Computational Science Technical Note CSTN-196


Interactive Simulation and Visualisation of Falling Sand Pictures on Tablet Computers

Bradley T. Pearce and K. A. Hawick

Archived: 2013


Sand pictures are made from a mix of coloured sands and water or oil sandwiched between two sheets of glass are a common desktop amusement. However, they also provide a good example of mixing and layering in materials science. We construct a lattice-based simulation of a sand picture based around the Kawasaki spin-exchange model with empirical couplings between cells. A Monte Carlo stochastic dynamic scheme is used to update pairs of neighboring cells using a Boltzmann like energy controlled probability process. The sand cells then diffuse around, with a preference parameter for sand to adhere to other sand cells of the same or different types. This model can be perturbed with a preferred directional gravitational force that leads to nearly correct physical phase separation of the coloured sands. The model provides a visually realistic simulation that can be rendered in real time. We implement this using Android and Java on tablet computers with inbuilt gyroscopic sensors that allow the simulated system to adapt to real gravity in interactive time. We describe the model and the implementation and software architecture for this App and the associated performance tradeoffs. We discuss possible future performance improvements using graphical processing units and other tablet specific features.

Keywords: sand picture; App; tablet computer; gravity sensor; simulation

Full Document Text: PDF version.

Citation Information: BiBTeX database for CSTN Notes.

BiBTeX reference:

        author = {Bradley T. Pearce and K. A. Hawick},
        title = {Interactive Simulation and Visualisation of Falling Sand Pictures
                on Tablet Computers},
        booktitle = {Proc. 10th International Conference on Modeling, Simulation and Visualization
                Methods )MSV'13)},
        year = {2013},
        number = {CSTN-196},
        pages = {MSV2341},
        address = {Las Vegas, USA},
        month = {22-25 July},
        publisher = {WorldComp},
        institution = {Computer Science, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand},
        keywords = {sand picture; App; tablet computer; gravity sensor; simulation},
        owner = {kahawick},
        timestamp = {2013.03.19}

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