Physics Educational Software
Written by Daniel V. Schroeder and others.
All of this software is available free, as is. Read on to learn more...
These have only minimal interactivity, but they demonstrate the feasibility of using the
new standard web technology for computationally intensive physics simulations with animated graphics.
They even run (slowly) on mobile devices!
blog article summarizing my benchmark results with these three demos, and explaining why I've
Run these quick, before Java support in web browsers disappears completely!
- Radiation Applet by Andrew Flinders (WSU student):
draws and animates field lines of an accelerated charge.
- EField Applet:
draws electric fields for any two-dimensional arrangement of charges.
- Sky Motion Applet:
a planetarium simulation designed especially to show heavenly motions.
- Zoomer Applet: a modest
attempt to show earth's place in the universe.
Older Thermal Physics software for Mac and Windows
- Molecules is a two-dimensional molecular dynamics simulation, similar to
the Molecular Dynamics applet listed above.
This version has somewhat different features including the ability to simulate
two types of dissimilar particles.
The program is available for several platforms:
- Ising is a Monte Carlo simulation of the two-dimensional Ising
model, demonstrating phase transitions of a magnetic system. You can adjust
the temperature, magnetic field, and lattice size (up to 400x400) while the
simulation is running. Besides graphical output, the program keeps track of the
current value, average, and standard deviation of the energy and magnetization,
which you can copy and paste into a spreadsheet for further analysis. The
current version of Ising is 1.1, posted 22 September 2002 (see source code
for a list of changes since version 1.0).
This program is available for several platforms:
Really Old Mac Software
The programs described below were developed for the Macintosh computer
circa 1985-92. They are small, fast, and easy to use, but lack the color graphics that
everyone expects these days. As far as I know, all of them run fine on PowerPC-based
Macintosh systems, including OS X systems under the Classic environment. It might be
possible to run them on Intel-based systems using third-party emulation software, but
I've never tried this. Except for the Radiation and EField Applets (see above), I have no versions
of these programs for Windows
or other operating systems. However, the Spins program has been
ported to Java by a group at Oregon State University.
Click here for
more information about this Java version of Spins.
All of the programs described below, except for the Radiation program, were
written by Dan Schroeder and Michael Martin.
To download an archive of all of these programs,
click here (.hqx format,
213k). The Radiation program is in a separate archive (see below).
- E-Field shows the electric field (represented
by arrows) of an arbitrary two-dimensional distribution of point charges
or of infinite-line charges (running perpendicular to the screen).
It has a very easy user interface and is suitable for high school or
college introductory courses. (Unless you're on a pre-OSX Mac,
use the EField applet instead of this program.)
- B-Field is similar to E-Field but shows
the magnetic field of an arbitrary arrangement of infinite wires
running perpendicular to the screen.
- Radiation draws and animates the electric field lines
around an accelerated point charge undergoing various motions, as
This program was
created by Blas Cabrera,
Sha Xin Wei, and Jim Terman; it is now in the public domain.
here to download this program (.hqx format, 40k). (Unless you're on a pre-OSX Mac,
use the new Radiation Applet instead of this old program.)
- Fourier analyzes a user-drawn wave form (within a finite
interval) into its first 15 Fourier components, or synthesizes a wave form
from user-specified coefficients.
- Q-Wave is similar to Fourier, but can analyze
a wavefunction using any of three different sets of basis functions, corresponding
to box, harmonic oscillator, and linear potential energy functions.
- Schrodinger animates the time dependence of a
one-dimensional wavefunction built as a linear superposition of the first
six basis functions for either the box or harmonic oscillator potential.
- Quantum1D is a bare-bones animation (with no user interface)
of one-dimensional scattering of a wavepacket from a step potential. A few
parameters can be specified by the user upon startup.
- Spins allows the user to link together Stern-Gerlach
devices to explore the mysteries of quantum mechanics for a system that
is mathematically very simple. This program is described in an article
in American Journal of Physics 61, 798-805 (1993).
New: a Java version
of this program is now available from Oregon State University.
Last modified on March 2, 2013.