Computer game taps creativity of scientists to solve energy problems

Aug 17, 2009

The American Chemical Society's (ACS) 238th National Meeting will be the site of a rare "thought experiment" intended to focus the creative genius of hundreds of scientists on solutions to one of the 21st Century's most daunting problems: Finding sustainable new sources of energy. The exercise will use a computer game format in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where more than 12,000 chemists and others will gather this week.

"This is a whole new trend in tackling problem solving," says April Orr, Assistant Director of Member Research and Technology for the ACS — the world's largest scientific society — and the experiment's manager. "It is a 'collaborative think' project," Orr added. "It leverages the intellectual power of chemists for the greater good. The idea is to get chemists to engage and think about how to solve future challenges. It is a computer game, but one with serious goals."

Players use their own computers to register on a Web site using an alias or an avatar. The computer asks players to consider a fictitious yet plausible scenario in which there is a rich abundance of cheap, efficient, and "green" energy sources in the year 2026, which happens to be the 150th anniversary of the Society. The game asks players to imagine the implications of this scenario of abundant, sustainable energy, including its benefits and challenges. Key questions include:

  • What are the implications of massive ?
  • What inventions are possible?
  • Risks associated with expanded use of metal ion batteries?
  • Implications for mining and municipal solid waste disposal?
  • What if the entire network of wires becomes obsolete?
Players will submit their ideas in response to questions related to that scenario. A moderator will review their answers. Players can also submit so-called "imagination" cards that express how they feel toward certain ideas. Players choose "positive" imagination cards to rate a best case scenario and "dark" imagination cards to rate a worst-case scenario. Players and moderators then pick their favorite ideas.

The moderator then will rate players on the overall quality of their ideas, assigning points. The players with the most points win the game. Ideas from the will be made available to the scientific community, policy makers, and others, and some could possibly be applied in real life to help the world respond to future energy challenges.

Denise Creech, ACS Director of Membership and Scientific Advancement, acknowledged the project is an opportunity to engage members in a discussion: "Our mission as a leading scientific Society is to engage our members in discussions and perhaps even solutions, about pressing global challenges. Chemists, after all, will be part of the solution to emerging challenges, like energy, whether it is one of abundance or scarcity."

Source: American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Japan orders air bag maker to conduct probe

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Video games can make us creative if spark is right

May 24, 2008

Video games that energize players and induce a positive mood could also enhance creativity, according to media researchers. However, the study also finds that players who were not highly energized and had a negative mood, ...

Computer Poker Program Knows When to Hold 'Em

Aug 06, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Texas Hold'em poker has exploded in popularity over the past few years. Its popularity has extended to academic researchers, who are intrigued by the challenges of probabilities and decision-making in the ...

New game teaches energy conservation

Dec 20, 2006

U.S. engineers have designed a board game that teaches middle school children how their energy choices directly impact energy conservation.

Recommended for you

Japan orders air bag maker to conduct probe

Nov 21, 2014

Japan's transport ministry said Friday it has ordered air bag maker Takata to conduct an internal investigation after cases of its air bags exploding triggered safety concerns in the United States and other countries.

Senators get no clear answers on air bag safety

Nov 20, 2014

There were apologies and long-winded explanations, but after nearly four hours of testimony about exploding air bags, senators never got a clear answer to the question most people have: whether or not their ...

Winter-like temps can reduce tire pressure

Nov 19, 2014

The polar plunge that has chilled much of the nation does more than bring out ice scrapers and antifreeze. It can trigger vehicles' tire pressure monitoring systems overnight, sending nervous drivers to dealers ...

US: Gov't aircraft regulations apply to drones (Update)

Nov 18, 2014

The U.S. government has the power to hold drone operators accountable when they operate the remote-control aircraft recklessly, a federal safety board ruled Tuesday in a setback to small drone operators chafing ...

Mapping the crisis of displaced peoples

Nov 17, 2014

Population displacement is a global problem, one that historically has been insufficiently quantified and analyzed, especially given its wide-ranging effects. Displacement can result from a number of factors, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.