Scores of interactives on science and health topics were created for MSNBC.com between 1996 and 2012. Some of them have fallen out of date, but many more are just as useful and entertaining today as they were years ago — that is, if the software works.
Click on these links to give the interactives a spin, bearing in mind that your computer has to be capable of running a Flash player.
You may have to give permission for your browser to download and run the Flash file (technically, it’s known as an SWF file).
In late 2020, many browsers eliminated and blocked Flash plug-ins due to security concerns. But it’s possible to play these interactives even if Flash content is blocked. First, download the SWF file. Then you can use the Ruffle emulator to load and play the interactive, by going to this Ruffle demo webpage, selecting the local SWF file you downloaded, and then hitting the big play-button arrow.
You can also copy and paste the Web URL of the SWF file into the “Open File” box for the Ruffle emulator, and then play the interactive.
Alternatively, you can download a Flash player that works as a standalone program to play the interactive. Here’s the link to Adobe’s software page. Download the Flash Player Projector Content Debugger that’s appropriate for your operating system (Windows, Mac or Linux). Then you can use the content debugger to open the SWF file on your computer.
For the sake of convenience, here are downloadable files for the Flash players. Use the files at your own risk; we make no guarantees, but we’ve found that the Windows version works quite well. (If you’re a Windows user, right-click and save the linked file.)
- Flash Player Projector Content Debugger for Windows (.exe)
- Flash Player Projector Content Debugger for Mac (DMG)
- Flash Player Projector Content Debugger for Linux (GZip archive)
For more information about playing Flash interactives after late 2020, check out this article from Online Tech Tips. It’s also possible to convert Flash files to up-to-date formats such as HTML5. If you do so, feel free to contact email@example.com.
- Asteroids – Below the belt: Close encounters of the asteroid kind (Use standalone Flash Player rather than Ruffle)
- Astrobiology: Calculate the odds for aliens with the Drake Equation (Use standalone Flash Player rather than Ruffle)
- Brain – A road map to the mind
- Christmas – What was the star of Bethlehem? (Bonus: Play interactive in a Flash-enabled browser)
- Climate – Antarctic meltdown (Not functional, for archive purposes only)
- Climate – Engineering a cooler planet
- Climate – The greenhouse effect
- Climate – Melting mountains
- Climate – What sea level rise could mean for America’s favorite places (AP) (Use standalone Flash Player rather than Ruffle)
- Climate – The water cycle (Use standalone Flash Player rather than Ruffle)
- Cosmology (inflationary) – Beyond the Big Bang
- Cosmology (string theory) – The symphony of everything (Click “Back” to beginning)
- Dark matter – Why does dark matter matter? (Click “Back” to beginning)
- Dinosaurs – Are dinosaurs alive?
- Dreams: What do our dreams mean?
- Earthquakes – The next Big One: When? How much damage?
- Earthquakes – What causes earthquakes?
- Eclipses (lunar) – Inconstant moon: What causes a lunar eclipse?
- Eclipses (solar) – Moonshadow: What causes a solar eclipse?
- Electromagnetic spectrum – Why is the sky blue?
- Engines – How it works: Turning wheels (Some text missing from interactive)
- Engines – The road to cleaner, higher-mileage diesels (Use standalone player rather than Ruffle)
- Evolution – Before and after humans (Bonus: Play interactive in a Flash-enabled browser)
- Fireworks – The inner workings of fireworks
- Genetics – Genetic fingerprints
- Geological ages – Earth’s timeline
- Heart – How heart attacks happen
- Hubble Space Telescope – The long view (plus pre-servicing version)
- Hurricanes – Birth of a hurricane
- Hurricanes – Hurricane briefing
- Internet (space) – The interplanetary Internet
- Large Hadron Collider – The Big Bang Machine (Use a standalone Flash Player rather than Ruffle)
- Large Hadron Collider – Big Bang nightmares and dreams (Not fully functional; for archive purposes only)
- Linguistics – Language ancestors of the Americas (Click “Continue” button to get to the start)
- Military – How the National Missile Defense system would work
- Meteors (Leonids) – A look at meteor showers and how to view them
- Nuclear power – How nuclear plants work
- Physics – Why are things weightless in orbit?
- Planets (extrasolar) – Other worlds: The search for extrasolar planets
- Quantum physics – Cats and qubits: The challenge of quantum computers (Bonus: Play interactive in a Flash-enabled browser)
- Relativity – Putting Einstein to the test (Bonus: Play interactive in a Flash-enabled browser
- Sleep – Stages of sleep
- Snoring – Why we snore
- Spaceflight – How the International Space Station was built (AP)
- Space history (space shuttle) – Shipshape shuttle
- Space history (X Prize) – Rocket roundup (Detailed text missing; primarily for archive purposes)
- SpaceShipOne – How SpaceShipOne works
- Tornadoes – Birth of a tornado
- Viruses – Understanding viruses
- Volcanoes – Anatomy of a volcano
- Voting technology – How it works: Voting technologies explained (Not fully functional, for archive purposes only)
- Whales – Swimming with whales
- Wildfires – Fighting fires, fixing forests (Use a standalone Flash player rather than Ruffle)
- Wildfires – Suiting up for wildfires