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The Physics of Osmos

I love video games that make physics fun! One of the best physics-based video game of all time is Osmos, the 2010 iPad Game of the Year.

While the core objective of the game is simple (become the biggest mote), you quickly discover the myriad of complex physics principles that the designers baked directly into the gameplay. Newton’s Laws of Motion, the Conservation of Momentum, the Rocket Equation, and Orbital Mechanics – they all become an essentially component of leveling up.

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.