Equinox

Last Friday (for most parts of the world – Saturday for us ‘advanced’ people in New Zealand) was the equinox. Loosely described, that’s when the day and night are of equal length – from this moment on and for the next six months all us southern hemispherers will be experiencing longer periods of darkness than […]

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The versatile physicist

Thinking back to last entry, I think the way the physicist thinks makes him (and I’m sorry but ‘him’ is still about 90% correct) quite versatile in terms of problems he can address. I’ve been exchanging emails recently with an economist, with a view to having him speak at cafe scientifique. What has economics got […]

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Analogies

Semester has been going just over two weeks here at the University of Waikato, and I’m getting back into the swing of teaching after the summer break. One thing that struck me today, while thinking about my lectures, was how much I use analogies while teaching physics. That’s maybe not all that surprising, since physics […]

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Dangerously good stuff

On the back of my Memphis Meltdown icecream: "Warning: Do not conduct aspects of nuclear physics or complex surgical procedures whilst consuming this product" You what?  Just how is one meant to "conduct aspects of nuclear physics?" Is "Aspects of Nuclear Physics" some lesser-known composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? I can see it now – […]

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Be afraid, be very afraid

I had dinner last night with a group of my wife’s friends – mostly health workers of one flavour or another. One explained how she is involved with developing strategies by which the health system can cope with the demographic time bomb – when in twenty years time a considerable proportion of the population will be […]

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The end of summer

Methinks swimming in the outdoor pool is over for this summer. I emerged from the pool at lunchtime feeling that I’d just spent a day in Antarctica. I’m told that the peak daily temperature has now dropped to about 22 degrees. Twenty-two? It doesn’t sound that bad. If the air temperature were 22 it would […]

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Waves

It’s amazing what you can see on Google Earth.  Take a look at the sea around the Raglan to Kawhia coastline, for example. You can immediately see why it attracts surfers – on the day the current satellite image was taken, there was a near-perfect set of waves rolling in off the Tasman. There’s a lot of […]

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Mass and the Higgs Boson

In the minds of many, the name ‘Large Hadron Collider’ is linked with the words ‘Higgs Boson’. And so it should be – one of the aims of the LHC is to find (or not to find) this mysterious particle. But what is the Higgs boson? It’s to do with mass. In broad terms, mass […]

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Whatever happened to the LHC?

I gave a talk to the Hamilton Astronomical Society last night on the Large Hadron Collider. It was all very topical back in September, when it was ‘switched on’, but following its breakdown soon later it has rather faded from the popular press. So what is happening now? The simple answer is that it is […]

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