Folder 9


Relax-computers are here.

Two enormous strides in human endeavour have been taken by humankind in the last hundred or so years. Engines propelled us into the industrial age and computers have taken us into the information age and this last venture has happened in my lifetime. Computer Coding at Bletchley Park was an essential part of the WWII effort and this led to our present day involvement with all things "computing".

In the 1970's my involment with computers was primitive compared with today's world. A simple example will now be given:

A simple way of analysing heat conduction is to use the so called relaxation method. A metal rod  (suitably insulated from the outside world) has a given temperature profile with the ends at Zero.

Now if end B is attached to a source at a temperature of 20 degree C, how will we expect the temperature profile to change? The relaxation method computes new temperatures along the bar from old temperatures by taking the mean values and DOING IT LOTS OF TIMES. In the 1970's the programming language Fortran was used with the cards as shown:

Graphs were very crudely plotted and the initial profile and the profile after 900 iterations are shown.

All manner of software packages are now available and screenshots from Visual Basic are shown below

Although the above exercises are simulations a physicist doing experiments must use computers and the software LABVIEW is most commonly used in current experimental work. Please see article.

Think of the complexity of CERN or the new LIDAR which detected gravitational waves - what is to come?

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