Games for science outreach and public engagement
(Links to our apps and related material)
Over the years we have organised and participated in many science outreach activities. For us this all started in 2010 when the British Science Festival came to Birmingham and the Gravitational Wave group decided to develop an exhibition: 'Looking for Black Holes with Lasers'. We had not done anything like this before and had to start creating a lot of material from scratch including our computer apps, now known as Space Time Quest, Black Hole Master, Stretch and Squash and You are Einstein.
Since then our apps have been freely available and used many times by people all over the world. In 2014 we started to development of new versions of our apps for mobile devices, as the old Java-based programs became difficult to install and run. Later we founded a not-for-profit company Laser Labs for supporting science outreach activities with fun and well designed apps.
Latest Games and Apps
Our apps and games that we use for science outreach. We try to make these available on multiple platforms, such as Mac and Windows PCs and Android and iOS phones and tablets:
A simple app that allows you to play with the light-bending effect of a black hole. Take a selfie, or a photo of your friends, with a black hole! We do not use the app itself during outreach activities but promote its download link so that people can show some gravity related fun to their friends and family afterwards.
Stretch and Squash demonstrated how a passing gravitational wave would stretch and squash the distances between objects. You can switch between different backgrounds and the web-camera image to be stretched and squashed. Use this app during a science fair or open day to attract visitors to your stand.
In Space Time Quest you are the scientist in charge of a gravitational wave detector. Select the right technology for your detector, measure many gravitational wave events and get an entry on the online hall of fame.
Apps we are working on right now are listed below. All work is done by volunteers in their spare time and therefore we do not know when these apps will become available.
An fast arcade-style game similar to one of the earlier computer games 'Pong'. Throw stars at your opponent, using only the attractive gravitational force of a black hole. You can read more about the development in the News and Updates of Laser Labs. In the meantime, the previous version Black Hole Pong is still available for download.
We cannot actively support all our previous apps, but we will keep providing them in these pages, many of these still work, and the source code could be useful to others who want to develop something similar.
Our first apps and games were developed with Processing, a simple environment to develop Java applets, aimed primarily at artists. We also used Processing to teach programming, to develop prototypes for optical simulations and contributed a plotting library to the open source projects. You can find all our projects still available on our Processing pages.