Physics Stop

Collisions at the LHC

Marcus Wilson Apr 12, 2010

While I've been away the Large Hadron Collider has been busy smashing protons together, and is now beginning to acquire some data that will be making some PhD students very happy. This is one of the images that has been released by CERN: (see shows a collision in the ATLAS detector  (the largest of the six LHC detectors … Read More

Results of the mobile phone experiment

Marcus Wilson Apr 01, 2010

Well, I have now done themobile phone experiment in a lecture.  The question was, is a bucket of water enough to shield the electromagnetic communication between a cellphone and the nearest mast?  So, I wrapped my phone in glad wrap (or cling film, for those who don't live in NZ), put it in a sealable plastic bag (like … Read More


Goodbye old technology and hello new

Marcus Wilson Mar 31, 2010

First the new stuff:Judging by the excited twittering of the last day or so, there are a few rather excited people at CERN. . It's now running and producing collisions at 3.5 TeV per beam. We are well in the realm of new physics.  The Higgs boson might feel a little nervous now - it will find it increasingly difficult … Read More

What goes up… must come down

Marcus Wilson Mar 26, 2010

Yesterday morning while driving into work I was reminded that this week is 'Balloons over Waikato' - the annual hot air balloon festival.  It was hard to miss; I counted 20 balloons making their way gracefully over south-east Hamilton and drifting slowly towards Morrinsville. (NB: I counted the balloons AFTER I had parked the car, not while driving, … Read More

Mind games for physicists

Marcus Wilson Mar 24, 2010

Here's a gem of a paper from Jonathan Tuminaro and Edward Redish.The authors have carried out a detailed analysis of the discussions a group of physics students had when solving a particular problem. They've worked hard (the researchers, as well as the students) - the first case study they chose was a conversation 45 minutes long.While tackling the … Read More

The invisibility cloak

Marcus Wilson Mar 22, 2010

Yes, the headline writers are at it again, talking about those crazy scientists designing invisibility cloaks. As usual, the articles I've seen in the papers (e.g. the front page of The Waikato Times) and popular internet sites are high in 'Harry Potter' and 'Star Trek' and low in science.Research into this kind of thing is not new, but it has … Read More

Mobile phone physics

Marcus Wilson Mar 19, 2010

Just occasionally, I have a crazy thought regarding a physics demonstration.   This is one that I'm thinking about inflicting on my third year electromagnetism class.  We've been discussing the way electromagnetic waves travel (or rather, do not travel) through electrical conductors. Basically, conductors allow electric currents to flow in response to an applied electric field (in simple terms this just means applying a voltage). Read More


ET home phone

Marcus Wilson Mar 17, 2010

This month's feature article in PhysicsWorld is a plea by well-known science (particularly physics) writer Paul Davies to relaunch (or rather, expand) the search for extra-terrestrial life.  The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has been around for nearly fifty years, focusing on analyzing data from radio telescopes.  But Paul Davies thinks there are other places where … Read More


My kind of blog

Marcus Wilson Mar 15, 2010

This is what I like to see - a fellow blogger (Brian Clegg) extolling the virtues of physics blogging and tweeting.What's interesting about Brian's entry is that he talks about how a blog can trigger a discussion that increases the quality of the original posting.  Like peer review for a scientific paper, but informal, instantaneous, and more widespread. Read … Read More