Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Powers of 10

In 1977 there was a popular science film from IBM called "Powers of 10". It started with a view of 1 meter square and scaled up to the observable universe. Then the film took us back down to 1 meter, and started zooming into the microscopic world until we arrived inside a proton. You can click the link to go to the video on YouTube. What's interesting is how much science had progressed since the film was made. To give an idea of how far we have come, the move signposted 1024 meters (100 million light years) as the edge of the observable universe. Nowadays we can see to the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, which was mapped with NASA's COBE satellite in 1989. The CMB is about 46 billion light years away which is 4.4x1026 meters. As the universe is expanding, the furthest we will ever be able to see is 65 Billion light years, which is 5.9x1026. (We actually can't see that far because the CMB is in the way, and the universe was opaque before that time). As the universe expands, that number is going down. (Every day we see less and less of the observable universe because it's expanding faster than light)

In the other direction, the video goes to 10-15 meters. The smallest detectable thing we have now is the width of a 1 MeV neutrino which is 2 × 10-23 meters. This was detected with the Large Hadron Collider. However, the smallest thing that can be is plank length, which is 1.62×10-35 meters. This is currently being measured with the help of a watt balance to define a kilogram.

The point of this whole story is that I'm now working on the high resolution assets for ROE. One of the things I did was correct a few dates. Science progressed a bit since 1991. In a previous post I mentioned the opening titles said that the universe was 16 billion years old. It's actually closer to 13.82 billion. The credits also said that man emerged 4 million years ago. Last year a scientific paper came out that showed humans split from the Least Common Ancestor of chimps 12 million years ago. The split took a particularly long time to complete because there was a lot of genetic transfer during that time. Anyways, I corrected that date too.

I'm pretty happy with how the updated graphics are looking. I do have some plans for the humans and aliens in the game and how they are going to look. I'm trying to keep the look and feel as close to the original game as I can, but those human designs are going to get a much needed overhaul. (While keeping the same uniforms)

The opening music will be an MP3 rendering of the original MIDI. Digital version I have right now was played on an emulated Yamaha YM3812 chip that comes on a SoundBlaster. I tried to re-render the MIDI it using FluidSynth and an orchestra Soundfont. The output was pretty much a disaster, but the parts that were good were awesome. I'm probably going to re-sequence the original MIDI so it will render better. The events are fine, but I'll need to re-channel the tracks to better match the patches in the Soundfont.

Happy New Year!

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