Simple Machines

There’s a lot to do while driving.   Look at the road – watch the speedo (98 kmh – OK there), watch the road – look in mirrors – check fuel gauge (half – OK there) – watch road – watch that car at the intersection ahead – check temperature gauge (where it should be) – […]

Small Transistors

How often do you get attracted to an article somewhere because of its outrageous headline, and then discover on reading the article that its headline, if not an outright lie, doesn’t quite represent what the article is actually about? This is one that got my attention earlier this week on physorg.com.  The headline "Scientists build […]

Waves in a plasma

This post follows from a comment I had yesterday from Robert McCormick on the www.sciblogs.co.nz version of PhysicsStop. (Unfortunately the mapping of PhysicsStop onto the sciblogs website doesn’t combine the comments – so if you read my blog through The University of Waikato website you won’t have got his comment, so I attach the link below) […]

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 […]

Monopoles, Dipoles, Quadrupoles and the like

The alternate stretching and squashing casued by a gravitational wave is an example of a quadrupole oscillation. This is another word that probably means very little to most readers, and, unless you like maths, Wikipedia isn’t going to help you, so I’ll explain.  Let’s start with a monopole. You get a monopole when you put ‘stuff’ […]

Approximately speaking

Physicists are notorious for making approximations.  This character trait is the subject of many jokes – for example, one rather rambling one involving a physicist advising a punter on which horse to put his money ends with the line "Oh, didn’t I tell you – my calculations assumed a spherical horse rolling through a vacuum." […]

The reductionist physicist

So, I’ve now had my fifteen minutes of fame. I’m sure some of you will have read the article about my trip to Germany in The Waikato Times. I have to say that I was quite glad that the reporter (Annette Taylor) kindly left out a remark I made to her during the interview where […]

Angels and Demons

For Dan Brown fans. Don’t worry, no-one is likely to blow up the world with antimatter.