Physics Stop

Mucky rain

Marcus Wilson Feb 20, 2020

While the south of New Zealand has been struggling with too much rain in recent days, here in the north we are so very short of it (though Saturday’s forecast looks promising).  Basically, we have had almost none since Christmas. As someone who relies on rain to wash the car, this means my car is now looking rather mucky. Read More

The numbers are the numbers, except when they’re not.

Marcus Wilson Feb 14, 2020

I’m not quite sure of what to make of the new figures for COVID-19 (as we must now call the novel coronavirus – though I’m not sure the capitalisation is correct) from Hubei province: Image from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-51495484  The spike yesterday is a consequence of a using a different way of defining a case – one based on a clinical diagnosis (i.e. Read More

The swimming pool paradox

Marcus Wilson Jan 24, 2020

It’s another warm day, but the breeze isn’t helping much, so off I go to the inviting outdoor swimming pool (banner picture) at the other end of campus. It’s an unheated pool (well, there’s no artificial heat source), which means one thing: It’s going to feel cold when I get in*. I should just jump in and get on with … Read More

BIG idea physics

Marcus Wilson Jan 21, 2020

This morning I’ve been having a quick look through some documentation from The Ministry of Education on proposed changes to NCEA Level 1 Science. For those not familiar with the NZ secondary education system, a typical student would complete NCEA level 1 at the end of year 11.  In this regard, it’s broadly similar to the English GCSE process, though … Read More

Anti-neutrinos–When you are your own opposite

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

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