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Reflections on Rosetta

On November 19, 2014

“It’s all down to Isaac Newton now. It’s down to the laws of physics.” As the world waited to hear whether a refrigerator-sized probe had landed on a comet’s surface, European Space Agency senior science advisor Mark McCaughrean spoke to the live webfeed in Germany. “If Isaac’s friendly to us, we’ll have a great landing,” […]

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I am not a smart man

On November 17, 2014

“I’m a physicist”… “Wow, you must be clever!” This is an interaction most physicists would admit to having at some point. Physics is difficult: everyone knows this. We take pride in it. Ours is the most difficult subject, the most worthy; we are the scientific elite. We are confident about our standing in academia. But […]

The value of idealized models

On September 29, 2014

Every physicist has to know the joke about the dairy farmer. Seriously, if you don’t know it, you can’t call yourself a physicist. It really should be added to the IOP’s requirements for the accreditation of physics degrees. If you have such a degree, and none of your lecturers ever told you the joke, please […]

Ireland’s particle accelerators: Out of sight, out of mind

On September 26, 2014

I am the exception in my family: I’m a scientist. There have been many professions within my family but none in the sciences. Nevertheless, many of them are fascinated by science and it was my father’s enthrallment with the sciences that began my passion into the world of discovery. As a result, I am used […]

A tough year for Australian science

On September 8, 2014

Yesterday marked a year since Australia’s conservative Liberal-National Coalition were swept to victory in the country’s federal election. For Australian scientists, it’s been a tough 12 months.