Greg Costikyan, the tireless, incredibly prolific games designer, has released his classic tabletop game "Vector 3" as a free Creative Commons download. The game's more than a strategy diversion -- it also teaches vector arithmetic and Newtonian mechanics. Greg says,
Vector 3 is a 3D space combat board game; its virtue is that players learn the essentials of vector arithmetic and Newtonian mechanics by playing. On a number of occasions, people have told me they learned more about this from the game than from lecture courses. I could see using it in the context of a high-school math or physics course.
It's not a brilliant game, but not a bad one, either. I've rewritten the rules extensively, both to eliminate old-school SPI legalese and make them more readable, and to make some changes that I think improve the game. Mainly, these increase the effectiveness of torpedoes and mines; the problem with games where there's no terrain, facing is unimportant, and there's no equivalent of the weather guage, is that maneuver becomes irrelevant. The presence of missiles and mines at least gives some texture to space, and therefor a reason to maneuver.
Researcher Yarden Katz scraped the database of Intellectual Ventures, a giant business that buys up patents, but produces nothing but lawsuits (previously), and discovered that IV claims ownership of nearly 500 patents that were created at public expense by researchers employed by public universities, and another 100 or so patents filed by the US Navy.
Kids’ author/droid builder Kurt Zimmerman created “Artoo Deco,” an Art Deco take on R2-D2, capable of movement under radio control, and with an in-built sound-system that makes cool, droidish noises.
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