Página original en: http://www.kw.igs.net/~jackord/j6.html

Jack's Page: Basic Physics and Optics

Author: Jack Ord     email: jack@ord.ca

What's It About?

It's all physics - if you have no interest in the waveforms that appear on the Entry Page, then look no farther (I hope you liked the sailboat picture). (In case you bypassed it, the Entry Page has the boat picture, a wave-motion applet, a link to What's New? and links to this page, the Site Index.)

Basic Physics deals with simple algorithms for numerical solution of problems in physics. It is aimed at people who want to write their own programs. Source code is provided in Liberty Basic and Java, and Instructions are given for downloading compilers and modifying programs.

Optics is divided into Matrix Ray Optics, Matrix Wave Optics, and Ellipsometry (matrix wave optics applied to the reflection of polarized light from film-covered surfaces).

There is also a brief section on transients that shows examples of how a computer can be used acquire and analyze data.

The level of the material and the form in which it is presented are both rather uneven. The early Basic Physics material was aimed at students in a freshman course. The more recent material, aimed at surfers scanning the net for items of interest, is more varied in level and has less decriptive detail. The level of the Optics material increases progressively the farther one goes into it.

Index and Program Directory

Basic Physics with Java

Basic Physics with Java introduces algorithms for "back-of-the-envelope" calculations in physics. It takes its name from the Basic and Java languages, and originates from Richard Feynman's algorithm for solving F = ma problems on 1960-vintage calculators. The algorithms are simple, but accurate, and can be applied to a wide variety of problems in physics. The main languages used are Liberty Basic (shareware or inexpensive purchase), and Java (free development kit). A few programs for HP48 calculators or Postscript printers are included to show that the algorithms can be implemented on almost any combination of hardware and software.

Fieldlines and Equipotentials

Newton's Law and the Feynman Algorithm

Energy Conservation and Integration

Coupled Oscillators and Normal Modes

Matrix Ray Optics: Matrix Optics by Ian Dagg, Web Edition by Don De Smet

Matrix Wave Optics

A matrix treatment of wave propagation that continues on from the matrix treatment of geometrical optics and provides the groundwork for the sections on ellipsometry.


A brief self-contained introduction to the subject. A more detailed discussion of the introductory material is given in the Matrix Ray Optics and Matrix Wave Optics sections. A more general discussion of ellipsometry, including the Jones Calculus description of polarized light, can be found in A Closer Look at Nulling Ellipsometry by Don De Smet. Detail on the operation of a typical null instrument can be found in Principles of Operation of the Exacta 2000, also by Don De Smet.


Programs for the analysis of exponential and logarithmic transients. The 'capacitor tester' program is from an interfacing exercise for graduate students (or demonstration for freshmen). The logarithmic transient program is used in research on high-field ionic conduction. Both programs use data acquired under program control by interface hardware that sets the current through and reads the potential across an external circuit.