Physics Stop

The LHC ticks onwards

Marcus Wilson Mar 11, 2010

Last month, CERN took the decision to run The Large Hadron Collider for the next eighteen months or so, up to a maximum energy of 3.5 TeV per beam, before having an extended shutdown period to prepare to take it up to its design maximum of 7 TeV per beam.I am sure this will come as welcome news … Read More


Fallstreak cloud

Marcus Wilson Mar 10, 2010

Those of you who check out the NZ metservice website frequently, may remember last week's 'photo-of-the-week':It's of fallstreak cloud, and this example was spotted by my mother-in-law, Barbara Seccombe, off the coast from New Plymouth recently.  (Photo credit to my father-in-law, Wally Seccombe, used with permission).It's not something you see everyday, so I asked my brother (Damian Wilson), who is a … Read More

Heat transfer within edible objects

Marcus Wilson Mar 08, 2010

The veggie-juicer in our kitchen will happily take fruit, such as apples and oranges. Apparently, in the case of the orange, it works best if the fruit is cold (but not frozen) throughout. So here's the question my wife asked me last week: If I have an orange at room temperature, and want to cool it to fridge temperature … Read More

Tectonic Plates and Angular Momentum

Marcus Wilson Mar 05, 2010

As we know, the earth spins on its axis once every twenty four hours.  (Well, actually it doesn't, but we'll leave aside the difference between solar and sidereal days for the purpose of this entry). The spinning earth posses something we physicists call angular momentum.   It is the 'spinning' version of linear momentum;  the latter being the product of … Read More

Science research works

Marcus Wilson Mar 02, 2010

I was pleased to read in February's PhysicsWorld that a spin-off company started by Henning Sirringhaus and Richard Friend (the latter being one of my old university lecturers) has launched an exciting product into the electronics market - the Que. (Don't ask me how to say it, nor why they have chose such awful colours for their website.)   Think of … Read More


Just what did Rutherford get up to?

Marcus Wilson Mar 01, 2010

This story, reported by Hamish Johnston, is interesting. Did Rutherford leave something nasty lurking in his lab in Manchester? What mutant lifeforms are slowly evolving at the back of his old filing cabinet? Is Coronation Street safe? What hideous organism is about to eat its way out of the building and destroy half of North West England?  Horror movie and … Read More

Ethicis in physics

Marcus Wilson Feb 26, 2010

Physicists don't usually have to put too many proposals before ethics committees in their working lives. (For the uninitiated, in simplistic terms an ethics committee is where a proposal for an experiment on/involving animals and/or humans will be discussed, to see if it is 'appropriate'. Universities are full of them, and my biologist / psychologist colleagues know them well.) Compared … Read More

Appraisal doesn’t equal Evaluation

Marcus Wilson Feb 25, 2010

I spent yesterday afternoon in a seminar discussing how my teaching can be analyzed for its effectiveness. One much used word is 'appraisal'.   Students may recognize that as meaning those annoying questionnaires that get thrown in front of them in the last two minutes of the final lecture of the year, in which they need to answer questions on the … Read More


What’s so dangerous about high voltage?

Marcus Wilson Feb 24, 2010

There was a short piece on the television news last night about the 'Taser' weapon now being used by the NZ police force.  I always listen carefully to popular media when they discuss electrical things, since there is a quagmire of terminology that is often used incorrectly.   This time, however, I didn't pick-up incorrectly used terms - "50 thousand volts" was mentioned, but … Read More