The ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote these words about twenty-four hundred years ago. He used the striking image of the prisoners in the cave to illustrate his belief that what human beings thought of as real objects were merely poor imitations of "ideal" forms that could only be imagined.
If viewers could look inside Star Trek's Holodeck, they would probably find advanced versions of the same kinds of equipment and software that virtual reality systems contain today. The heart of the system would surely be a powerful computer with programs that produce complex, three-dimensional images.
Video games are not the only military training tools that use virtual reality. The U.S.
Meteorologists (scientists who study weather and climate) would like to step into a hurricane to find out how the winds inside it behave—and come back out alive. Chemists and drug designers would like to examine the shape of complex molecules and build new ones, atom by atom.
Aviewer floats through a mysterious, semitransparent landscape, like a diver underwater. Breathing in, the person rises through the bare branches of a huge tree.
Someday, every home may have its own Holodeck. If that happens, how will virtual reality change people's lives?