On September 5, 2012
Another post that starts with “I love”:
I love physics. I really do. Once upon a time I was a real engineer (Master in Mechanical Engineering, hybrid car design, control systems, sustainable energy, etc etc etc) but decided to go back to the software world. Regardless, I still can’t get physics out of my head. I read textbooks on quantum mechanics regularly. It’s a sickness.
The great thing about physics is that it’s not too hard. Well, maybe it is, but once you understand a handful of core concepts, you can do tons of problems. If you can figure out how a ball moves under the influence of gravity, you can also model the motion of a car’s suspension. While that sounds like a big stretch, it’s really not: it’s all tied together by a few basic concepts.
We’ll start simple, with a bouncy ball and gravity, and we’ll eventually move on to modeling full systems. It’s going to be fun. While it’ll start slow, I want to end up modeling things like bipedal robots within a couple dozen posts. And you’ll be learning physics in the process.
Buckle up. Here’s an example of a grandfather clock that actually simulates real physics for the swinging pendulum — just to whet your appetite:
(PS: the physics in the below example is a little bit fudged, because it was a code-debugging example I used for a class I used to teach; please wait for the full article on the pendulum clock before trying to follow the physics!)