News and information

Gravitational Waves in Birmingham

On Februrary the LIGO Scientific Collaboration announced the first detection of gravitational waves. The importance of the revelation was apparent with the news appearing on the front pages of newspapers across the globe, being broadcast on all major news channels, and the continuing conversations taking place on social media.
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This is Laser Labs!

Laser Labs is here! After several years of using computer apps for science outreach, we have now formed Laser Labs, a not-for-profit company to publish such applications to popular apps store.

The Gravitational Wave Group at the University of Birmingham has a strong outreach group that regularly organises a variety of events, from school visits, to exhibitions at national science fairs.
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Slow but steady progress

It has been a long time since the last update and we have made less progress this year than originally planned. The number of people who can efficiently help with the coding or the graphics has become quite small. Also, our day jobs had become more demanding than usual, so that we worked on the game only for a few hours per week. The good news in that we have been joined by Philip Jones, a Birmingham physics student, who already gave us a nice boost in productivity!
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Physics and gameplay

One of the main challenges in making a game is to create a fun experience. Black Hole Master however has also another purpose: we want to use in the outreach activities of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. We can therefore expect that players will wonder about the correctness of the physics modelling in the game. In this post I discuss the trade-off decisions to be made between physics, in our case gravity, and generated a fun-to-play game.
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Black holes going mobile

I mentioned in the previous post that one of our main goals is to bring the game to tablets and, if possible, phones. We were trying for a while to find the right tool to export, from the same code with only small extra tweaks, to the Desktop, mobile devices and a web version playable in a browser. With the restart of the development this year, we opted for Unity3D which has a reputation for providing good export options.
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Black Hole Pong, the history

In 2010 Robert Unwin, a summer student in the Birmingham Gravitational Wave group, had completed eight of his ten weeks in a summer vacation project. His main task of writing a Python script for a simulation package was completed and he had a meeting with me (Andreas Freise) to discuss what to do next. At that time I was experimenting with Processing as a tool to teach my students some basic programming skills and to develop interactive outreach material. We discussed whether there was something quick and fun we could try out in the remaining time and sketched out the idea of making a Pong-like game using gravity instead of paddles.
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