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Interactive 3D Simulation and Visualization



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Interactive 3D Simulation and Visualization of Optical Phenomena David C Banks John T Foley Kiril N Vidimce Ming Hoe Kiu Jay Brown Department of Physics and Astronomy NSF Engineering Research Center Mississippi State University Lattice Semiconductor Corporation Abstract We describe a multidisciplinary effort for creating interactive 3D graphical modules for visualizing optical phenomena These modules are designed for use in an upper level undergraduate physics course The modules are developed in Open Inventor which allows them to run under both Unix and Windows The work is significant in that it applies contemporary interactive 3D visualization techniques to instructional courseware which represents a considerable advance compared to the current state of the practice 1 Introduction Optics developed as a scientific field primarily through the experiments of Isaac Newton who considered light as particles and Christiaan Huygens who considered light as waves in the late seventeenth century The theoretical basis of classical optics was developed in the nineteenth century by Thomas Young Augustin Fresnel and James Clerk Maxwell More recently the invention of the laser has promoted research in optics since the 1960 s Fiber optics and quantum optics also drive optics research in the 1990 s Improving understanding of optics is consequently a significant educational goal 2 1 Overview of TOP In 1994 work first began on The Optics Project TOP at Mississippi State University This multidisciplinary effort has involved students and faculty from three Departments Physics and Astronomy Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering constructing stand alone modules to complement a standard undergraduate course in optics The first software modules were implemented using OpenGL OpenInventor has now become our graphics library of choice for developing new modules and updating old ones OpenInventor Open Inventor OI is an API developed by SGI in 1991 It is an object oriented 3D



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