Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Is that little green one ever going to come back on the screen?
February 26, 2010 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Flash Physics Friday Fun: My Solar System is a fun little physics toy that will do 2-, 3-, and 4-body 2D gravity simulations.

My Solar System is one one many interactive simulations hosted online by PhET, a University of Colorado at Boulder "effort to provide an extensive suite of simulations to improve the way that physics, chemistry, biology, earth science and math are taught and learned." (previously, previouslier)
posted by BeerFilter (31 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
There are a few presets in the upper right pull-down box. My favorites are the slingshots. You can also click on the radio buttons at the bottom to reset default 2-, 3-, and 4-body settings. You can click and drag on the bodies and velocity vectors to modify them or you can input values directly into the text boxes. Try playing with different masses for some interesting effects!

It's not perfect. I would like to be able to zoom out for a wider view, but I saw this a few days ago and have kept coming back to it for its simple & relaxing motions.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:48 AM on February 26, 2010


There goes the rest of the day: alternating the creation of slingshots with "let's slam this moon into the sun!"
posted by fijiwriter at 8:01 AM on February 26, 2010


I'm already addicted to this.
posted by Mister_A at 8:02 AM on February 26, 2010


This is further proof that I should not be in charge of large celestial bodies.
posted by The Whelk at 8:02 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's an awesome game based on the same concept.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:03 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


If only it came with a collection of Leonard Nimoy soundbytes.

"A solar eclipse. The cosmic ballet goes on..."
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:35 AM on February 26, 2010


I remember playing with something similar that only had 1 static body in the middle and 1 satellite years ago. That was kind of cool, but this is awesome.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:36 AM on February 26, 2010


It's like playing with God's Spirograph.

I keep setting up massive dances that end in collisions. I'm a vengeful god, I guess.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:37 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was watching the 4 star ballet and thinking how cool would it be if there was a planet right in the middle of all 4. Daylight all the time, but with seasons! But my reverie turned into shock about 50 seconds into the simulation as disaster struck.
posted by forforf at 8:45 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


How about an old-school version? A mouse click introduces a satellite; moving the mouse while clicking sets vector and speed.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:55 AM on February 26, 2010


Now that's a double-double [not TimHortons-ist].
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:04 AM on February 26, 2010


The 4 star ballet is awesome! They wander back and then it is just a matter of waiting for what celestial lunacy will happen next!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:04 AM on February 26, 2010


Bonus points if you can write your name in cursive with the traces.
posted by jefbla at 10:13 AM on February 26, 2010


Fortunately my given name is Lllllllll so no problema!
posted by Mister_A at 10:17 AM on February 26, 2010


Just by adding another body (to make 3 total), and adjusting nothing else, seems to make an incredible pattern. I like it!
posted by tawny at 10:38 AM on February 26, 2010


Wow, it's hard to get a two moons orbiting the planet as that orbits the star. I got a somewhat chaotic-looking but seemingly stable setup which lasted about 50 orbits before one of the moons was ejected from the system completely.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:38 AM on February 26, 2010


I just got some strange, glitchy behavior by running it in an oddly-sized window. The thing seems to scale based on your windows size. Try running it in a very tall but narrow or very wide but short window for added weirdness. I had 3 of my 4 suns crash together, and yet there were a couple seemingly-infinitely-small entities that came in off the edge of the screen from nowhere.
posted by BeerFilter at 11:09 AM on February 26, 2010


Thanks - this is fascinating! I have an interesting setup of two binary stars and a planet and a moon that is entertaining to watch and has me constantly wondering if a collison or ejection is about to happen.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:14 AM on February 26, 2010


Damn it, damn it, damnit! And Mr. MoonPie had to remind me of that awesome game (which I've been looking for for months!). I'll be back when my eyes stop bleeding...
posted by TigerMoth at 11:49 AM on February 26, 2010


Wow, it's hard to get a two moons orbiting the planet as that orbits the star. I got a somewhat chaotic-looking but seemingly stable setup which lasted about 50 orbits before one of the moons was ejected from the system completely.

Yeah, based on this simulation, I've concluded that there's no way nine (eight?) planets have been revolving around the sun for billions of years without crashing into each other. Therefore, Creationism must be right.
posted by Dr. Send at 2:24 PM on February 26, 2010


Anybody remember an old Mac game that was very similar to this?
posted by DakotaPaul at 3:03 PM on February 26, 2010


Dr. Send, I know you're joking, but it's an interesting implication revealed by this little game; most of the systems we set up will fail because they're not the result of the kind of process by which a real solar system forms, with millions of accreting bits that either get swept away or grow large enough and get lucky enough in placement to do the sweeping. And the early formation of a solar system is unbelievably chaotic and violent. It turns out that the old idea of nine bodies placidly forming in pleasantly circular orbits where they will live in stability for billions of years is about as inaccurate as can be.
posted by localroger at 3:14 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else play the early '90s Mac app called Gravitation? You could add up to 13 planets, I think. Every so often I wonder if there's an update.
posted by asfuller at 3:34 PM on February 26, 2010


*pulls out a large scary handgun*

It's 8.

There's 8 planets.

Not 9. Not Pluto. Just 8.

If Chiron ain't a planet. If Eris ain't a planet. Pluto ain't a planet. Get me?

*backs out slowly*
posted by Bonzai at 9:39 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


200 0 0 0 -1
10 142 0 0 140
20 -166 0 0 74
5 -84 0 0 100

Run to time = 51
posted by orthogonality at 10:54 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


As of today, there are 429 known planets orbiting 362 stars, excluding ours.

"Kepler," an automated system monitoring 100,000 stars, discovered five planets in ten days. There's the usual bias towards large, short-period planets; over the next four years the system will be sensitive to planets in Earthlike orbits.

There's a boatload more than eight planets. Put away your weapon.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:50 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"accurate | | | | | fast" slider doesn't change elapsed time like I thought it would.
posted by Feisty at 4:01 PM on February 27, 2010


There's a boatload more than eight planets. Put away your weapon.

I'm pretty sure you knew I was talking about this solar system.

I'll have none of this 'Pluto is a planet' talk.
posted by Bonzai at 7:30 PM on February 27, 2010


Well, back when astrophysicists thought the planets formed in placid stable orbits, they also thought there were nine planets. If you want to argue with them you will need a DeLorean, a flux capacitor, and a certain quantity of plutonium to make the meeting.
posted by localroger at 9:53 PM on February 27, 2010


I'm pretty sure you knew I was talking about this solar system.
I sure did! I thought it was quaint.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 5:01 AM on February 28, 2010


Simpler, in processing
posted by Eideteker at 12:14 PM on February 28, 2010


« Older Strange & wonderful album covers....  |  Actor Andrew J. Koenig was fou... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments