SUPERCOIL

This game illustrates standard ideas in physics, such as the electric field, Coulomb interaction, field lines and equipotential surfaces. It is meant to convey these ideas through interaction: by touching floors, walls and ceilings you change their electric charge, aiming to get a charged ball into a hoop. Getting the right sequence requires some thought and sometimes good timing, as sometimes floors must become ceilings and ceilings floors. There are dangerous pits to swing over, and climbing walls in high voltage can be daunting. But don’t worry, you get some help: Field lines show the direction of the electric forces.

The big button lets you download the latest build, or browse here for older builds.

Here is a selection of puzzles, which I currently use for the demo build you can download above:

A video of gameplay footage, solving some of the above puzzles (solution spoiler warning!):

Music

The music used in the SUPERCOIL build which you can download above is original music by Lukas Hutter (soundcloud profile here).

Recent exhibitions

Biotop exhibition “see the invisible” in Villach, Austria, 22.12.2017 – 3.02.2018

The exhibition “see the invisible” was organised by the science collective Biotop, founded by Lukas Hutter who is also the composer of the music you hear on SUPERCOIL. Lukas’ exhibition is about engaging the public in questions of science, archaeology, architecture design and many more. SUPERCOIL fit well into this exhibition of a blend of art & science. If you can read in German, local news outlets here and here covered the exhibition and there are several mentions of SUPERCOIL, too.

 

SUPERCOIL @ Alan Turing Cryptography Day, Manchester, 25.04.2018

The School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester hosted an Alan Turing Cryptography Day for high school students. Apart from solving puzzles the students played SUPERCOIL. More about the event here.

Biotop exhibition at “Biodesign Here Now”, Open Cell London, 18.09. – 23.09.2018

Links: Biodesign website here, biotop Instagram profile here.

Exhibition at Arcade Club, Bury (near Manchester), 06.10.2018

The science behind SUPERCOIL

I like to think of SUPERCOIL as more a toy physics game – the electrostatics shown in the game is based on real physics. You probably heard of Newton’s Second Law, \(\boldsymbol{F}=m\boldsymbol{a}\): The acceleration \(\boldsymbol{a}\) which will set the little ball, Egon, in motion is proportional to the force \(\boldsymbol{F}\) from its environment. In our case, gravity and electric forces contribute to \(\boldsymbol{F}\). In mathematical language, $$m \boldsymbol{a} = -m \boldsymbol{g}_z+q\boldsymbol{E}_1+q\boldsymbol{E}_2+\ldots$$

Here \(\boldsymbol{g}\) is acceleration due to gravity, \(q\) is Egon’s electric charge and \(\boldsymbol{E}_1,\boldsymbol{E}_2,\ldots \) are forces due to the electric field from the various ceilings, walls etc.

OK, let’s get technical. To find the motion of the little ball Egon, we must solve the above equations for its positions  \(x,y,z\) as a function of time \(t\) – in mathematics we would call this three coupled non-linear ordinary differential equations. However, I have not yet specified what the electric field is. That’s because it is the hardest part, as the electric field of the plate gets quite complicated near the edges. For simplicity, let us for a moment imagine the plate would shrink to a point. The electric field of a point charge has the relatively simple expression $$\boldsymbol{E}_{\text{point}}=\frac{Q}{4\pi\varepsilon_{0}}\frac{\boldsymbol{r}-\boldsymbol{r}’}{\left|\boldsymbol{r}-\boldsymbol{r}’\right|^{3}}.$$ Here, \(Q\) is the electric charge of the plate (shrunk to a point – let’s call it point charge), \(\boldsymbol{r}’\) is the location of the point charge, \(\boldsymbol{r}\) is the position of Egon and the rest are constants we do not need to worry about now. TO BE CONTINUED

 

How are the field lines updated so fast?

Coming soon.

Why is this game called SUPERCOIL?

Coming soon.

What if the build has bugs?

Use legacy build here.