## The difference between a theoretical physicist and a mathematician is…

A mathematician can say what he likes… A physicist has to be at least partly sane J. Willard Gibbs  What is it that makes a physicist sane (if only in part)? Everything has to be related back to the 'real world', or the 'real universe'. That is, a physicist has to talk about how things […]

## The arrow of time

Benjamin is now two-and-two-thirds, or near enough. As ever, his grasp of physics continues to improve.  In the last few weeks, he has been picking up the idea of time.  We have a large (more accurately, LARGE) analogue clock on the wall of our lounge. He's watched me take it off the wall, change the […]

## An aliasing example

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Measurement Standards Lab at Lower Hutt. We were talking about making measurements of electrical impedance. In practice, if you want a decent measurement, it’s rather less straightforward than whacking on a multimeter. It was interesting to have a look at their labs, including several New Zealand ‘standard’ […]

## The ticker-tape car

Somewhere in the Cambridge / Hamilton vicinity is a car with no oil in it. I know this because on the way in to work this morning there was a trail of oil on the road.  The damp road surface led to it being very prominent. A splash of oil, being less dense than water, […]

## In a not-quite symmetric world

An interesting problem to ask students to think about is this: Write down a definition of ‘left’ (as in the opposite of right). It’s something every adult knows, but how do you define it. There’s little wonder that children take a long time to grasp which is left and which is right. One might say: […]

## Time travel

On Monday evening this week I managed to do a bit of time travelling while driving back home. I was driving back through one of those heavy showers that have been marauding around the place recently, with windscreen wipers full pelt on a rather wet road. However, these showers don’t last for very long, and […]

## 11:11 (and 11 seconds) on 11/11/11 (or 11/11/11 if you are American)

I’ve scheduled this post  to appear today (the 11th November 2011) at 11:11 am plus eleven seconds (NZ summer time). Why? Because I can.

## Old and new

Can’t resist telling you this… Tuesday, after the conference sessions had finished and before the conference dinner, I travelled with my students by train from Wellington to Lower Hutt, to do a lightning visit to a couple of labs at Industrial Research Ltd. It was a very informative visit – I need to spend a […]

## A daylight conundrum

Our organic alarm clock has now taken to jumping on the bed at about 5 in the morning and purring very loudly in an attempt to persuade us it’s breakfast time. It’s not surprising, since sunrise (and therefore cat-rise, if not Marcus-rise) is becoming earlier and earlier. Daylight hours are now long – in fact the […]

## Does the future affect the present?

Well, my comment on Naked Short Selling has certainly sparked a bit of discussion (for readers on sci.waikato.ac.nz/physicsstop you’ll need to look at the sciblogs hosting of the blog, http://sciblogs.co.nz/physics-stop/ ).  There’s the reasonable question asked as to whether letting people trade in things they don’t yet possess (basically anticipating the future – letting the future, […]