Play a game!

Here’s a fun little toy from the Science Museum — use a little physics and logic to bounce a ball into a target. Don’t show it to the kids or they’ll take the computer away from you!

(via Unhindered by Talent)


  1. says

    “Don’t show it to the kids or they’ll take the computer away from you!”

    I agree. Good computer games are wasted on the young. :)

  2. DLC says

    Fun! reminds me of back in the early 80s.
    in my introduction to physics class we had to work out
    the classic “cannon shot” problem in order to hit a target at a given distance from the cannon. Then we tested our solution using a simple computer program running on an old TRS-80.
    Simple but amusing and educational for people who’d never seen physics before.

  3. cureholder says

    I guess I really am an idiot. Can’t even figure out what I am supposed to be doing. I moved the battery next to the fan, but nothing I do gets it to work. can one of you geniuses help me out here? Maybe if I had EVER played any sort of video game before it would more obvious, but it’s definitely not obvious to me.

  4. Tony Popple says

    This is a perfect example of theoretical physics.

    If it represented the real machines I build as a kid, the ball would have broken a window and the circuits would have shorted out and burned down the house.

  5. Interrobang says

    Keith — Yeah, it is the Incredible Machine, only not as easy to use (I couldn’t even figure out how to work it) and with not as many pieces, and substandard graphics. Meh. I wonder if Incredible Machine is on an abandonware site somewhere…

  6. NeoGothic says

    I managed to figure out all the puzzles but the “Light Maze” in the ‘extras’ area. How far did anyone else get?

  7. lea-p says

    geezo, what a ponderous, uninformative game. Guess one has to be with the in-crowd to figure out what to do. I’d rather play Pong!

  8. Vorn says

    I am having trouble moving things – especially anything that generates electricity – after placing them, so I keep having to start levels over. Also it seems to be absurdly slow. A cute game, but the programmers need to be poked until they fix the problems.

  9. says

    #7 Interrobang: Yes, I know for sure that TIM is on Home of the Underdogs. I think every edition of it is considered abandonware at this point.

    I thought the game was rather cute, although I was also having trouble moving some pieces after they were placed. But restarting isn’t all that bad. It’s a bit too easy, but it’s intended for kids after all.

  10. speedwell says

    I got through all of them, hooray! The Light Maze and the Pinball Machine extra were the hardest. There’s a hint for the Pinball machine (SPOILER) having to do with a switch position that you can change, but that is all I’m going to say about that….

  11. speedwell says

    The hints are worthless. Since people are having trouble with Light Maze…


    You have to use all of the mirrors.


    The paths cross themselves. Take a hint from the shape of the maze.

  12. Jared says

    There’s something wrong with the Windy City (extra level). You can beat it without using a single block in about 19 seconds. :)

  13. Waterdog says

    Ah, this was super fun. The hardest ones for me were the optics ones, because they didn’t use obvious angles, plus the very last level was hard. But still, super fun.

  14. woozy says

    I couldn’t get light maze, field of fear or for pete’s sake. I got a solution for spring a ding ding using only one spring but I wonder if it was unintentional.

  15. James says

    There’s a solution to the light maze one that only uses three blocks.


    Only use the legs of the triangles, not the hypotenuses. Hypontenusi.

  16. woozy says

    The volcano one was weird because I found myself with only seven escalator/conveyer belt pieces some how. I restarted and I had eight. Eight can do it. (It kind of forces your hand.)

    Can’t figure out the wierd one with all the mangnets that you get tossed through. I figure. I need to power the conveyer belt and that’s two of my three blocks but I can’t get any control in the fans.

  17. Epikt says

    I couldn’t get light maze

    You have to assume a geocentric universe, and compensate for the motion of the ether.

  18. T_U_T says

    You can create a perpetuum mobile by making a ventilator to blow into the turbine that powers it. Not very scientific indeed.

  19. Jack says

    Eesh, I must be thick. I can’t figure out how to get batteries to power things, I can’t figure out how to rotate mirrors or light beams…. I think I’ll stick with simple games like Go and Chess.

  20. leandra says

    Can anyone get “at the checkout”? It seems impossible from everything i’ve tried since i the conveyor belt doesn’t go the other way. And for that matter “light fantastic.” I’ve played with it a bit and still can’t seem to figure it out.

  21. says

    leandra: There’s a little icon that appears on the lower left of the conveyor belt when you hover your mouse over it. Clicking that reverses the direction of the belt.

  22. says

    Heh, I’ve found a cheatable bug. If you call up the hint dialog when the ball is being pushed by a fan, it appears that the ball will continue to gain momentum without moving — and when you exit the hint dialog, it’ll shoot in the direction it’s being blown.

  23. Dave Godfrey says

    I can’t wait to see the revamped launchpad at the Science Museum. It used to be full of logic problems like this, lots of fun for the kids, and gives you an idea of the properties of different materials. (It took me a while to work out one of htem until I remembered that copper conducts heat very well.)

  24. leandra says

    I actually figured out like right after i posted that how to reverse the direction, but it seems i still can’t figure out the level. gah.

    And this game does have a few bugs- if hints are called up due to the 2 minute mark while you’re in the middle of dragging something, it disappears and you have to restart.

    Also, I find it really irritating that some things(like the tesla coils, batteries) are fixed in the place, though others aren’t, and you have to restart entirely just to move it one block to the right or something.

  25. David Marjanović, OM says

    That’s the great thing about ScienceBlogs: as soon as comment 31, someone finds a way to cheat. :-)

  26. David Marjanović, OM says

    That’s the great thing about ScienceBlogs: as soon as comment 31, someone finds a way to cheat. :-)

  27. says

    Same here. Took a while to figure out “Light Maze” and “Pinball Wizard” but, I got ’em all. A fun time waster to be sure when I “should” be working on my project. Sigh…

  28. MS says

    First comment on these blogs… I work at the Science Museum and have, in recent weeks, seen the new Launchpad take off for myself. In fact I’ll be heavily involved with running the place from now on. Good to see Launchball get a mention here! I’ve done all the levels asides from the ones made by other players… I’m convinced some of those are just there to make you go beserk.
    If you’re in London, come and see us! We just opened to the public yesterday. I hear there’s queues though.
    PS – Dave Godfrey – are you the Mr Godfrey that used to be an Explainer here?!

  29. cureholder says

    Well, thanks to everyone for ignoring my request for explanation. No wonder science can’t make much headway in the real world when its proponents show such contempt even for those who openly admit ignorance and ask for explanations.

  30. cureholder says

    Has anyone had any luck playing these alleged games on a Mac? That (rather than my admitted abject ignorance of what the “game” is supposed to entail) might be the root of my problem—nothing in the “games” seems to be actually interactive. I can’t even get the ball to appear.

  31. Kseniya says

    Cureholder, I don’t have a Mac, so I can’t vouch for the game working on an Apple platform at all.

    They work pretty well on my PC. I was able to drag the fans (etc) onto the grid, set the parameters (direction, strength) of fans, conveyors, magnets and the like, and press the “test” button.

    I think the game is buggy, though – sometimes a piece I dropped would “lock” onto the grid and I couldn’t reposition it without going back to the main menu and reselecting the puzzle I’d been working on.