If you’ve been following news from the world of physics lately, it’s likely you’re familiar with the search for the Higgs boson, or, as the press more dramatically calls it, the God particle. The Higgs (which nobody involved in the search for it seriously refers to it as “the God particle,” although one bemused physicist coined a rather colorful name for the particle) is one of those so-close-yet-so-far-away players that always seems to be just without reach of the physicists who have dedicatedly pursued it since Peter Higgs proposed its existence in 1964.
While the detectives of the physics world proceed with their dragnet of the subatomic world, a clever developer named Andy at Test Tube Games has devised a fun game where, in an interesting twist on the Higgs story, you actually help the elusive Higgs boson stay hidden from the scientists that are trying to root it out. Set as one part spy movie and two parts puzzle game, Agent Higgs, who is clad in a completely appropriate Groucho Marx disguise, is set inside a particle accelerator wherein you must help the Higgs remain hidden among the known particles and antiparticles as you confront the fundamental forces of nature.
The objective is to maneuver electrons and other particles around the board, sliding them against the walls and other barriers until you eventually reach the Higgs boson (thus hiding it), at which point you move on to the next stage. With over 100 different levels, each one of increasing difficulty as you solve them, you’ll be graded on how efficiently you completed the stage and whether you did so with the absolute minimum amount of moves.
The game recalls another iOS game, Unblock Me, in that you have to strategically move blocks around a board in order to move on to the next stage. However, there are many more complexities to Agent Higgs because you must work with the different properties of the particles you move around, meaning this game has a few more rules than Unblock Me. This is where the game’s brilliance comes into play (in addition to the surprisingly fun soundtrack) because it actually teaches you some basics about the particles relevant to the Higgs while you play. For example, Level 4 just told me that a neutrino is like an electron except it has no charge and that it can pass through solid matter (i.e., you can pass right through the barriers to reach the Higgs).
For now, this game is only available for iPhone and while it does cost $0.99 to download, the game is fun enough that you’ll get your time and money’s worth out of the app (plus, there are no ads with the game), especially if you like to nerd out about the Higgs. Besides, $0.99 is an incredibly small amount to pay and give credit to a fun and very good idea.[Via New Scientist.]