In recent years python has come on a long way to becoming a viable option for scientific computing, and I really recommend you give it a go. This page is a collection of my posts about python for science.
I think that it is essential that python has some answer to the big scientific programming environments like Matlab. This post looks at some of the options that have come available in the last few years.
Python Data Manipulation
It’s all well and good to have snazzy interface, and spiffy package management system, but that doesn’t mean much if your packages are crap. Thankfully there are now some really solid python packages for data manipulation including pandas, a general purpose data package, and the Stoner python package, maintained by the Leeds University condensed matter group.
Plotting Data With Python
Plotting data with python has now reached a rather mature stage, too. The venerable matplotlib package still does much of the heavy lifting, but there are now more advanced plotting libraries such as seaborn, and ggplot for python.
If you wanted to run an “all python” laboratory or experiment, at some point you’d have to come up against hardware interfacing with python. This potentially daunting task is made much easier by the fairly well maintained modules for python instrument control.