I've just come across Dan Stober's interesting article from the Stanford Report. He tells us about Vladlen Koltun, an assistant professor in computer science at Stanford, who decided he wanted to make virtual worlds more realistic. To that end he decided to add trees to his virtual landscapes. Although 3D designers are few and far between, Koltun was able to tabulate the significant information botonists have regarding trees creating a highly detailed catolgue of attributes. Taking that info. Koltun was able to design a "powerful mathematical engine that creates trees using about 100 different tree attributes, all of them almost infinitely variable. How thick is the trunk? How big the leaves? How are the limbs spaced?" The result? Well, besides a much nicer virtual landscape is the idea that users who do not live and breathe 3D programming can "create unique trees by simply using a mouse to seamlessly navigate through the entire "space of trees," changing appearances by changing direction. Koltun's software, Dryad (a tree nymph in Greek mythology,) lets users move through the 100-attribute tree space in a fashion similar to navigating city streets on Google Maps." Does this mean that trees are now transliterate – moving from one mode (life) to another (virtual)?
By navigating with a mouse through an infinite number of trees on Dryad, virtual-world enthusiasts can create the trees of their dreams. The software, created at Stanford, is named after the tree nymphs in Greek mythology.
Photo and Caption from "Building a Better Virtual World, One Tree (or Millions) at a Time" by Dan Stober.