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The science and math of simulation

2011 January 6
by smonani

AAAS’s recent issue of Science has a short little article that I thought I’d share. Computer scientists Robert Bridson and Christopher Batty’s “Computational Physics in Film” reminds us that coupling art and science can make for some “spellbinding” action. While audiences ooh-and-aah at the artistic genius of special effects or marvel at the technological wizardy that enables these creations, the article draws attention to the oft ignored equations, algorithms, and numerical modeling that most often serve as the foundation for simulated cinematic animations. As the authors summarize: “Compared with more traditional animation methods that rely chiefly on artists’ efforts, numerical solutions to the equations of physics allow computers to calculate realistic motion, such of that of smoke, fire, explosions, water, rubble, clothing, hair, muscles, and skin. Algorithmic advances now afford artists a higher-level, more efficient role in guiding the physics as they produce animation. We provide an overview here of current challenges in physics-based animation.”

The authors also include the following example that’s up on youtube (from where you can access more examples).

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