Monthly Archives: November 2010

A Robot Simulator Using VPython

When I was a kid, one of my favorite “big” toys was the Big Trak, a programmable robot that looked like a futuristic tank.  It had a keypad allowing you to enter a program consisting of a series of motion commands … Continue reading

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Flocking Boids and Emergent Behavior

In 1986 Craig Reynolds developed a simulation of flocking behavior of creatures that he called boids.  As is typical of good ideas, this one is simple to describe: even when many individuals each behave according to a small set of … Continue reading

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Fun with Dimensional Analysis

This post is a hodge-podge of interesting applications of dimensional analysis.  It is motivated by some recent work with students simulating and analyzing projectile motion.  Consider a ball (a baseball, in our running example) falling under gravity.  Then throw the … Continue reading

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Challenging Unstated Assumptions

I will start with a puzzle, as background food for thought: what is the minimum number of weights, each weighing an integral number of pounds, required to be able to measure with a balance scale any integer weight from 1 … Continue reading

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