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HOLOGRAM - HOLY LAND - ENGINEERING THE APOCALYPSE (STA BREAKING NEWS and ARCHIVES)

by Theresa, Thursday, April 01, 2004, 03:13

HOLOGRAM - HOLY LAND - ENGINEERING THE APOCALYPSE

Apocalypse Now

How a hologram, a blimp, and a massively multiplayer game could bring peace to the Holy Land.

WIRED NEWS


Illustration by Kenn Brown
Let there be light: The site is the sky above the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The project includes a laser-projected temple. The goal: to summon the Messiah.

By Joshua Davis

Yitzhaq Hayutman holds the key to peace on Earth - it's on a floppy disk in his pants pocket. With his full white beard, bald pate, and well-pressed khakis, the 61-year-old Israeli cybernetics expert and tech investor looks like Moses done over for a Banana Republic ad. Right now, he's showing me how he wants to position an airborne hologram over the Dome of the Rock, a gold-capped shrine that's one of the most holy sites in Islam. "The blimp will go there," Hayutman says pointing into the blue. "And eventually the Messiah will come."

Hayutman is excited by the prospect - perhaps too excited. Twenty yards away, two flak-jacketed Israeli police officers finger their machine guns while four plainclothes members of the Islamic Trust - the Muslim force that protects Islam's holy sites - move cautiously toward us. Violence has a habit of erupting here on the Temple Mount, the world's most explosive plot of land.

For 1,500 years, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have fought for control of this 35-acre plateau in the heart of Jerusalem. The dispute remains one of the main obstacles to peace in the Middle East. Jewish teachings say that a temple must be built here - many say on the exact spot where the Dome now stands - in order to induce the arrival of the Messiah and the coming of peace on Earth. Fundamentalist Christians interpret this to mean the Second Coming of Christ and actively encourage Jewish building efforts. Muslims categorically oppose any encroachment on their holy site, from which they believe Mohammed ascended to heaven to receive the Koran.

All sides acknowledge that tensions on the hill have the potential to start a war, but Hayutman believes he has found a way to resolve the intractable conflict. "What most people see is that if the Muslims are here, surely there is no temple," Hayutman says. "They do not understand that technology has given us the tools to realize the prophecy right now."

He has two big ideas, two ways to engineer the apocalypse. The first: a hovering holographic temple. Hayutman wants to set up an array of high-powered, water-cooled lasers and fire them into a transparent cube suspended beneath a blimp. The ephemeral, flickering image, he says, would fulfill an ancient, widely revered Jewish prophecy that the temple will descend from the heavens as a manifestation of light. Hayutman hopes to finance the project with some of the proceeds from a $20 million patent-infringement suit he and his partners have filed against Palm.

The rest of that money would be poured into Hayutman's second idea for jump-starting the end-times: a virtual temple within a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The goal is for thousands of people to join in its construction on the Web. Hayutman even wants to display progress reports in the floating hologram as a kind of apocalyptic scoreboard.

FULL ARTICLE

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