BBQ Physics

Here’s another little bit of physics seen in everyday stuff.  When disconnecting the gas cylinder to our camp stove while on holiday, I got a bit of a shock at how cold it was.  It shouldn’t have shocked me – that’s how it should be.  When gas is made to expand it cools down. And in […]

Continue reading

Ice and the freezer

Last Saturday I got around to doing one of those long overdue jobs in the house – defrosting and clearing out the freezer. There are numerous reasons why this was a good idea – it’s not just about getting rid of the food that has been there rather too long, but also about making sure it […]

Continue reading

Back to the long-neglected blog

Well, I’m back in at work now after three weeks and four and a half thousand kilometres.  Pleased to discover that in my absence the house hadn’t burnt down, there had been no floods and Christmas presents hadn’t been stolen. So it’s now back to trawling through three weeks’ worth of emails, catching up with […]

Continue reading

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) – […]

Continue reading

Climate change

I feel that, as a physicist, I should be making some reasonable and informed comment on the Copenhagen summit. After all, climate is immensely physicsy. We have fluid flow, conduction, convection and radiation of heat, interaction of electromagnetic radiation with electrons in molecules, scattering of light by small particles, solar activity (on second thoughts, scrub […]

Continue reading

Beyond cornflakes

This is something that Aimee Whitcroft at the Science Media Centre in Wellington drew my attention to – thanks Aimee. Most of us who have ever eaten breakfast cereal will probably be familiar with the phenomenon whereby the larger flakes of whatever-your-favourite-breakfast-is tend to be at the top of the packet, whereas the smaller flakes […]

Continue reading

Climate engineering

So PhysicsWorld has done a nice article on some of the ‘engineering’ solutions that might be available for tackling global warming. Generally they are pretty ambitious global-scale plans to turn down the thermostat a bit, given the premise that either carbon dioxide emissions will not fall sufficiently or that, even if they did, the earth would still be too […]

Continue reading

The greenhouse effect

I’ve been reading in PhysicsWorld about some grand ideas for controlling the earth’s climate by engineering on a global scale. Some sound pretty fanciful, though some might be just plausible. But before I get there (which will probably be another entry) I think it’s worthwhile reminding you what the greenhouse effect actually is. As in, why […]

Continue reading

Fishics

Eco-systems are of course very complex things – the success of one species is linked to the success of another, which is linked to another, and all of which are linked to outside factors such as climate etc etc.  Now there is direct evidence of another degree of complexity in the ocean eco-system, namely that […]

Continue reading