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The Physics of Osmos

I love video games that make physics phun! There is no better physics video game than Osmos, the 2010 iPad Game of the Year.

Game physics has evolved exponentially since the early days of Atari and Game Boy, where titles like Tetris or Bubble-Bobble (look for game boy advance roms, if you have missed out on the fun) had players glued to their TV sets. Those same game-physics have permeated into present world games designed for iPad, as is evident from the presence of smaller bright blue bubbles that surround the player’s mote in Osmos.

The objective of the game is two-fold: grow by absorbing other motes and propel forward by ejecting matter out. Simple requirements, but when added to the game physics, they make for an extremely engrossing game that keeps the mind ticking.

After becoming enthralled with the game, I wrote a blog post about how you could use it in the physics classroom. A few weeks later, the makers of the game contacted me! They were super cool, and we had several extended conversations of physics, education, and video game development – it was awesome!

Ultimately, we decided to run a “Physics of Osmos” contest in the winter of 2012. It was a great success, and a deserving high school student won a new iPad for his great submission.

In 2014, I wrote up a formal article on the way-cool physics of the game. After a few years of being lost in an abandoned email account, the article was eventually published in the peer-reviewed journal, The Physics Teacher. You can download and read the full article here.