Physics Stop

Climate change

Marcus Wilson Dec 10, 2009

I feel that, as a physicist, I should be making some reasonable and informed comment on the Copenhagen summit. After all, climate is immensely physicsy. We have fluid flow, conduction, convection and radiation of heat, interaction of electromagnetic radiation with electrons in molecules, scattering of light by small particles, solar activity (on second thoughts, … Read More

2

Small Transistors

Marcus Wilson Dec 09, 2009

How often do you get attracted to an article somewhere because of its outrageous headline, and then discover on reading the article that its headline, if not an outright lie, doesn't quite represent what the article is actually about?This is one that got my attention earlier this week on physorg.com.  The headline "Scientists build 'single-atom transistor' " certainly … Read More

A boost to my vocabulary

Marcus Wilson Dec 07, 2009

I learnt a new word recently, courtesy of PhysicsWorld. Yoctosecond. That's a period of time equal to ten to the power of minus twenty-four of a second. Or 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 001 seconds. As in "I'm just popping out - I'll only be a yoctosecond."Physicists (or anyone else for that matter) haven't needed to … Read More

Waves in a plasma

Marcus Wilson Dec 04, 2009

This post follows from a comment I had yesterday from Robert McCormick on the www.sciblogs.co.nz version of PhysicsStop. (Unfortunately the mapping of PhysicsStop onto the sciblogs website doesn't combine the comments - so if you read my blog through The University of Waikato website you won't have got his comment, so I attach the link below)https://sciblogs.co.nz/physics-stop/2009/12/03/rainbows/#comments Plasmas provide … Read More

Rainbows

Marcus Wilson Dec 03, 2009

The sun poked out from behind the clouds on my way in to work this morning just long enough to produce a beautiful rainbow for a few seconds. Not sure when we'll next see it.I guess most of us studied rainbows at school, but I'll throw in a couple of physics words with this comment that you may not have … Read More

1

Rocket Science and Spam

Marcus Wilson Dec 01, 2009

Well, congratulations to Rocket Lab with the launch of their Atea-1 rocket. (Watch the movie). Hopefully this will go some small way to convincing the key players in the New Zealand economy that we can and should do more (a lot more) than just agriculture and tourism.And spamming. What an unfortunate distinction for a country to hold. Spam can, … Read More

Orbits

Marcus Wilson Nov 30, 2009

Going back to my comments on the Karman line (100 km about the earth's surface), I think it's worth commenting a bit 'being in orbit' means. We are familiar with the fact that if we drop something it accelerates downwards and hits the ground. If we throw something away from us, it will still accelerate downwards and hit … Read More

14

Dazed and confused

Marcus Wilson Nov 27, 2009

Physicists love units. The best way to wind up a physicist is to tell him you were driving at 100 down the road.  One hundred what?  Just hope you don't get pulled over by a traffic cop with a physics degree or he'll ticket you for leaving your unit off, even if you were within the speed limit.A unit is … Read More

2

How to get publicity

Marcus Wilson Nov 26, 2009

For those of you wondering (and several have asked) how I managed to get a third of a page in the main section of last Sunday's Sunday Star Times, the answer is simple.  Tell the press about whatever story you want them to know about.  Some journalists can be pretty good at digging up stories, but it helps them no … Read More

Blink and you miss it

Marcus Wilson Nov 24, 2009

First collisions in the Large Hadron Colliderhttp://press.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases2009/PR17.09E.htmlOnly at a 'paltry' 0.45 TeV per beam (CERN are wanting to ramp that up to about 3.5 TeV per beam over the next few months) but one can really now say that the LHC 'works'.  … Read More