Star Trek Borg Invasion 4D
report by Van Beydler
with several other excited travellers, I stepped into the
medical space station and was greeted by a Starfleet officer.
The crewman told us that the doctor would be with us shortly.
A viewscreen gave us our first contact with the doctor, but
this was no ordinary doctor. This was the famous holographic
doctor from the Starship Voyager, which recently returned
the Earth after being lost in the Delta Quadrant.
told us we were among a select group that had been brought
to the station for an experiment. Some of us had the genetic
makeup to resist being assimilated by The Borg, the cybernetic
colony taking inhabitants against their will from planets
across the universe. This medical technology might be shared
with other members of The Federation if the doctor could only
find the reason why we were immune to assimilation. Of course,
The Borg would do anything to stop this from happening.
started to muse about his grand plan when the station suddenly
started to vibrate. The viewscreen flickered in and out, static
flashing across his image. Through the flickering image on
the viewscreen, we all saw why. A Borg cube slowly was making
its way toward the station.
vessel opened fire and tore a huge section from the station.
The entire floor shook violently and the lights went out.
For a moment, everything was silent. Then, we heard the chilling
words coming from all around us, "We are The Borg. You
will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."
ordered the crewman to escort us to a waiting shuttle, which
would be used to try to escape from the station. We made our
way into a darkened corridor and were amazed to see how much
destruction the Borg ship had caused. Debris littered the
hallway, power lines hung from the ceiling with sparks flying
to the sound of crackling electricity. Another crewman was
working frantically at a console. Suddenly, a Borg drone came
around the corner. We were face to face with the most dangerous
alien species ever encountered."
just the exciting beginning of the adventure you'll find at
Star Trek Borg Invasion 4D. I was able to attend this special
attraction located inside the Las Vegas Hilton. If you're
a science fiction fan, you'll enjoy it from the moment you
enter the Star Trek area of the casino.
of some of the most famous Star Trek starships hang from the
ceiling. A museum of actual artifacts from every Star Trek
series is on display, from original 1966 props to items used
in the Star Trek movies.
of your trip will be the combination of the original Star
Trek Klingon Experience along with the newly opened Star Trek
Borg Invasion 4D live action adventure and 3-D movie. I won't
spoil any surprises except to say that by the time you get
to the shuttle you get to don the "protective goggles"
for your voyage (the protective goggles are the 3-D glasses).
like to express special thanks to Elizabeth Williams, VP of
Strategic Marketing for Paramount Parks. Elizabeth allowed
me unique access to Star Trek Borg Invasion 4D, which included
the first 3-D photos taken behind the scenes of the attraction.
Star Trek 1970s Advertisement
ad promoting the Star Trek View-Master® packets available
at that time was featured in The Monster Times, a horror
fan magazine published in the early 1970s. This was several
years before the Star Trek movies and spinoff TV series. The
Star Trek View-Master® packets included the "Omega
Glory" live action packet and "Mr. Spock's Time
Trek" animated cartoon packet.
sold both packets for $4, postage included! The ad mentions
a "Star Trek Stereo Viewer." This was probably just
a description used by the magazine to help promote sales of
the reels and viewers. The ad promoted a viewer that "magnified
photos a full five times through special precision lenses."
Stuff: Great Toys from Our Childhood Features View-Master®
in Museum Display
is among the toys featured in "Kid Stuff: Great Toys
From Our Childhood," a new hands-on exhibition at Science
Museum of Virginia, that lets museumgoers rediscover baby-boom-era
toys in exhibits like the View-Master® Theater and Etch-A-Sketch
Art Show and learn the stories behind the development of favorite
playthings. The exhibit remains on view 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday
and 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 6 at the museum,
2500 W. Broad St. Admission is $7.50 to $8.
Bringing the Martian
Landscape to the Silver Screen
bowl of blueberries by the thousands, a rock called "Lion
Stone," dunes of red sand, the shoreline of a salty sea,
wind-sculpted volcanic rock -- all of these features of the
Martian landscape come to three-dimensional life for faculty
and students when they don their 3-D glasses and step into
the Visualization Laboratory at Northwestern University.
