Most of us here probably fall into the ‘really like science’ category. After all, what would science fiction be without the science? Fantasy, that’s what! And who wants that? (Please direct all hate mail or comments to John,he loves that stuff) But not only is science interesting, it can be fun too. I’ve recently run across several fun science sites on the web that you might not have seen.
First up is the Star Formation Game from Discover Magazine. This flash based game puts you in charge of your very own dust cloud and challenges you to create as many stars as you possibly can. It’s based on the real science behind star formation, which you can read about in Discover’s article about star formation. Being an astronomy geek, I really like both of these items, though there is a ‘trick’ to the game that will allow you to rack up the points easily. Still, who wouldn’t like to be in charge of triggering their own supernovas?
Next up we have the World Wide Telescope, brought to you by Microsoft. Part desktop planetarium and part eye candy interface, the WWT merges the traditional planetarium view of the sky with actual images from ground and space based telescopes. This results in the user being able to select an object, then drill down to see an actual photo of that object. As you might imagine, this can be very cool. Add in the ability for users to create their own guided tours, and the teaching potential here is astronomical. WWT has both a web-based and desktop client for you to choose from, though the web version is a preview version based on Microsoft’s Silverlight (competitor to Flash) environment. It’s well worth the effort.
Lastly, the Universe Sandbox takes elements of both of the above applications and allows you to take control of our ‘universe’. Smash planets into one other, simulate the stars and galaxies in our local cluster, and generally have a grand old time seeing what havoc you can create on an inter-galactic scale. E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith would be proud. Part learning tool, part ‘god’ game (think The Sims or Populous), it’s all fun. See for yourself: