Dr Tim Drysdale is a Senior Lecturer in Electronics at The Open University, Milton Keynes. Fascinated with waves from an early age, Tim once took the opportunity to use famous New Zealand still-water beauty-spot Lake Mattheson as a experimental water wave tank, raising the ire of a so-called photographer who had waited a long time to take exactly the same shot as many who had gone before them. Science vs art, eh!

Well despair no more...in this talk both art and science come together, to make the visualisation of electromagnetic waves as visually appealing as possible. We can all see light, but we cannot see how it does what it does. In 2016 we celebrate 50 years of a seminal paper in the field that made it possible for computers to solve Maxwell's equations with a minimum of assumptions, and therefore a maximum of predictive power, laying bare the inner workings of electromagnetics for anyone that cared to punch enough cards to feed the mainframe.

Things move on, and now you can access Maxwell's equations in your browser, with a research-grade simulator (albeit with retro 1980's boundary conditions) running directly on your graphics card, with no files to download or cards to punch. Use your mouse to draw your own geometries and discover Maxwell's beautiful equations for yourself...

Take me to the simulator!


This is an interactive simulation, and it needs a modern graphics card to handle the demands we put on it. If you can't see the simulation, you can check out a video of the start-up demo here:

During the talk, I'll use the simulator to draw different structures, and run waves through them, so you can see how things in the world around us really work behind the scenes. Meantime, here are the keys, go take it for a spin round the block.

Take me to the simulator!

p.s. This simulator is adapted from WebGL Water by graphics guru Evan Wallace. He was kind enough to release his work under the MIT license so folks like me could come along and stick something else under the hood entirely. If you are that way inclined yourself, then here's my code, meatballs and all: webgl-fdtd code



The Open University
Engineering and Innovation
Venables Building
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK

tim dot drysdale at open dot ac dot uk