BrainFlux
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BrainFluxBrainFlux
AboutAbout
PhilosophyPhilosophy
Build ProcessBuild Process
Software UsedSoftware Used
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MathMath
Number TheoryNumber Theory
Calculus of VariationsCalculus of Variations
Fourier AnalysisFourier Analysis
PhysicsPhysics
Special RelativitySpecial Relativity
Quantum MechanicsQuantum Mechanics

(Read this when your mind needs a break from Math and Physics...)

What am I trying to do here?

My goal is to put a lot of math and physics concepts on the web, and to do it The Right Way. I'm not trying to sell something or simply use the latest internet-enabled, java-powered buzzwords. What is The Right Way to do this? I'm not completely sure, but for the last few years I have been thinking about how I would have liked to learn these concepts: A conceptual introduction, lots of visual and interactive demonstrations of the concepts, intuitive motivations for equations, and links at every step of structured mathematical derivations to detailed explanations. The Right Way is elusive because everybody has different math and physics backgrounds when they visit any given topic and people learn differently. The majority of intelligent people motivated to learn math and physics seem to appreciate a very visual and intuitive explanation rather than pure definition/axiom/proof style, so I hope I'm on to something here.

Target Audience?

My friends have complimented me on my ability to clearly explain concepts that they learned, but which never fully solidified in their minds. I've tried to bring that clarity here, but it's more difficult because I can't adjust the presentation to everybody's math and physics background, I don't have the interactive exchange to know where the difficult points are, and waving my hands and scribbling incoherent figures on a napkin simply isn't tolerable on the web. I guess my audience is anybody who has heard about these concepts and is looking on the web for a good explanation. Also people who have learned this stuff, but don't necesarily remember why something is or where it came from. For the topics I cover, I hope that it's farily self-contined because I hate reading about something only to have it related to a hundred other topics I know nothing about. If any of this is used in a classorom setting, it too would make me very happy, though I haven't structured it that way. (This picture is of mostly prospective physics students in my dorm room.)

Who are you?

My name is Jason Gallicchio, and I'm currently a third year graduate student in Physics at Harvard, on my way to a Ph.D. My undergraduate degree is in Electrical Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. What authority do I have? None, really. I've taken a bunch of classes, but certainly can't claim to have been using all of this stuff for years and years of my research life. What I lack in experience, I make up in remembering what it was like to learn these concepts for the first time.

How did this all start?

I was sitting in my Electromagnetism and Optics classes at UIUC staring at the poorly photocopied hand drawings of time-varying 3D fields and knew there must be a better way. Reading a derivation, coming to a crucial step where they invoke some obscure theorem, and desperately trying to click on the page with my finger to take me to its explanation and proof also played a role.

How do you make money from this?

I don't make any money. I want all of this information to be free not only in the free-as-in-beer sense, but in the open GNU-project sense where all of the pages, programs, and source code are available to anybody as long as they give brainflux.org credit and keep everything equally open. I don't want people to be distracted from the beautiful concepts by trying to catch the monkey in a banner ad either. If somebody feels compeled to donate money to this cause, especially if they're using this for a class or if they would have paid somebody to create similar content, I promise I would spend it for good, not evil.

Will there ever be a BrainFlux book?

(or a Jason Gallicchio action figure?)

No. I don't want to sell my soul to a publisher and go through the unfortunate experience of Eric Weinsten's Mathworld. More importantly, everything is written specifically for being viewed in real time on the web with full color animations, interactive applets, and links to explanations and related concepts. I have tried to make a printable version of everything -- I value to convenience of having a high resolution printed reference that I can spread out on my table or read in a park.

Can I contribute?

Yes! Anything from mailing me a clear derivation that I can type up to getting an account and creating the XML/3D Models/Java Code. I'll while I'll give you credit, the information, source code, and models all have to be open like everything else on the site. I won't grantee it'll go up until it fits with the style and quality of what's already here, but I will work together with you on this. So far, it's just me and the infrastructure isn't really stable enough to want to unleash it on you unless you're really excited about it.

What's with the name?

It was the first thing I came up with that wasn't already taken. Something about a high flux of knowledge going into your brain. Really, this is all because my high school physics teacher and good friend Mr. Taska hates the ridiculous over-use of the term flux.

I think physicists are the Peter Pans of the human race. They never grow up, and they keep their curiosity. -- I. I. Rabi