Northwestern is believed to be the only university in the
country offering its faculty and students the opportunity
to view 3-D images of the red planet from NASA's two Mars
Exploration Rovers (MER), Spirit and Opportunity, as a component
to enhance the classroom experience and for research purposes.
Suzan van der Lee, assistant professor of geological sciences,
used the Mars images in her Exploration of the Solar System
class to discuss the question of whether or not there was
water on the rocky planet.
"Everyone had the funny glasses on in the lab, and we
were able to view the same images used by NASA scientists
to conclude that there was a shallow, salty sea on the surface
of Mars," said van der Lee, who brought 50 undergraduate
students to the Vislab in small groups during the winter quarter.
"The students were very excited and thought the experience
was cool. The 3-D images make Mars more real."
Scientists from Northwestern, the University of Chicago and
the Adler Planetarium are bringing these images to the silver
screen by taking raw data transmitted daily from the rovers,
and, using involved computer programming and processing, turning
black-and-white images into full-color 3-D images for academic
Northwestern astronomy and geology students, classes visiting
from other schools, including Evanston's Roycemore School,
and participants in this year's Take Your Daughter to Work
Day at Northwestern have all been wowed by the spectacular
images. (The 3-D images are also available to visitors to
the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum.)
When NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) launched the
rovers last summer, NASA recognized there would be great public
interest in the mission. JPL gathered together more than 70
museums and planetariums and formed the Mars Visualization
Alliance. The alliance is key in the dissemination of images
from the MER mission and in explaining and presenting results
of the mission to the public for educational purposes.
"Mars is not that different from an arid place here
on Earth, and we can show that to people with these marvelous
stereo images," said Douglas Roberts, manager of the
Visualization Lab (Vislab) for information technology at Northwestern
and an astronomer with the Adler Planetarium. "Most other
members of the alliance are using non-stereo images prepared
by NASA for the press because they don't have the time to
create or the technology to project stereo images."
Roberts arranged for Northwestern to share Mars rover images
with the Adler by way of the Visualization Lab and took on
the labor-intensive task of manipulating the raw images into
a viewable format. Each week Roberts and his colleagues receive
data for about 200 images and typically make 50 stereo pictures
a week, some in color. (The long-term plan is to create a
Web-based library of materials -- of the Mars images and other
work with which the Vislab is involved -- to share with other
As Roberts explains it, the Mars rovers are equipped with
camera "eyes" and other sensors that feed them information
about their environment. Two panoramic cameras (Pancams) on
each rover image the Martian surface and sky. The Pancam Mast
Assembly allows the cameras to rotate a full 360 degrees to
obtain a panoramic view of the Martian landscape.
The range of filters on the Pancam detectors allows them
to take multispectral images (images taken at various wavelengths).
Using a "color wheel" with various filters, the
two panoramic cameras create stereoscopic images that are
later combined to produce 3-D data. Two navigation cameras
(Navcams) mounted on each rover's "neck and head"
also gather panoramic, 3-D imagery, primarily used to navigate
the rover on Mars.
The rovers transmit images to radio telescopes in California,
Spain and Australia. Image data is loaded into a database
and searched for pairs of images with enough color components
for a color stereo pair. Stereo visualization, also known
as 3-D visualization or stereoscopy, is based on delivering
slightly different images to the left and right eyes. The
images appear to have depth as they are projected on a special
Turning raw images into viewable images requires computer
programming, plus a geowall system -- a combination of stacked
projection technology using polarizing filters/glasses, fast
graphics cards and inexpensive PCs which makes it possible
to visualize images in stereo and to aid in the understanding
of spatial relationships.
