LogoGlasgow Science Centre Visit

Spinning disks (grrr, for not rotating the camera)

Once again, simple physics wins against ambitious simulations on computer displays.

For example, we briefly played with an illustration of a red/cyan Anaglyph. It allowed some very simple computer models (e.g. a box, a molecule) to be rotated on-screen and viewed through glasses. However the refresh rate was abysmal and overall the interface was not responsive. Nils' attention was lost in seconds.

In this high-distraction environment, you need to immediately show or do something, even if it's not the main feature.

My favourite display of the whole day was a rotating disk on which you could place plastic wheels. If you let them spin up in the right way, and then let go, they'll stay in the same place for a surprisingly long time. Even when they start drifting off, they can orbit a few times in interesting ways, before eventually flying off. And when they fly off, you just have to have another go.

In these physics-only displays, if you do come up with a cunning workaround or variation, reality is ready to simulate it perfectly, and reward your ingenuity.