Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'd like to create a very rough animation of a wave crashing on a beach. I'm guessing it would have to be a particle simulator, where you code in the forces between the particles and then integrate forward in time. I've done similar things, like simulations of charged particles, but there the forces are pretty straightforward, whereas here I guess I'd have to account for 1) tides 2) gravity 3) water surface tension. These seem like widely different forces acting on different scales. I don't even know where to begin. Any hints or links to papers related to this topic?

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by David Z Mar 29 at 19:08

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Homework-like questions should ask about a specific physics concept and show some effort to work through the problem. We want our questions to be useful to the broader community, and to future users. See our meta site for more guidance on how to edit your question to make it better" – David Z
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Tides are effectively trivial: they set the water level and not much else. (Unless you want to model the behavior of a choke point or a tidal flat.) –  dmckee Mar 27 '11 at 22:20
add comment

1 Answer 1

This is, no doubt, one of the biggest challenges for realistic simulations: waves crashing, hair moving under wind and whatever other movement involving turbulence will be hard to solve.

Though it is true that one can solve the equations of motion for each individual particle in a 'molecular dynamics' fashion, that is just infeasible for a system that goes beyond a few million particles. What can be done instead is to solve the equations of motion for the fluid by coarse graining the whole liquid as a homogeneous material (solving Navier-Stokes equations) but, again, if the simulation involves turbulence the equations become very time consuming.

The big question is how accurate you need your results to be: if the idea is to make it look pretty and somewhat real there are a couple of models - mainly for graphical processors (gpu) - that can be used to simulate waves. There is a really nice (and recent) overview on the subject at Science called "Computation Physics in Film". I think it will answer most of your remaining questions.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.