Java Virtual Physics Laboratory
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Many advanced concepts in physics are quite abstract and difficult to visualize, which present a challenge to both students and instructors of physics alike. While the fundamentals of physics are always rooted in mathematical formalism, for some advanced topics there is a tendency for the student to lose track of the basic qualitative understanding of the phenomena. Fortunately, advances in computing now allow better ways to display information, interact with the user, and ultimately increase the effectiveness of the pedagogy of these traditionally esoteric and difficult topics.

For the 2004-2005 academic year, the Center for Educational Resources at Johns Hopkins University is sponsoring the Java Virtual Physics Laboratory project as part of the Technology Fellowship Program. This project is a continuation of the 2003-2004 Technology Fellowship project "Virtual Quantum Mechanics". This work has been partially supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers DMR-0348679, ECS-0403964, and DMR-1104753.

Dr. Oleg Tchernyshyov, Dr. Nina Markovic, and Jeffrey Wasserman will create several online java applets to enhance the learning experience of students of various physics disciplines. To date some of these simulations have been used with Dr. Adam Falk's undergraduate quantum mechanics class, Dr. Susan Kovesi-Domokos's graduate quantum mechanics class, and Dr. Oleg Tchernyshyov's solid-state physics class.
Java Logo from Sun A version of the Java Runtime Environment, at least version 1.2, is required for running these applets, although a version of 1.4 or greater is highly recommended. The most recent version can be downloaded (for free) here .

Current Simulations

Pendula in phase space Pendula in phase space
Follow an ensemble of pendula in phase space and see how anharmonicity of pendulum motion leads to a dispersion of pendula in phase space and to the formation of a microcanonical distribution.
Friction on the nanoscale Friction and Adhesion on the Nanoscale
Explore the physical origins of friction. See the hallmark of friction—the stick-slip motion—and investigate Amontons' laws of friction with a two-dimensional nanocrystal.
Torsional Wave Machine Torsional Wave Machine
This applet simulates transverse waves in a set of torsionally coupled rods. Observe a forbidden frequency band and standing waves as resonances.
Crystal1d Thumbnail Scattering through a one-dimensional crystal
See quantum-mechanical resonance, formation of band structure, and importance of long-range order
Ising Thumbnail Ising Model
Examine the Ising model in two dimensions and study the phenomena of phase transitions. Watch the system evolve in real time or carefully plot a variety of parameters.
Potts Model Potts Model
Explore the Potts model in two dimensions and watch the system evolve in real time.
Entangle Thumbnail Entangled Spins (Represented in 2-D)
Measure the spin of electrons, learn how measurement operations can alter a quantum state, see the 'weirdness' of entangled electrons.
Single Qubit Thumbnail Single Qubit Quantum Computing
This is a basic demonstration of a quantum computer, allowing the user to work with a single qubit, see the visualization, and the effects of various operations upon that qubit.
Spherical Thumbnail Spherical Coordinates
Manipulate vectors in Cartesian and Spherical Coordinates. (More Math than Physics, this is useful for visualization)
Cylindrical Thumbnail Cylindrical Coordinates
Manipulate vectors in Cartesian and Cylindrical Coordinates. (Again more Math than Physics but still useful for visualization)


Please send any questions or suggestions to Oleg Tchernyshyov.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.