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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The nature of the beast

We have a new addition to the household furniture this week – a year-old black and white cat which we acquired second-hand from the SPCA. Amongst other things, he’s taken to sitting on the couch looking just like a cushion. Getting a pre-loved (or, dare I say it, pre-abused) animal from the SPCA is a […]

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The nor’wester

Associated with the heating and cooling of contracting and expanding air, is the hot north-west wind that hits the east coast areas of New Zealand, particularly Canterbury.  This ‘Foehn’ wind occurs when a moisture-laden wind comes from across the Tasman Sea (i.e. from the north-west) and over the southern alps. As it does so, a number of effects […]

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Hot air rises

I was reminded while driving in to work this morning that we’re getting into hot air ballooning season in Hamilton – with a balloon hanging nicely over the road to district drivers like myself.  Flight with hot air balloons isn’t exactly rocket science – quite simply hot air is less dense than cold air, so hot […]

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Seeing underwater

I read a very short news snippet in Tuesday’s NZ Herald that said that a British nuclear submarine had collided with a French counterpart. Admittedly, the source quoted is ‘The Sun’ newspaper in the UK – which is not best known for its accuracy in reporting – but leaving that issue aside, you have got […]

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