138. What is a Geiger?

138. What is a Geiger?

Today, September 30th, is the anniversary of Hans Geiger’s birth. Geiger was a student of Ernest Marsden at the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge, Shortly after he had joined, Marsden decided that it was time for him to get his hands dirty and try a...
137. Creepy objects

137. Creepy objects

After my radio broadcast on the relics of scientists in museums around the world (http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/preserved-scientists/8624266), I received a number of suggestions for creepy additions. So I’m starting a blog here on...
136. Brilliant bacteria

136. Brilliant bacteria

Sometimes a scientific paper comes out that generates a gasp of admiration at first sight. That is true of a paper just out in Physical Review Letters “Nonlinear self-action of light through biological suspensions” (Anna Bezryadina, Zhigang Chen (San Francisco...
Units of measurement

Units of measurement

The calving of a huge iceberg from Antarctica is a serious issue in the context of global warming, but has also sparked an ongoing debate on the best unit of measurement to describe its size. “The size of Delaware” screamed the initial, U.S.-based news...
What is a jerk?

What is a jerk?

Even some physicists are surprised to learn that “jerk” is a scientific measure. That’s right! A “jerk” is the time rate of change of acceleration, or (equivalently) the third derivative of distance with respect to time. Which reminds me...
My recent radio broadcasts

My recent radio broadcasts

I live a divided life, spending half the year in Australia and the other half in the UK. While in Australia, I recorded several programmes for ABC Radio National on various aspects of the science in our lives. They are now all available on podcast. Enjoy! 1. Science...
134. Flying Blind Into the Future

134. Flying Blind Into the Future

Dramatic, unforeseen change is an increasing feature of our interconnected world. But how can we prepare for it? This is a blog summary of a feature article due to appear in “The Actuary” (July edition), and on which I will be expanding in a keynote talk...
132. A great loo story

132. A great loo story

(If any readers can tell me the origin of this, I would love to know!) Academics, and especially critics, have long been associated with “high” culture. It is only within my lifetime that their attention has increasingly been drawn towards “low” culture, with Clive...