Hotspot and Silicone Tape

Well, today’s big story is just perfect for PhysicsStop. Cricket meets physics. What more could I ask for. In case you’ve just arrived from Alpha Centauri,  there have been accusations flying that both English and Australian batsmen have been trying to defeat the ‘Hot Spot‘ detector by putting silicone tape on their bats. The allegations […]

Continue reading

What’s in a colour?

When I was young (about six-ish)  I had a variety of ambitions. Some of them I shared with a lot of other boys of my age, such as being a train driver and playing cricket for England. Some were more particular to me, such as becoming a biologist and discovering a new colour.  Needless to […]

Continue reading

Seeing circular polarization

Physicsworld magazine is doing a ‘special feature’ this month on animal superheroes – those with rather unusual physical abilities. The best of the lot (in my subjective opinion) is the featured-on-the-cover mantis shrimp. Not because of its ‘dactyl clubs’ that can produce a force of 700 N, but because of its eyesight. The mantis shrimp […]

Continue reading

Pinhole cameras and eclipses

Well, the eclipse yesterday was fun. There were enough patches of sky between the clouds to get some good views. I was pleased that the pinhole cameras I made out of miscellaneous cardboard tubes, tins, paper and tinfoil worked really well. Also, the trees around the front of the sciences building gave some nice natural […]

Continue reading

Pepper’s Ghost

 Have a good look at the photo. The pretty rhododendron to the left of the chair looks a bit odd. That’s because it’s a ghost shrub. No, our garden isn’t haunted, and neither have I doctored the photo; it’s an example of Pepper’s Ghost – an illusion caused by reflections. The bush in question is […]

Continue reading

Distant galaxies and hobbits

I haven’t read ALL of Tolkien’s work, but I suspect space-travelling hobbits don’t feature anywhere. However, what do feature are hole-dwelling hobbits, and I had the fun of seeing their holes in the countryside near Matamata yesterday. The original set for Lord of the Rings was mostly removed after filming, and rebuilt for the filming […]

Continue reading

Time travel

On Monday evening this week I managed to do a bit of time travelling while driving back home. I was driving back through one of those heavy showers that have been marauding around the place recently, with windscreen wipers full pelt on a rather wet road. However, these showers don’t last for very long, and […]

Continue reading

Equipment failure

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working with one of our technicians tracking down what has been going wrong with one of the experiments we get our third year physics students to do. It’s on Brownian Motion. Specifically, analyze the movement of small particles suspended in water by scattering of laser light. By […]

Continue reading

The shortest distance between two points

I remember as a student being presented with the proof that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (at least, on a 2 dimensional flat surface). Although it’s almost blatantly obvious, it can be formally proved through Calculus of Variations. However, the quickest route between two points is not necessarily a straight […]

Continue reading