1356: Orbital Mechanics

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1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby TV4Fun » Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:21 am UTC

Image

Title text: To be fair, my job at NASA was working on robots and didn't actually involve any orbital mechanics. The small positive slope over that period is because it turns out that if you hang around at NASA, you get in a lot of conversations about space.

GOOMHR. Given how closely my life seems to parallel Randall's, I wonder if he might actually be an alternate personality of mine. That would explain the blackouts every Monday Wednesday and Friday.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:22 am UTC

Not shown: the straight-down plummet corresponding with "Downloaded MechJeb".

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby rhomboidal » Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:25 am UTC

For me, it was playing Cut the Rope.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Bureaucromancer » Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:46 am UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Not shown: the straight-down plummet corresponding with "Downloaded MechJeb".


Seriously? I never found that at all tbh. It's not really THAT automated, at least the way I use it, you still need to know WHAT you want done, it just takes away a lot of the guesswork and experimentation in terms of how to actually fly things.

Mind you I did know a little orbital mechanics before playing the game. And put in most of my KSP time early enough that the maneuver nodes weren't there or were more primitive.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby eidako » Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:09 am UTC

Replace the words "orbital mechanics" and "Kerbal Space Program" with "geology/metallurgy" and "Dwarf Fortress" and it would still fit. Thanks to DF, I have the ores for a dozen metals memorized by heart, understand the manufacturing process for steel, and know that elephants and carp are merciless killing machines that can only be stopped with liberal applications of magma.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Dr What » Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:33 am UTC

For me, it was playing Angry Birds Space.

Yes I'm kidding :)

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby orthogon » Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:43 am UTC

This reminds me of a time a few years back when a colleague told me how his kids were addicted to some Harry Potter game. Apparently you had to cast spells by tracing out particular shapes in the air with your wand and the game required you to memorise loads of these. I thought it was a missed opportunity for stealth education: after a few months playing the game you'd suddenly tell the kids "aha, you thought you were just playing and avoiding doing your homework, but actually you've just learned the Greek, Cyrillic and Hebrew alphabets!". (Or the kana, or the first couple of hundred Chinese characters). The important thing is that the kid should believe they are being naughty and wasting their time, which will make it fun and compelling.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Klear » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:58 am UTC

eidako wrote:Replace the words "orbital mechanics" and "Kerbal Space Program" with "geology/metallurgy" and "Dwarf Fortress" and it would still fit. Thanks to DF, I have the ores for a dozen metals memorized by heart, understand the manufacturing process for steel, and know that elephants and carp are merciless killing machines that can only be stopped with liberal applications of magma.


This. In a foreign language even.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby cellocgw » Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:28 pm UTC

Reminds me of some mis-spent youth time with Atari 2600 and a car-race game. Despite the fabulously low-res graphics of the day, it really did help me judge spacings and closing velocities in real-world driving. Not that I'm claiming I'll ever understand Boston-driver-behavioural mechanics. Kerbal Bumper-to-Bumper What Turn Signal? Program needed.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:48 pm UTC

Get off my lawn, children. Everything I ever needed to know about orbital mechanics I learned from Orbiter years before KSP was a thing.

Rocketry, on the other hand...
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Wolfkeeper » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:10 pm UTC

Everything I know about orbital mechanics I learnt from playing Orbiter, oh and the sources I dug up while I wrote much of the key material in most of the relevant articles on Wikipedia, like: Oberth effect, Rocket, Rocket engine, and these articles likely helped the people that wrote Kerbal; so some of that's basically traceable to Orbiter too.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby JenBurdoo » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:26 pm UTC

"Missing the point is the best way to learn in games."
-- Richard Bartle

A good educational game isn't one where you actually have to do what you're expected to learn to play -- that makes an unfun game. It's one where what you learn is completely incidental to the gameplay and you learn it in passing.

Example: Do you know where Irkutzk and Yakutzk are? How do you know? And did you really need to know to play the game? It could have been named something else -- heck, it didn't need to be based on a world map, it could have been squares and lines on a piece of paper. But because Risk IS based (however loosely) on a world map, you learn the continents and major countries without even realizing it.

