I started this blog as a way to force myself, as a science fiction writer, to do the kind of research that I and so many other aspiring Sci-Fi authors neglect to do. I’ve learned a lot since Planet Pailly began, and I hope you’ve learned something too. Today, I want to share a few tools that have helped make learning a little easier.
I say tools, but what I really mean are video games. It’s amazing how much you can learn from a game when that game is scientifically accurate (or at least accurate-ish). Here are three examples:
- Fe : Atoms are important, but where do they come from? In Fe , which is modeled on the popular smart phone game 2048, you control the fusion reactions that occur inside a star. The real fun is figuring out which combinations of particles work and which ones don’t. Click here to play Fe .
- Super Planet Crash: The planets in our Solar System exist in a delicate balance. Subtle changes in gravity or momentum can have disastrous consequences… which is what Super Planet Crash is all about! Your goal is to create a stable star system. You score points based on how long your planets stay in orbit around their parent star. Click here to play Super Planet Crash.
- Kerbal Space Program: The people of Kerbin are cute, squishy green guys who are hyper excited about space exploration, and for some reason they’ve put you in charge of their space program. This game simulates not only the physics of space flight but also the logistics of running a NASA-esque organization. Of all the games on this list, this is the only one that isn’t free, but if you’re interested, click here to check out the demo version of the game.
The important thing about all these games is that you learn by doing. That makes them far more effective teaching tools than any lecture, book, or sciency blog post.
For the rest of this month, I’ll be taking a closer look at each of these games. Here is the itinerary for those upcoming reviews as well as special editions of Sciency Words featuring words I learned because of these games.
Wednesday, May 14: Review of Fe 
Friday, May 16: Sciency Words: Triple Alpha Process
Wednesday, May 21: Review of Super Planet Crash
Friday, May 23: Sciency Words: Eccentricity
Wednesday, May 28: Review of Kerbal Space Program
Friday, May 30: Sciency Words: Orbital Vocabulary