Physics Stop

What’s that buzzing?

Marcus Wilson Nov 12, 2009

(Amended to correct major factual blunder - whoops - and more details added from original post of earlier today).I was fascinated to read in the Herald this morning about the anti-teenager sounds that are being used to deter graffiti artists. High-pitched sounds that only the young can hear are being used to deter people away from places that … Read More


Group dynamics

Marcus Wilson Nov 10, 2009

Well, I went down to Wellington last Thursday and presented at the Science Express event at Te Papa. It was the third time I've done a talk in that manner on the Large Hadron Collider, and it was for me intriguing how the audiences have picked up on different things each time.The first time (Hamilton, late … Read More

Bring on the computer

Marcus Wilson Nov 09, 2009

To err is human, but to make a real mess requires a computer. Whether it is sending out a gas bill for ten million dollars, or sending a letter to the parents of a one-hundred-and-four year-old woman reminding them that she is due to start school, the rise of the computer has certainly opened up new avenues for getting things … Read More


Happy Birthday

Marcus Wilson Nov 06, 2009

PhysicsStop is one today!That means I'm a year older than I was when I wrote the first entry, give or take a few nanoseconds as a result of special and general relativistic effects while on aircraft journeys. Eeek.  … Read More


What’s the catch?

Marcus Wilson Nov 05, 2009

Last weekend Alison Campbell and I took a trip to New Plymouth to do a day session with final year school students to help them prepare for their physics and biology scholarship exams. (Alison did the Biology half, I did the physics). I do hope the students got something useful out of it. Doing this kind of thing certainly … Read More

The endless pace of technology

Marcus Wilson Nov 03, 2009

I discovered at coffee time this morning that one of my work colleagues has never seen a record. That's record, as in the black vinyl disc with grooves. This isn't a child, it's an adult old enough to have a degree. From this I conclude that 1. The pace of technology is faster than I appreciated or 2. I'm older than … Read More


Beyond cornflakes

Marcus Wilson Nov 02, 2009

This is something that Aimee Whitcroft at the Science Media Centre in Wellington drew my attention to - thanks Aimee.Most of us who have ever eaten breakfast cereal will probably be familiar with the phenomenon whereby the larger flakes of whatever-your-favourite-breakfast-is tend to be at the top of the packet, whereas the smaller flakes tend to accumulate at … Read More


The3is in three final

Marcus Wilson Oct 30, 2009

I attended the final of the The3is in Three competition on Wednesday night. It was a really entertaining evening; compere Te Radar was in great form, as were the eight finalists  (N.B. I know that those of you who are not from NZ won't have the slightest idea who Te Radar is, but I'm sure Google could solve … Read More

Using words is OK

Marcus Wilson Oct 29, 2009

I'm in the thick of marking exam papers. In physics, a lot of what a student does is mathematically based, so a fair bit of any exam is going to contain calculations of things. But don't think that it is compulsory to make your answer totally incomprehensible.Many of the exam answers I see from students look like the result of … Read More



Marcus Wilson Oct 28, 2009

There are some lovely physics demonstrations that get repeatedly wheeled-out for things like Open Day and visits from school groups. Things like holding a spinning bike wheel on a rotating chair (flip it over and you start rotating - conservation of angular momentum) and levitating a piece of superconductor above a magnet at liquid nitrogen temperatures.  But one thing that I've … Read More