Oregon Trail is the same thing. You don't get to plot your own trip, so you don't need to know where the various forts and things on the way are. The game could easily be set in space (and probably has), hopping between asteroids. Or in Zork's Great Underground Empire. But by the time you've either reached Oregon or all died on the trail, you've learned the rough route settlers took, what sort of supplies they needed, and what sort of hazards they were subject to. And you thought you were just shooting wildlife with your cursor and writing funny epitaphs on tombstones.

KSP is exactly that sort of game. I've learned more about orbital mechanics from it than from a lifetime of reading about NASA -- and I didn't buy it to learn orbital mechanics. I bought it to play with rockets and little green men.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby chris857 » Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:41 pm UTC

JenBurdoo wrote:"Missing the point is the best way to learn in games."
-- Richard Bartle

....

KSP is exactly that sort of game. I've learned more about orbital mechanics from it than from a lifetime of reading about NASA -- and I didn't buy it to learn orbital mechanics. I bought it to play with rockets and little green men.


And the best other parts? You can learn about racecar driving, flying, submarining, boating, reciprocating engines, carnival rides, and general craziness.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby ToadofSteel » Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:33 pm UTC

Please tell me the JPL is going to print out a huge poster of this... we already know a bunch of them already dick around in Kerbal to begin with.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Wnderer » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:33 pm UTC

ToadofSteel wrote:Please tell me the JPL is going to print out a huge poster of this... we already know a bunch of them already dick around in Kerbal to begin with.


Of course not. That would be silly. They're going to put the comic on coffee cups.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Euphonium » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:46 pm UTC

Wolfkeeper wrote:Everything I know about orbital mechanics I learnt from playing Orbiter, oh and the sources I dug up while I wrote much of the key material in most of the relevant articles on Wikipedia, like: Oberth effect, Rocket, Rocket engine, and these articles likely helped the people that wrote Kerbal; so some of that's basically traceable to Orbiter too.


Orbiter >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> KSP

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:19 pm UTC

Nah, I like the ability with KSP to design and put together everything you launch, and have, as the name implies, a whole space program.

I am unaware of any utility for Orbiter that lets you put together craft in the modular way KSP uses, though if such a mod exists please point me in its direction because that would be fucking awesome.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby AdmiralJustin » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:03 pm UTC

There's absolutely nothing like that moment where you totally blow your moon capture and slingshot yourself into the sun.

Again.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby sotanaht » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:12 pm UTC

JenBurdoo wrote:"Missing the point is the best way to learn in games."
-- Richard Bartle

A good educational game isn't one where you actually have to do what you're expected to learn to play -- that makes an unfun game. It's one where what you learn is completely incidental to the gameplay and you learn it in passing.

Example: Do you know where Irkutzk and Yakutzk are? How do you know? And did you really need to know to play the game? It could have been named something else -- heck, it didn't need to be based on a world map, it could have been squares and lines on a piece of paper. But because Risk IS based (however loosely) on a world map, you learn the continents and major countries without even realizing it.

Oregon Trail is the same thing. You don't get to plot your own trip, so you don't need to know where the various forts and things on the way are. The game could easily be set in space (and probably has), hopping between asteroids. Or in Zork's Great Underground Empire. But by the time you've either reached Oregon or all died on the trail, you've learned the rough route settlers took, what sort of supplies they needed, and what sort of hazards they were subject to. And you thought you were just shooting wildlife with your cursor and writing funny epitaphs on tombstones.

KSP is exactly that sort of game. I've learned more about orbital mechanics from it than from a lifetime of reading about NASA -- and I didn't buy it to learn orbital mechanics. I bought it to play with rockets and little green men.


You expect people to remember incidental names that have no real bearing on how they play the game. I struggle just to remember the names of main characters, minor places are right out. All those names and dates and other incidentals just get filtered right out while I look for and memorize important figures, like map layouts (shapes, paths, the location of important game objects) and strategies.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Wnderer » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:29 am UTC

kerbalxkcd.png


Spoiler:
Yes. I had to flip the image to get the comic to display correctly.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby JenBurdoo » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:38 am UTC

sotanaht wrote:
You expect people to remember incidental names that have no real bearing on how they play the game. I struggle just to remember the names of main characters, minor places are right out. All those names and dates and other incidentals just get filtered right out while I look for and memorize important figures, like map layouts (shapes, paths, the location of important game objects) and strategies.


