Graduate Project

A computer-simulated Stern-Gerlach laboratory

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  • This project aims at building a Java application and a Java applet that would simulate a Stern-Gerlach laboratory in Quantum Mechanics. The project provides a tool for allowing the student to quickly design and run on the computer screen a number of experiments involving spin systems. This application could be used in an undergraduate physics course to give the student a concrete visual image to go with each of the concepts mentioned in class. This project is based upon an existing application named Spins written in Turbo Pascal in 1988, then ported to Think Pascal in 1992. The earlier system only worked on Macintosh computers. The existing software has been successful in enhancing the students' learning of new concepts and techniques in quantum physics. However, its limitation to Macintosh computers prevents its wide use. In addition, it is incompatible with some new configurations of the Macintosh operating system. The newly developed Spins software using Java overcomes the problems faced by the old program, and is publicly available on a wide variety of platforms. The old Pascal program consists primarily of a graphical user interface (GUI) and quantum probability calculations, which necessarily employ real and imaginary ( complex) numbers. The new Java program completely rewrites the GUI portions, and has a totally different data structure due to different programming design and implementation styles between the Object­-Oriented programming paradigm and the imperative-programming (Procedure-Oriented) paradigm. In addition, some new features are added to make this program have more functionalities and flexibility, and an applet is also available to make this simulated experiment accessible through the world-wide-web (WWW).
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