Check those approximations

A common technique in physics is 'modelling'. This is about constructing a description of a physical phenomenon in terms of physical principles. Often these can be encapsulated with mathematical equations. For example, it's common to model the suspension system of a car as two masses connected by springs to a much larger mass. Here, the […]

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Password entropy

As part of some 'NetSafe' training, I was shown this lovely xkcd cartoon http://xkcd.com/936/ .   Password entropy. That's a good way of putting it. The statistical mechanics definition of entropy would be k ln W, where k is Boltzmann's constant, W is the number of permutations possible, and ln is 'the natural logarithm'. Higher […]

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When stationary is fast

One of the great lines on the cult BBC show 'Red Dwarf' goes (approximately, from memory) like this: Can't you go any faster, like so we're not being overtaken by stationary objects? I'm sure my youngest sister would be able to correct the wording, and tell me immediately which episode it's from, who says it […]

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Version control

I’ve commented before that there are a lot of skills that our science graduates need to have, that don’t get explicitly taught at university. That’s because they don’t neatly fit into compartmentalized degree courses where the structure is dictated by technical knowledge. So things such as how to give a half-decent presentation, how to keep […]

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Dishwasher dynamics

How long does it take you to load the dishwasher? Placing all those tricky-shaped objects in position to maintain the perfect balance between getting the maximum numbers of objects into the machine and placing them so that they clean optimally.  Most likely, less time than it takes to load ours. This isn’t because it’s a […]

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