OSMOS – A physics-based, very addictive game!

Many of you may already be familiar with OSMOS, the award-winning game from Hemisphere Games.  I was introduced to it only recently, and I am impressed by the underlying physics-based engine, the wonderful soundtrack, and the fact that I can waste lots of valuable time playing it.  You can download the free demo here, and the full game is only $10.  Students of mine have commented that it has helped them understand Newton’s Laws, and any way to do that is a good way!

When I first opened the demo, the sphere that I was controlling looked like a biological cell, and the fact that it was going around endocytosing other cells made it all the more likely this was the inspiration for the developers.  However, a true physics-based engine for objects in water at the size scale of a biological cell would not move the way these spheres do.  Instead, they would be firmly entrenched in the laminar flow regime, meaning the cells wold stop moving as soon as you stopped pushing on them*.  This might seem boring at first, but I bet it would require a lot of hand-eye coordination as well.  It would be fun to see a version of this game based on laminar flow – the differences would be stark!

* See E.M. Purcell, “Life at Low Reynolds Number”, Am J. Phys. (45), 3-11, 1977.  Available here and over here.


One response to “OSMOS – A physics-based, very addictive game!

  1. I love the way your sphere losses mass as it ejects bits of its own body to go the opposite way. I’m hoping to use the iPad version of this game with some lower level high school physics students this coming year. Have you played the orbiting levels? Those are just amazingly physicsy.

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