Physics is a natural science concerned with the study of matter and energy applying laws that govern natural phenomena. It encompasses the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to subatomic particles, covering mechanics, radiation, heat, electricity, sound, magnetism and the structure of atoms.
A good background of physics is essential in understanding our planet, our neighbouring planets, our solar system, and the universe. It offers explanations for every observed natural phenomenon. Physics is widely regarded as the most central and fundamental science and forms the basis of many other sciences including astronomy, chemistry, biology, oceanography, seismology, and zoology.
Physics is an incredibly stimulating science, challenging our imagination with quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, chaos theory, and electromagnetism. It has contributed to modern society with the development of lasers, computers, homeland security, power transmission, biomedicine and drug development, cancer therapy, medical imaging, light sources, and much more.
Science really prospers and advances when individuals share the results of their experiments with others in the scientific community. There is a certain logic that scientific software should therefore be released under an open source license. This article focuses on selecting the best open source software for physics and physics education. Hopefully there will be something for interest here for all budding physicists.
Here’s our rating for each of the physics tools.
So, let’s explore the 15 physics tools at hand. For each application we have compiled its own portal page, providing a screenshot of the software in action, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.
|ROOT||Solves the data analysis challenges of high-energy physics|
|OpenFOAM||Facilitates the numerical solution of partial differential equations|
|McStas||Neutron ray-trace simulation application|
|Octopus||Real-space, real-time implementation of TDDFT|
|Elmer||Finite Element Software for Multiphysical Problems|
|Geant4||Toolkit for the simulation of the passage of particles through matter|
|CP2K||Quantum chemistry and solid state physics software package|
|Step||Interactive physics simulator|
|PYTHIA||Generation of high-energy physics events|
|ASL||Hardware accelerated multiphysics simulation platform|
|FastJet||Software for jet finding in pp and e+e− collisions|
|Tracker||Video analysis and modeling tool designed to be used in education|
|CompHEP||Automatic computations in High Energy Physics|
|LHAPDF||General purpose C++ interpolator|
|Gerris Flow Solver||Tool for generic numerical simulations of flows|
Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.