Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Amazing Apps: PBS NOVA's Black Hole

Today, the PBS science series NOVA, a production of WGBH Boston, announced the launch of the NOVA Black Holes App for iPad. The app—available for free from iTunes—
challenges players to hurl stars through the universe at celestial targets in a quest to earn a star that’s big and bright enough to go supernova and collapse into a black hole.

Hosted by astrophysicist Janna Levin, the game takes players 4 billion years into the future, at a time when our own Milky Way galaxy is colliding with the Andromeda galaxy. Given a star born out of this cosmic storm, the player’s mission is to set the speed and trajectory of this star to hit its target. The game grows more complicated through more than 50 levels, as the user must navigate increasingly challenging sets of orbital patterns while meeting new cosmic objects—including small but dense neutron stars, massive blue supergiant stars, white dwarf stars, and both stellar and supermassive black holes. The player can use gravitational assists from these and other objects to slingshot around the galaxy, but must detect and avoid invisible black holes that will shred the player's star if it gets too close.
The NOVA Black Hole App allows players to:
-- Learn about orbital dynamics and gravity, the science behind black hole detection, gravitational waves, and more
-- Play over 50 game levels powered by a real physics engine
-- Earn 12 game badges like the “Black Hole Breakfast” badge, which is awarded once the player’s star gets devoured by a black hole ten times during the game
-- Watch videos about what happens to the core of a star as it ages and eventually becomes a black hole
A special two-hour NOVA film hosted by Janna Levin about Black Holes is slated to air on PBS in 2017. At that time, the NOVA Black Holes App will be updated so users can stream the documentary from the app.
“With the launch of the Black Holes App, we continue to offer new and exciting ways for audiences to experience NOVA content through a variety of digital platforms,” said Paula S. Apsell, NOVA Senior Executive Producer and Director of the WGBH Science Unit. “We’re thrilled to give players the opportunity to explore astrophysics through this fun, interactive game, and hope it inspires them to expand their interest in astronomy and STEM subjects overall.”
The Black Holes App is the second app to be created by NOVA, joining the highly successful NOVA Elements App released in March 2012. Downloaded 2.4 million times since its launch, the Elements App lets users explore an interactive periodic table, build the elements, play a game hosted by technology columnist David Pogue, and watch the two-hour NOVA film, Hunting the Elements.
The NOVA Black Holes App is available for free from iTunes or here. To watch a preview trailer of the App, visit
National corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. Major funding for NOVA Black Holes is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation supporting original research and public understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
About NOVA
Now in its 43rd season, NOVA is the most-watched prime time science series on American television, reaching an average of five million viewers weekly. The series remains committed to producing in-depth science programming in the form of hour-long (and occasionally longer) documentaries, from the latest breakthroughs in technology to the deepest mysteries of the natural world. NOVA is a production of WGBH Boston. NOVA airs Wednesdays at 9pm ET/PT on WGBH Boston and most PBS stations. The Director of the WGBH Science Unit and Senior Executive Producer of NOVA is Paula S. Apsell.
About PBS
PBS, with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 120 million people through television and nearly 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS' broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry's most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS' premier children's TV programming and its website,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Curious George and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio, and oversees Public Radio International (PRI). As a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH supplies content to PBS LearningMedia, a national broadband service for teachers and students. WGBH also is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors. More info at

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