Makeblock's mBot

The new kid-friendly mBot from Makeblock is marketed as a Science, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) educational learning tool.

Symbolic Math on Android

For this article, I'm returning to portable science software on Android. In a previous article, I looked at a program called xcas/giac. This program is an open-source engine that is used to handle symbolic manipulation of mathematical equations. Because it is open source, it has been ported to several different platforms.

Pluto and Linux, the Underdog Superheroes

I'm a space nerd. That's probably not a surprise, but just how deep my nerdery goes might be. I have just about every space photo NASA has ever released. I schedule mission briefings on my Google Calendar as if they were specifically for me. I used to make my kids watch Shuttle launches on our TV, even if they were doing homework!

ABINIT for Chemists

The single largest group of users on high-performance computing clusters has to be the chemists. Their CPU-year count is definitely at the very top of the list. Because of this heavy use, several different packages have become standard tools that most computational chemistry researchers use.

Symbolic Algebra Everywhere

Previously in this space, I have covered software packages like Maxima that can be used to solve symbolic mathematics problems. Several packages are available that can do those types of calculations. In this article, I discuss Xcas/Giac. Xcas is the GUI interface to the system.

Recipy for Science

More and more journals are demanding that the science being published be reproducible. Ideally, if you publish your code, that should be enough for someone else to reproduce the results you are claiming. But, anyone who has done any actual computational science knows that this is not true.

Science on Android

I have covered a lot of different scientific packages that are available under Linux in this space, but the focus has been on Linux running on desktop machines. This has been rather short-sighted, however, as lots of other platforms have Linux available and shouldn't be neglected. So in this article, I start looking at the type of science you can do on the Android platform.

Finite-Element Methods for PDEs

One of the common classes of equations that is encountered in several branches of science is partial differential equations. So in this article, I look at a software package called FreeFem++ that is designed to help you calculate these partial differential equations.

Doing Astronomy with Python

One of the things that makes Python so powerful is that you can find a module for almost anything. In this article, I cover Astropy, which was originally developed by the Space Telescope Science Institute for doing astronomy calculations like image processing and observatory calculations.

General Relativity in Python

I have covered several different software packages for doing scientific computation in Linux Journal, but I haven't spent as much time describing available libraries and the kind of work that can be done with those libraries.

Physics Analysis Workstation

CERN is the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. It has been in the news quite a bit lately with the discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider. Something that many people may not know is that it also has a long tradition of developing software for scientific use.

Designing Foils with XFLR5

For any object moving through a fluid, forces are applied to the object as the fluid moves around it. A fluid can be something like water, or even something like the air around us. When the object is specifically designed to maximize the forces that the fluid can apply, you can designate these designs as airfoils. A more common name that most people would use is a wing.

Solving ODEs on Linux

Many problems in science and engineering are modeled through ordinary differential equations (ODEs). An ODE is an equation that contains a function of one independent variable and its derivatives.

Linux for Astronomers

I've looked at specialty distributions that were created for engineers and biologists in previous articles, but these aren't the only scientific disciplines that have their own distributions. So in this article, I introduce a distribution created specifically for astronomers, called Distro Astro.

Designing with Linux

3-D printers are becoming popular tools, dropping in price and becoming available to almost everyone. They can be used to build parts that you can use around the house, but more and more, they also are being used to create instruments for scientific work.

Computing without a Computer

I've covered a lot of various pieces of software that are designed to help you do scientific calculations of one type or another, but I have neglected a whole class of computational tools that is rarely used anymore. Before there was the electronic computer, computations had to be made by hand, so they were error-prone.

What's Happening above Your Head?

In the past, I've covered various astronomy packages that help you explore the universe of deep space. But, space starts a lot closer to home. It actually begins a few hundred miles above your head. There are lots of things in orbit right above you.

Getting Good Vibrations with Linux

Vibrations and wave motions describe many different physical systems. In fact, most systems that dissipate energy do so through waves of one form or another. In this article, I take a look at gvb (Good ViBrations,, a Linux application you can use to visualize and model wave motion and vibrations.

Open-Source Space

As I write this, NASA has just passed another milestone in releasing its work to the Open Source community. A press release came out announcing the release on April 10, 2014, of a new catalog of NASA software that is available as open source. This new catalog includes both older software that was previously available, along with new software being released for the first time.

Scientific Graphing in Python

In my last few articles, I looked at several different Python modules that are useful for doing computations. But, what tools are available to help you analyze the results from those computations? Although you could do some statistical analysis, sometimes the best tool is a graphical representation of the results.