Physics Stop

How to cheat at university

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

Twenty thousand leagues under the sea

Marcus Wilson Oct 31, 2019

I’ve been reading Jules Verne’s novel Twenty thousand leagues under the sea, considered as one of the very earliest science fiction stories. In brief, Monsieur Aronnax and a couple of sidekicks are taken prisoner by Captain Nemo and his mysterious crew and treated to an underwater voyage around the world on the truly expansive submarine, Nautilus. They get to visit … Read More

Counting Barretts

Marcus Wilson Oct 23, 2019

Just in case you don’t have a seven-year-old boy in your house (in which case this will be obvious) a well-known brand of breakfast cereal here in NZ is currently coming with All-Blacks stats cards. Perfect for finding out your favourite rugby player’s height, number of caps, and how much they can eat for breakfast. Buy a family pack and … Read More

If you can’t measure it, does it exist?

Marcus Wilson Oct 18, 2019

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been busy preparing for our summer paper on Science Communication. Looking for something amusing about ‘risk’ in science, I came across this neat xkcd.com cartoon about why so many people come knocking on my door (or phoning me, or emailing me) desperately wanting me to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars proving … Read More

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When the power goes off

Marcus Wilson Aug 20, 2019

This morning we woke up to discover  a power cut. This meant: No electric kettle. We do have a gas stove, however, which we could light with the help of matches (the automatic ignition relies on mains power.) So we did eventually get some hot drinks. No toaster. No microwave. No hot toast, no porridge. Back to the Weetbix. No … Read More

Student evaluations of teaching effectiveness tell us nothing about teaching effectiveness

Marcus Wilson Aug 12, 2019

I thank my colleague Chris Lusk for bringing this paper by Uttl, White and Gonzalez to my attention. Many universities and polytechnics acquire Student Evaluation data on courses and teacher quality at the end of a course. There are different ways this can be done – here at The University of Waikato students are asked (online) a series of questions … Read More

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Quantum cryptography

Marcus Wilson Jul 30, 2019

I was reading last week a children’s book about “Secret codes”.  You probably know the kind of thing I’m talking about – substituting one letter for another, or a squiggly shape for a letter, rearranging letters, and so on. Fun things to do, but not the basis of modern cryptography. However, the book didn’t just stop at these codes, but … Read More

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