Science

The difference between an engineer and a physicist - Physics Stop

Marcus Wilson Oct 20, 2018

As a researcher who has recently published an article in the elegantly-named journal ‘Biomedical Physics and Engineering Express’ (in other words, biology, medicine, physics, engineering all in one) it’s clear to me that the boundaries that we often like to use to define ourselves are rather blurry. I am a physicist (yes!) but also, at times, I have to drift … Read More

Pinker and Pinker - Mind Matters

Michael Corballis Oct 16, 2018

Steven Pinker is an optimist. In his two recent books, he paints an increasingly rosy picture of human civilization. In The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011), he shows how human violence has declined over the centuries. In Enlightenment Now (2018), he tells us that, besides becoming less violent, we live longer, and are wealthier, heathier, happier, safer, and more … Read More

Static hair - Physics Stop

Marcus Wilson Oct 15, 2018

It’s one of those annoying laws of nature that the times you want to do a demonstration of static electricity with a Van der Graaf generator are the times when the atmosphere is least suited to it. Damp conditions equal a damp demonstration. But yesterday was really good. No Van der Graaf generator needed – just a ten-month-old on a … Read More

Five dollar prize - The Dismal Science

Eric Crampton Oct 03, 2018

I’ve been absolutely loving Tyler Mahan Coe’s podcast series on the history of country music and the country music business. Every story is fascinating. A lot of the stories aren’t good for the kids. But I played the one about the Louvin Brothers (nee Loudermilk) for the kids. I paused it after this bit too see if they could … Read More

More strange quantum stuff - Physics Stop

Marcus Wilson Sep 21, 2018

I have talked about some of the strange quantum mechanics effects before. An example is the two-slit experiment. If we fire photons (particles of light) at a pair of slits, and then measure where they appear on the other side of the slits, we get a two-slit diffraction pattern – exactly what we’d get if the photon travelled … Read More

Relative Velocity - Physics Stop

Marcus Wilson Sep 20, 2018

Those of us who fly out of New Zealand reasonably frequently will have noticed how flight times differ significantly depending on whether one is travelling west to east or east to west. Take my recent flight to and from Perth, in Western Australia.  The Auckland to Perth flight was timetabled to last 7 hours 25 minutes, while the return flight … Read More