Coolest science toy ever

March 4th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in not bad science, toys | 25 Comments »

Phun is without question the greatest computer toy in the history of the universe, if this had been around when I was a kid I would be a frickin genius by now. You don’t need things any more.

You can download the program for free here:

It’s extremely easy to use. As a starter tip, turn gravity off when you’re attaching stuff to the background (right click after selecting “affix” tool). Amusing and probably non-existent prize for the rudest video.

If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

25 Responses

  1. Chris S. said,

    March 4, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    If you had this as a kid, you’d have carpal tunnel. πŸ™‚

  2. HeXetic said,

    March 4, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    This is *exactly* the kind of play appeal that the upcoming Playstation 3 game “LittleBigPlanet” has.

  3. stever said,

    March 4, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I WANT

  4. sven945 said,

    March 4, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    That looks brilliant! However I’m quite glad that you can’t get it for Macs because I have exams to pass…

    But the best bit about it? The music! It’s amazing! Does anyone know what it is? It sounds like it might just be generic free music, but it’s great!

  5. stever said,

    March 4, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    beta download here:

  6. stever said,

    March 4, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    haha, its ace.

  7. fyrefli said,

    March 4, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    yep, this is great! πŸ™‚

    Does anyone remember, better yet, have a copy of “The Incredible Machine” – quite an old game where youhad to connect cogs, conveyer belts etc. to complete level goals?

  8. IainStrachan said,

    March 4, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Also brilliant is “Soda Constructor”

    You construct models with flexible beams, and add “muscles” that vibrate it in certain ways. You also can adjust gravity. There is a library of peoples’ creations. “Dainty Walker” is very cute. You can be cruel and turn up the gravity and make it collapse in a heap!

  9. SjH said,

    March 4, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    See also Garry’s Mod (, which has 3D graphics (and explosives), but is not free to download.

  10. confuseling said,

    March 4, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Really close to building a functional difference engine.

    It’s been hard, and $10 for a sandwich would make all the difference.

    Then I’ll email you the design. Honest I will.

  11. Phink said,

    March 4, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Armadillo Run is also a fun game to try with some cool physics in it.

    Watch out though, it’s very addictive!

  12. Robert Carnegie said,

    March 4, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    This gets you an MSc? πŸ™‚

  13. raygirvan said,

    March 4, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    But the best bit about it? The music! It’s amazing!
    Yep. Call me a sad git, but I don’t suppose I’m the only one with this feeling: I thought it was, strangely, a very poignant little movie.

  14. raygirvan said,

    March 5, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Oh, **** me. Of course!

  15. eelnek said,

    March 5, 2008 at 6:10 am

    re incredible machine
    fyrefli wanted a copy of this
    email me at and I will send you a copy

  16. Kess said,

    March 5, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Wow – want!

    Like the recent Portal game, it shows that there is still room for simple but original game ideas.

  17. strummer said,

    March 5, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    zefrank has some pretty cool stuff too

    Shame you can’t get phun onto mac though, I’m itching to have a go.

  18. Twm said,

    March 5, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Oh yes, I’ve been playing with phun for a few weeks. It’s the acest.
    I’ve been looking at 2d physics engines for mobile games – think drawing shapes with your finger on teh iPhone.

    Crayon physics is lovely eyecandy and another good one is armadillorun – a virtual eggrace.

  19. Matt Black said,

    March 6, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Don’t want to piss on anyone’s fire, but my virus scanner suggested I change my mind when I tried to download this file.

  20. Galphanore said,

    March 7, 2008 at 6:01 am

    At a guess I’d say you need a better virus scanner, one that doesn’t have so many false positives.

  21. Matt Black said,

    March 11, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Update: according to the website, Avast antivirus knows about the false positive and is updating the software; the zip file seems ok anyway.

  22. ferguskane said,

    May 3, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    now avaliable for apple mac…

  23. mavel said,

    October 10, 2008 at 4:46 am

    I downloaded this a week or so ago for my 8 yo future physicist grandson, whom I homeschool. He loves it so much that I have to beg him to stop! He read about different kinds of pumps the other day on his own, then went to Phun to design his own variations to pump water. He had a ball! I have told other homeschooling parents of builder and science type kids, and their kids love it, too.

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