While its motion sensing cousin gets all of the hype, the accuracy of the PlayStation Move can provide some really awesome data that previously required specifically designed instruments.
Back in the day, and I mean way back, we humans were not so sure what happened up in the sky. Sure, it looked like the sun moved around us, as did the moon, and the stars all rotated in the sky in a pattern that suggested that the Earth was at the center of it all. But then a guy named Nicolaus Copernicus posited that the Earth in fact revolved around the sun and the day and night cycle was caused by Earth’s rotation on an axis. His theories were revolutionary and controversial, and the championing of the heliocentric view of our solar system landed Galileo in house arrest by none other than the Catholic Pope in Rome.
It wasn’t until 1851 that a portion of Copernicus’ heliocentric theory was convincingly proved when Léon Foucault used a pendulum to record changes in motion consistent with Earth’s rotation. Of course, that pendulum weighed more than 62 pounds and was suspended from 255 foot ceiling. Even if you were to try to recreate Foucoult’s pendulum nowadays, you’d have to be pretty careful that you don’t futz with any lateral motion, produce a perfectly balanced piece of metal, and have a pretty big house. Now, with the help of some daring physicists, you can prove the Earth rotates on an axis with the PlayStation Move, a vinyl turntable, and some common household items. Not only that, but you can use the technique to determine your latitude and point to north, you know, in case you misplaced your compass and/or GPS-enabled phone.
The whole experiment might be beyond your expertise, but the video is certainly entertaining. The accompanying webpage also details the processes and how to replicate the experiment at home. I especially liked that the team of scientists at PABR.org started with the cheapest turntable they could find before upgrading to a more stable one.
The project ups the ante for PlayStation Move hacks versus Kinect. It’s not tits on a dude, or giant Minecraft monuments, but the PlayStation Move is helping us plebians do real science. That’s got to count for something, right?