Anti-neutrinos–When you are your own opposite - Physics Stop

Marcus Wilson Nov 28, 2019

Around a million billion pass through you each second, almost all originating from our sun, but few of them are likely to interact with you enroute. I was reading in a physics magazine earlier in the week about the nature of neutrinos. These are extremely numerous elementary particles, but only interact very weakly with anything.  A typical neutrino will travel … Read More

Among my favourite asteroids: (2309) Mr. Spock - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Nov 27, 2019

Minor planet/asteroid (2309) Mr. Spock is named not for the character in Star Trek, but for a cat that was itself imperturbable, logical, intelligent and had pointed ears.  In a preceding blog post I introduced one of my favourite asteroids, (2472) Bradman, and also mentioned (6581) Sobers amongst a few others. I did have something to do with the … Read More

Among my favourite asteroids: (2472) Bradman - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Nov 25, 2019

There are many thousands of asteroids with formal names, some humdrum but other more noteworthy (depending on your predilections). One of my favourites, the name of which I was involved in suggesting, is (2472) Bradman, named for the Australian cricketing great. After discussing (2472) Bradman, I also make some comments about (6581) Sobers.  As a minor planet (synonym: asteroid) spotter, … Read More

A Team Approach to Tackling the Psychology Replication Crisis - Unsorted

Guest Author Nov 24, 2019

Dalmeet Singh Chawla In 2008, psychologists proposed that when humans are shown an unfamiliar face, they judge it on two main dimensions: trustworthiness and physical strength. These form the basis of first impressions, which may help people make important social decisions, from who to vote for to how long a prison sentence should be. To date, the … Read More

JFK’s assassination: a bit of physics - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Nov 22, 2019

There are perennial arguments about the circumstances of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, and in particular whether more than one shooter is required by the evidence (such as the Zapruder film). Those who know little about physics frequently claim that the sharp backwards motion of JFK’s head as the fatal shot hit him is proof that there must … Read More

Earth’s artificial rings - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Nov 20, 2019

Satellites pass over NZ all the time (literally). Here I focus on the 187 Planet Labs ‘Dove’ Earth-imaging satellites, and I show that one can determine in advance where they will be, enabling scientists on the ground to correlate their environmental and other data collection with opportunities to get imaging from space. That is, we can get ‘space-truth’ (rather than … Read More

How to cheat at university - Physics Stop

Marcus Wilson Nov 11, 2019

A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating at Tertiary Institutions. Now, I was a very well-behaved … Read More

How NZ was put on world maps using a transit of Mercury - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Nov 10, 2019

There will be a transit of Mercury – the planet Mercury will pass across the face of the Sun – taking place at sunrise in New Zealand on Tuesday, 12th November. It was by observing such an event 250 years ago that James Cook and his scientist colleagues were able to determine the longitude of NZ, and so put these … Read More

Why Mars is cold despite an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide - Climate: Explained

Guest Author Nov 06, 2019

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to If tiny concentrations of carbon dioxide can hold enough heat to create a global warming impact on Earth, … Read More

Finish what’s on your plate - Genomics Aotearoa

Genomics Aotearoa Nov 04, 2019

Murray Cox Do I have to finish my favourite genome? That’s an often-asked question. Geneticists generally strive to produce high-quality genomes that sequence every last gene, making full use of the state-of-the-art technologies coming on stream. Sequencing DNA means determining the order of the four chemical building blocks – called “bases” – that make up the DNA molecule. The sequence … Read More