I’m very excited to let you know that Humber in a Box and River in a Box will both be part of the University’s Science Corner, part of Hull’s Freedom Festival 2015*.
This year, the University of Hull will have a Science Corner in Queen’s Gardens on the 5th and 6th of September, from 12 til 6 – it is free. As well as in the Boxes, their will be plenty more including Lab on a Chip and Angry Birds Physics, as well as the ever popular Battle of the Slime. More details here.
Hope to see you there!
*The Freedom Festival began as part of the 2007 celebrations to commemorate Hull born William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was instrumental in the abolition of the slave trade by the UK through his work as an MP, first with the passing of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 and with the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, shortly before his death.
Phew, the last few weeks have been very busy and I’m looking forward to a week’s holiday in Prague next week.
At the end of May I headed up to Edinburgh for the Flood and Coastal Erosion Management Network (FCERM.net) Annual Assembly. I took a poster detailing the work on Dynamic Humber and a demo for Humber in a Box using Google Cardboard. I even won one of the three poster prizes on offer which was very nice. You can read more about here on the NERC-FFIR blog.
The beast in the middle of this busy period was Cheltenham Science Festival. This was an amazing experience and lots and lots of fun. I took the full version of Humber in a Box down with me, and along with River in a Box, it made up the stand for the British Society for Geomorphology. From Wednesday to Sunday the team made up of colleagues from Hull, Gloucester, Manchester, Exeter, Loughborough and Cardiff were there, and we must have had several hundred members of the public try the Oculus and flood the Humber. I think it was great success.
I spent much of my time walking around the site wearing a Google Cardboard (you can see via your phone camera, but you lose all depth perception!), handing out fliers and directing people to our stall.
Our stall was small and most the space was taken up by River in a Box – I occasionally had queues of people waiting for a go on Humber in a Box. We spent the week next door to a DeLorean, which played the music from Back to the Future. On loop. Ten hours a day. For six days. Above is picture of Gia Milinovich and Brian Cox sat in it. Don’t think Steve charged them a fiver for this pic.
There were plenty of sights to see. At the weekend, opposite us was this killer whale, with the option to take a #whalefie – I’m pretty sure it isn’t actually a whale? Did they do this on porpoise? There was also this dino skeleton – it had had a hard life with a bony tumor in its brain which may be why it had so many injuries on it. Still, it looked happier now.
This baby T-Rex was in better shape, even attacking the DeLorean. Maybe it appreciated the music as much as we did.
After Cheltenham I headed to Switzerland and ETH Zurich. I had been invited, as a guest of Tom Coulthard, to a workshop on Complexity in Geomorphology. Organised by Peter Molnar, this was an excellent workshop, I learned an awful lot and made some very useful connections. I also got to present alongside outstanding experts in the field such as Chris Paola and Doug Jerolmack.
Zurich is beautiful city, above is the view from the roof terrace of the building the workshop was in, and I hope I get the chance to visit again and for a bit longer.
I’ve been back a week and cramming lots of modelling in before my holiday – but I did get chance to say hello to #ducksatGees, who have grown loads whilst I have been away!
I anticipated it would be much harder and take much longer for me to make a full video demonstration of Humber in a Box. Actually, once I got the hang of things it was pretty straight forward. I even managed to record audio with my phone and add that to it too.
The video shows the basic functionality of Humber in the Box, demonstrating the graphics, as viewed in an immersive VR environment, and how the CAESAR-Lisflood model behind is calculating the tidal flows. The second part shows the sea level change function, increasing the water level by 1m in line with predictions for 100 years in the future. This is shown to not be as dramatic as other methods of showing the effects of future sea level rises, as it accounts for the flood defences in place (don’t forget, these will be significantly improved and raised also).
Part three gets into the hypothetical, looking at a 10m high tsunami wave travelling down the estuary. It is very dramatic, but really isn’t much of a possibility in the Humber. Finally, the video shows what would happen if all of the planet’s ice instantaneously melted, adding 74m to sea level.
You will, of course, need a Google Cardboard, or a VISR, or similar, to view this video in the way it is intended. Hopefully, before long I will be able to produce a 2D equivalent but I don’t have a version of Humber in a Box to achieve this yet. Hope you enjoy, and I really would appreciate any feedback or comments you might have.
I’ve been playing around with getting a Humber in a Box demo up on YouTube, intended for view using a Google Cardboard headset. I’ve got a first test after much faffing around.
I used some freeware to record off my desktop, but as the video needs to be high quality (both resolution and framerate), it’s rather limited. After the clip reached 4GB it keeps looping back, so about 2 minutes is my limit. I can get around this by recording lots of clips and stitching them together later.
To view the clip, start this video on your smartphone and place it within the Google Cardboard. Simple really.
The final video will have an audio track with my commentary over it, explaining what the simulation is and what it is showing. Still, it’s much better in person and I hope to bring you some exciting news in that area soon!
I recently got hold of a Google Cardboard. Essentially, it is a piece of folded cardboard, a couple of cheap lenses and an elasticated strap. You fold it into shape – this takes a couple of minutes, it’s dead easy – and voila, it’s built. Next you take your smartphone, download the Google Cardboard App, or other supported App, and then slot your phone into the headset turning it into a very cheap VR headset.
My assembled Google Cardboard (smartphone not included)
I’ve tried a few things – it is really easy and just so very effective. It works a treat. All it does is display two images on your phone and splits them so one goes into your right eye and the other into your left, giving you the illusion of a 3D environment – it is rather different to the 3D you get at the cinema. Using the VR Cinema App you can view 2D videos on your phone, and although it doesn’t make them 3D it does give you an incredible view.
I’ve found that rather than using the Apps, the best features are videos you find on Youtube which have been filmed in the split image format – just maximise them and view them via the Cardboard. I think this is the way we will go with Humber in a Box rather than building a phone App – a video on Youtube would be so much simpler and just as effective.
The split screen view used to visualise Humber in a Box in 3D
I can see these being the way forward if you want to use VR as a teaching tool. The Oculus isn’t as expensive as most people think but is still >£350 a unit, whilst the Cardboard, or alternatives such as Hull-based VISR, are £10-20. They need a smartphone, but I imagine most students have one, and a lot can be achieved without specialist Apps.