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This is a project of mine that’s a follow-up to sandspiel. I wanted to build a world with more natural processes like food chains and homeostasis, that you can interact with in a more patient and nurturing way.

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    I recently did the “Glass Jar of Lake Water” experiment, which is this but in real actuality .. just take a clean glass jar, go to the nearest body of fresh, still water, gloop up a blob of algae and plants and water, seal the jar - then watch it grow for a few weeks.

    It has been a wonderful daily treat to observe life adjusting to the new environment - I have watched fleets of Hydra form on the glass surface, hundreds of daphnia and other water-fleas, and larvae galore. The hydra have stabilised after a few weeks and grown quite big - and the rowboat beetle has been making its home of oxygen bubbles in a garden of algae that it tends to, daily.

    I don’t give it too much direct sunlight - this raises the temperature of the water and can kill everything - but rather keep it in light, and give it an hour or so of real sunlight if things get too murky - some sort of balance has been attained, however, and now after 5 weeks, things seem to have gotten into a bit of equilibrium - every few days there will be more water fleas/daphnia, and then the hydra will grow, and a day or so later the water beetle will swim around knocking everything around.

    Its a real treat to just look at a bit of pond water and see what is growing within. I encourage anyone with an interest in complex systems to try this experiment and see for yourself how nature will find its own equilibrium if you give it the right inputs …

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      Sounds like a nice experiment with my kids. Unfortunately, i don’t know anything about daphnia and stuff. Any suggestions how to learn that?

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        there are a few good instagram accounts and youtube channels who educate in a fun way. one i love is “life in jars”

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          As maxbittker mentioned, the “Life In Jars” channel on youtube is pretty neat - I learned my version of this experiment before the advent of the Internet though ..

          https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0XNssyypOLiq4vVgXm9NtQ

          Basically you take a clean jar, with no residues or anything, but nice and shiny and clean - and you swoop up a small amount of water and algae - a rough guide for how much algae is around 1/5th of the volume of the jar should have a bit of algae in it - don’t worry if you don’t get this right, just don’t fill the entire jar, for example.

          Then, seal the jar and put it in an environment where the temperature will be stable, but not dark - and also not in direct sunlight. If you put it in direct sunlight, you will literally cook the contents - the only time you expose it to sunlight is if the algae doesn’t look like its getting enough sun, in which case you give it 30-minute bursts in the sunshine, then back to shade/cover - in order to put more energy into the jar.

          As far as identifying daphnia and other critters - check Youtube as mentioned, and also this is pretty handy:

          https://www.greatscopes.com/activity.htm

          EDIT: Posted elsewhere, but including here for the fun:

          Early days of the experiment:

          https://imgur.com/gallery/tjy1nLw

          6 weeks later:

          https://imgur.com/gallery/PX3Vfxm

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            After looking around a little, I got these links for further investigations. Now i have a few keywords like “ecosphere” to search for.

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            This sounds like great fun! Can you show us a picture?

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              Here you go, early days of the experiment:

              https://imgur.com/gallery/tjy1nLw

              6 weeks later:

              https://imgur.com/gallery/PX3Vfxm

              Definitely a fun thing to check on every day .. Let me know if you try the same experiment, its always fascinating to see what develops.

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                Thanks for uploading those. Really interesting.

                That hydra is an odd looking thing!

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                  Hydra are amazing creatures .. they can reassemble themselves if you blend them. ;) Their mouths seal shut after every meal and then tear open for food when its caught. They poop from their mouths! They have Chloroplasts living in their cells which give them sugar from photosynthesis when there isn’t much else to eat. They can reproduce by budding new versions of themselves, anywhere on their own bodies. A single hydra cell can grow a complete new hydra, and they never grow old - but rather are pretty resilient, invincible little life forms. They are very much one of my favourite creatures alongside octopus and tardigrades ..

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                    Having read the Wikipedia page for Hydra, can confirm amazingly odd creatures!

