Vortices and the end of Nemo

Well, that was a most unsatisfying end to a novel. After building up to an exciting conclusion, Nemo decides he’s had enough of wreaking revenge on his enemies* and plunges The Nautilus into the Moskenstraumen (Maelstrom) whirlpool off the Lofoten Islands, Norway, where, presumably, there is no return. (Or is there? I note there’s a […]

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The bed of nails

It’s always fun to see this demonstrated. Here’s Haggis Henderson, at the recent NZ Institute of Physics conference in Christchurch, not only lying on a bed of nails but having a teenager stand on him too. He survived the experience, though I can’t vouch for what his back looked like afterwards. The bed of nails […]

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Jigsaw puzzles

Last night I completed a project that’s been going for the last three months – a 1000 piece jigsaw. This one was pretty but particularly fiendish – being a street map of Paris. There’s not a lot of variation from piece to piece – green background with white streets, with limited clues.  There are river […]

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Sycamore seeds and wind turbines

At the recent NZ Institute of Physics conference in Dunedin we heard about a wide range of different physics topics -measuring electrical forces; atomic frequency combs; why a highly gendered physics class is not a good thing and measuring forces with your phone.  One very simple but thought-provoking presentation was by Tim Molteno – on […]

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Improving gender balance in physics

The Institute of Physics has just released a report on recent interventions designed to improve the uptake of physics at 'A'-level by girls*. Although there have been considerable efforts in the UK to improve the gender balance over two decades, there has not been any substantial change – about 20% of a typical A-level physics […]

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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 […]

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The problem with science communication

Yesterday I was part of a very interesting workshop on Science in Society, in Auckland. There was a plethora of good examples of science communication discussed – including forest restoration on the East Coast, biological control of pests in vineyards in Canterbury and improvement of health outcomes for Native Americans in Montana. For me, it […]

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