THINKlab developed a virtual reality experience that allows users to ‘visit’ Chernobyl to see and learn about the animals who live in the radioactive ‘exclusion zone’ in Ukraine and Belarus.
Working with the University of Salford research team Dr. Mike Wood, Dr. Paul Kendrick and Dr. Andy Miah THINKlab produced a virtual reality environment capable of supporting and demonstrating their findings within the research project for NERC “Alienated Life? The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, 30 Years on”.
Chernobyl has been a no-go area since the nuclear disaster 30 years ago yet many animals from bears and wolves, to elk and wild boar have made it their home and have adapted to the remaining radioactive contamination environment.
Dr Mike Wood (2018) said: “Advances in photographic and acoustic recording techniques means we are now able to estimate the number of animals by observing them directly rather than looking at their tracks. We have embarked on a project using motion-activated cameras and sound recorders to investigate wildlife in different areas of the exclusion zone. Visitors to Alienated Life are able to get a real sense of a truly unique environment which has been totally vacated by human for 30 years.”
This Chernobyl wildlife project was awarded ‘Research Project of the Year 2016’ at the Times Higher Education Awards and has been featured on the BBC and Channel 4 News. ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ has featured at a number of scientific events and was showcased at the Manchester Science Festival at The Museum of Science & Industry and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ has also been used to support research-led undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at Salford.