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Playing With The Speed Of Light

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — What would the world look like if the speed of light were slowed down until it meandered along at the pace we walk?

That’s the question behind “A Slower Speed of Light,” a video game prototype being developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Game Lab. It’s a first-person adventure in which you collect balls as you wander a landscape. For each one you get, the speed of light slows, and the world looks increasingly bizarre, neon and trippy.

Basically it’s the game Albert Einstein might have developed in 1908 if he wasn’t, you know, busy with other things.

The MIT team’s aim is to help average folks better understand the laws of special relativity by making the complex physics tangible. “The goal of the project was to make something familiar that was very unfamiliar,” MIT game designer and producer Sonny Sidhu says in a YouTube trailer for the game (above).

And the Game Lab folks plan to release the programming code behind the game for free in 2013 so others can use and build on it.

Related: Last December, MIT researchers announced that they had developed a “trillion-frame-per-second video” recorder, a camera so fast that it could freeze frame individual bursts of light as they zoom past.

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