Universe Sandbox

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Universe Sandbox
Universe Sandbox Icon
Developer(s) Dan Dixon, Christian Herold, Georg Steinröhder, Thomas Grønneløv, Eric Hilton, Naomi Goldenson, Chad Jenkins
Initial release May 2008; 8 years ago (2008-05)
Stable release
2.2 / October 1, 2012
Operating system Windows
Platform PC
Type Educational software
License Proprietary commercial software
Website universesandbox.com

Universe Sandbox is an interactive space and gravity simulator. Using Universe Sandbox, one can see the effects of gravity on objects in the universe and run scale simulations of our Solar System, various galaxies or other simulations, while at the same time interacting and maintaining control over gravity, time, and other objects in the universe (moons, planets, asteroids, comets, black holes, etc..).[1] The original Universe Sandbox is only available for Windows-based PCs, but the new version Universe Sandbox² is on Windows, OS X, and GNU/Linux.

Universe Sandbox was designed and developed by Dan Dixon, who worked on the educational project for over fifteen years before launching version 1.0 in May 2008.[2] Universe Sandbox version 2.0 was released on May 2, 2010. Version 2.1 was released on Steam on Friday April 29, 2011.

Dan had worked full-time on the project since 2010, and in 2011, he founded the company Giant Army (named after the metaphor of standing on the shoulders of giants). Since then he has hired six additional developers; first Christian Herold and Georg Steinröhder in 2011, then Thomas Grønneløv and Eric Hilton in 2012. Naomi Goldenson joined in 2013 and Chad Jenkins in 2014.[3][4]


Many simulations are included with Universe Sandbox, both realistic and fictional simulations:

  • Our Solar System, which includes the 8 planets, 5 minor planets, 160+ moons, and hundreds of asteroids
  • The Andromeda & Milky Way galaxy collision, which will occur in 3.8 or 4.5 billion years
  • The 100 largest bodies in our Solar System
  • The nearest 1000 stars to our Sun
  • The nearest 70 galaxies to the Milky Way
  • A visual size comparison of the largest known stars and planets
  • The Apophis asteroid passing near Earth in the year 2029
  • The comet Shoemaker Levy 9's collision with Jupiter
  • 2008 KV42, a recently discovered trans-Neptunian object with a retrograde motion orbit
  • Moons converging into a single planet
  • The Rho Cancri (55 Cancri) system – a star with 5 known planets
  • The Pioneer and Voyager encounters with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, & Neptune
  • Visual Lagrange points of the Earth and Moon
  • Gamma-ray burst locations

Universe Sandbox  ²[edit]

Universe Sandbox  ²
Universe Sandbox Icon
Developer(s) Dan Dixon (leader), Christian Herold, Georg Steinröhder, Thomas Grønneløv, Eric Hilton, Naomi Goldenson, Chad Jenkins
Initial release August 24, 2015; 18 months ago (2015-08-24) (early access)
Stable release
Alpha 19.6 / February 2017
Operating system Windows, OS X, Linux
Platform PC, Mac
Type Educational software
License Proprietary commercial software
Website universesandbox.com/2/

As of 2017, the developers are working on a new complete rewrite of Universe Sandbox. Some of the new features include atmospheres being shown on planets, dynamic and procedurally generated textures on stars and gas giants, a more realistic and graphic collision system, 3D charts in chart mode, simulation of stellar evolution, procedural detail in rings/particles, visualization of black holes, simulation of fluid-like objects (such as gas clouds, nebulae and protoplanetary disks, and planetary collisions) and much more.[4]

The developers demonstrated many of these features at the Unite 2012 conference (for developers using the Unity game engine).[4]


Key features of Universe Sandbox as of version 2.0:[5]

  • Interactive n-body gravity simulator
  • Simple tutorial introduction
  • Several step-by-step activities included
  • All physical quantities are measured in real units: kilograms, meters, seconds, etc.
  • User control of the speed of time, gravity and other factors
  • Simulation files are editable
  • 3D Mode for use with red and cyan 3D glasses (anaglyph stereoscopic)
  • Support for 3D DLP HD televisions[6][irrelevant citation]
  • Multiple color modes to help visualize and differentiate speeds and accelerations
  • Two collision modes, bounce and combine
  • Scaled ring systems of Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, and generate rings around bodies
  • Particle grids can be used to create 2D computer graphics or 3D computer graphics particle grids, which warps/distort the grids and causes gravitational effects by adding in moving planets or other objects (not in version 2)
  • "Line-up/chart" mode option shows a visual size comparison of the stars and planets
  • Includes the full sky panoramic view of the Milky Way from Axel Mellinger's photography of the Milky Way
  • Can capture high resolution screen shots

In the media[edit]

Universe Sandbox was used for several of the gravity simulations of galaxies colliding in a galaxy series special, "Cosmic Collisions", which first aired on January 28, 2009 on the Discovery Channel.[7][irrelevant citation]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Universe Sandbox". Universe Sandbox. Giant Army. Retrieved 25 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Alex Cox (2008-10-05). "How one man created his own universe - How Dan Dixon fashioned a whole universe out of mere bytes". PC Plus, Issue 274 and techradar.com - computing news. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  3. ^ "we make Universe Sandbox". Giant Army. Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  4. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 14, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Universe Sandbox ²". Universe Sandbox. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  6. ^ http://www.dlp.com/hdtv/dlp-features/3d-hdtv.aspx
  7. ^ Dan Evans (2009). "Cosmic Collisions". Discovery Channel. Retrieved 2010-01-10 – via Vimeo. 

External links[edit]