(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
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.
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?)
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
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
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