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Faculty Profiles

Bruce Sherwood

Nano Research Area

  • Social & Education Nanoscience

Research Summary

Prof. Ruth Chabay of the physics department and I have developed a novel curriculum and textbook for the calculus-based introductory physics course which emphasizes the following:

  1. The atomic nature of matter. This is unusual, as the traditional intro physics course contains little physics later than 1860.

  2. The reductionist nature of contemporary physics, that from a small number of powerful fundamental principles and simple atomic models of matter it is possible to explain and understand a very broad range of real-world phenomena.

  3. Computational physics. Students write computer programs to model physical systems.

This curriculum is currently being used in large courses at NCSU, Purdue, and Georgia Tech, as well as at a number of small institutions.

The computational environment within which the students write programs to model physical systems is called VPython ( This is an open-source project, based on Python, for which I am the gatekeeper.

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