Since I last posted on Wednesday, we have seen about zero sign of any flattening in the exponential growth of COVID-19 cases worldwide. I’m not a epidemiologist, or a health professional, or a infectious disease expert. But I do know what an exponential looks like. With cases doubling about every four days world wide, and […]

Continue reading# Tag: maths

## Eight new COVID-19 cases today. It’s no surprise when you look at some numbers

So, as I sit at home with a very, very slight headache (i.e. not at work when I would otherwise be so), the now familiar figure of Ashley Bloomfield reports eight new confirmed cases of COVID-19 including two in Waikato. A surprise, given that we had just twelve yesterday? No. A worry? Maybe, but no […]

Continue reading## Another BIG idea about physics

Further to my post a couple of weeks ago about BIG idea physics, I think I should add a further one. To do so I’ll use the words of one of my favourite physicists*, Paul Dirac. It seems to be one of the fundamental features of nature that fundamental physical laws are described in terms […]

Continue reading## What a difference the decimal point makes

I’m back at work following a nearly three week break over Christmas. We were fortunate to be offered a house to stay in for a week over Christmas, which enabled us to have a holiday in Dunedin and see the extended family reasonably cheaply. But the house came with a catch: a small, old, cuddly, […]

Continue reading## Alice the camel

As we drove on a family outing at the weekend, we sung “Alice the camel”. For those who don’t know it, it goes like this (to the tune of “Dem Bones”): “Alice the camel had five humps; Alice the camel had five humps; Alice the camel had five humps; so go, Alice go! Alice the […]

Continue reading## Colour blindness and Bayes’ theorem

Following from my last post, there’s more to say about colour blindness in my family. This time we’ll look at my side of the family. My maternal grandfather was red-green colour blind. That means my mother is a carrier of red-green colour blindness, with a “faulty” (well, “alternative” would be better) X-chromosome. And as a […]

Continue reading## Physics is a science. Or maybe not.

A couple of hours ago I gave a talk to the 'education group' in the Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Western Australia. Broadly speaking, the audience was a group of physicists and engineers who are interested in education. I recycled a talk that I'd given a couple of years ago […]

Continue reading## Probability madness

Probability crops up in many places in physics, not least quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics, where we are only sure of things in an average or 'statistical' sense. Dealing with probabilities can be a headache for many students. They are also a headache for many in everyday life. There are numerous occasions where we need […]

Continue reading## The universal joint

…No, it isn’t something everyone smokes… But it is common in machine mechanisms. The universal joint is a neat way of turning rotation in one plane into rotation in another. A common use is on driveshafts where you want the direction of the shaft to bend. There’s a neat animation on Wikipedia of how the […]

Continue reading## The world’s most beautiful equation

Don't miss the BBC poll on what is the world's most beautiful equation. Are you a fan of Einstein's field equation, or does the Riemann zeta-function hold you in raptures? There's some great commentary on the twelve candidates here. How did I vote? Well, that would be telling, but the fact that my very first […]

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