473076 Crowdsourcing Statistical Phenomena Using an Ipad-Based Brownian Dynamics Simulator

Monday, November 14, 2016: 5:05 PM
Continental 3 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Nan Shi, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA and Victor M. Ugaz, Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Scientists routinely use Brownian dynamics simulations to understand the nanoscale details governing how polymers respond to forces and deformations. But this important toolbox is generally only accessible only to a small and exclusive community of researchers possessing special expertise and high-level computing resources. Here we show how this barrier can be overcome by taking advantage of the same physics engine that powers popular games like Angry Birds to achieve significantly improved computational efficiency, making it possible to perform quantitatively accurate Brownian dynamics simulations of coarse grained (bead-spring model) polymer transport on ordinary tablet computing devices like the Apple iPad. Our app provides a visual representation of polymer coil size, relaxation phenomena, Brownian motion, and transport under an external driving force (i.e., electrophoresis). Key parameters continuously reported during the simulation include radius of gyration Rg and end-to-end length L. The tablet-based format also introduces the opportunity to re-imagine how users interact with molecular simulations by employing familiar touch screen gestures. We show how lessons based on this app can be scaled toward a range of student populations and class sizes via a crowdsourcing approach where students run independent simulations, after which the results are pooled to obtain statistics that govern collective phenomena. Accuracy is improved with more realizations, making this approach ideal for stimulating engagement in large classes.

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