Bell ringing

Only a week more to go in Perth. Time here has gone so quickly. It’s then off to UK for Easter to see my family before returning to Waikato. On Saturday we had a tour of the bell tower on the waterfront. It’s a great looking structure (in my opinion) – and houses the original […]

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The indeterminate cheese flake

A couple of days ago I arrived 'home' to discover our local ant colony at work. There's a nest located somewhere in the bushes at the front of our temporary home, and the occupants have become rather adept at raiding our kitchen. Anything left on the kitchen bench is fair game for the taking. Ants […]

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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 […]

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Tip or slide?

We had our departmental Christmas lunch on Tuesday, outside in the campus grounds. We had some lovely sunshine, but the wind did rather spoil things. I've certainly got used now to living in a very wind-free place – a fresh breeze is something quite unsual here. We were hanging on to our paper plates, but […]

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Attacked by an umbrella

We have a spring-loaded umbrella at home. The idea is that you press a button, and it automatically springs into shape – its shaft springs out and the canopy unfolds. I've often wondered about the wisdom of such a mechanism and thought what would happen if it went off in an inconvenient confined space, such […]

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Plants in circular motion

In our first-year physics lab we have the following horticultural experiment.  Here we have some bulbs growing on a rotating turntable. The array of five pots is placed on the turntable so that the centre pot is at the centre of the turntable; the left- and right-hand pots are at the perimeter.The turntable is rotating […]

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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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