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 […]

Continue reading

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 […]

Continue reading

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 […]

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

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 […]

Continue reading

Weighing magnetic properties

It's a New Year and there are lots of things to do at work before the students get back in any numbers. There are still summer students and research students here, and in the last couple of days I've been working with a summer student on getting a new piece of equipment running for our […]

Continue reading

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 […]

Continue reading