I’ve been thinking of astrophysics lately due to Hawking’s passing. I challenged myself to come up with explanations for dark matter and dark energy. These are of course just thought experiments for fun. I ain’t no genius.

Dark energy: we know that gravity weakens at a distance, and that light travels infinitely if in a vacuum. Let’s assume our collective knowledge about the big bang is also true, including the fact that the universe was once a singularity. Photons actually exert a tiny, tiny amount of pressure. Isn’t the natural conclusion that dark energy is photons, continually and always exerting a tiny bit of force “outwards,” because at certain ranges they will eventually overpower gravity resulting in the acceleration of the expansion of the universe? Obviously not, because the nature of dark energy is one of science’s great mysteries… so, why not? Have we already run those calculations through a computer and determined its an insufficient explanation? Do we even -have- the means to calculate something at that scale? Heck, would I even be able to understand the answer to “why not” without getting a PHD in physics?

I’m still mulling over dark matter (gee, ya think?) though I feel like black holes are in some way related — the problem is that quantum mechanics seems to inevitably get involved in my attempts to explain it, and I just cannot wrap my head around that stuff. Physics at a large scale is far, far easier to comprehend. I can come up with vague theories that I could halfway believe if Hawking radiation does not actually exist, but I’m not about to make such a bold claim.

Whenever I start to dig deeper into topics like these, I run into equations that make my head spin and my eyes glaze over. It’s much easier to think about from a philosophical / pseudo-sciency standpoint than to think about it via actual numbers and equations. I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m grateful for the Carl Sagans and Neil DeGrasse Tysons of the world. They’re essentially translators for those of us interested in astrophysics but without the time or intelligence to devote to it.


My Vive Library So Far

Title — Short Description — Letter Grade

A-10 VR — shoot bullets and lasers at robots floating towards you — (B)
Audioshield — Music rhythm game — (B+)
Fantastic Contraption — Physics puzzle game — (B)
Final Approach — air traffic controller simulator + more — (B+)
HoloBall — Pong in VR — (C+)
Irrational Exuberance — drug trip simulator? — (B+)
Job Simulator — comedy-guided “job” simulator, little replay value — (B-)
Project CARS — driving simulator (fairly realistic and rigid; don’t get if looking for an “arcade racer” like I was) — (B)
Space Pirate Trainer — similar to A-10 VR but with more emphasis on dodging — (B)
Surge — free VR music video — (B-)
The Lab — well polished set of minigames — (A+)
theBlu — interactive “underwater” demo — (A-)
Tilt Brush — nifty drawing app — (A+)
Universe Sandbox — play God and fly around space, but very limited features in VR mode — (C+)
Vanishing Realms — adventure game / first person RPG — (B+)
Water Bears VR — well-polished Pipe Dream-ish puzzle game — (A)
Windlands — grappling hook simulator — (A-)
ZenBlade — basically fruit ninja in VR — (C-)

Vive Comfort Part 3

The research continues — evidently, my previous post is worth disregarding. What really seems to matter more than anything is getting the IPD right. I think I’ve been struggling to fit the headset on correctly because I was trying very hard to fix it in the position where I could see “clearly,” but realizing that I instead needed to get it comfortably on my head and THEN adjust it so I can see better.

Vive Comfort Part 2

Ha — now I’ve figured something out that, for me, makes more difference than all of the previous post’s items combined: I swapped out the default face padding with the “narrow” face padding that also came with the unit.

As I posted on reddit: “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to adjust the straps, lenses and cushions on the Vive and was pretty bummed out that no matter what I tried, it seemed uncomfortable to use and would imprint itself onto my nose like so:

I was pretty much ignoring the narrow face plates because I was thinking “Oh, I’ve got a reasonably big head and that’s probably for children and the like.” No — it was the panacea I’ve been looking for. It took me a week to bother trying the narrow face cushion, but it’s super fast to swap out so there’s no reason to not try it!”

Vive comfort hacks!

I’m finally starting to figure out ways to make VR comfortable to use for longer than 10 minutes at a time. Things that have worked for me:

-Remove the padding near the nose (see pic, just move it slightly downwards) — this seemed to physically be more comfortable, but also allows a bit more airflowWP_20160527_02_18_46_Pro.jpg
-Have overhead fan on. Yes, it’s a potential obstacle, but the breeze helps a lot
-Earbuds instead of headphones! I did not realize just how much the headphones were contributing to my “overheating” issues, and the earbuds seem slightly easier to keep on as well
-Have a place to put the controllers. I have some loose cargo shorts, and the pockets can house the controllers when I need to set them somewhere
-Have a bottle of Gatorade nearby
-Have as close to a square area as possible

I’m now in a 3×3.3 area, and it’s a very noticeable improvement over 2×3 meters.

Vive Day 7: The Move is Upon Us

It’s time to see just how much of a bottleneck the GPU is! My new computer — to live permanently in the living room — is arriving today. It’s a pretty powerful PC, but I didn’t order a graphics card with it since the GTX 1070 is coming out soon. Until then, I’ll be transferring the GTX 960 in this machine to my VR computer. I’ll also have a chance to see how much bigger a 3×4 meter space feels compared to a 2×3 meter space. Stay tuned!

Day 4 Vive Report — Comfort Issues!

By far, by FAR my biggest complaint with the HTC Vive is how unergonomic it is. I really can’t stand to wear it more than about 10 minutes at a time due to it pressing down on the sides of my nose and it getting so hot inside the unit. I’ve tried a few different configurations, and I’m beginning to worry that the absolute discomfort, combined with mild motion sickness, will prevent me from enjoying VR as a leisurely activity.

I think a haircut may actually help a bit with the overheating issues — as for the strap adjustments, I’ll just have to keep trying.