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Wednesday, April 11, 2007
  Ray-tracing software teaching physics...
Ok, I'll admit it... This is a pretty geeky post.

My son Jack was doing some artwork tonight at the dining room table, and at one point he had 2 playing cards standing up, just slightly apart, slipped into the groove in the table (where the leaf connects in), and he had noticed an interesting pattern in the shadow. I tried to explain to him that it was caused because there were multiple points of light coming from the ceiling light.

The situation reminded me of some really cool software that I hadn't touched in a long time.

So I whipped downstairs, downloaded it and took a trip down memory lane and created a series of renderings...

Here's what the cards would like like with a single light source:

and here's what they look like with 2 light sources that are offset:

In addition to the scene being brighter, notice the interesting pattern in the shadow, in particular that triangle in the middle, which is caused because the light coming in between the cards is coming from the 2 distinct light sources and thus passing at different angles...

The base POV-Ray software doesn't include a modeler, although there are modellers available, I've always enjoyed going old school... you create your scene using code that looks sort of like C, for instance, here's some of the code associated with one of the 'playing cards'

box { <-0.01, 2, -1.1> <>

texture {

pigment {

image_map { png "C:\Program Files\POV-Ray for Windows v3.6\imagemap\bicycle_blue.png"

translate <0,0,0.05>


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A personal blog by John Walter.

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I think a lot. Some people say I think too much... However, I don't want to be seen as being aloof or pretentious, it's just that I really enjoy philosophical questions and deep thoughts. That's not to say that I don't find pleasure in more down-to-earth or trivial things, like beer and soccer :) I'm happily married with 3 wonderful children. I'm a partner in a technology services company based in Toronto. Myers Briggs says I'm an ENTJ

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