UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 8 | Sep.
In the News
Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in August 2004
Compiled by Brian Lin
UBC researchers have developed a “new locomotion interface
for swimming and floating in a virtual reality ocean,”
reports the San Jose Mercury News.
Showcased at a recent computer graphics conference in Los
Angeles, the innovation involves suspending a “swimmer”
and tracking his movements. A computer-generated animation
of the swimmer is then projected on a screen.
The swimmer wears a virtual reality display over his head
and sees a simulation of the ocean -- with waves reacting
to the movement and refracted sunlight. He can even hear the
sounds of water slashing and sea birds calling.
UBC Second Most Cited
UBC researchers are the second most cited scholars in Canada,
according to a ranking of citations in scholarly scientific
and technical journals.
UBC came in behind the University of Toronto with 17 investigators
identified as highly cited in leading journals such as Nature
UBC placed 19th among North American public universities
in the rankings.
“This is a remarkable achievement, and illustrates
how UBC research is contributing to discovery everywhere,”
said UBC VP research Indira Samarasekera told the Vancouver
Balancing Business and Family
More and more couples are opting for the flexibility of
getting into business together because of the financial and
family benefits, according to David Bentall, chairman of the
Business Families Centre at UBC.
“The norm of someone working for a company for their
lifetime is disappearing,” Bentall told The Globe and
Mail. “From both the male and female side, there’s
a tremendous drive to have more flexibility in their careers.
“Those two forces are causing more and more people
to say ‘Hey, let’s start something on our own.’
Thunderbird Grounded for Now
After six years of planning, design and construction on
its human-powered helicopter, a team of faculty and students
at UBC couldn’t get the machine off the ground at a
recent attempt to break the current world record.
“It was a no-go,” UBC engineering department
spokesperson Sherry Green told The Globe and Mail. “They
had technical difficulties.”
More than 160 students at UBC’s mechanical engineering
department have worked on the Thunderbird Project since its
inception in 1998, but only six to 12 people, headed by team
leader Mike Georgallis, work on it at any one time.
Rescue Bots Save the Day
A robot armed with toilet-bowl brushes recently won the
UBC engineering department’s annual robotics contest.
The robots, designed as “rescue-bots,” had to
rescue a stranded doll at the bottom of a pretend cliff.
The contest is the students’ final exam for the course.
“It counts for marks and bragging rights for several
years,” physics professor Andre Marziali told The Vancouver
The robots use sensors and special filters to recognize
parts of the course and computer programs written by the students
to tell them what to do. No remote controls allowed.
Jeff Young, head of UBC’s physics and astronomy department
and one of the judges said he hopes the contest lets people
know that physics can be fun. “It’s not just drudgery
and hard work.”