A cool tool — needing some updating

Blast from the past:

Gastropd in VRML

The picture above is two views of a VRML (Virtual Reality Model Language) file representing a gastropod (OK, snail)….

If you look at a number of shells – nautoloids, gastropods (snails), pelecypods (clams) — have a shape that can be derived from a log spiral function.

Harkening back to my geo-days — I actually am a geologist, I don’t just play one on the Internet— I was involved in assisting with the development of a really nice little learning module that focused on accretionary shells – specifically the Raup Model.One of the projects I was involved in brought a a team of students and a faculty member (Paul Smith, now department head) together to create a program that allowed students in the paleontology classes to modify 4 parameters, click draw, and then produce a VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling language) version of a shell. Using a VRML plugin, students could view the shape, then return to the form and re-generate the shape. Totally cool…

Only problem is, the program (a CGI program written in Perl) produces VRML …

which is not the easiest file type to find a plugin for these days. So.. the program has been sitting idle…

Good news is that I did find a new plugin …

It’s from a company called Parallel Graphics, and the plug-in is the Cortona VRML Client. You can download/install the plug-in by accessing http://www.parallelgraphics.com/products/cortona, and following the directions provided.

However… I’m wanting to perhaps free ourselves of the CGI program and go standalone. I’ve seen some Java versions.. like the Gildner Paleo Home Page. Cool — but I am still looking for that ability to rotate, and to jack up the “W” to get the clams…

I’m wondering… does anyone have some good pointers on how to do something like this in Flash? Is this something Flash can do? We have the Perl program… I’m just loooking for some pointers as to where we might look to study this further…

Any ideas would be really appreciated!

By the way, if you have installed the plugin, and want to see some of these… they are so cool…
Trick with the plugin, click on “Fit” (lower right button), then switch to study mode (lets you rotate these easy…)

View an evolute ammonite

View an involute ammonite

View a Gastropod

View a clam…


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3 Responses to A cool tool — needing some updating

  1. Tim says:

    Nice VRML Object!

  2. Alan Levine says:

    I would not recommend Flash, as all you have is a 2-D coordinate system, at that, so you’d have to do some heavy meath to create 3D objects and transform thwem to a 2-D plane.

    However, this should be a snap in Director, with playback via Shockwave, at least more prevelant and accessible as plugin technology than VRML. Director/Shockwave has a built in 3D environment base don OpenGL. I imagine you just need to define the polygons in size, shape, and 3D space and apply transformations to them?

    I never got to doing any 3D work in Director, but I bet D’Arcy Norman has some experience there.

  3. Alan Levine says:

    PS- In Director you could even apply textures to 3D objects and rotate, manipulate in real-time. Makes me a little anxious to dust of my Lingo coding…

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