Hi everyone! Thank you so very much for your thoughtful, measured, and generous responses - I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to respond, and I hope you don't mind my responding with a few more questions!
I love the range of examples and angles that you've all raised here. If I'm summarising fairly, it seems like SE is useful in helping to learn some more technical scientific concepts and language with regards to space science, flight, and physics, and is good in that it can give users a better sense of the universe as it is - correcting faulty assumptions based on popular thinking/models (like the maps of the solar system that misrepresent distance and scale), and can make more realistic representations 'stick'/feel more accessible, because in SE you can actually visualise, manipulate, move in and around things. I imagine the difference between abstractly knowing some of these facts about the universe, and actually seeing them, moving through them, is pretty huge when it comes to *really* understanding or comprehending?
Of course I'm not an expert in the work that goes into simulating such systems and phenomena, but I imagine it must be no easy task! What would the main draw be (@Mouthwash?) in making the SE universe contain more 'science' (ie., realistic magnetic fields, variable composition of stars/planets, etc.? Why would that be better? Because it would allow you to do more realistic or lifelike or authentic exploration? Or it would allow for you to learn more, access more accurate or educational information?
Do you guys find that you already had lots of the core scientific concepts/knowledge of terms, etc. before you started using SE? Or have you picked this up in the forums or by encountering things in the simulation that drove you to explore & learn more? It seems as though there is pretty widespread use of some pretty technical scientific terms and concepts in this community - I'd love to know if this is something that feels like prerequisite or assumed knowledge for one to participate at all, or if it's something that you kind of pick up as you go, or teach/learn with each other.
Those Anton Petrov videos are so great - I hadn't seen them before, thank you! Do you guys find that you often spend time watching, learning, consuming SE content outside of the core game/application (other users' videos and posts, screenshots, tutorials, etc.) or that using SE drives you to go check out other, more general space-related news, scientific content, developments day-to-day? Does using SE help you feel more interested in other space science and content and news, or make it feel like that is more accessible?
For example, the Trappist-1 situation seems like a great discussion point - what was it like here when the discoveries were announced? What has the process of developing patches for them been like? What do you hope to get, learn, or access by integrating the system into SE? Did you learn more about the system, follow the news and announcements in the media and externally to SE? How did this knowledge feed into or fit with your SE use/practices? How do you all stay on top of monitoring exoplanet discoveries and integrating them into SE/patches? It's incredible and inspiring of course, but so much work! How do you all do this? Why?
Thank you so much for your time, everyone! I hope to hear back from you and continue this really interesting discussion
(I sincerely apologise for the delay in my own response, I've been locked down with my manuscript for the upcoming IAC and oh my gosh did it kick my butt! I'm looking forward to it of course, but also to it being wrapped up so that I can spend more time on fieldwork again, in amazing exciting places like the community here!)