Last semester when I was studying in France, I took Electromagnetics. I really enjoyed it, especially our final project. We had to write a 2D FDTD (Finite Difference Time Domain) electromagnetic wave simulator. We had to show correct behavior for the propagation of a wave through a lens and a wave guide. We also had to handle edge conditions (literally) and make the wave behave gracefully when it hit a boundary. It was a really cool project and I wish I could share my code, but in the interest of fairness, I can’t. Students have to do it each semester and I don’t want to provide temptation for anyone to use my code. So instead, here’s a video of a line charge source excited sinusoidally and acting on a wave guide.

 

What’s really cool is that it shows how interconnected certain phenomena are. It’s no coincidence that that simulation looks a lot like water rippling. James Clerk Maxwell remains probably my favorite physicists of all time. Using only math, he was able to make an incredible amount of progress and predict several things that would be proven empirically later on. That was one of my favorite parts of Electromagnetics. We got to work through the math and see how interrelated everything is. Heck, we learned how you can figure out the speed of light using a capacitor. It was also really cool to be in Europe while I was learning all that stuff. I went to Edinburgh and looked up where Maxwell grew up and went to his house:

It’s right in the middle of a neighborhood, and the only identifying mark is a little plaque beside the door. I got to see several other scientist’s houses too, like Fermi’s house in Rome. It was pretty awesome to get to learn about these great men and then get to go explore where they grew up and the environment that they were in when they came up with all this stuff.


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