Open Thread, August 16-31, 2012

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, even in Discussion, it goes here.

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Velocity Raptor: a simple physics Flash game where the physics simulates special relativity. Lorenz contraction, time dilation, red shifts, visual distortions ... people seem to get stuck on level 30, though Gwern made it to level 31. It's one thing to look at equations, it's another to get a feel for it. I strongly recommend this to everyone.

people seem to get stuck on level 30, though Gwern made it to level 31

That sounds, like, offensively speciest towards Gwern! Or something.

Technically, we don't have incontrovertible proof that Gwern isn't a mostly-friendly AI that consumes a lot of anime.

My exact thought. Very few baseline humans are such... data whores.

Gwern is obviously a P-zombie. Just try looking at his pineal gland and you'll find no soul.

Holy shit... after playing that for a while, whenever I quickly move my eyes the page I'm reading appears to stretch along the direction of the saccade and shrink along the perpendicular direction.

This was tons of fun. Doing the wildcard levels in seen view was crazy!

I wish it had general relativity too.

Edit: also, for people wondering about the seen view, the episode of the cosmos called Journeys in Space and Time has a really awesome scene about what it would actually look like to move a significant fraction of the speed of light. Does anyone know of any (possibly more modern) other attempts to do this?

It's about 20 mins in:

Hi all, I'm Andy, the guy who made the game. I stumbled across this posting and am glad people are both enjoying the game and thoroughly infuriated by it :)

I had that scene in Cosmos vividly in mind as I created VR. It's amazing how well that series stands up to the test of time.

Another neat resource for that 'seen' view is

They have a bunch of videos and explanations, too. In fact, the big inspiration for this game came from an exhibit that group built. It was in a museum years ago, and you'd physically ride a stationary bike around their simulation. A giant screen in front of you showed what you'd see as you rode through the streets of Bern (supposing light was traveling at 5 mph). It was completely interactive, and completely rad.

I've got other links posted if you're interested in more, but that's the one that sticks out to me.

Well you managed to entertain a lab full of astrophysicists and me for longer than I care to admit, so that was awesome ty.

It would be neat in a game to have objects/stuff that emits light outside of visible light that can only be seen by humans when they're doppler shifted into visible range.

I quite like that idea. Make the objects invisible (instead of black, as they are now). That could lead to some nice puzzles. I'll keep that in mind for the future, thanks!

I can't wait for the first time a student goes into Phys 200 and passes easily because quote "It's just like the time I was an ice skating raptor, dodging bullets while on fire and doppler-shifting doors open" unquote.

My only wish is that you add a little more to the congratulation screen for master of relativity. Even just a picture of the same raptor with a party hat on top would be awesome. You know, just to show that the poor raptor is doing okay after running into so many walls at a significant fraction of C.

Ooh, a party hat, I like it! Yeah, I agree the player could use a little more positive feedback.

Hi all, I'm Andy, the guy who made the game.

Wow. Hats off to you. This game is exactly the kind of thing I've been dreaming of.

You and me both. (And by that you mean literal dreams of being a velociraptor, right?)

If you change the game, please, please add possibility to save progress inside level. It would make the arcade-hard SR-easy levels somewhat more feasible. I gave up when I was offerred to do the fire-snow-run among timed trapdoors.

I'll keep that in mind. While I (clearly) don't want the game to be easy... I also don't want it to be too unreasonably hard.

Well done. I can't tell though if what we're seeing is perceived view what happened n ticks 'ago', where n is the distance we were from the trap n ticks ago in our current speed or at the previous speed. General relativity would have it as the former, but it seems like everything catches up instantly when you stop, rather than the area of altered perception spreading when you stop spreading outward at the local speed of light.

Have you considered doing Galilean relativity? I don't think it would make much difference.