I used an Oculus Rift and Felt Like God

oculus rift

Words by Nick Taras.
Photography by Sergey Galyonkin.

As I stood atop an asteroid, mesmerised by the cobalt aura of Earth viewed through an Oculus Rift headset, my meditative state spawned only one thought: “This is what it feels like to be God.”

My “voyage” through space was the penultimate level in a five-minute simulation developed for the virtual reality console known as Rift. Designed by Californian company Oculus VR, inside the Rift goggles you’ll see something so spectacular that Facebook paid $2 billion in March 2014 to acquire it.

Put the mask on and you’ll experience a 360-degree visual display so real that your mind can’t distinguish it from reality. Combine this optical hijacking with headphones, and the Rift is a completely immersive computer-generated adventure.

With such clear definition, the occipital lobe in your brain – responsible for processing vision – tricks your mind into believing that what you’re seeing is real. For decades, futurists predicted that virtual reality would become the next big thing in technology. However, the poor visual quality found in early virtual reality models only drew attention to the oxymoron that is ‘virtual reality.’

So what?” you may be thinking. “My HD TV has killer resolution.” The difference is that you know when you’re staring at your TV screen, whereas the Rift transports you to an environment that responds to your every movement in real time. For example, when I was orbiting Earth, I tilted my head to the left and saw Mars floating in the distance. Then I faced in the opposite direction and the Moon glared back at me. Looking at my shoes, I was presented with the perforated, brown rock of an asteroid. Just like your real vision, you see something different everywhere you look.

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Earth’s Relative Size in Space

The following image will no doubt amaze and or scare you. It might make you ponder our insignificance in space, it might not, but it most probably will. It’s a gif image, so wait for it to load – by the time you’ve read this far it will already start flicking through pictures of planets and stars contained within our solar system, in order from smallest (Earth’s moon) to largest (VY Canis Majoris – 3000 million km in diameter and 4,900 light years away from our planet)

Space

To put this into some sort of perspective:

  • In one second light travels 300,000 km, which is 7 trips around Earth.
  • The closest star to us that we can see in our night sky is Alpha Centuari and is 4.5 light years from Earth.
  • 1 light year is 9.5 trillion kms away.
  • You can fit 1 million planet Earths into our Sun.
  • You can fit 1 billion Suns into VY Canis Majoris!
  • A lot of these stars have planets orbiting them, just like we orbit the Sun.
  • It is estimated that there are as many as 50 billion planets in our galaxy, most of which are as large as Jupiter.
  • There are said to be as many as 200 billion stars in our galaxy alone.
  • Over 2 million galaxies have been counted, but it is estimated there could be as many as 100 million.
  • The visible universe is about 15,000 million light years in size.
  • If our planet is the only one in the entire universe that contains intelligent life, then we are really alone.

Here’s something else that might bend your noodle – Look outside your window tonight and take a peek at the stars, yes they don’t seem so small now do they? Since these stars are about 500 light years away (takes 500 years for their light to reach Earth and be visible by our eyes) you are actually looking at space as it was 500 years ago.

Yes, you just saw the past. Mind blown.

Continue reading Earth’s Relative Size in Space