Yes... and no. No, you don't have to remember this stuff, because, yes, it is completely incidental. But chances are you'll learn it anyway, partly because it's there and partly because it helps you play the game whether you realize it or not. I know where Kamchatka, Irkutsk and Yakutsk are not because I needed to know it to play Risk, but because their names were on the map and in my face every second I was playing. And while they don't need to be there, the fact that they are makes it allows me to tell my opponent, "Attacking Alaska from Kamchatka," instead of the more complex "This weird shape to that one at the other end of the board -- yes, that one." And at the age of six, without even noticing, I learned:
- The relationship between various countries (which ones are next to others and in what directions).
- Asia is the largest continent.
- The world is round.
- Infantry, cavalry and artillery are different parts of an army.
- Which continents contain which countries.
I repeat, I didn't even notice I was learning these things. Risk is not an educational game, and I wasn't allowed to play it in school. No one plays it to learn these things, or anything at all for that matter. I learned a lot from it anyway -- and it was more fun than reading an encyclopedia.

Equally, in KSP, I can say, "I need to burn from the highest part of my orbit -- oh, wait, that's called an apoapsis, isn't it? It says so right there on the screen." Or, "Wow, after having to turn my ship sideways in order to get into orbit I finally understand why the space shuttle does that weird half-turn two minutes into its flight."

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Kanonfutter » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:38 am UTC

Incidentally, I just got the game a few days ago, after wanting to buy it for months. Maneuver nodes are over rated, I got a calculator program on alt tab. Made it to the Mun, but not enough fuel for return. I suspect I can do it if I get better at descending = more work at the calculator.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby EpicanicusStrikes » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:05 pm UTC

Image

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby PinkShinyRose » Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:07 pm UTC

JenBurdoo wrote:And at the age of six, without even noticing, I learned:
- The relationship between various countries (which ones are next to others and in what directions).
- Asia is the largest continent.
- The world is round.
- Infantry, cavalry and artillery are different parts of an army.
- Which continents contain which countries.

How? Risk contains few country names and even fewer real borders/country sizes/region sizes. I think if you want to learn real topography you need a global version of diplomacy (although it's early 20th century topography). I don't think cavalry is used much anymore either...
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Image

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:02 pm UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:
JenBurdoo wrote:And at the age of six, without even noticing, I learned:
- The relationship between various countries (which ones are next to others and in what directions).
- Asia is the largest continent.
- The world is round.
- Infantry, cavalry and artillery are different parts of an army.
- Which continents contain which countries.

How? Risk contains few country names and even fewer real borders/country sizes/region sizes. I think if you want to learn real topography you need a global version of diplomacy (although it's early 20th century topography). I don't think cavalry is used much anymore either...


The infantry/cavalry/artillery archetypes are still in use - the cheap basic unit that can operate in almost any terrain; the mobile unit that can project force rapidly to any accessible point on the battlefield; and the unit that deals heavy damage at extreme range.

The cavalry and artillery roles may no longer be filled by mounted knights and longbowmen, and the infantry may be armed with projectile weaponry of their own, but there are still units that fill much the same roles on the battlefield...

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby nitePhyyre » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:24 pm UTC

chris857 wrote:And the best other parts? You can learn about racecar driving, flying, submarining, boating, reciprocating engines, carnival rides, and general craziness.
Holy fucking shit that is awesome.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:27 pm UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:
JenBurdoo wrote:And at the age of six, without even noticing, I learned:
- The relationship between various countries (which ones are next to others and in what directions).
- Asia is the largest continent.
- The world is round.
- Infantry, cavalry and artillery are different parts of an army.
- Which continents contain which countries.

How? Risk contains few country names and even fewer real borders/country sizes/region sizes. I think if you want to learn real topography you need a global version of diplomacy (although it's early 20th century topography). I don't think cavalry is used much anymore either...

More to the point, you kids should get off my lawn with your multiple types of Risk units.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby sccard1 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:16 pm UTC

My understanding of orbital mech. skyrocketed after taking an Astro class, and then it went up more by playing orbiter spaceflight simulator.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby JenBurdoo » Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:13 am UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:How? Risk contains few country names and even fewer real borders/country sizes/region sizes. I think if you want to learn real topography you need a global version of diplomacy (although it's early 20th century topography). I don't think cavalry is used much anymore either...


