Our fourth class explored numerical simulation, a common computational tool for solving complex, many-body problems. In its most basic classical form, numerical computation is the process of solving for the position (x) and velocity (v) of every object of mass m in a system with a given force law (F) using Newton’s Laws of Motion, following a two-step iterative process:
Physics 87 Spring 2014
Our third class was devoted to exploring random processes through random walks. Many physical processes in nature – diffusion, radiation, conduction, current flow, fluid dynamics – can be modeled as a random process. This is certainly true at the quantum mechanical level, where there is inherent uncertainty in the position-momentum of a particle due to its wave-like nature (modeled as a probability wave function); this is Planck’s Uncertainty Principle. But even in “deterministic” classical mechanics, randomness plays a role in modeling complexity; it is simply too hard to measure the precise state of every particle in a system and all of the forces involved. This is where statistical mechanics and thermodynamics become important.
For the second class, we used a model developed as Washington State University as part of the Energy Project called Energy Theater. The idea is to model a system entirely through its energy units, with those energy units being continued in parts in the system but able to transfer between parts and transform between energy types. This was our first outside session at the base of the UCSD Snake Path.
Here’s the breakdown of our class meetings for the Spring 2014 Freshman Seminar. Note that all meetings are Thursdays 6-8pm but the locations will vary.
Registration is now open for Physics 87: Movement for Physics! This freshman seminar is recommended for any undergraduate students taking lower division Physics, who would like to deepen their knowledge of physics principles, mathematical operations, and the process of simulation of physical systems. We’ll be doing all of this through movement exercises, real-time measurement, calculation and estimation problems, and embodied simulations. There are no pre-requisites, although some basic physics background (e.g., in high school or at UCSD) will be assumed. There will be no graded assignments, but students will be assessed based on their participation in the class exercises, and there will be reading and video assignments to prepare for the classwork.
The class will meet on alternating Thursdays from 6-8pm during weeks 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. The location of class will vary depending on the exercise.
Hurry! Only 20 spaces are available for this course!