Get Mathy With Gravity Balls

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Gravity Balls

Spherical shapes are exceptionally useful in science for working out physical relationships, because they have completely even radiuses and masses. The natural tendency of celestial objects like planets to make their way towards spheres is proof that there’s something there. And now a recent article lets you tinker around with them on your computer.

Writer Rhett Allain is on the physics beat, and he uses his knowledge of the rules underlying the natural world to interpret phenomena. But sometimes you need to set up an experimental apparatus to explore things, and the digital world lets you simulate conditions you’d never be able to get in a lab.

And that’s where we get to gravity balls. The gravitational force between two objects is usually influenced by all sorts of conditions – wind, other nearby objects, et cetera. So being able to simulate the vacuum of deep space and watch how physical principles play out is incredibly useful.

Allain wrote a little bit of Python code that you can run in your browser to create spherical objects and simulate how their gravitational fields act upon each other. It’s useful, but it’s also a ton of fun to just goof around with. Add balls, change their masses, and let the universe explode in delight.

Check out the whole thing at Wired.