Expensoheat

We have now been in our ‘new’ house for four months. This one still does feel a little ‘new’, being only 5 years old. It even incorporates some radical features (for New Zealand): proper insulation, double glazing (though I note that the frames are still aluminium) and well engineered drainage from what otherwise would be […]

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Jigsaw puzzles

Last night I completed a project that’s been going for the last three months – a 1000 piece jigsaw. This one was pretty but particularly fiendish – being a street map of Paris. There’s not a lot of variation from piece to piece – green background with white streets, with limited clues.  There are river […]

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Amazing lenses

There is no denying it. I am middle-aged. The latest evidence is the progressive-lens glasses. I had tried to put off getting these for as long as possible (warning to you younger readers – they are not cheap!) but it was just getting too difficult without them. We pretty-well take for granted good vision, but […]

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Sycamore seeds and wind turbines

At the recent NZ Institute of Physics conference in Dunedin we heard about a wide range of different physics topics -measuring electrical forces; atomic frequency combs; why a highly gendered physics class is not a good thing and measuring forces with your phone.  One very simple but thought-provoking presentation was by Tim Molteno – on […]

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Incey-wincey spider…

….is about 2 cm long and lives behind the heat pump unit in the courtyard outside. She’s been out every evening since we got here. Can anyone identify her? She doesn’t appear to feature on Western Australia’s most deadly list (which, incidently, includes the white tail).  I’ve left it till after we’ve left to post […]

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Improving gender balance in physics

The Institute of Physics has just released a report on recent interventions designed to improve the uptake of physics at 'A'-level by girls*. Although there have been considerable efforts in the UK to improve the gender balance over two decades, there has not been any substantial change – about 20% of a typical A-level physics […]

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Bell ringing

Only a week more to go in Perth. Time here has gone so quickly. It’s then off to UK for Easter to see my family before returning to Waikato. On Saturday we had a tour of the bell tower on the waterfront. It’s a great looking structure (in my opinion) – and houses the original […]

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The indeterminate cheese flake

A couple of days ago I arrived 'home' to discover our local ant colony at work. There's a nest located somewhere in the bushes at the front of our temporary home, and the occupants have become rather adept at raiding our kitchen. Anything left on the kitchen bench is fair game for the taking. Ants […]

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Physics is a science. Or maybe not.

A couple of hours ago I gave a talk to the 'education group' in the Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Western Australia. Broadly speaking, the audience was a group of physicists and engineers who are interested in education. I recycled a talk that I'd given a couple of years ago […]

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Blowing potholes

As part of our trip southwards last week, we visited one of the many caves scattered across the Margaret River region. The immediate impression on entering the 'Jewel Cave' is its vast size. It's hard to estimate just how big the main cavern is, but as a rough guess maybe 100 metres by 50 metres […]

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