Things I've dabbled in...
This is a screenshot of cube floating in space. The clever trick here is to figure out how to fold up a single trianglestrip into a cube without overlapping itself. In realtime, the camera orbits the cube. The large wireframe structure in the back is, in fact, a teapot. Crumpet?
Thus is CAVEGlom, an orbital simulator. It was written by Matt Hall, and allows the user to fire moons into orbit around a massive center body. As my final project, I have edited this CAVE simulation and add a certain degree of physical correctness as well as some new features. Firstly, I have added a function to toggle between the current stationary viewpoint and an orbit view that follows the path of a moon. I have also added an option to fire a laser beam instead of moons. When the center mass is heavy enough, this causes a lensing of the beam around the planet. A selector toggle allows the user to select a single moon at a time and view a more advanced output of the body's properties, such as velocity components, percentage of the speed of light, and local time dilation. Finally, both beam and ball change colors based on doppler and gravitational redshift calculations.
Here is the slightly more in-depth abstract and narrative.
The usefulness of Glom remains not in what I have added, but in the sheer scalability of the simulation. What Matt began with orbital mechanics has been expanded to include various other aspects of astrophysics, yet there are still many avenues to be explored. Glom itself is a long way from being a finished project. Future additions may include relativistic and N-body moon effects, neither of which are currently taken into account. Numerical integrations are implemented using the inaccurate Euler method; this could be improved to RK-4. It would be interesting to see what sorts of black hole effects could be implemented if the center star reached critical mass.
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