Thursday, 6 March 2008

Playing, digitally, with real-world physics

Asks another blogger: Is this the end of "stuff"?

While hunting for examples of Second Life in UK universities, I keep coming across discussion and resources surrounding the modelling of physics in SL. This brings back some bad memories...

I was useless at physics in school. My rubbishness was partly out of disinterest, partially due to the dull and anti-motivated way in which the subject was taught, and partially due to hostility to the teacher. Classmates who should have done better also got low grades.

So perhaps something a bit more motivational, and a bit easier to visualise the various things that go on in mechanics would have helped. Something like the game Crayon Physics Deluxe:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsTqspnvAaI]

And then there's Phun, a "2D Physics sandbox", which is just awesome. There's the bit, 55 seconds into the next video, where a solid is changed into a liquid, with resulting effects; cool! And see the bit where - and learning is often best by building - a piston-motor is built and operated.

And, it's all perfectly safe, spill-free and un-litigious: that'll be an attractive option for schools.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H5g9VS0ENM]

Even better, Phun is a bit of free software that you can download and play with. Go on - you know you want to...

And what did we have that was the "cutting edge" equivalent of this in the 80's? Etch-a-bloody-sketch :-(

Still, at least if I ever have kids, digital technology like this will save me a fortune as I won't need to buy plasticine, toys, building blocks and all that now. Put a flatscreen monitor at the end of the cot, load up Phun or CPD, and let them get on with it. Sorted.

3 comments:

  1. I'm reminded of the Star Trek episode where the highly-advanced, uber-technical civilisation turns out to consist of, effectively, unhappy brains in jars.

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  2. Sarah: that wasn't an episode of Star Trek. It was a documentary about the Comhairle.

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  3. Angus: brains? in ALL the jars?

    ReplyDelete