Today, we are going to … I’m going to talk about … I’m going to present you a computer simulation. It’s not just any simulation, it is a simulation of body acceleration in gravitational field. Wow, physics! Yes! 😎
In particular, it simulates how space shuttle should be accelerating near planet, and use it’s gravitational field to accelerate. I’m not a physician, so I won’t talk about physics theory, but it is good to know something about Newton’s three laws, Newton’s gravitation law (or formula of gravity), Kepler’s laws, and conservation of energy. Ok, the last would be nice to know for analytic solution of body’s trajectory in gravitational field of a planet. Unless you are physician, or mathematician, you should use numerical solution for solving simulation problems, because it can be good enough 🙂 Enough, it you do your best do reduce error. In this simulation, that could be done reducing time step for numerical formula. Since reducing time step would shorten the path that object traverses, animation would be veeeery slow. I guess I could overcome this problem, but it is very appealing right now, or appealing enough 🙂
The simulation lets you set body’s initial coordinates and initial velocity, when dragging mouse. When you release the left mouse button, body starts to move, by numerical formula, and you get yourself an animation 🙂 Real eye cookie 😎 You can turn on statistics monitor, and also a body’s velocity vector in it’s little coordinate system in down right place of the simulation. You can also change planets. All 9. You can say, well Pluto is no longer a planet. Ok, that’s true, but I have found a png images of a planets and Pluto’s was there, so I added it in 🙂 Yey, my simulation has 9 planets! Anyway, simulation has configuration file, where you can change masses of planets, since my masses are not very realistic, not even for comparing between two planets in solar system.
Software used for this simulation is Python 2.7 and PyGame library.
You can download it here.