Your web browser is more than just a website viewer. Web technologies have grown to the point where sophisticated software can run right in your browser. This means there are some great web simulators that you can tap right now from any device with a compatible browser.
The five online simulators below use the latest web animation, 3D graphics and web application technologies to deliver what you needed thirty years ago in a supercomputer straight to your screen. So why not give up reality for a while and take the time to study one of these simulations?
GEO-FS Flight Simulator
It has been a long time since decent new flight simulators have appeared on the market. Microsoft is preparing something very special with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, but what if you just want to get on a virtual plane and fly around the globe for a bit?
This is where GEO-FS comes in. This is an awesome online flight simulator with 20 different planes, 30,000 runways and a global landscape to fly over. What is most impressive is how GEO-FS transfers information from the real world to the simulation.
In this massive multiplayer simulator, you will see real commercial air transport, real-time weather conditions and other players flying around. Sure, there are better flight simulators when it comes to graphics, but GEO-FS pays great attention to detail in areas where other simulators simply don’t touch, and it works in your browser.
Google Earth is of course also available as a downloadable app. However, if you are using the Chrome browser, you can launch Google Earth in a browser tab within seconds. Of course, depending on your internet speed.
Google has done a tremendous job on this underrated software over the years. This is by far the best way to explore our planet with ease. You can rotate the globe with one click, view it from space, and then get closer to ground level. Access incredibly detailed 3D surface images, knowledge cards, field trips and more.
To be honest, it makes the teachers’ job much easier. It’s amazing that Google just gives them away for free.
Solar System Range
Although Google Maps recently added other planets to its collection, neither it nor Google Earth provide a complete model of our solar system. There are actually quite a few decent online simulators of our solar system out there. So in a way, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to traveling through our cosmic courtyard.
We love an online simulator called Solar System Scope, which really has one of the nicest and most user-friendly models to run in a browser. These guys have been working on visualizing space events for some time now. You will find a whole library of nifty Flash animations that are clearly outdated now, but still pretty good.
The main attraction is the new real 3D model. It has some exaggeration by default, but if you dive deeper into the settings, you can toggle realistic relative sizes, moons, and other details on and off. You can also set any date and time to see the correct position of all celestial bodies in the past or future.
Despite the name, Solar System Scope actually offers a view that extends substantially beyond our local space. You can zoom out to get a glimpse of our galaxy, the Milky Way, with some details on the landmarks en route.
The Solar System Scope does its best, however, when you play with the eight planets we all know and love.
Real online simulators are not only about realistic graphics. These physics education simulators are cartoonish and don’t have to look real. In fact, many of the things that are modeled by these interactive simulation apps are theoretical, microscopic, and even subatomic.
What seems real about these simulations is the math behind them. You can play with variables and see how it affects real life. And all this without the need for an experiment or the presence of real laboratory equipment.
Most of the simulators in the collection can be run in your browser. Just keep in mind that not all of them are HTML 5, so you might have to enable flash for them to work. With that little caveat, this is probably the best place to get science education simulators.
Bonus: SimCity 2000
Okay, the latter might be a bit of a hoax, as it is literally just the original SimCity 2000 running in a browser. However, consider what this means. One of the best classic city simulation games can now be played in its original DOS form in the browser in seconds. All you have to do is click on the link above and in a minute you will start building your city.
It is a complete PC emulator for DOS that runs in your browser. So you are playing a simulator of (sort of) an old computer system. It really looks like the real thing.
It’s simplicity, but no less fun than ever. If you can live with the ads, Play Classic has a lot of other old games out there, so you can imagine it’s the 1990s again and you boot up your old Pentium computer.
Is this the real life? Or is it just a fiction?
Simulators can be fun, educational, and rewarding. So it’s good that you don’t need access to a university computer building to play around with these neat virtual representations of the real world.
These online simulators are a testament to how far consumer technology has come: devices in the palm of your hand or in your lap, harnessing the seemingly limitless power of the Internet.