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On Remote And Virtual Experiments In Elearning In Statistical Mechanics And Thermodynamics

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Technology in the Physics Classroom

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1120.1 - 12.1120.10



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Paper Authors

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Sabina Jeschke University of Stuttgart

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Olivier Pfeiffer Technische Universitat Berlin

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Thomas Richter Technische Universitat Berlin

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Harald Scheel Technische Universitat Berlin

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Christian Thomsen

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

On Remote and Virtual Experiments in eLearning in Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics Abstract

The science of physics is built on theories and models as well as on experiments. Theories and models structure relations and simplify reality to such a degree that predictions on physical phe- nomena can be derived by means of mathematics. Experiments allow to verify — or falsify — those predictions. Computer sciences allow a new access to this relationship which is especially well-suited for education. New Media and New Technologies provide simulations for the model, virtual instruments for running and evaluating real experiments and mathematical toolkits to solve equations derived from the theory analytically and to compare the outcome of all three methods. We will demonstrate this approach on two examples: Ferromagnetism and elementary thermodynamics.

I. Introduction

One of the intellectual challenges when learning physics is to understand the roles of a physical theory, a physical model and that of an experiment. These terms are often intermixed and the classical curriculum offering separate lectures for theoretical and experimental physics does not make it easier for students to really comprehend their inter-relation.

Modern eLearning technology may act as a bridge as computer systems make real experiments available over the Internet any time, anywhere, and — even more important — make the meas- ured data electronically available for further analysis. On the other hand, a model for an experi- ment can be implemented as a simulation within a virtual laboratory making the same physical quantities available for measurement as in the “real” experiment. It makes it easier for a student to compare the outcome of the two approaches and to compare them again with an analytic result of a physical theory. Thereby, similarities and differences between the theory, the model and the experiment can be demonstrated and analyzed.

In this paper, we discuss two important physical systems: first, the physics of ferromagnetism and the Ising model1 as the most prominent system of statistical mechanics. Second, the physics of ideal gases and -as the corresponding theoretical model- the lattice gas model2,3 to discuss the concept of entropy phenomenologically as well as statistical thermodynamics.

II. A brief Introduction to the Physics of Magnetism

Materials react differently to an applied external magnetic field; they are either diamagnetic, paramagnetic or display effects due to the correlations of magnetic moments in the material, such as ferromagnetism or antiferromagnetism4,5. Diamagnetism and paramagnetism are weak and require relatively large external fields to make them visible. Ferromagnetism, however, is appar- ent for small external fields. Unlike dia- and paramagnetism, it is a many-body phenomenon where the elementary magnets of an otherwise paramagnetic material interact with each other and couple their magnetic moments such that a macroscopic field is generated. The magnetiza-

Jeschke, S., & Pfeiffer, O., & Richter, T., & Scheel, H., & Thomsen, C. (2007, June), On Remote And Virtual Experiments In Elearning In Statistical Mechanics And Thermodynamics Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1890

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