Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Using Physics to Learn Mathematica to Do Physics

About a week ago, I highlighted a physics education paper that studied the impact of using symbolic mathematical software packages such as Mathematica on the way physics students think about physics problems. It was an enjoyable reading.

This time, there is another paper on using Mathematica specifically in advanced undergraduate physics classes. The author describes how Mathematica is used in junior-senior level physics courses. Too bad he does not have the same transcript of the students' struggle with solving the problems. :)



Anonymous said...

I recently obtained a free trial of mathematica, and I've got to say it's really useful in understanding "the physics" of the problem, especially in cases where I found the math (algebraic manipulations, evaluating integrals, special functions) too daunting and got put off.

I think that universities should look at making such math software an essential part of their course.

Anonymous said...

And also, this website, http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/

gives an example of the different ways in which math software (in this case, mathematica) can be used in various subjects. For those who don't have mathematica 6, there's a free player which you can download.

For a simple example,this is an example of an illustration of the population density as a function of energy at various temperatures for the three kind of statistical distributions.