Roberts built a computer to display the Mars images and used
some moderately priced software for image cropping and alignments.
He then mirrored the Adler database and housed it on two servers
at Northwestern. The geowall system, which was already in
place, consists of a computer containing a graphic card with
two video outputs. The computer runs programs such as Pokescope,
a stereo program for aligning and viewing stereo photographs,
and Wallview, a stereo pair viewer used for very large images.
Stereo images taken through different color filters are combined
with Adobe Photoshop (graphics manipulation software) to create
stereo color images. NASA scientists often take several overlapping
pictures of a large area; these images must be "stitched
together" and cropped to form the panoramic images and
to fill in any gaps.
Two stacked portable projectors with polarizing filters on
their lenses send the images to a silver screen, so called
because of the metallic substance on the screen to preserve
polarization. Finally (and probably most fun) are the 3-D
glasses worn by visitors to the lab, similar to those used
at Disneyland or IMAX theaters.
Once he had stereo images that were ready for viewing, Roberts
contacted Northwestern's astronomy and geology departments
to see if there was interest in using the technology in classes.
Not surprisingly, both departments were eager to use the Vislab
to supplement their curricula.
Northwestern will have access to the Mars images until the
mission ends (currently expected sometime this fall). Roberts
is working on stereo images that will be used for future Northwestern
classes and as well as disseminated to other universities.
As long as there is continued interest in using the images
to enhance the classroom experience, the Vislab will continue
to offer them.
The Mars expedition also creates enormous opportunities for
Northwestern to "take the show on the road." Roberts
and Mark Robinson, research associate professor of geological
sciences and director of Northwestern's Center of Planetary
Sciences, have given a number of presentations at the Adler
Planetarium in an effort to do additional outreach and bring
Mars even closer to home.
As time-consuming as the Mars project is, there are other
projects going on in the Vislab. Work is under way on the
3-D visualization of solid objects such as the Eros 433 asteroid
that was visited by the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR)
Shoemaker spacecraft, which sent back images and information
about the asteroid for a year. (Eros is an S-class asteroid
which means it much larger than a typical asteroid.) Robinson
was a project scientist on the imaging team for the NEAR mission.
Work also is being done with Frederic Rasio, associate professor
of physics and astronomy, on the visualization of 3-D calculations
of dense star clusters and galactic centers.
will shine in 3-D
smash hit musical Starlight Express will be unveiling
a new look when its first United Kingdom tour premieres in
Manchester this autumn. For the launch will be the first time
anyone in the UK will see the musical complete with a new
3-D film. It's time to don polarized 3-D glasses, if you really
want to be part of the action.
The new film is the brainstorm of designer John Napier, who
devised the ground-breaking set for the original production,
in 1984. It was the only way he could think of to bring the
action-packed show to life again, without building a train
track right through the middle of the audience!
For the uninitiated, the original West End version saw actors
on rollerskates racing around the stalls and past the audience's
heads on a specially-constructed track. However, it proved
to be a tad too tricky to reconstruct in every theatre on
So, instead, John's son, movie-maker Julian, has created
a 3-D film of the race, to be shown alongside the live action
on stage, which will make the "trains" appear to
drive straight into the audience. If the thought of sporting
a pair of those specs conjures up visions of 1950s-style drive-in
movies, fear not. This production is far from old-fashioned.
It is being plugged as the musical for the MTV generation,
with a series of revamped hip hop song and dance routines.
"It's the challenge of all time to take this around
the country," said tour producer David Ian. "Starlight
ran for 18 years in London, where it was, literally, cemented
into the ground. It took six months to get all the track out
of the theatre! I have to set it up in Manchester in just
six days, which is where the 3-D film comes in. I think it
is going to be every bit as good as the original, but different."
"Because 3-D originated back in the fifties, it might
be seen as quite quaint, but we are much more like the movie
Matrix Reloaded in the technology we have used."
Starlight Express is the world's second longest-running