Physics Stop

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/ContextHandlers.pm line 2032". Our nice support people have fixed it now, so hopefully I am readable again. Read More

Complex numbers

Marcus Wilson Sep 09, 2009

Sometimes the divide between physics and mathematics is a thin one. Particularly between theoretical physics (which is what I do most of) and mathematics. The difference is that physicists have to keep one foot loosely planted in reality. It's true that sometimes it just the tip of a little toe that's behind the reality-line, but look hard enough and you'll … Read More

Fog

Marcus Wilson Sep 08, 2009

Well, what does one expect living in Waikato? Four days of gorgeous spring weather in a row is a bit much to ask for. So the fog was back this morning, and with it the idiot car drivers who don't put their lights on. Why? Do they want to die? A white car with no lights in fog is really … Read More

Peer review

Marcus Wilson Sep 06, 2009

Recently I was asked by a scientific journal to review an article that had been sent to them. This is pretty standard procedure for journals, and every scientist will know what I am talking about. For those non-scientists, peer review is a way of ensuring (or rather, trying to ensure) quality in scientific publication. If someone writes an article and … Read More

Pesky dishwasher

Marcus Wilson Sep 03, 2009

We've had our dishwasher for a couple of years, acquiring it after the one we inherited with the house went out with a bang (and shot sparks the entire length of the kitchen.) It's a nice dishwasher - that is, it washes dishes nicely, but it's got an annoying habit that I have just experienced for about the zillionth time. Read More

The Electric Car and metrics

Marcus Wilson Sep 01, 2009

I was reading in the New Zealand Herald at the weekend about a curious problem relating to electric cars. But it's not a technological problem - it's one of language.My car runs on petrol. It's fuel economy is pretty easy to measure. Start with a full tank, take a note of the odometer, run it until the gauge gets … Read More