WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY: The term "virtual reality" is often confusing because it is used in so many different ways. It is often used to describe interactive software programs -- on or off the Web -- in which the user responds to visual and auditory cues as he or she navigates a three-dimensional environment on a graphics monitor. But originally, it referred to immersive virtual environments, in which the user would be surrounded by an artificial, three-dimensional computer-generated world, involving not just sight and sound, but touch as well through so-called "haptic" devices. Touch is vital to direct and guide human movement, and the use of haptics in virtual environments simulates how objects and actions feel to the user through biofeedback processes. This is critical for performing virtual surgery as part of medical training, for example.
FEAR OF FLYING: Like many fears, a fear of flying it is not always based on rationality. Statistics show that many everyday activities, such as automobile driving, tend to be the cause of considerably more deaths. Fear of flying is more widespread than those statistics would suggest, as it is present in one form or another in almost one-third of all U.S. adults. The reasons behind those fears range from a bad flight experience to fear of enclosed spaces, to a lack of control, and even a fear of heights, among other causes.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.