Today’s post is part of a series of posts profiling sciency video games. These are educational games, most available for free online, that can really help you gain a deeper understanding of science. Click here to find out more about this series.
* * *If you have not yet played Threes or the conceptually similar 2048, turn back now. These games are highly addictive! However, if it’s already too late for you, then maybe you should try Fe . It functions much like 2048, but instead of adding numbered tiles together, you “fuse” atomic nuclei in the heart of a star.
In 2048, the game progresses thusly: 2 + 2 = 4, 4 + 4 = 8, 8 + 8 = 16, etc. That’s fairly easy to understand, but in Fe  things get more interesting. Hydrogen + hydrogen = deuterium (or deuteron as it’s called in this game). Deuterium + hydrogen = helium 3. Helium 3 + hydrogen = helium 4. Helium 4 + helium 4 + helium 4 = carbon 12. What could be simpler?What excites me about this game is that, even though it’s frustrating at first, eventually you start to see patterns. You start to learn which combinations of atoms work and which ones do not. After checking with Wikipedia, I discovered that the knowledge I acquired from this game is fairly close to reality.
So if you write science fiction or have more than a passing interest in science, I recommend giving this game a try. It might help you learn something about what really goes on inside stars. Best of all, the game is free!
Click here to start playing Fe .
P.S.: In addition to teaching me a little nuclear physics, Fe  has also taught me to hate beryllium 7. I keep making it by mistake, though I don’t hate it nearly as much as magnesium 24. Accidentally creating magnesium 24 is the worst!