The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently launched what it says is the first government-sponsored, earth-science "island" on the popular virtual world of Second Life. Visitors to the site can virtually "experience" several earth-science phenomena while learning about the cutting-edge science that NOAA conducts regularly. Second Life is a three-dimensional virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. On NOAA's island, users can soar through a hurricane on the wing of a research aircraft, rise gently through the atmosphere atop a weather balloon, or search for a hidden underwater cave on a side trip from an NOAA


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