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Moriash Moreau: My Second Life
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Where Several People Have Gone Before
There's been a bit of a space race in SL, starting in early October. I believe that Beatfox Xevious holds the record, with an altitude in excess of 40 trillion meters. I expect that this record will stand for a while, mostly due to the ultimate futility of the whole process. Once you exceed a few million meters, there's nothing worth seeing, save for the continuing degradation of your avatar due to floating point rounding errors. Basically, your avatar's parts go all haywire, because their exact locations keep popping up and down as their Z-axis locations round off to too large a number. (The system can only handle numbers out to so many decimal places, and adding a few million to the left side lops off precision on the right side.) Once you get beyond that, you're just staring at your HUD altimeter and waiting for something to crash. And given the improved stability of v1.7, you're apparently even denied that much excitement!

But, in any case, I can officially document my own attempts at Second Life's highest frontiers. This evening, using a thruster setup of my own design, I managed to reach 1.5 billion meters. Okay, I'm still well short of the documented maximum (by about 4 orders of magnitude). But, as a proof of concept, it seems to work quite well.

Click for Full Size View

This is the ultimate expression of the floating point errors. My avatar is permanently out of camera view, save for the eyes. Kind of spooky, actually.

The thrusters themselves are pure brute force. For this attempt, I used six booster assemblies. Each one is composed of 100 prims, which in turn each contain a script that pushes my avatar upward 10 times at the maximum impulse allowable. These are driven by a central controller that calls for 10 impulses per second. The net result is my av was being kicked in the pants 60,000 times per second, more or less.

I'm guessing it wasn't a comfortable ride, but it was a fast one. I did some quick calculations and time trials, and found that I was traveling upward at about 233,000 meters per second (about 704 times the speed of sound). And that was with only six thrusters. Someday, when I get truly bored, I may try it with thrusters placed on all thirty attachment points.

But, probably no time soon. As a proof of concept, it works. As an actual achievement? Well, I'm sure I can find something better to do with my time!
I've made it to the absolute top of Second Life -- 340,282,346,638,528,859,811,704,183,484,516,925,440m up
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