Things that don’t like water

So, my class of students (well, at least one of them) have done the calculations and think that a centimetre of water is enough to shield a mobile phone from communicating with the nearest mast.  Only one way to find out.  I’ll bring along a bucket, lots of glad wrap and waterproofing materials to tomorrow’s […]

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Mobile phone physics

Just occasionally, I have a crazy thought regarding a physics demonstration.   This is one that I’m thinking about inflicting on my third year electromagnetism class.   We’ve been discussing the way electromagnetic waves travel (or rather, do not travel) through electrical conductors. Basically, conductors allow electric currents to flow in response to an applied electric field (in simple terms […]

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Fallstreak cloud

Those of you who check out the NZ metservice website frequently, may remember last week’s ‘photo-of-the-week’: It’s of fallstreak cloud, and this example was spotted by my mother-in-law, Barbara Seccombe, off the coast from New Plymouth recently.  (Photo credit to my father-in-law, Wally Seccombe, used with permission). It’s not something you see everyday, so I asked my brother […]

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Heads I win, tails you lose

The comment on my previous entry raises a few  issues with the way we feel heat.  (NB for those who normally read this blog on http://www.sciblogs.co.nz , you’ll need to go onto physicsstop to see the comment – https://sci.waikato.ac.nz/physicsstop )  How hot we feel has more to do than just what the temperature is.  Anyone who […]

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Ice and the freezer

Last Saturday I got around to doing one of those long overdue jobs in the house – defrosting and clearing out the freezer. There are numerous reasons why this was a good idea – it’s not just about getting rid of the food that has been there rather too long, but also about making sure it […]

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Back to the long-neglected blog

Well, I’m back in at work now after three weeks and four and a half thousand kilometres.  Pleased to discover that in my absence the house hadn’t burnt down, there had been no floods and Christmas presents hadn’t been stolen. So it’s now back to trawling through three weeks’ worth of emails, catching up with […]

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The We(s)t Coast

Back online briefly – blogging is a bit tricky from campsites – not all of them have wireless broadband connections yet – particularly on the West Coast. For those non-New Zealanders, ‘West Coast’ refers to the west coast of the South Island, which I have now driven the length of. Or as much as is […]

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Climate change

I feel that, as a physicist, I should be making some reasonable and informed comment on the Copenhagen summit. After all, climate is immensely physicsy. We have fluid flow, conduction, convection and radiation of heat, interaction of electromagnetic radiation with electrons in molecules, scattering of light by small particles, solar activity (on second thoughts, scrub […]

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