I think the correct expression at this point is “Curse you, Plait! Curse you for eating all my free time!”

Namely, this orbital mechanics simulator over on the site of the University of Colorado is probably the most captivating thing I’ve seen all year: delicate, near hypnotic, and pointless save the beauty that’s a simple* bit of maths in action.

Now if only it had a blinkenlight for “Escape velocity achieved! You have lost a planet. *Now* how do you feel?”

And maybe another for “Another planetary collision? You *monster!*”

Turns out this is the level of realism that most excites a mathematical like me; don’t know what that says. Now going back to play.

(By the way of Phil Plait.)

*, “a simple bit of maths” : Why yes, the math is simple. Solving it, less so. Go ask your local physicist; be sure to add “surely a few more bodies won’t make much of a difference, right?” Prepare to duck a thrown calculator or two.

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