Take a look at anyone of these sculptures: Reuben Margolin :: Waves

If I were to write code to represent the physics of any of these systems (take Neko's Nebula for example) -- would I be creating a model or simulation of this system (or neither)?

I want to model it to change some parameters and verify equations to see how the system would react (before I actually build one) but I only know the basics of a programming language (java) and possess knowledge of data structures. I can't see how I can use these tools to build an environment (if it's even possible for one person to do this).

I'm currently looking for resources (not necessarily examples) but I don't know what this project category falls under.