Physics Stop

Cell phones give you cancer. Yeah, right.

Marcus Wilson Nov 15, 2018

It’s been a couple of weeks since the NIH studies on mice, rats and cellphones hit the headlines.  The studies were released with perfect timing to be used in our Science Communication paper – a third-year level paper for science undergraduates on communicating science ideas well. In short, we had half the class look at what mainstream media said about … Read More

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The difference between an engineer and a physicist

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

Static hair

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

Sucking up Spaghetti

Marcus Wilson Sep 26, 2018

No. I’m not talking about 6-year-old boys sticking one end in their mouth and sucking.  I’m talking about vacuuming-up old bits of uncooked spaghetti on the kitchen floor. So, on taking the vacuum cleaner over the kitchen floor at the weekend, I could see that there were a few broken strands of uncooked spaghetti to clean up, along with the … Read More

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More strange quantum stuff

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

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

The problem with undergraduate textbooks…

Marcus Wilson Aug 07, 2018

In the last few weeks I’ve been talking with a colleague about magnetizable materials – what they do and how they are categorized. I’m talking about things such as iron – which, when you put them in a magnetic field, will magnetize. That makes the field bigger than you started with. Some materials will stay magnetized when you take them … Read More

Expensoheat

Marcus Wilson Jul 16, 2018

We have now been in our ‘new’ house for four months. This one still does feel a little ‘new’, being only 5 years old. It even incorporates some radical features (for New Zealand): proper insulation, double glazing (though I note that the frames are still aluminium) and well-engineered drainage from what otherwise would be a swamp. The house came with … Read More