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Archive: Physics Stop October 2009

Pluto as you’ve not seen it before

Marcus Wilson Aug 03, 2015

Most of us have never seen Pluto. Most of us never will. Neptune is more plausible.I remember as a student looking for Neptune with the Northumberland Telescope in Cambridge. We were doing a 'planets' night - in which it was theoretically possible to tick off all the planets (save Pluto, which was still a planet back then) … Read More

Calculating pi with darts

Marcus Wilson Jul 16, 2015

I love this one. Really, it's maths not physics, but there is a bit of experimental physics creeping in at the fringes when the experimenters realize that the first method is biased. The second method is much better designed.  Regrettably, pi-day (March 14th, 2015, or 3.14.15) only works if you use the US system of recording dates.  But … Read More

A light puzzle

Marcus Wilson Jul 13, 2015

Here's a puzzling photograph that Hans Bachor showed me at the end of the NZ Institute of Physics conference last week. It comes from his public lecture on lasers a week ago. And we don't have the answer to it, so maybe you can enlighten us (pun intended).  The photo is of a demonstration of total … Read More

NZIP2015 Highlights

Marcus Wilson Jul 07, 2015

So the NZ Institute of Physics conference is in full swing. I have a bit of a break between the end of the last session and tonight's conference dinner, so there's time to give some highlights so far.  Well, first, the low-light: Like the rest of my family and half of Hamilton I've had a horrible cold. On … Read More

High-tech, Low-tech, planetary observations.

Marcus Wilson Jul 01, 2015

First the low-tech:  The conjunction of Venus (the brighter one) and Jupiter as recorded by my very lousy cellphone camera  just after sunset yesterday.  Now the high-tech: A day before that Pluto occulted a star. It moved in front of the star, rather like an eclipse. The significance of the event was that it allowed Pluto's … Read More

Tips on organizing a conference

Marcus Wilson Jun 23, 2015

With the NZ Institute of Physics conference rapidly approaching, I thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences on how to organize a good conference. Or maybe on how not to organize a good conference. Time will tell. 1. Don't try organizing a conference when you have 450 exam scripts to mark.  2. Employ a professional … Read More

The equation of time strikes again

Marcus Wilson Jun 17, 2015

Some of us are rather looking forward to getting to 22 June. That's when the days get longer again. Yes, the reality is that no-one's really going to notice much difference for a while, but it's encouraging to think that the days will be getting lighter again, if only by a little bit. Don't confuse that with temperatures getting … Read More

Two great talks coming up in Hamilton

Marcus Wilson Jun 11, 2015

As part of the forthcoming NZ Institute of Physics conference, and to celebrate the International Year of Light, we have arranged two fantastic and very different public talks for the evenings of Sunday 5th and Monday 6th July.  First up we have Richard Easther, from the University of Auckland. In "Dawn's Early Light" he'll … Read More

Lenz’s law – at 3 tesla

Marcus Wilson May 20, 2015

When I was at school, and introduced to magnetic fields in a quantitative sense (that is, with a strength attached to it), I remember being told that the S.I. unit of magnetic flux density (B-field) is the tesla, and that 1 tesla is an extremely high B-field indeed. Ha! Not any more. Last Friday night  I got to see … Read More

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