I repeat, Risk is not an educational game, and I'm not saying it is. I'm being simplistic, using it as an example, and saying it's still possible to learn something from it. You don't need every detail to get a feel for something, or to start gaining an interest for it that will lead you to more serious material. Risk tells me that Argentina and Brazil are in South America and that Argentina is to the south of Brazil. It doesn't say anything about Uruguay or the Falklands, or the Amazon, or the Andes, or the Galapagos, or Rio or Montevideo or ... but that's okay. I still learned where Argentina and Brazil are!

Look, just read the article:

http://www.youhaventlived.com/qblog/2006/QBlog030406A.html

I can name all the countries in Europe not because I ever sat down and learned them, but because I've played so many games which featured Europe that I just picked it up through osmosis. I didn't even have to learn new ones when Yugoslavia and the USSR split up, because I was already aware of the Baltic states and the geography of the Balkans. None of the games I played that taught me this geography were trying to teach me it, it just came as a side-effect.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby hillermylife » Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:09 am UTC

JenBurdoo, I totally agree with what you're saying. A lot of people misunderstand how educational games "make learning fun!" so they try to link factual relay to some sort of Skinner box type gameplay, but the "incidentals" are so powerful. As someone who played an awful lot of Risk as a kid, I'll vouch -- I wouldn't even know if Kamchatka was a region, a holy man, or a kind of gun if it weren't for Risk. Now I know that it's what Sarah Palin can see from her house.

Side note, I played The Oregon Trail II a lot more than the original, and I kind of like it better. Holler if you hear me?

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby peregrine_crow » Fri Apr 18, 2014 7:34 am UTC

I've learned a lot of things from games:

- Obviously, KSP taught me orbital mechanics
- My knowledge of how the world looked (in terms of which countries are where) during the medieval times comes from Crusader Kings
- Famous buildings and the leaders of some countries I got from Civilization
- etc, etc.

The civilization part can get really weird at times, where I know the name of a building and what it's mechanical benefits are in civ, but nothing else about it.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby PinkShinyRose » Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:16 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
PinkShinyRose wrote:
JenBurdoo wrote:And at the age of six, without even noticing, I learned:
- The relationship between various countries (which ones are next to others and in what directions).
- Asia is the largest continent.
- The world is round.
- Infantry, cavalry and artillery are different parts of an army.
- Which continents contain which countries.

How? Risk contains few country names and even fewer real borders/country sizes/region sizes. I think if you want to learn real topography you need a global version of diplomacy (although it's early 20th century topography). I don't think cavalry is used much anymore either...

More to the point, you kids should get off my lawn with your multiple types of Risk units.

It's not multiple units: they are on cards used in a bonus system (you can exchange sets for free units). In newer risk versions it's usually one of the main ways to get units.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby TranquilFury » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:38 am UTC

AdmiralJustin wrote:There's absolutely nothing like that moment where you totally blow your moon capture and slingshot yourself into the sun.

Again.

That's a lot like stubbing your toe in your living room and accidentally flying to Antarctica. There's either some missing steps, or some missing information.

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:38 pm UTC

Yeah, something fairly major like burning prograde instead of retrograde is the only way I can picture an attempted orbital insertion turning into a gravity boost into the sun.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby Red Hal » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:22 am UTC

Or your vehicle being hijacked by Disaster Area.
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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby azaethral » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:11 am UTC

How far along the curve do you get if you take a quantum mechanics class and get an A, and you know people who work at NASA closely? :D

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Re: 1356: Orbital Mechanics

Postby peregrine_crow » Thu May 01, 2014 2:24 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Yeah, something fairly major like burning prograde instead of retrograde is the only way I can picture an attempted orbital insertion turning into a gravity boost into the sun.


Minmus is fairly close to the edge of kerbins SOI. If you burn for too long when transferring from LKO to minmus you can easily overshoot it and end up in an orbit around the sun. Unless I'm mistaken about what constitutes a moon capture, of course.

Also, that only shoots you into an orbit around the sun, to actually shoot yourself into the sun you'd have to do something a lot more dramatic. But in that case burning prograde instead of retrograde isn't going to cut it either.
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