Computing

Category archives for Computing

In the previous post about simulating the attraction between sticky tapes using VPython, I ended with a teaser mentioning that there was a discrepancy between the simulation and the theoretical solution from directly solving the equations. The problem is kind of subtle, but clearly visible in this graph from that post: In this, we see…

Simulated Tape and Universal Behavior

Having spent a lot of time solving equations related to sticky tape models, including trying to work solutions in my head while driving to Grandma and Grandpa’s with the kids, and making some measurements of real tapes, there was only one thing left to do: try simulating this problem in VPython. Because I’m a physics…

We cleared a bunch of space in our deep storage area over the summer, and one of the things we found was a box full of old student theses from the 1950’s and 1960’s. The library already had copies of them, but I thought it was sort of cool to have a look into the…

Fun With Simulated Scattering

Two chapters of the book-in-progress will be devoted to the development of the modern understanding of the atom. One of these is about the Bohr model, which turned 100 this year, but Bohr’s model would not have been possible without an earlier experiment. The actual experiment was done by Ernest Marsden and Hans Geiger, but…

Driving a Simulated Pendulum

Some time back, I spent a bunch of time writing a VPython program that simulated the motion of a pendulum, which turned out to do some strange things. In the comments to that, there were two things worth mentioning: first and foremost, Arnoques at #5 spotted a small error in the code that fixes the…

Last week, I spent a bunch of time using VPython to simulate a simple pendulum, which was a fun way to fritter away several hours (yes, I’m a great big nerd), and led to some fun physics. I had a little more time to kill, so I did one of the things I mentioned as…

Simulating a Pendulum

There’s a famous story about Richard Feynman at Cornell suffering from the science equivalent of writer’s block, after WWII. He was depressed and feeling like everything he did was pointless, until one day he spotted a student throwing a plate up in the air in the cafeteria. As the plate spun, it wobbled, and the…

Quantum Computing and Chess Problems

In which I steal an analogy from Joe Emerson to explain the limits of quantum computing. ———— As previously noted, a couple of weeks ago I went to Canada for the opening of the University of Waterloo’s new Quantum Nano Center (their photo gallery includes one picture of me being interviewed, along with lots of…

Somebody on Twitter linked this article about “brogrammers”, which is pretty much exactly as horrible as that godawful neologism suggests. In between descriptions of some fairly appalling behavior, though, they throw some stats at you, and that’s where it gets weird: As it is, women remain acutely underrepresented in the coding and engineering professions. According…

Two Women-in-Science Notes

Two things I was forwarded or pointed toward this week, that interact a little oddly. First chronologically is from the New York Times, which has a story about how Harvey Mudd College has boosted the number of female computer science majors, by committing serious resources to reforming the intro course (which is required of all…