Allen Olson   Arlen Speights
phone: 867-5485   867-5076
email ( olsona   speighta


Explore basic principles of physics and visual perception while using Macromedia's Flash MX to represent various phenomena and create different effects. Light, color and motion as well as perspective, illusions and other phenomena of visual perception will be studied in the context of physics and psychology. Concepts will be explored through laboratory exercises and by creating Web animations using Flash and ActionScript in a series of small and large projects.

An 8 credit program
meeting Wednesdays 6 to 10
and five Saturdays 9 to 5
winter quarter 2004
CRN : 20185

Meeting place: Lecture Hall 5


Credit will be awarded in introductory physics and psychology as well as ActionScript programming and Flash development.


  • Newtonian Physics by Ben Crowell
  • The Shadow Club by Roberto Casati
  • Certified Macromedia Flash MX Developer Study Guide
    by Neeld Tanksley, Luke Bayes, and John Elstad
  • Action Script for Flash MX Pocket Reference
    by Colin Moock

On reserve in the library:

  • Color and Light in Nature by David Lynch and William Livingston
  • Perception by Irvin Rock
  • Seeing the Light by David Falk, Dieter Brill, and David Stork

This program will be presented in five modules.

  • In weeks 1 and 2, we will discuss shadows, light, and color. We will review some mathematical and conceptual issues related to science in general and physics in particular. And we will learn how to create simple objects in Flash and create web pages which display Flash movie clips.

  • In weeks 3 and 4, we will discuss color vision, constancy, and depth perception. We will also investigate reflection, refraction, and related phenomena. We will use Flash to create images which change over time. And we will look at some useful and powerful concepts of calculus.

  • In weeks 5 and 6, we will turn to the physics and perception of motion. To do this, we will have to discuss force, velocity, acceleration, and vectors. We will use Flash to display moving objects and begin to use ActionScript to control the motion of those objects.

  • In weeks 7 and 8, we will investigate how form and organization affect our perception. We will continue to work on vectors and motion, including circular motion and motion in three dimensions. We will focus on using ActionScript to bring these motions to the computer screen.

  • In weeks 9 and 10, we will wrap up our use of Flash, but we will push on in physics to consider the question "What is light?" We will look at the historical development of ideas about light culminating in Maxwell's equations.

What we will do
What we won't do
  • Study phenomena related to light and motion from the perspective of physics and from the perspective of visual perception.
  • Discuss and/or conduct laboratory exercises related to the phenomena of physics and visual perception which we are studying.
  • Investigate various mathematical tools and notations which make it easier to understand physics and which make it easier to program the behavior of objects in Flash. Among those we will approach are vectors and calculus.
  • Build skills in Flash's core graphics and animation features.
  • Study the physics of energy, momentum, waves or electromagnetism.
  • Study the mechanisms of perception in terms of biology, biochemistry, or other natural sciences.
  • Master the mathematics of vector calculus.
  • Learn animation techniques beyond those applicable to Flash.
  • Make extensive use in Flash of scenes, external data manipulation, or complex interactivity.
  • Create Flash animations that do not directly relate to the program content.