Category Archives: Physics

The problem with these “physics of [video game]” articles

SMB-screenshot

Super Mario Bros is a popular case study in discussions of physics and gravity. The acceleration of gravity in the Mario universe has been studied extensively in relation to fan theories in Youtube videos by Game Theory and PBS Spacetime, articles in Wired, Business Insider, and Techradar. It has even been frequently used to teach physics in actual classrooms, some of which has resulted in publications in education journals.

The results obtained by all these studies give us something that is hardly surprising. The gravitational acceleration in the Mario universe is not the same as in the real world, which should be 9.8 m/s^2. The obvious answer to this is that video games are not supposed to represent the real world. If we apply real-world laws of physics to a video game, it is inevitable we will get non-sensical results. So why do physicists keep trying to apply Newtonian mechanics to 2D platformers?

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Black rings explained

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Most people have heard of black holes before, and at least understand its idea. But not many have even heard about black rings. As was mentioned in an earlier post, the black ring is one of many types of black holes that most people haven’t heard about. One of the most recent and significant discoveries is the five-dimensional black ring. Discovered by Roberto Emparan and Harvey Reall in 2002, it sparked a new wave of interest in the research of General Relativity, which, during that time, was considered to be a well-matured (i.e., old) field of study.

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10 Black holes you’ve probably haven’t heard about

Earlier this month we all celebrated the observation of gravitational waves by LIGO. Among the many rasons why this is a huge scientific and technological achievement is that this is practically a direct observation black holes.

The `black holes’ that we always hear mentioned in the news and popular media are almost always Kerr black holes. These are black holes that rotate. (That is, carrying mass and angular momentum.)

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The reason why only these black holes are mentioned is that these are the ones that commonly exist in space, being created when a star collapses and dies. The mass and rotation of the black hole was simply inherited from the mass and rotation of the dead star.

Of course, General Relativity is more than just about what happens after a star dies. In the 100 years since General Relativity was formulated, theoretical physicists have found mathematical solutions describing many more types of black holes.

Here are 10 more black holes you’ve probably haven’t heard about.

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