## 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…) […]

## Zzzzzz

One of the best and worst duties of a scientist is to go to international conferences. It’s one of the best duties because you get to go overseas at relatively little cost to yourself (in my immediate case Adelaide) and enjoy lots of freebies (such as hotel swimming pools, shiraz, expenses-paid meals, more free pens than […]

## Beam me up…

Instead of enduring hours sitting at airports and in aeroplanes (complete with passengers in front of you who recline their seats forty-eight milliseconds after the fasten seatbelts sign goes out, grrrr), wouldn’t it be nice if Star Trek transporter technology actually existed. Just step onto the pad, select your destination (better check it carefully first), […]