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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

CONTEXT: A Slower Speed of Light

This video game, created by the MIT Game Lab, allows visualising a world in which the speed of light is comparable to walking speed and thereby gaining an intuitive grasp on the effects of special relativity. In the game, the player walks around an arena of modest size and picks up orbs, of each of which slows the speed of light. As the speed of light falls, all of the effects of special relativity become manifest: aberration, the Doppler effect, distortions due to the finite speed of light, and Lorentz contraction and time dilation. A clever scheme is used to re-map the electromagnetic spectrum into the visible range to keep the Doppler effect from rendering most objects invisible to the eye.

This game achieves the dream of George Gamow's Mr Tompkins stories dating from 1939, which were the inspiration for Fourmilab's C-Ship static renderings and animations of relativistic effects developed in the 1990s.

The game is free, and available for Linux, Macintosh, and legacy Microsoft platforms. You can download it from its page at MIT. Its hardware requirements appear to be modest.

Here is the official trailer for the game.

Posted at August 31, 2021 10:54