Structure Experiment


This experiment is an attempt to generate evocative 'molecular' structures out of simple particles and bonds that go beyond simple 'clumps.' The world is a zero-gravity three-dimensional space with a thin atmosphere that applies a small amount of drag against moving objects. The space is seeded with 'nodes,' simple particles that strongly repel each other at short distances. The nodes are assigned randomized 'bonds' to other nodes; each node has a 1:50 chance of being bonded with each other node. Bonds exert an attractive force that decays slower than the repulsive force, so two bonded nodes will move towards each other until they reach the distance at which the attractive force is equal to the repulsive force. (This is somewhat similar to hydrogen bonding in water and other mediums which causes molecules to attract until they are repelled by their electron clouds.)

The structure that result are characteristically 'molecular,' having both strudy crystaline structures and long single- or double-node 'arms' that extend from a central nucleous, sometimes connecting two or more larger clusters of nodes.

Attractive forces between nodes are represented by thick gray lines that increase in opacity as the bond becomes stronger at closer ranges.

We added a 'calorie' value to each node, representing a sort of energy/food content. Bonded nodes will attempt to equalize their calorie contents; calories will flow from a higher-content node to a lower one at a rate proportional to the gradient. The result is an interesting 'diffusion' process in more complex structures as calories are drawn out of high-content nodes or pumped into low-content nodes. Structures with a high density of bonds will distribute calories more efficiently than spindly, skeletal structures.

A further experiment was the addition of 'signal' connections to each bond. Indicated by a blue arrow of varying length, signal connections are one-way, allowing 'signal' to pass from one node to the next in one direction per bond. The strength of the signal connection is indicated by the length of the arrow; a node connected to another with a full-strength signal connection will transfer all of its signal to that node. A node with a weaker connection will send a weaker signal. As the connection strengths and directions are randomized, signal propogation can arc through an entire structure, dead end down the line a few nodes, or be limited to a singal node with no outgoing connections. This is very loosely reminiscent of neural networks in the brain, and we hope to deploy this system in creating the 'nervous system' of more complicated entities.