Alan Wolf

Chair of Physics

Simulated Wave Machine -- Scientific Programming

Cooper student Bobby Yankou wanted to simulate the behavior of a standard physics
demonstration apparatus -- a 'wave machine' -- which consists of a large number of
rods connected at their centers by a torsional spring.  The apparatus is useful for
showing the self-sustaining nature of transverse waves and more complex wave
phenomena, such as superposition and boundary conditions. 

Bobby wrote a program in Python that solved a second order differential equation for
each rod, taking into account the torques from the two adjacent rods and the rod's own
moment of inertia , using the Runge-Kutta algorithm.

The 3 videos below were generated by the program.  The first two show collisions of
pairs of pulses and the last shows the formation of a 'standing wave' -- the resonant
response of the device when it is 'forced' at its natural frequency.