Physics Stop

Gravitational Waves

Marcus Wilson Oct 20, 2009

One of my undergraduate students has been researching gravitational waves this year. Last Friday, he gave a nice presentation on the subject.Gravitational waves are one of the many examples of waves in physics. We are perhaps more used to waves on the surface of water, or waves along a guitar string, or electromagnetic waves (such as radio waves and light), and, … Read More

The3is in Three

Marcus Wilson Oct 19, 2009

I reckon that every scientist should be able to explain his or her work to any audience, in any situation. Whether it is a 30 second conversation with a six year old with the aid of a pencil and paper, an oral presentation to the general public (a la cafe scientifique), or a detailed effort using all the … Read More

The physicist joke

Marcus Wilson Oct 17, 2009

So, for those who want it in full, here is the joke I referred to earlier.A geneticist, a physicist, and a statistician are all asked by a gambler to advise him on which horse to place his money in the Melbourne Cup. Read More

More chemistry-bashing

Marcus Wilson Oct 15, 2009

There is nothing a physicist likes better than to get one up on a chemist. In a friendly way of course. Rather like New Zealand beating Australia at some sporting event.  So it is with great delight that I hear that the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to a physicist. (See commentary by The … Read More

Large Hadron Collider activity

Marcus Wilson Oct 14, 2009

Activity is really hotting up (should that be 'cooling down'?) at CERN as the Large Hadron Collider is prepared again for proton-proton collisions, hopefully in November. Most of the beam tunnel is now at operating temperature (1.9 K), with the rest expected to be ready very soon. I would expect to see the collider hitting mainstream media again shortly. The latest … Read More

Everything’s relative

Marcus Wilson Oct 13, 2009

What does 'big' mean? How big does something have to be in order to reasonably carry that adjective? The answer, of course, is 'it depends'.For example, I am pretty tall. But after standing next to someone much taller than me on a tram last week, I realise that maybe I am not so tall after all. I got to see what it was … Read More

Who owns the moon?

Marcus Wilson Oct 12, 2009

What gives NASA the right to hurl projectiles at 1.5 miles per second into the surface of the moon? Interesting, definitely. Useful, perhaps. Reasonable? I'm not so sure. Did this mission go through some kind of ethics approval?  … Read More

Approximately speaking

Marcus Wilson Oct 08, 2009

Physicists are notorious for making approximations.  This character trait is the subject of many jokes - for example, one rather rambling one involving a physicist advising a punter on which horse to put his money ends with the line "Oh, didn't I tell you - my calculations assumed a spherical horse rolling through a vacuum."But approximations are useful things. The … Read More

Brief pause

Marcus Wilson Oct 02, 2009

I'm having an extra llllooonnnngggg weekend, so blogging may take a back seat for a few days, but I shall be back very soon. Read More