Since you're starting off with no programming knowledge, I would probably suggest a book like Mark Lutz's Learning Python. I learned Python using Alex Martelli's Python in a Nutshell and David Beazley's Python Essential Reference, but I already had programming experience in C, Java, and MATLAB.
This part of the problem statement means that the object is located 1.2 m in front of the first refracting surface of the crystal ball (1.3 m from the center of the crystal ball, and 1.4 m from the second refracting surface of the crystal ball). The displacements z0 and z1 in the equation are...
To get you started, the equation for the first surface is
\frac{1.5}{z_1} - \frac{1}{-1.2} = \frac{1.5 - 1}{0.1}
which you should solve for z1. This gives a location for the image formed by the first surface relative to the vertex of the first surface. Then you treat that image as the object...
Born & Wolf is way too advanced a book to be using to solve a problem like this, but the equation you want is in section 4.4.1 (in the sixth edition--it may be different in other editions), "Refracting surface of revolution," and it's the one that looks like this
\frac{n_1}{z_1}-\frac{n_0}{z_0}...
MikTeX now comes with a basic LaTeX document editor called TeXworks, which you should find under "Start Menu"->"All Programs"->"MikTeX 2.8". Run it, and enter the following document:
\documentclass{article}
\begin{document}
\title{Example Document}
\author{John Doe}
\maketitle
This is...
It is not the superposition of the fields (the addition process O+R) that results in interference, but the determination of the intensity of the superimposed fields (finding the modulus squared of the total field \lvert O+R \rvert^2). Let
O(x,y) = o(x,y) \exp [i \phi(x,y)]
where o(x,y) and...
Autodesk Inventor does motion simulation--see the "Simulation" category on this page: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/pc/index?siteID=123112&id=13718190
I am partial toward Autodesk Inventor since it is available for students to download for free at http://students.autodesk.com