Term Project - Ideas, Advice, and Actual Projects

This is a collection of information designed to help you come up with a workable term project topic. Also see the Term Project Guidelines.

__Answers from Fall 2012 class to the question of, “Do you have any
advice to next year’s students when picking out a term project topic?”__

- Be reasonable about what you can accomplish/willing to adjust as you work on it.
- Choose a project that covers a wide variety of topics from the labs and one you know you can finish before the presentations.
- Choose something that has steps. Choose a project that you can build off of if you have time, but could still work if you run into problems.
- Do something Mathematica-intensive, not math-intensive. It will be a lot more interesting.
- Do something related to what you are learning in other classes. it helps solidify knowledge.
- Do something that is interesting to you so the time spent doing it is enjoyable.
- Do something you are familiar with because the chances are that you do not know how to do it in mathematic.
- Do what you love. This project should be something you get excited about. I loved mine so much that I am still playing with and modifying it.
- Don't feel threatened by the vagueness of the assignment. Just do it.
- Don't worry too much about getting in enough hours working on it. Things can take a lot longer than you would expect when you want it to look good.
- Explore a topic being discussed in another class, so you already have the physics and math resources for help. Or explore a mathematica function you enjoy. (Loops, Plot3D, etc.)
- Find something that you can explain and talk about
- I would suggest going to the Wolfram demonstrations page (as long as you can keep your eyes off the solution code) for ideas.
- It will be harder/more complicated than you are expecting
- Iit will most likely be harder than you think it will be
- Just assume that whatever you plan won't work out exactly how you planned it.
- Just choose something that is interesting to you
- Keep in mind what you think you can do before picking something.
- Make it fun, and don't stress too much. Pick something that interests you or that you've learned recently in your current physics classes.
- Make it fun. Base it on something else you are learning about, maybe another physics class. Start thinking about it early.
- Pick a project on a topic that you understand mostly.
- Pick out something that fascinates you, and that you're sincerely interested in.
- Pick something hard, that way you can always make it easier as you go on.
- Pick something that you find interesting.
- Pick something that you're interested in and to make sure you have enough time for it.
- Pick something you don't think you can do, then find a way to do it.
- Start extremely small. Things get very complicated very quickly, so you should start with a basic problem that you would like to solve.
- Start thinking about broad topic ideas at the beginning of the class and then make it more specific when the project time comes.
- Start thinking about ideas at the very start of the semester. As you go through the labs, think of interesting things in Mathematica that you would like to learn more about.

__ Actual Projects Done (Fall 2013)__ (these are given not so that
you choose any of these topics, but so that you get a sense of the size/scope of
the project)

*Directly related to Physics topics*

- A virtual piano, which played sounds as the user clicked on different keys. The sounds could be chosen from (a) sine waves, (b) sine waves with higher harmonics built up to sound more piano-like, or (c) actual recorded notes from a real piano
- Animating drumhead vibrations
- Animation of waves going through a double-slit and producing an inteference pattern
- Calculating planetary info such as the Roche Limit and Hill radius
- Density plots of electron orbitals (wavefunction squared), through n = 5
- Depicting the potential energy “well” as planets move around the solar system, without the sun.
- Estimating electron affinity by modeling shielding effects of inner electrons
- Interactions between two charged particles: trajectories and time dependence of electric fields
- Modeling energies of an ionized hydrogen molecule: potential, rotational, and vibrational
- Motion of a charged object in a magnetic field - calculating initial conditions needed to strike moving target
- Motion of a group of charged particles in response to the electric field produced by the particles
- Plotting harmonics (Fourier transform) vs. time as volume of a saxophone increases
- Plotting Hohmann transfer orbits
- Plotting the wavefunction of a particle in a square well (infinite and finite)
- Plotting trajectories of charged particles in user-specified B-fields
- Ray tracing for single lenses: both positive and negative focal lengths, both positive and negative object distances, and both positive and negative (real/virtual) image distances.
- Recording and analzying (Fourier transform) pitches sung or played into a microphone
- Simulation of 2D inelastic collisions; relativistic vs. nonrelativistic momentum
- Simulation of rocks being dropped into a "ripple tank" and forming interfering circular waves
- Visualizing what the QM wave function means by depicting electrons popping in and out of existence inside the probability cloud, for a lithium atom

*Not very closely related to Physics, but which I still approved*

- Creating a Clue-like game, where the computer gives answers to your guesses about "Who-done-it"
- Creating a Mastermind-like game, where the computer gives responses to your guess about which number it's thinking of
- Cryptography: encoding and decoding messages with two ciphers (Affine and RSA)
- Explorations in efficiency: solving problems from projecteuler.net

**Some other possible ideas for future projects
(from Dr. Colton & the Fall 2012 TAs)**

- A re-creation of the Rutherford experiment, where a scatter plot animation could show alpha particle impacts as a function of theta and alpha particle velocity.
- Collision simulator with graphics that can take before velocities and masses of two objects, and can also have a variable elasticity to the collision.
- Do something cool with integrated data sources
- Figure out how mp3 sound compression works and write your own mp3 (or mp3-like) algorithm to compress and play back sounds.
- Fit blackbody radiation curves to Plank spectrum
- Prepare an animation to demonstrate a concept for a Wikipedia article
- Solve and animate a projectile problem, possibly creating a “cannon game”. Incorporate air resistance with variable drag coefficients, if time permits.
- Time-dependent vibrations of strings, for arbitrary initial conditions (as done in Durfee’s 123 book: take Fourier transform of initial shape, do time evolution of each Fourier component separately, then add the time-dependent results back together)
- Yo-yo simulator that would show a falling yo-yo that would take into account mass, axle radius, moment of inertia, etc. and calculate the total acceleration. Perhaps even calculate the number of rotations, final velocity, fall time, etc. If time, it could also allow for different shapes of yo-yos (square, triangle, hoop)