CAAM 335 Physical Laboratory


The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries witnessed momentous progress in our understanding of the world. The savants responsible for this progress were not physicists, nor astronomers, nor mathematicians, but rather natural philosophers, masters who drew upon a range of skills to attack the fundamental questions that surrounded them. Since their time these tools have been perfected, extended, specialized. For example, the development of matrix techniques and spectral theory during the nineteenth century provided a mechanism for organizing and understanding ever-larger physical models.

Too often in our classrooms, such mathematical techniques are separated from the applications that motivate them. Our goal is to supplement undergraduate linear algebra education with a series of physical laboratories that make tangible -- and extend -- the material typically covered in such a course. Inverse problems form a prevailing theme, arising in the context of electrical impedance tomography, structures, and vibrating systems.

Pendulum Video

The compound pendulum shown below reenacts a 1733 experiment of Daniel Bernoulli in Lab 8.