Universe Sandbox is an interactive space and gravity simulator. Using Universe Sandbox, one can see the effects of gravity on objects in the universe and run scale simulations of our Solar System, various galaxies or other simulations, while at the same time interacting and maintaining control over gravity, time, and other objects in the universe (moons, planets, asteroids, comets, black holes, etc.) The original Universe Sandbox is only available for Windows-based PCs, but the new version Universe Sandbox ² will launch on Windows, Mac, and GNU/Linux.
Universe Sandbox was designed and developed by Dan Dixon, who worked on this educational project for over fifteen years before launching version 1.0 in May 2008. Universe Sandbox version 2.0 was released on May 2, 2010. Version 2.1 was released on Steam on Friday April 29, 2011.
Dan worked full-time on the project since 2010, and in 2011, he founded the company Giant Army (named after the metaphor of standing on the shoulders of giants). Since then he has hired six additional developers; first Christian Herold and Georg Steinröhder in 2011, then Thomas Grønneløv and Eric Hilton in 2012. Naomi Goldenson joined in 2013 and Chad Jenkins in 2014. Christian works on the architecture and user interface, Georg works on the graphics, Thomas works on implementing physics and mathematics libraries and Eric, who is an astronomer, works on ensuring that the simulated universe is plausible. Naomi implements climate modeling and Chad tackles planetary material composition.
Universe Sandbox ² Edit
As of 2014, the developers are working on a new version of Universe Sandbox, which is a complete rewrite. Some of the new features include atmospheres being shown on planets, dynamic and procedurally generated textures on stars and gas giants, a more realistic and graphic collision system, 3D charts in chart mode, simulation of stellar evolution, procedural detail in rings/particles, visualization of black holes, tethers to build space elevators, simulation of fluid-like objects (such as gas clouds, nebulae and protoplanetary disks and planetary collisions) and much more.
The developers demonstrated many of these features at the Unite 2012 conference (for developers using the Unity game engine).
There is no planned release date for the final version of Universe Sandbox ², but in late August 2014 the public alpha version was released for purchase by the public, after having been in closed alpha testing for several months. Purchase of the alpha will give access to continuous updates as well as the final version.
There has been confusion about the version numbering, since there are previous versions 1 and 2. The new version is not 3, but instead the superscript ², as in "raised to the power of two". It is therefore Universe Sandbox ², not Universe Sandbox 2 or 3.
Because Universe Sandbox ² is still alpha software, it has many unfixed bugs, which can lead to crashes. Examples of bugs include ice at a high temperature, the program failing to start, and objects intersecting each other rather than colliding.
After the release of Universe Sandbox ² 12, the simulation program started having compatibility issues with Mac OS X Yosemite, leading to crashes. It was fixed in 12.1.
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