Vortices and the end of Nemo

Well, that was a most unsatisfying end to a novel. After building up to an exciting conclusion, Nemo decides he’s had enough of wreaking revenge on his enemies* and plunges The Nautilus into the Moskenstraumen (Maelstrom) whirlpool off the Lofoten Islands, Norway, where, presumably, there is no return. (Or is there? I note there’s a […]

Continue reading

How to cheat at university

A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating at Tertiary Institutions. Now, I […]

Continue reading

Counting Barretts

Just in case you don’t have a seven-year old boy in your house (in which case this will be obvious) a well-known brand of breakfast cereal here in NZ is currently coming with All-Blacks stats cards. Perfect for finding out your favourite rugby player’s height, number of caps, and how much they can eat for […]

Continue reading

When the power goes off

This morning we woke up to discover  a power cut. This meant: No electric kettle. We do have a gas stove, however, which we could light with the help of matches (the automatic ignition relies on mains power.) So we did eventually get some hot drinks. No toaster. No microwave. No hot toast, no porridge.  […]

Continue reading

The lying dashboard (part 2)

Following-on from my suspicions as to the accuracy of my car’s reporting of my travel statistics, here’s another mystery. The length of my journey from home to work, as recorded by my odometer this morning, was 24.7 km.  The length as recorded by Google Maps is 25.2 km.  So, my odometer underreads. Or it did […]

Continue reading

Quantum cryptography

I was reading last week a children’s book about “Secret codes”.  You probably know the kind of thing I’m talking about – substituting one letter for another, or a squiggly shape for a letter, rearranging letters, and so on. Fun things to do, but not the basis of modern cryptography. However, the book didn’t just […]

Continue reading