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We would like to build a computational model capable of accurately predicting the position of any object inside a chamber at any given time.

Inside the model we would have a number of smaller objects in movement, this movement being induced by a double pair of spoon shaped in + formation being moved by a motor powered by a 12V DC power supply.

(Initially thought to use a Air pump, but apparently it would only complicate matters, and since the main goal is keeping the objects in movement, this new approach will suffice.)

Chamber details:

  • Material: Lexan (maybe, accepting recommendations)
  • Shape: Cylindrical.
  • Inside radius: 1 meter.
  • Height: 0.5 meters.
  • Wall thickness: 2 centimeter.

Objects inside chamber:

  • Material: Lexan (maybe, accepting recommendations)
  • Amount: 5 to 50. (stages in the experiment)
  • Shape: Spherical.
  • Overall Radius: 5, 10 and 15 centimeters.
  • Some will be solid, while others will not, in the later assume:
  • Wall thickness: 0.05, 0.10 and 0.15 centimeters.

With this kind of chamber and objects in mind, the model would need to take into account the following factors:

  • Gravity
  • Position and temperature of the chamber
  • Initial position of each object inside the chamber.
  • Collision of object(s) with another object(s) or the chamber interior, and the movement inducing + spoon shaped rotating pads, and of course their subsequent reaction considering the nature of the objects themselves: mass, size, shape, material employed, velocity, direction, (include others you deem necessary).

It is my believe if we take all these factors in consideration (and other important ones I might be neglecting), it would be possible to predict the position of all objects at any given time. With this I think it is then possible to chart the course of all objects in any given time frame, from start to rest position, with a very low margin for error. Such margin being exponential to the size of the time frame in question, therefore being a 5 minutes range, should present minor discrepancies with an actual live model.

If I'm right about all of this, were do you suggest a handful of teammates more proficient in programming, not very much in physics itself, to start with such endeavor.

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The process seems to be highly chaotic with the turbulent flow from the pump. It seems unlikely that you can predict the final positions after 5 minutes within any reasonable accuracy. –  Bernhard Dec 7 '12 at 11:53
Okay, with the problem more clearly defined, I'd have to agree with @Bernhard . This is an extremely complex problem to solve, even for one body moving freely in air. The biggest difficulty is really in determining the interactions between the air flow and the objects. Turbulence will be high and simulating turbulence accurately is very challenging and expensive, especially if you require time accuracy. Statistical calculations would make this potentially more tractable, but even then I don't know how feasible it is to simulate. –  tpg2114 Dec 7 '12 at 12:29
I changed what device will induce movement to the smaller objects inside the chamber, please review the question. I believe this way we will have a higher degree of accuracy without the pump, and instead use a + formation of paddles spoon shaped to keep the objects in motion. –  Fábio Antunes Dec 9 '12 at 2:22
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