Last year a few of our students discovered Line Rider — a computer game in which they could draw paths and a little sledder guy slides down and up. It’s a fantastic application of tangent lines (and therefore calculus with perhaps some vectors and physics), because in the version that I saw them doing last year they would simulate a curve by drawing lots of straight lines, as in this 83-second video:

It looks like Line Rider has gotten all fancy now (or maybe the artists are just more experienced) and you can draw curvy lines for the little guy to slide on. This inspired the following 30-second McDonald’s commercial:

Because calculus is so important, Line Rider has also been released for phones (Mobile in August and, according to a news release this past week, the iPhone and iPod Touch this month). No need to be without it ever!

*Have you ever noticed how mathematicians count pretty much everything as applied mathematics? Yeah, I know, looking at the world through math-colored glasses!*