The arrow of time

Benjamin is now two-and-two-thirds, or near enough. As ever, his grasp of physics continues to improve.  In the last few weeks, he has been picking up the idea of time.  We have a large (more accurately, LARGE) analogue clock on the wall of our lounge. He's watched me take it off the wall, change the […]

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Undiscovery in physics

With the recent undiscovery of Sandy Island I’ve begun wondering what other things might be ripe for undiscovery. Wasps, for example. Wouldn’t it be great if we realized that there wasn’t actually any evidence for the existence of wasps after all. Their discovery had been just a mistake made by an entomologist back in the […]

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Apparent weight? Apparently not

Here’s a thorny problem that no doubt every physics teacher has grappled with. In a space-station, orbiting the earth, are you weightless?   There are at least two ways of answering this: 1. Yes, you are. Let’s face it, you float around inside the space-station, water forms large blobs, some plants don’t know which way up […]

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Physicists on film

Last night we went to the movies. We had free passes that needed using by the end of the week, so we turned up at Chartwell early evening without knowing what was showing. Not wishing to see a film about adultery, we decided against ‘Water for Elephants’ (or whatever it’s called) and picked Thor.  If […]

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What’s cooking at the LHC?

I’ve just been perusing CERN’s Twitter site http://www.twitter.com/cern for some of their latest news. While the Higgs is still hiding inside some time-travelling baguette, there’s still some really nice physics arising. This example is one that caught my attention – it’s the detection of a bound state made up of a beauty (or bottom) quark […]

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Anti-gravity

There are some lovely physics demonstrations that get repeatedly wheeled-out for things like Open Day and visits from school groups. Things like holding a spinning bike wheel on a rotating chair (flip it over and you start rotating – conservation of angular momentum) and levitating a piece of superconductor above a magnet at liquid nitrogen […]

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Gravitational Waves

One of my undergraduate students has been researching gravitational waves this year. Last Friday, he gave a nice presentation on the subject. Gravitational waves are one of the many examples of waves in physics. We are perhaps more used to waves on the surface of water, or waves along a guitar string, or electromagnetic waves […]

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Is there gravity in space?

This question comes from a final year school student, trying to answer a question about astronauts in spacestations. Well, having seen numerous videos of astronauts, the answer would seem to be no. They float around quite happily, scientists refer to them as being in a zero gravity environment, their leg muscles don’t get enough exercise, […]

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