Matters of Gravity

Sic Transit Gloria Astrum

What you’re looking at there is the sad and beautiful story of the death of two stars, and the casting of two other survivors into the darkness.

I’ve been sitting here playing with the My Solar System gravity simulator since reading about it in Discovery–it’s a cool educational toy for modelling interaction of bodies under gravity. You can use it develop an understanding of how multiple bodies interact with each other under gravity, and just how sensitive to initial conditions the stable systems are.

Or, you know, you can just mess about with the parameters to make suns crash into each other. Moo hoo ha ha.

New Scientist also brings me news of a cool simulator of the effect of gravity, albeit not one where I get to blow up planets and suns.

This one simulates what you would see travelling in the vicinity of a black hole. You can download a Windows or Linux app, and real star data from Thomas Muller’s site. If you’re not motivated enough to do that, you can still watch some movies of the display at his site.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s a still from one of the movies–the cool one where you fall into a black hole.

Next time I reread Pohl’s Heechee books, I’m going to have a much better set of internal visuals.

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