Who’s the greatest?

I’ve recently been asked to participate in a ‘cafe scientifique’ event looking at the relative achievements of Darwin and Galileo. For those who don’t know, 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, and the 150th of the publication of ‘Origin of the Species’ (how very thoughtful it was of him to arrange that both […]

Continue reading

More on road physics

Following on from the last entry, another example of symmetry breaking on the roads is the stop-start kind of traffic jam that forms in heavy traffic on a motorway. When sitting in a traffic jam caused by ‘sheer weight of traffic’ (affectionately known as SWOT to traffic-analysts) you might, like me, have been inclinded to think […]

Continue reading

Corrugated roads

I spent the weekend (plus a couple of other days) at Lake Waikaremoana, enjoying the bush and the scorching sunshine (yes, evern in Te Urewera). There’s not a lot of physics that goes on there; maybe that’s why it is so relaxing, with the science focussed towards earth-science (I hope that rock doesn’t fall on us) […]

Continue reading

Attractive scenery

This story might be apocryphal; I haven’t been able to verify it, but it is certainly plausible. Mount Egmont National Park forms almost a perfect circle around Mount Taranaki. Given its status, its bush remains intact, unlike the rest of Taranaki. You get a great view of this dark green circle with a mountain poking […]

Continue reading

Up and down

I chose to celebrate Auckland Anniversary by visiting Wellington. (Naturally enough.) No surcharges on the coffee there. It was my first visit to the capital as a tourist, and as you might expect I did some of the usual touristy things like Te Papa, Parliament, and the cable car.  The cable car is a real […]

Continue reading

More swimming pool physics

Have you ever thought why water is difficult to move through? What property does it have that air doesn’t, that makes it an effort to get anywhere in it? The answer is utterly straightforward, but it is worth saying: it is simply more dense than air. If you want to move through it, you’ve got […]

Continue reading

Swimming pool physics

It’s summer, and for me that means the university’s 50 metre outdoor swimming pool is open. Lots of lunchtime lengths, dodging the morons who can’t cope with the concept that lanes are for lane swimming, rather than playing ball games. There’s a lot of physics that goes in with swimming. Hydrodynamics, the study of how […]

Continue reading