with Intel Labs

New York, NY August 8, 2011 – Fashion Research Institute Oversees a Third Round of the Science Sim Land Grant Program with Intel Labs

Fashion Research Institute is pleased to announce the third round of OpenSim region grants in the ScienceSim grid. We will administrate the land program through our research collaboration with Intel Labs.

We’ve been provided with a set of regions running on hardware that can support 45,000-100,000  primitive objects with up to 1,000 concurrent users per region.  The regions will be awarded for a nine-month period beginning September 1, 2011 and running to June 30, 2012 to educators, scientists, and researchers who wish to bring their programs into an immersive collaborative environment.

There are no hidden charges or costs to this program other than what a selected organization is expected to need for the transfer and development of their programs, and which they negotiate with their service providers.  There is no financial assistance available for this process.  We can accept and transfer existing OAR files into ScienceSim.

Commercial organizations and consultants are not eligible to apply for these regions. Recipients must sign a formal legal agreement with Fashion Research Institute for use of these OpenSim regions. This agreement includes clauses stating that the recipient organization will respect the  existing Term of Service, End User licensing Agreement, Region Covenant, and Content Licenses of the ScienceSim grid.

The Fine Print

Each accepted organization will receive a 4-region, 2×2 ‘campus’ from September 1, 2011-June 30, 2012. Organizations must appoint a single user, who will receive estate manager privileges on this campus.

Campus assignees have full land right privileges.  Regions must remain open to common access to enable visitors to freely move around and visit.

Assigned campuses must be built on within three weeks of assignment.  Land which is not improved within four weeks of assignment will be reclaimed, and any objects placed in the region will be returned to the land assignee.

A content library of premium content is provided to all participants on ScienceSim.  Additional content is provided as well.  This content may not be removed from ScienceSim. Suspect pirated content brought into ScienceSim will be removed immediately. All content provided for ScienceSim users is PG-rated.

A complete OpenSim orientation gateway which has been successfully used with more than 65,000 new users is provided for the use of land grant recipients and their program users. A scripting lab is provided for recipients to learn how to develop OS scripts. Additionally, there are meeting, classroom, and sandbox spaces provided throughout the common space of the grid in the physics and math plazas which land grant recipients may freely use.

Expected Code of Behavior:

ScienceSim serves a population of educators, researchers and scientists.  Land grant recipients are expected to register with their real names and to manage their programs appropriately.

All users are expected to behave with decorum and respect to others to support this collaborative, interdisciplinary working environment.  Services are provided in English only.  All users who enter and use this grid are expected to behave and dress in a manner appropriate to a corporate or academic setting.  All users are expected to respect others’ beliefs; no solicitation, proselytization, foul language or harassment of any sort is allowed here.  Clothing is mandatory – this means at minimum, shirt and trousers that meets typical community decency standards.

Land grants are provided with an expectation that users will have sufficient expertise to develop their own regions.  There are weekly user meetings at which user experiences can and should be reported, as well as a mailing list where feedback is encouraged.  Lastly, there is a weekly governance meeting at which any conflicts will be arbitrated.


To participate in this land grant program, please send e-mail to with your name, your organization, and 2-3 sentence description of the project you’d like to explore in this collaborative environment.  The program has rolling admissions and we will accept applications until we have assigned all campuses.

Past Awardees

Previous awardees are eligible to apply for this program.  Previous recipients have included the Abyss Observatory, the IDIA Lab, ScienceCircle, Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics, and Utah State University.


About Fashion Research Institute, Inc.: FRI is at the forefront of developing innovative design & merchandising solutions for the apparel industry.  They research and develop products and systems for the fashion industry that sweepingly address wasteful business and production practices.

Science Sim is part of an evolution toward online 3D experiences that look, act and feel real. Sometimes dubbed the “3D internet,” Intel Labs refers to this technology trend as immersive connected experiences, or ICE. ScienceSim is differentiated from most virtual world environments by its open source architecture. ScienceSim leverages open source building blocks (installation utilities, management tools, client viewers, etc.) based on OpenSimulator (OpenSim) software.

ScienceSim Land Grant Program Presentation Tuesday, November 9th, 1 pm ET

Please join us Tuesday November 9, from 1-1:30 pm ET (10-10:30 am PT)  for a 1/2 hour presentation about the land grant program in ScienceSim providing free  100,000 object regions for six months in ScienceSim.  Details about participation in this program will be presented and information about applying for a region will be provided.

Tuesday, November 9th, 1-1:30 PM ET/10-10:30 AM PT in the 21C region in Second Life.  Please note we are punctual and start promptly at the hour.

If you cannot make these events, please send a request through your organizational email to admin at fashionresearchinstitute dot com.  Please note we cannot respond to requests from noninstitutional addresses (e.g., yahoo, aol, hotmail, etc) and that we cannot accept applications from consultants or commercial entities.