CAPOW (Cellular Automata for Electric Power simulation) is an ongoing research project whose web page is full of scientific lingo which I find hard to understand but at least the program they have for download is fun to play with. Basically CAPOW draws colorful patterns based on the movements of some plotted graph. (I’m not even sure if that comes close to accurately describing how it works.) You can change the views of these patterns so they are rendered in 3-D, which looks pretty trippy. There’s even a screen saver version that draws these cool patterns when your computer is idle. There is plenty to play with here, none of which requires extensive scientific knowledge. All it takes is some curiosity and who knows, maybe the physics behind this program will start making sense.
Don’t let the 40MB download size scare you. The source code is included and there are tons of sample files to check out, but all you really need to run CAPOW are the executable files in the root of the ZIP file, which is only 1MB. Oddly enough it saves its settings to the WIN.INI file in the Windows folder.

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