Force-based Physical Simulations

In Interactive Graphics class, we've started working with particle systems, which are an alternative to time-based or implicit ways of making things move. Basically this is to better simulate organic ways of movement. A good example of this kind of animation can be found at Soda Play.

As such, we're using two natural laws to start governing movement: Newton's Law and Hooke's Law. Newton's Law is Force=Mass*Acceleration or Acceleration = Force/Mass. Hooke's Law deals with elasticity or in Processing terms, springs. Hooke's Law states that the extension of a spring (or other stretchy object) is directly proportional to the force acting on it. Written in math, this is Force = - spring constant * the displacement of the spring from its natural state. Or F=-kx. Combining the two laws gives us the equation Acceleration = -kx/mass. We're also then using dampness aka friction as a force acting against velocity.

If you have no idea what I just said, don't worry; I barely do either. (In addition to skipping Trig, I also didn't take physics in high school. You'd never guess I went to a prestigious private school, would you?) It's enough to know that we've started making animations that move more naturally, bringing physics into the inorganic vacuum that is the digital medium.

Originally posted on Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Search Entries

O Danny Boy is About Me, Dan Saffer, and has my Portfolio, Resumé, Blog, and some Extras. It also has the blog I kept of my graduate studies and ways to Contact Me.