A U.S. congressional hearing on Tuesday, focused on the expanding potential of Second Life and other virtual worlds, attracted business leaders, academics and tech whizzes, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The hearing was held in-person, as well as within the Second Life world with a 3-D model of the committee room. As expected, TV monitors displayed the session, but for the first time, one screen displayed the Second Life world. Streaming the meeting in real time, the screen showed the virtual meeting, as well as avatars’ text-chat play by play with comments like, "there's another softball question." According to the Mercury News, the 3-D entertainment world has grown from a few hundred gamers in 2003 to roughly 6 million registered users today, with roughly 60,000 online at any given time and $850,000 in virtual currency exchanged each day. The Mercury News notes that “members of Congress tried to grasp the implications of Second Life, and many reverted to their fears about other online activity - that it can be addictive, or can help sexual predators and terrorists.” Meanwhile, scientists and researchers use the world to share information in virtual meetings, Cisco Systems and Intel use it to teleconference, and IBM is experimenting with Second Life for simulations and training sessions. Moreover, politicians use it to hold virtual town halls, while more than 400 universities are using the technology for teaching (Davies, San Jose Mercury News, 4/2/08).