Physics Stop

The greenhouse effect

Marcus Wilson Sep 25, 2009

I've been reading in PhysicsWorld about some grand ideas for controlling the earth's climate by engineering on a global scale. Some sound pretty fanciful, though some might be just plausible. But before I get there (which will probably be another entry) I think it's worthwhile reminding you what the greenhouse effect actually is. As in, why is it a … Read More


Marcus Wilson Sep 24, 2009

Eco-systems are of course very complex things - the success of one species is linked to the success of another, which is linked to another, and all of which are linked to outside factors such as climate etc etc.  Now there is direct evidence of another degree of complexity in the ocean eco-system, namely that fish (and other swimmy things) … Read More

Risky things

Marcus Wilson Sep 21, 2009

I love the headline at the end of last week 'Wellington quake risk halves'. As if you can wake up one morning and find that the chances of an earthquake happening today are suddenly half of what they were yesterday just because someone says so.  What next - someone decreeing that summer will last 12 months of a … Read More

The end of the week…

Marcus Wilson Sep 18, 2009

Have you ever had one of those days when you have worked flat out all day and seem to have accomplished nothing?I think that's today.  My desk looks like a tornado has been through the office. Now, I wonder, statsitically speaking, how many tornados I'd need to come through before one picked up all the loose bits of paper and … Read More

Scholarship physics questions

Marcus Wilson Sep 17, 2009

I've just been putting together a presentation for final year school children on the NZ scholarship physics exam.   NZ Scholarship is awarded to the top 3% or so of students in a particular subject in a particular year, and there is some big money up for grabs.But the exam questions for scholarship are hard.  Really.  I find them hard (remember I lecture … Read More

Geometric algebra

Marcus Wilson Sep 16, 2009

Here's a lovely quote that students will empathize with:"A recent study on the use of vectors by introductory physics students summarized the conclusions in two words: "vector avoidance". This state of mind tends to propagate through the physics curriculum. In some 25 years of graduate physics teaching, I have noted that perhaps a third of the students seem incapable of … Read More


What has log of -1 to do with a blog?

Marcus Wilson Sep 11, 2009

OK, following from my ability to break web-applications (it's not the first time I've done it - a couple of years ago I managed to break one of our staff-only applications on our website - about 30 seconds later I got a call saying "we don't know what you've done but you weren't supposed to be able to … Read More

Physicsstop breakage

Marcus Wilson Sep 10, 2009

Well, what do you know? I write an entry about complex numbers and the next thing that happens is my blog editor breaks down and I get an error message "cannot take the log of -1 at lib/MT/Template/ line 2032". Our nice support people have fixed it now, so hopefully I am readable again. Read More