Virga

I learned a new word today: virga. It was used in a short article in one of the Sydney newspapers, discussing yesterday’s weather. Virga is simply precipitation that evaporates before it hits the ground, and we had some here yesterday. So it was raining, but we didn’t get wet. Virga can rapidly cool the air […]

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Unstable weather

Unfortunately I didn’t get to the cricket last night – I wasn’t feeling well – and missed Richard Levi’s demonstration of how to hit sixes Would have been fun to see. It occurred to me at the weekend that I’ve managed to avoid the rain in the last week. While its poured down in Cambridge, […]

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Crop circles

There’s a great article in Physics World on crop circles. Not a discussion about man-made / weather-made / UFO-made  – any sensible interpretation would be man-made – but just HOW do you make such intricate and vast patterns so quickly and leave almost no traces behind. Some of the patterns that crop-up (sorry) in crop […]

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Sonic anemometer

One thing we’ve noticed with our new house is how variable the background noise is. We now live within earshot of State Highway One and we can hear the distant rumble of trucks and other vehicles on it. The noise isn’t large – and it’s amazing that after just three weeks in the house we […]

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Projectile trajectories

Just a quick entry since I haven’t done one this week.  Since I got back from holiday (which was extended by a day by that pesky ash cloud) I’ve been busy marking exams and then helping with our major schools’ publicity event of the year, the Osborne Physics and Engineering Lectures. This year we’ve had […]

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Force, momentum and umbrellas

Perhaps the most difficult of the ‘big’ challenges facing modern engineering is designing a lightweight umbrella that doesn’t turn inside out with the slightest breath of wind. There you are, walking down a Portsmouth Street with your umbrella up, when a bus comes along and its wake is sufficient to rip the umbrella inside out. […]

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Paint

Question: What’s more tedious than watching paint dry? Answer: Waiting for a dry day so you can put the paint on in the first place. Or, to be closer to the truth, waiting for a dry day so that the guy you’ve hired to do the painting can get on and finish it.  Getting the […]

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Climate change and conferences

Back on-line now after a week in Melbourne at the Australian Institute of Physics conference. I have lots of good stuff to blog about, including optomechanics (using light to cause vibrations), physics education (lots on this), the Large Hadron Collider and complicated models of things that might not even exist, but I’ll do this one on climate […]

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Windy Hamilton

With our low-pressure-area-the-size-of-Australia still very much in residence, I’m beginning to forget what a still, sunny day is like.  I have to say that in my experience (six years) Hamilton is a pretty wind-free place. It’s certainly a lot quieter than where I lived near Portsmouth in the UK, which would be frequently blasted by […]

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