Lightspeed on Your Desktop


You can change the dimensions of the default cube object by selecting the menu option File→New lattice (Figure 2). You can set how many balls will be drawn in each of the three dimensions. You also can change the smoothness factor when the object is rendered on the display. In this case, it will look like what is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 2. Setting the Number of Vertices in Your Object

Figure 3. Altering the Smoothness of the Rendering

You also have the option of loading your own 3-D object, either in 3D Studio format (*.3DS or *.PRJ) or in LightWave format (*.LWO). This new object is what will be rendered, and the optical effects will be applied to this. You can save a snapshot of a particular object at a particular speed in either PNG or TIFF format. You also can export to an SRS file format (Special Relativity Scene). This is a format used by the program BACKLIGHT, which is a specialized raytracer used to illustrate relativistic effects. This lets you generate much higher resolution images of the affected object.

In the Objects menu item, there are options for drawing supplementary objects. By default, the floating grid is selected. You also can select coordinate axes, identifying the x, y and z axes. You can select the display of a bounding box for your object as well (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Displaying Axes and a Bounding Box around Your Object

Additionally, you can animate the scene by selecting Objects→Animation in the menu. This pops up a dialog box where you can select the starting and ending points on the x axis and the loop time in seconds (Figure 5). The scene then will be animated until you click stop.

Figure 5. Setting Options for an Animation of Your Object


Joey Bernard has a background in both physics and computer science. This serves him well in his day job as a computational research consultant at the University of New Brunswick. He also teaches computational physics and parallel programming.


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I've been trying to figure

Orlando IT Services's picture

I've been trying to figure out how to do this for the last couple of hours...appreciate the insight.

With the default settings at

Ivor's picture

With the default settings at 299,792,457m/s it makes no sense to me. I need Carl Sagan to explain this. Perhaps taking into account each of the four aspects and how they played into it.

The features all work

mikkela's picture

The features all work together to make an incredible in sky