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MIT Slows Down Speed of Light In New Game 113

New submitter schirra writes "Researchers at MIT Game Lab have created a free video game that accurately simulates the effects of Einstein's relativity. 'A Slower Speed of Light' challenges players to collect objects strewn throughout a level to artificially lower the speed of light. As light speed slows to walking pace, it makes visible the unusual effects one encounters when traveling close to the speed of light, such as the Doppler effect, searchlight effect and Lorentz transformation. The effects are, in a word, trippy. The team plans to release an open-source Unity3D toolkit called OpenRelativity to allow others to include the same relativistic effects in other games." They also plan to release the source code sometime next year (despite reports that it is open source already).
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MIT Slows Down Speed of Light In New Game

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  • Re:About time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by f3rret ( 1776822 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @01:11PM (#41909165)

    I've often wished someone would do something like this. I've suggested on slashdot an interstellar military/trading game that would take relativity into account as a way to give people a more intuitive feel for it. I've wondered about the difficulties of a 2D game that would use a slow speed of light. But to have a 3D game that considers all the effects, including red-shift, is beyond my wildest dreams. I look forward to downloading and playing it.

    Have you actually *tried* this game? Cus' it's a long way off from a big-ass 4x sorta game. I mean the game is fun, interesting and trippy and all that, but it is kinda rudimentary.

    Would be fun to play on a large screen while in an altered state though.

  • by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <[sorceror171] [at] []> on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @01:28PM (#41909353) Homepage

    Would be a complete nightmare to keep synchronous across multiple computers and server though.

    And everyone in the real world still thinks at the same rate. With turn-based games, you can do a little better - e.g. chess clocks that give dissimilar players different amounts of time - but for a continuous game it's rougher. And picture, you're walking down a hall, and suddenly things go slower because someone all the way on the other side of the map starts sprinting. It adds a whole new layer of lag-like behavior on top of the relativistic effects you're trying to simulate.

    The key thing about relativity is that, no matter what speed you're moving at, you feel the same. It's just that everything around you behaves differently. Slowing the game clock down because other people are going fast doesn't simulate that at all.

  • There's a book (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @02:01PM (#41909739)

    This stuff is explored in Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland, by George Gamow. The title character has various dreams which illustrate aspects of modern physics. For example, he dreams about riding a bicycle while the speed of light is 30 mph, and playing billiards with Planck's constant = 1. It's an interesting read; I recommend the omnibus Mr. Tompkins in Paperback, which has Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland and Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @02:09PM (#41909813)

    Actually, not even that is true. The effects of relativity aren't due to photon flight time. Imagine one player running at even a tenth the speed of light. When they stop, they would have only experienced say, a minute, but a stationary player should have been experiencing many hours. You'd either have to know what the stationary player is going to do in the future, or artificially slow down the travelling player, which sorta defeats the purpose.

  • Multiplayer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elfprince13 ( 1521333 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @02:14PM (#41909871) Homepage
    I'd be even more impressed if they managed to make it multiplayer. Maybe merge this with the Resequence Engine []? Not for time travel necessarily, but because they've already worked out how to run multiple reference frames at once, and I suspect you'd need an event buffer for every pair of players, and possibly to introduce a preferred reference frame as well for simulating the environment.
  • by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @03:07PM (#41910567)

    I think immersion in the right simulating environment can give people a level of physical intuition that many physicists never achieve.

  • by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @03:13PM (#41910659)

    A small enhancement to the game to make time dilatation more obvious would be making the balls bounce. I think.

  • Obligatory XKCD (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @04:40PM (#41911575) Journal

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents