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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

The Optics Project on the Web: WebTOP
Author(s): John T. Foley; Taha Mzoughi; S. Davis Herring; Matt Morris; Peter J. Gilbert; David T. Moore

Paper Abstract

WebTOP is a three-dimensional, interactive computer graphics system developed at Mississippi State University to help students learn about waves and optics. It has been used to help teach undergraduate introductory physics and upper-level optics classes. Currently, it is comprised of sixteen modules spanning eight different subject areas. The subject areas are waves, geometrical optics, reflection and refraction, polarization, interference, diffraction, lasers, and scattering. WebTOP simulations have the following characteristics. First, they are three dimensional, i.e., they have navigation controls that allow the user to rotate the scene, pan, or zoom, in order to view it from any desired orientation. Secondly, they are interactive. The user can change the parameters either by typing in the desired values into the appropriate text entry box, or by using the mouse cursor to move the appropriate widget in the scene. Thirdly, the simulations are animated, for those phenomena for which animation is appropriate. Furthermore, the simulations include VCR-type controls that allow the user to record his/her interactions with the simulation for later retrieval, viewing, and editing. Finally, these modules run inside a web browser. They can be run from our website,, or they can be downloaded from this website and run on the user’s local machine. This paper provides an overview of WebTOP and a description of each of the modules.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 October 2003
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 9663, Eighth International Topical Meeting on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics, 96630K (6 October 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.2207350
Show Author Affiliations
John T. Foley, Mississippi State Univ. (United States)
Taha Mzoughi, Mississippi State Univ. (United States)
S. Davis Herring, Mississippi State Univ. (United States)
Matt Morris, Mississippi State Univ. (United States)
Peter J. Gilbert, Mississippi State Univ. (United States)
David T. Moore, Mississippi State Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9663:
Eighth International Topical Meeting on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics
Barry L. Shoop; Grover Swartzlander, Editor(s)

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