Physics Stop

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

Centrifugal carrot

Marcus Wilson Feb 23, 2010

We bought a vegetable juicer recently.   At one end you feed in all those delicious carrots and corguettes that have been growing nicely in the vegetable patch, and at the other end comes out carrot and corguette juice.  Get the right combination of vegetables, and it's a nice drink. (I don't recommend kohlrabi though. Actually, we haven't found anything nice to … Read More


The wrong kind of question

Marcus Wilson Feb 19, 2010

Following on from yesterday's discussion of the paper by Gire et al. I'll remark on one little aspect of this study that physics teachers and lecturers need to take note of. (Well, in my opinion they do, and I've got a steadily increasing pile of literature to back me up on this).One of the questions that was … Read More

How does a physicist think?

Marcus Wilson Feb 18, 2010

As part of my reading for the Postgraduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching (henceforth known as the PGCert(TT) )  I've come across this article by Gire et al. on how physics students think.   The study looked at how closely the physics-thought-processes of undergraduate and graduate students aligned with the physics-thought-processes of practising physicists.    In other words, do students studying physics think … Read More

I hate maths…

Marcus Wilson Feb 16, 2010

I've spent most of the morning grappling with a bit of troublesome mathematics.  I can tell that I've had enough, because I'm starting to see greek letters tango with roman ones across the computer screen before raising themselves to inappropriate powers and differentiate themselves into oblivion, and graphs of noisy data that are beginning to look suspiciously like Mt Pirongia...I … Read More


Technology wins again…

Marcus Wilson Feb 15, 2010

It was nice to hear this morning that someone actually has won the America's cup, and there is now the prospect of getting back to some proper racing again instead of slugging it out in a courtroom. In the end it was superior technology, rather than a superior legal team, that won the day for Oracle. (Though the two may … Read More


Does my teaching work?

Marcus Wilson Feb 11, 2010

This year, I've finally decided (more accurately, finally got around to doing it) to undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching.  In plain English, that means do some training that actually prepares me to teach at university. "What?" I hear you say - "You mean you haven't got any qualification to teach at university?".  Nope. And the same is true … Read More

Dynamic equilibrium

Marcus Wilson Feb 10, 2010

I keep a list in a notebook about possible things I could write a blog entry about. When I see something in the media, or something happens at work, anything to prompt me to think about a particular area of physics really, and I scribble it down and may choose to inflict it upon the world at a later date. For example, I … Read More


Where the money is

Marcus Wilson Feb 08, 2010

I was reading this weekend in January's physicsworld some curiously contrasting articles on the state of physics funding in various countries. The UK has recently announced some serious cutbacks to their international collaborative projects, in an attempt to claw back 40 million pounds that was mis-spent a couple of years ago following an accounting error.  Whoops. For example, there … Read More