Physics Stop

The rise and rise of the science journal

Marcus Wilson Feb 04, 2010

Every time I blink I seem to get another email from a science journal that I haven't heard of inviting me to contribute to their most prestiguous publication.  It's all very flattering to get emails telling me that as a world leader in organic chemistry research I am invited to contribute to their well-read journal, but I am beginning to … Read More


Interesting but useless fact

Marcus Wilson Feb 03, 2010

According to the fount of all knowledge  -  Wikipedia ;-)    - the only three countries not to have adopted the System Internationale units are Burma/Myanmar, Liberia and the United States of America. I can't help thinking that there is something deeply significant about those three countries falling into the same group, but I can't quite put my … Read More


Remember your units

Marcus Wilson Feb 01, 2010

As any physics student knows (or should know), units are important things. By 'unit' I mean a measure of the kind of quantity you are dealing with. So if it's mass, then a kilogram, a gram, an ounce, etc are all units;  if it's distance, then kilometres, light-years, feet are all units.   Units are essential - it's not very helpful … Read More


What lightning does to your television

Marcus Wilson Jan 29, 2010

   Well, last night's thunderstorm was a bit of a feeble affair after the fireworks of Wednesday. There were a few flashes, the odd rumble, and a bit of rain, but it cleared away after an hour. Maybe somewhere else got the drenching this time. Still, it makes four days in a row of the … Read More

Wild weather in Waikato

Marcus Wilson Jan 28, 2010

Well, those of you living in the central North Island will probably have some idea already of what I'm going to say, but, for those of you who don't, I'll start by saying that the weather here has been rather predictable this week.  We've had three tropical-style days in a row, with a fourth shaping up the same way already.It … Read More

Say goodbye to the drill…

Marcus Wilson Jan 27, 2010

Here's a nice piece of applied physics research that will excite a significant minority of the population - specifically those who dread going to the dentist. Personally, I have never had any issues with drills (needles are a different story), but I know lots of people who do.The proposed method uses cold plasmas to kill off bacteria-infected dentin that would … Read More

Heads I win, tails you lose

Marcus Wilson Jan 25, 2010

The comment on my previous entry raises a few  issues with the way we feel heat.  (NB for those who normally read this blog on , you'll need to go onto physicsstop to see the comment - ) How hot we feel has more to do than just what the temperature is.  Anyone who has stood … Read More

Can you feel the cold?

Marcus Wilson Jan 21, 2010

Writing the last piece about fridges has reminded me about a comment I heard from a fellow student while I was an undergraduate. I can't remember the exact circumstances, but it quite possibly had something to do with objects in liquid nitrogen.  Anyway, the comment was something along the lines of 'The temperature's so low you can feel the cold radiating … Read More


BBQ Physics

Marcus Wilson Jan 19, 2010

Here's another little bit of physics seen in everyday stuff.  When disconnecting the gas cylinder to our camp stove while on holiday, I got a bit of a shock at how cold it was.  It shouldn't have shocked me - that's how it should be. When gas is made to expand it cools down. And in the gas cylinder, compressed gas is … Read More

Useful origami (and wine bottles)

Marcus Wilson Jan 18, 2010

Here's something silly and not-quite-entirely-useless for a Monday morning.Think of a deformable material (something solid but something you can squeeze, stretch, dent, etc). Maybe a bean bag, lump of plasticine, football etc. It might or might not return to its original position after you let go of it, but that doesn't matter. Think what happens if you squeeze it.  It … Read More