I was at a conference last week, in Engelberg in Switzerland, when I came across sunday driver. Sunday driver is a gene. We humans all have sunday-driver genes, as well as number of other oddly named genes, including frizzled, dishevelled, frodo, pavarotti, sonic hedgehog,..

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EksamenToday I was proofreading a fold out card of handy formulas for A level physics students. Ohm’s law, Newton’s law of gravity etc. Useful formula but carefully checking dozens of them was very tedious. I also read the Nobel Laureate Prof Sir Harry Kroto’s latest polemic. Basically, he says that science is not a set of formulas, it is a method of determining the truth.

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I got an unexpectedly pleasant package in the post yesterday. Continue reading »

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Ever since I graduated, I’ve been quite fond of May.  It’s a nice quiet month in the University, good for getting things done, and the weather is often nice.  Obviously during my degree, I appreciated very little of this as I spent every second in the library trying desperately to pass my exams and the weather seemed nice to spite me – which is where all the students have vanished to now.  In outreach, there are few school visits as school pupils are suffering from the same problem and have mostly gone on study leave by now. Continue reading »

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Pyrite 60608I am writing a research presentation for Wednesday; I am talking at the Department of Physics at the University of Bath. I will be presenting results on crystallisation in grooves obtained by Amanda Page, a PhD student of mine. You can read a short news item on this work in ScienceNOW here. As I was writing the conclusion of the talk, I was reflecting on how the research has evolved as we found more about how the crystals formed in the grooves. Continue reading »

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As I write, my legs are a little bit sore. The reason is, to my shame, that I don’t take enough exercise, and the annual Physics Department 5-a-side football tournament, which took place earlier this week, really reminded me of this fact. Sore legs, though, are worth the fun.

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When we were kids we were all told about Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Goldilocks tried the Father Bear’s porridge and that was too hot for her. She then tried the Mother Bear’s porridge and that was too cold for her, but when she tried the Baby Bear’s porridge that was just right. Inspired by this, physicists often use Goldilocks to indicate something that is just right. The most common example of this is a Goldilocks planet. Continue reading »

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ChocolateI don’t know whether it is sad or ironic that today I watched “The Great British Menu” while eating a pizza. But anyway one of the chefs was doing “chocolate tempering”, for his dessert. It looked great, the chocolate had a beautiful sheen and he got the highest marks. I want one. Continue reading »

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Custard DessertI enjoyed a rhubarb yoghurt a couple of days ago and I was putting the washed container in the recycling today. Like many yoghurts it was thickened with starch (tapioca starch in this case).  Basically people who make yoghurts add starch and similar things to yoghurt so people think they are getting more than what they are getting, which is milk, water and a bit of fruit. They will then pay a pound for what is a mixture of cheap (starch is dirt cheap) ingredients plus some fruit. Yoghurts can be very profitable.

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It is Friday, and I was talking with a colleague on the terrace of the staff club. It was a lovely evening, and for some reason we ended up chatting up about the modelling that is done in places like the City of London. The math they use there is pretty much the same that we and many other physicists having been using since the time of Einstein.

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