Computer Visualization Projects for Physics Education

Joan Adler, Eden Segal and Grisha Zeltyn
Technion

Many interesting physical phenomena occur at length scales that cannot
be accessed
with the naked eye. Some, especially those related to atoms and
molecules, are too
small. Other interesting phenomena are hard to reproduce in laboratory or
classroom experiments. Examples include hydrogen atom wavefunctions and the
Stern-Gerlach effect. 

One must think how to maximise the student learning experience while minimising the
student technical effort. (Not to speak of minimizing the teachers'
preparation effort so they can concentrate on pedagogy.) If 3D material is simply
presented as flat
images its impact is curtailed. Thus interactivity, and three dimensional images
(stereo where possible)  are needed.

I will describe new material prepared at the Technion that aids comprehension for
not-too-great student effort, but at the same time allows for some ``hands-on''
interaction.  This material was prepared by computational physics class and
project students so there is a double educational benefit.
All of the final visualizations are
website based and accessible also on
cellphones. Two recent projects, on 3D density in flow simulations
with Lattice Boltzman and interactive WebGL visualizations of nanotubes will be described.