Trampolin and General Relativity

PBA Final Project Proposal by Hollis Liu

I saw a video when I was taking relativity in college: a neat way to illustrate the convoluted concept of general relativity using everyday objects such as elastic fabric and plastic balls. The original video is linked at the end of this page. Inspired by this experiment, I created an iOS app using the SceneKit engine as shown on the right:

The problem with my app is that the gravity bending effect is not physically based rendered as the case in the video. The curving effect is merely a gaussian computed based on the postions and "masses" of astronomical objects. As a result the animation is not life-like or playful at all. My final project idea is thus to build a brand new simulation using physically based animation techniques.

Detailed requirements of the project:

  • The spacetime fabric is modeled using struts so that it behaves like real fabric
  • Balls representing planets can be dropped intro the spacetime fabric (trampolin) with mouse clicks
  • Big balls will bounce and attract each other
  • Small balls will either bounce, roll or collide with other balls along the curvature
Here is the original video:

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