Blowing potholes

As part of our trip southwards last week, we visited one of the many caves scattered across the Margaret River region. The immediate impression on entering the 'Jewel Cave' is its vast size. It's hard to estimate just how big the main cavern is, but as a rough guess maybe 100 metres by 50 metres […]

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Weather and statistics

I overheard the following conversation at the best coffee outlet on campus yesterday: "Well, winter's nearly over. We're past the shortest day so it's getting warmer. And we've had eleven frosts so far this year, and the record for Hamilton is twelve, so there can only be one more to come." – Anonymous Where do […]

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Thermodynamics of learning

Last week I attended a conference on Emergent Learning and Threshold Concepts, here at the University of Waikato. It was a very interesting couple of days. As far as academic conferences go, it was unusual in that it was really cross-disciplinary. We had engineers mixing with physiotherapists, and management consultants with dancers. It certainly was […]

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My car is cold

The last couple of days have seen our Engineering Design Show. This is where our 2nd/3rd/4th year Engineering students get to talk about and show off the various projects they've been working on in the last year. It's very interesting to see the range of activities going on, and there are some 'competitive events' – […]

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Temperature is not Heat

First things first. PhysicsStop is back on-line after an enjoyable two-week break in warm and sunny southern England. Second things second. What advice can anyone give to the parents of a fourteen-month-old with jetlag who insists that 4 am is time to get up, have breakfast, and feed the chickens (or the "Choo Chuk" as […]

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The amazing vacuum microwave

 Happy Easter everyone. Sorry for lack of blog activity – lots of marking has been building up that I’ve needed to get through.  Yesterday we experienced the vacuum-packing ability of a clip-container in a microwave. In this case, it was being used to cook some vegetables for Benjamin’s dinner. The veges were placed in the […]

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Thermoeconomics

I’ve been following with a bit of interest the "slow-motion crisis" of the European debt.  One of its consequences is some unhealthy shifts in exchange rates – for example the soaring Swiss Franc. That hurts Swiss exporters.  In the last couple of days, Switzerland has decided that this isn’t acceptable and is taking drastic measures […]

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