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Virtual World: Stephen Hawking's Brave New World Episode 3

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In the latest episode of our series on the latest and greatest technological advances across the globe, we learn all about how scientists can alter our perception. Virtual reality and associated technologies will change the way we communicate, the way we work, and the way we play.

I have to admit, shooting this episode was a real highlight for me. I visited the offices of VirtSim in Mariette, Georgia, and found myself completely immersed in their latest technology. I was embedded with a virtual SWAT team and led on a simulated combative exercise. There had been a hostage taking, and I was on the team to storm the building and try to find the hostage.

I was teamed up with many ex-soldiers, who work closely with the scientists at VirtSim in order to keep the scenarios as close to reality as possible. Wow! What a rush of adrenaline I experienced -- the simulation was so real. My heart was pounding and I was sweating buckets. In the end, I was shot and I felt the sting of the bullet from muscle stimulators attached to my arms. The technology that is being developed at Virtsim will be an important addition to training for armed forces, police and fire fighters. My whole experience there was completely exhilarating!

Our entire team of scientists is interacting with various virtual technologies in this episode. Aarathi Prasard investgates EMAPS -- a program that is being developed to read maps from inside buildings. Imagine Google maps, but for indoor use! A ubiquitous problem for any GPS unit is that it stops working once users are indoors. EMAPS is looking to change that.

Organ replacement is an extremely tricky process, not to mention the journey that a donated organ takes prior to being implanted into a recipient. Over 15 deaths occur per day due to an insufficient supply of donor organs. In this episode Daniel Kraft investigates the prospect of creating donor tissues and organs in the lab through a 3D printing process!

I think Chris Eliasmith got a great gig in this episode. He travels to California to learn about the latest and greatest in virtual reality gaming. He got to play games, while I got shot?! I guess some days are better than others!

Lastly, Jim Al-Kahili visits a lab in the Netherlands where they are pioneering the technology of the brain-computer interface. Imagine using the power of thought to control machines with our minds alone! The technology exists, and Jim provides us with a first-hand experience of using his mind to answer questions on a computer.

Join us this Friday, November 29 at 8 p.m. EST / 10 p.m. PST on Discovery World to experience this whirlwind of virtual technology!