## Levitation

Last Thursday while browsing a popular NZ-based website an article caught my attention: ‘Scientists learn to levitate objects’. Images from Harry Potter films flashed before my eyes, and I thought this had to be something worth checking out. And it was, for two reasons. First, because the article is a surprisingly accurate piece of science […]

## The second law of thermodynamics

So now you know the first law – what’s the second law? This one is a whole lot easier to define since you don’t need to fret over what exactly energy IS, and, historically speaking, it was understood long before the first law. (It is relegated to being the second law of thermodynamics since the first […]

## The first law of thermodynamics

I’ve used the word ‘energy’ a lot in recent posts (like yesterday’s), but haven’t really said what it is. We all have some idea of what energy means – it’s a resource you need to do something useful, such as propel a car, or play a video game, heat your house or power refigerator. (This […]

## It’s cold out there

Having lived in Waikato for five years now, I’d forgotten what cold temperatures feel like. I’ve just got back from Christmas in the UK (explains lack of blog entries) where I was reminded what winter is like: dark and cold. Minus 9 feels pretty nasty, but, how cold is that really?

## Going around in circles

If there’s one thing that is likely to promote disharmony amongst the physics community, its the use for the f-word. That’s ‘f’ as in ‘fugal’, as in centrifugal.  Now, part of me thinks I should reconsider before writing this entry, but I have recently read a particularly unhelpful  piece on the internet written by a […]

## How far can I see?

Yes, I know the answer is an awful long way (i.e. to some quite distant galaxies), but I specifically mean in the context of how far can I see as I go up in altitude? From my third-floor office window in Hamilton I can easily see the 50 km to the top of Te Aroha […]

## Taking physics one step too far

I read in a popular physics magazine that a guy has had an image of Stephen Hawking tatooed on his leg, and it has won an award for the tatooist. Oh dear.

## In the sun

When you think of solar power, you probably think of solar panels on your roof, or those little solar cells on your calculator. But it doesn’t have tp be that high-tec. In concentrated solar power schemes, you simply find a large area of land in the middle of a sunny area (e.g Arizona, Spain, Australia…) […]