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                      Truly inspiring! I love the fact that they can re-assemble if you scramble their cells ..

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            Very cool. It might be nice to have a hover/click-for-info function which would tell you what the pixel under the mouse is, especially when you’re playing it for the first time.

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              Recognizable successor or sandspiel. Great and intuitive gameplay. It’s fun. Thank you :)

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                Very nice. The shade created by the sun and the day/night cycles are great! :)

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                  I just noticed the sun moves right to left, meaning it must be in the southern hemisphere, facing North.

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                    I don’t think the hemisphere matters.

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                      What do you mean exactly? If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you will never see the sun rise, move towards the left, then set. Admittedly, the curve described by this sun in this is not realistic for any location, as it goes far too high in the sky for a situation in which the positions where it rises and sets are so close together.

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                        I mean that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, regardless of the hemisphere. So, right to left when facing north. But I’m probably misunderstanding your comment, sorry. It’s not very important :)

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                          So, right to left when facing north.

                          Yes, it goes right to left when facing north, irrespective of the hemisphere. However, if you are in the northern hemisphere, facing north, the sun goes from right to left behind you, so you can’t see it. When you turn around to be able to see the sun, Left and Right move with you, such that Left is now East and Right is West. The only way to orient yourself such that the sun appear to move from right to left in the northern hemisphere is to turn yourself upside down (or at a minimum, lie on your back). In the virtual aquatic ecosystem, 1. we are not upside down (things fall towards the bottom of the view), and 2. we can see the sun in front of us throughout the day.

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                            I understand now :). Right, and great explanations, thanks!

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                              If you are in the north, but not very north, you can still look north and see the sun moves right-to-left, right?

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                    Cool, but also pegs my CPU to >80%. Not really something I am inclined to leave running for that reason.

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                      This is great stuff. Reminds me of some “artificial life” software toys that were briefly popular in the 90s. (I remember a bunch of little web simulations of various sorts, some using the technique of the endlessly loading gif, and some DOS shareware(?) I ran for a while that had a bug of little bugs running around and propagating different traits.)

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                        Darwin pond was my favorite one!

                        I had never heard of someone using the endlessly loading gif trick for something cool like that, would love to see if any of these have been preserved:)

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                          One of these days I’ll have to go spelunking on archive.org and see if I can turn anything up. I have impressions of the appearance of some of them, but sadly don’t remember any names or URLs.

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                        Wow this thing is awesome! So delightful to see people building incredibly creative things that exist simply to please the user and hopefully the creator as well :)

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                          This ran perfectly on my GPU on macOS in Safari, and worked great on my iPad. It’s also quite relaxing :)

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                            Ooh this is just beautiful. Thank you!

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                              Such a end of 90’s/beginning of 00’s vibe in those virtual aquarium. Reminds me of the Fish Life, the virtual aquarium released by SEGA: https://segafish.museebolo.ch/

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                                I drew some wood (expecting it to fall) and it stayed floating in the air, can I remove it?

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                                  Got it, clear button!

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                                  Very cool. Suggestion: I think I’d appreciate a time speed/scale slider. With all the organisms moving around so frenetically, it can sometimes feel stressful that one is not doing the right thing fast enough. :) Also, playing at a much slower speed could be enjoyable, too. Something where one day-night cycle is, say, a whole hour (wall clock time), or maybe several hours. So you could leave the browser tab, go live life, and come back and check on your little biome.

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                                    this is a good idea, thanks for mentioning it.

                                    One way I might approach it is slow the game to half or 1/3 speed when it’s inactive (in the faded out UI state)

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                                    Hey @maxbittker, It’s cool! I loved the idea of sandspiel, and I was wondering if it was made by the same person. :-)

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                                      love it! I’ve been having a shrimp tank for almost a year now and it’s such lovely experience, this little game incorporates most of the things that makes shrimp tank so special!