Hot exam tip number 1

I was marking some of my third year students’ work last week. One would have thought that by the time a student had reached third year at university, he or she would know the basic rules of answering an exam or assignment question. But apparently not. I know it isn’t exam season for you school students […]

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Luck or good judgment?

No, this isn’t about Chris Martin’s batting performance at the Basin Reserve. A couple of weeks ago, I thought I might have discovered a new phenomenon in biophysics. I won’t bore you with the details, but it concerned the behaviour of neurons (brain cells) under external stimulus. Now, I could have rushed out and tried […]

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Am I just a skeptic, or what?

(Yes, this entry is about physics, but it takes a little while to get there, so please bear with me…) Last night I attended a talk on nutrition. It was focused towards a particular health issue, but was also reasonably general in places. Now, I emphasize that I am a physicist not a nutritionist, so […]

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Goodbye summertime

So daylight savings is over for another year. Back to boring old standard time. Now’s a good moment to comment on what time zone New Zealand sits in. In ‘winter time’ it sits twelve hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, GMT (or Univeral Time, as astronomers like to call it). Is that reasonable? In Greenwich (south-east […]

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Money, money, money

I’ve just been reading in ‘Physics World’ magazine (IOP publishing, physicsworld.com) of one of the less well-known side effects of the delay on the Large Hadron Collider: many PhD students, who hoped by now to have that final bit of data to conclude their PhD theses, are stuck.  A PhD is a research degree – […]

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A sun in your own living room

The holy grail of power generation is nuclear fusion. That’s the process by which stars are powered – simply put, hydrogen turns into helium and releases energy in the process. What makes it so perfect is that there is pretty-well a limitless supply of hydrogen on the Earth, tied up in the copious quantities of […]

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Off-the-wall thought

My last comment on powering transport has prompted these thoughts: Will Google Earth one day become so packed full of data that you can ‘visit’ somewhere from your own living room and get 99% of the experience – thus doing away with expensive plane trips to exotic destinations? But will the demands on your computer system […]

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