All posts by Ruth Chabay

Which version of VPython should I use?

For the introductory physics course:

We strongly recommend GlowScript VPython.  Here’s why:

  • No installation is required — students work in a browser
  • Students do not need to cope with folders and file extensions — all work is stored in the cloud
  • The interface is simple and straightforward
  • Programs in a student’s public folder can be shared simply by giving a URL

Students who have no previous experience coding are comfortable working in this familiar environment.

For a more advanced physics or computational physics course:

We recommend using VPython 7 either in a Jupyter Notebook or in an IDE such as Spyder.

  • Learning to install Python and VPython is appropriate for students at this level
  • A standard Python installation such as Anaconda provides access to the full Python ecology of scientific computational modules (which are not available in GlowScript VPython).
  • More sophisticated editing and debugging tools are available

See for details on how to install VPython 7 with Anaconda, and which version of Spyder to use.


WebAssign price increase rolled back (2017/01/09)

A price increase for students using WebAssign for spring 2017 has been delayed until March 15, so that students in the second semester of a two-semester course will still be able to purchase only the homework (without the ebook) from WebAssign.   It will take several days for this option to become active on the WebAssign website.  In the meantime, students who have purchased the bundled homework / ebook package will be offered a refund from WebAssign.  They may then use the 2 week payment grace period until the homework-only option becomes active, at which point they may purchase the homework-only option.

After March 15 the only option for students will be to purchase the ebook/homework bundle at WebAssign.

We are grateful to Wiley and WebAssign for agreeing to delay this cost increase to allow students in two-semester courses to continue using WebAssign at the same rate for the rest of the academic year.

Spanish translation

The first volume of Matter & Interactions is now available in a Spanish translation:

Materia e Interacciones I: Mecánica moderna. R. Chabay and B. Sherwood (2015).  México, Trillas.

We extend our deepest thanks to all of the physicists, from four different countries, who translated the book.

La traducción del volumen I de Materia e Interacciones estuvo a cargo de un gran equipo de profesores de Física de diferentes países de habla hispana, quienes han trabajado voluntariamente.  El esfuerzo estuvo coordinado por:

Dr. Genaro Zavala Enríquez, Profesor Investigador y Director del Departamento de Física del Tecnológico de Monterrey en Monterrey, Nuevo León, México

Los profesores que participaron en la traducción fueron:

Dr. Gonzalo Fuster Roa, Académico del Departamento de Física de la Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria, Valpariso, Chile

Dra. Valeria del Campo, Investigadora del Departamento de Física de la Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria, Valpariso, Chile

Dra. Karen Milena, Profesora Asociada del Departamento de Física de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia en Bogotá D.C., Colombia

Dr. Víctor Rodríguez López, Profesor e Investigador de la Escuela de las Ciencias y Tecnología de la Universidad Metropolitana en San Juan, Puerto Rico

Dr. Jaime Arturo Vélez Pardo, Profesor del Instituto de Física de la Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales de la Universidad de Antioquia en Medellín, Colombia

Dr. Hugo Alarcón Opazo, Director de la Comunidad de Investigación en Docencia para Ingeniería y Ciencias de la Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria, Valpariso, Chile

Profesor Viktor Slüsarenko Stachniw, Académico del Departamento de Física de la Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria, Valpariso, Chile

A translation of the second volume, Electric & Magnetic Interactions, is in progress.

Computational physics books using Python / VPython

There are now a number of upper-level computational physics books that use Python and  VPython.  These include:

A Survey of Computational Physics: Introductory Computational Science, Rubin H. Landau, Manual J. Paez, Cristian Bordeianu (2011), Princeton.

Computational Physics with Python, Mark Newman (2012), Createspace.

An Introduction to Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics, Robert H. Swendsen (2012), Oxford.

Equilibrium Statistical Physics With Computer Simulations in Python, Leonard M. Sander (2013), Createspace.

Computational Modeling and Visualization of Physical Systems with Python,  Jay Wang (2016), Wiley.

VPython news

VPython is now available in two new modalities:

GlowScript VPython runs in a browser and requires no installation.  Files are saved automatically.  This is a very easy way for novices to begin using VPython.

Jupyter VPython runs in a Jupyter notebook, and provides full access to the entire Python ecology.  Recommended for more advanced users.

For more information, see

Aaron Titus joins M&I team

We are very pleased to announce that Aaron Titus is joining us in the further development of Matter & Interactions. His immediate interest is in extending the instructor resources to include contributions from the M&I community. He will be a co-author in future editions of the M&I textbook. Aaron was one of the first adopters of M&I, and of VPython.

Aaron is Chair of the Department of Physics at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina. He helped create the physics department and helped lead its rapid growth. He and Larry Martin created the WebAssign computer homework system. He has served on the board of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He is well-known in AAPT circles, among college and high school teachers alike. He gives frequent talks and workshops, many of which feature M&I and VPython. Aaron has used many kinds of software in his educational endeavors. He recently developed and taught a course for non-science majors on “Physics  for Video Games” in which students develop games using VPython.  He is a co-author (with Joe Heafner) of the Solutions Manual and Student Solutions Manual for the 4th edition of M&I.

Ruth and Bruce