How obvious is technology?

In order to help pass the time on my long-haul flights of the last couple of weeks, I bought a copy of H. G. Wells’  War of the Worlds.  I’ve read a lot of his work, but somehow this, arguably his most famous book, had previously escaped me. I should emphasize the obvious point that […]

Stunning Physics

Sorry about the gap in activities – I had something unexpected come up which was rather more important and urgent than writing blog posts. More or less back online now. A couple of weeks ago we had our University Open Day, at the University of Waikato. This covered the whole university, and, of course, our […]

What goes up… must come down

Yesterday morning while driving into work I was reminded that this week is ‘Balloons over Waikato‘ – the annual hot air balloon festival.  It was hard to miss; I counted 20 balloons making their way gracefully over south-east Hamilton and drifting slowly towards Morrinsville. (NB: I counted the balloons AFTER I had parked the car, […]

Tectonic Plates and Angular Momentum

As we know, the earth spins on its axis once every twenty four hours.  (Well, actually it doesn’t, but we’ll leave aside the difference between solar and sidereal days for the purpose of this entry).  The spinning earth posses something we physicists call angular momentum.   It is the ‘spinning’ version of linear momentum;  the latter […]

Centrifugal carrot

We bought a vegetable juicer recently.   At one end you feed in all those delicious carrots and corguettes that have been growing nicely in the vegetable patch, and at the other end comes out carrot and corguette juice.  Get the right combination of vegetables, and it’s a nice drink. (I don’t recommend kohlrabi though. Actually, we […]

Two is a big number

In an earlier post I made the outrageous claim that three is a working approximation to infinity. If you thought that was ambitious, have a read of the following extract from an abstract that I discovered this morning while doing a bit of literature searching as part of my research. It’s a great insight into the mind […]

Useful origami (and wine bottles)

Here’s something silly and not-quite-entirely-useless for a Monday morning. Think of a deformable material (something solid but something you can squeeze, stretch, dent, etc). Maybe a bean bag, lump of plasticine, football etc. It might or might not return to its original position after you let go of it, but that doesn’t matter. Think what […]

Large, heavy objects

Our cat got the shock of his life a couple of days ago when the washing machine got up and chased him out of the room. It’s not often that inanimate objects start walking on their own accord. Poor cat is probably so traumatized he’d never set foot in the laundry again except for the […]