Saturday, February 22, 2014

Science Saturday: Stellar, the Astrophysics Video Game

I came across this one by way of UCSC Students Design Video Game Aimed at Making Astrophysics Fun. For the link-phobic:
Kate Compton and April Grow, both students at UCSC's Center for Games and Playable Media, hope players will feel like they're "farming" in space as they cultivate star gardens. In doing so, gamers will also learn about nucleosynthesis, the process by which stars forge atoms into the elements that make up the periodic table. But Stellar, which will be soon be available on Google's Chrome Store, is first and foremost a game -- and its programmers hope the approach will help spark children's interest in science.
Players start with one star called Sol, Latin for sun, and a stash of hydrogen atoms. To keep Sol burning, players must feed it hydrogen. When their hydrogen supply runs low, players are free to zoom around the cosmos in search of space dust containing more of the element.
Compton, Grow, and Stellar: the astrophysics game.
Compton, Grow, and Stellar (Dan Coyro)
As players sprinkle these hydrogen atoms into their star, it fuses them into helium atoms. Players can harvest this helium and use it as another nutrient to feed their star. The stellar foundry can then fuse helium to create heavier atoms, like carbon. Stars can then squeeze these atoms into even heavier iron atoms.
Unfortunately "soon" is the best the article can do when it comes to naming a release date. I can't wait to try it out—stars and astronomy were among my earliest science loves.

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