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MIT Slows Speed Of Light (And In The Game)

Don't worry. It doesn't always look like this.

One of the more disappointing revelations I’ve had to grapple with as I’ve grown up is that the speed of light doesn’t actually work like it does in Star Wars. Not only that, it’s actually kind of confusing. Fortunately, this crazy new indie developer calling itself “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology” has distilled general relativity into an oddball adventure about a spirit who must slow the speed of light to reach the afterlife called, er, A Slower Speed of Light. Seriously! It looks kind of completely wild, though. Hurl yourself past the break at speeds that defy human physical limits to watch a dev diary explaining the whole project. Or just click on some things. That also works.

Normally, this would be the part where I’d tell you how it plays, but – due to a “known” bug MIT Game Lab is currently ironing out – it insta-crashes on my machine after the opening story bits. There are, however, some other interesting things to know about A Slower Speed of Light, so let’s look at those.

“A custom-built, open-source relativistic graphics engine allows the speed of light in the game to approach the player’s own maximum walking speed. Visual effects of special relativity gradually become apparent to the player, increasing the challenge of gameplay. These effects, rendered in realtime to vertex accuracy, include the Doppler effect; the searchlight effect; time dilation; Lorentz transformation; and the runtime effect.”

Admittedly, I’m not well-versed enough in, you know, quantum physics to tell whether or not it simulates those effects accurately, but this could still be quite the thing. I mean, it’s open source, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when other developers start tinkering with it. For now, though, you can play MIT’s game right this very second. And then, before you know it, you’ll be ready to build a real-life warp drive. That goes double if you’re a Wookie.

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Nathan Grayson

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