Prof. Derin A. Sherman

West Science Room 021

I am a physics professor at Cornell College. My research interests include non-invasive medical imaging technology and photovoltaics. I am also interested in optical illusions and fractal growth phenomena, as well as innovative science education.

I teach a number of classes, including the PHY 312 advanced lab course, and PHY 125 Science through Film and Fiction.

I am also known for making cookies.

Instructional Technology

Technology I use to help me teach. Includes:

Educational videos

Educational video clips created by myself and my students. Includes:

Optical Illusions

Deceptions of the senses are the truths of perception. This means that optical illusions provide the means to understand how we perceive the world. Visual stimuli are often ambiguous, yet we do a surprisingly good job at reconstructing the real world. Use the illusions on this page to help determine how we are able to make sense of what we see.

Blender Physics Game

The Blender physics game is a game I created that permits students to perform a number of physics experiments in a virtual world. The game uses the Blender program which is freely available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. Students can easily modify this program to create their own simple physics experiments. Blender can be used to perform simple mechanics experiments in real time. It can also be used to perform fluid dynamics experiments and geometrical optics experiments.


Fractals are objects that display self-similarity: a piece of the object is similar to the entire object. Many objects in nature display fractal behavior. These include fern leaves, clouds, coastlines, lightning, arterial branching, colloidal aggregation, and bacterial growth patterns. The figure to the right shows a fractal pattern on a sea shell. The pattern consists of triangles inside triangles inside triangles. This pattern is known as a Sierpinski triangle and it also appears when four mirrored spheres are nestled close together.