[13 Feb 2009]
SodaPlay is a fun way to creatively construct and play with springy objects, and in the process learn something. It is a physics-based simulation that allows the user to add as many connecting nodes as they like and to vary gravity, friction and speed of movement.
What is SodaPlay good for? It’s a great way to introduce physics concepts to a skeptical audience. Oh, and math is involved too. The “muscles” that SodaPlay uses are based on sine-waves and of course, calculation is the core of any simulation.
And why does it have to be “good for” anything? Think of Lego meets Meccano with springs, all on a computer screen. And did I mention it is fun?
Once you start to get the idea and try to build your own SodaPlay objects, the challenges really start.
There’s also SodaRace:
Sodarace is the online olympics pitting human creativity against machine learning in a competition to design robots that race over 2D terrains using the Sodaconstructor virtual construction kit.
Here’s one of the many freely available contructions on the SodaPlay site:
Once it loads, grab any of the “nodes” (the black dots) and pull on it. You can add to the creation or delete it and start again with your own.
You can also add (relatively) fixed non-springy nodes to a construction.
SodaPlay is java-based and requires a moderate-sized download before you can get started. You’ll need Java Web Start, but you might already have it on your computer. Never mind the initial setup time — it’s worth it!
You may also be interested in these Flash-based animations by Jim Bumgardner.
The animations are Flash interpretations of the XML output of various SodaPlay objects. You can’t create anything with these Flash animations — just view the animations.
SodaPlay offers many interesting possibilities for investigating math and physics. Have a play!
That link again: SodaPlay