Creatures Riding a Sine Wave
Just in case some visitors think this web site takes things too seriously, have I got a web site for you. Sodaplay or SodaConstructor is a neat little "tangential" sidelight (or is that "tangential website-lite" that has been around since 2000, written by some creative minds in London.
SodaConstructor was first intended to be a playful "what-if" environment involving Java, spring dynamics, sine waves, and mechanical lingages (a.k.a. creatures). But, it became an experience that was rapidly passed on word-of-mouth (i.e. by e-mail). A friend sent me the link about five years ago; I played with the program and thought it was neat (reminded me of playing with Spirographs....and then passed the link on to others. As another reviewer has written: "Something about SodaConstructor gets to people. You can call it the LEGO effect or draw parallels to the popularity of 'god games,' but put simply SodaConstructor is just good clean fun."
Not knowing your individual tolerance for "open discovery," I suggest you begin by just playing around, trying to determine exactly what is going on. In turn, I can suggest some starting points (e.g. SodaConstructor only and avoid Moovl for now)...also skip the creatures on the home page, and do a search for the following creatures from the 966,378 available creatures:
More than 200,000 people (all ages, variety of vocations) are registered users of SodaConstructor, which gives them the power to save their creatures, name them, and let the public play with them as well. The site warptera gives you pages of clickable creatures to examine...they also show the a strong connection of the SodaPlay creatures to geometry.
- "2dtriangle1" for those who want just a few elements to control
- "simplicity" for those who want to play with unconnected pieces, to determine the role of the sine curve, the various control functions (physics, muscles), spring-ness, gravity, etc.
- "90degrees" or "square3" or "longlegs4" for the more adventurous people, who may find the step too big amd want to relook at either of the first two options
- ""pythagoreanplankton" or "shapes2" for those who really want to dive in and get their feet wet
- "monster_truck" and "inspyre" or others on the home page for those who are starting to understand
- Finally, register with Sodaplay and create your own creatures.....
By browsing through the gallery of creatures, you will note (via complementary forum and blog) that some of these users are die-hards, even shifting to using the program for serious research (e.g. Artificial Intelligence).
New things are still to come, such as SodaPlay 2.0, which supposedly will combine the best aspects of SodaConstructor with SodaRace Also, Jim Bumgardner, a SodaPlay fan, has created Flash movies of several SodaPlay creatures, plus has extended the development to include curved line segments between nodes.
Play with the SodaConstructor program yourself. Then, spread the word....Let your physics teachers know, let your students know, let your engineer friends know, and let your robots know....share the program and have some fun!
Still looking for some more fun entertainment that involves discovery....and playing with the "what-if" element, try the
Falling Sand Game. It takes a while to figure out and control the game, and involves some learning along the way...especially some enjoyable AHAS!