Summary of Tensor "Glyph" Movies and VRML Files

A "glyph" is a visual representation that communicates a key idea or function nonverbally. For example highway signs are very simple glyphs that visually respresent an activity related to the driver on the highway such as a deer or school crossing shown as simple images of a jumping deer or children walking.

The glyph shown on the front page of this web page visual represents a fourth order tensor which is physically equivalent to a stress wave uniformly propagating in all directions simultaneously. Since anisotropic materials exhibit higher stiffnesses in certain directions, stress waves propagate faster in those directions resulting in nonspherical shapes.

Below we provide technical information on this particular tensor (wave propagation) glyph:

Questions or comments, please contact Ron Kriz at

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Ronald D. Kriz
Virginia Tech

Revised May 1, 2000