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Virtually Physics

Submitted by Arts & Sciences Web Team on August 5, 2019 - 5:00pm
A physics student wears an immersive headset to attempt a physics experiment in virtual reality.
Using a immersive headset to do a physics experiment in virtual reality.

In a recent undergraduate physics lab, students donned immersive headsets and held controllers in both hands to conduct an experiment in virtual reality (VR). As they manipulated objects in the virtual world, physics doctoral student Jared Canright bounced around the room, answering questions and addressing glitches. For the undergraduates, the VR experience was a novel way to learn a challenging physics concept. For Canright, it was an important step in his graduate research.

Canright is intrigued by the potential for using virtual reality in physics education. While some physics concepts — gravity, for example — are readily experienced in the real world, others are far more difficult to demonstrate.  He believes VR may provide a way to observe those less tangible...

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