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.

Perplexed by Pauli

On August 15, 2014

A rather pervasive meme claiming that nothing ever really touches anything else has been circulating on the internet for a number of years. I think, although I’m not entirely certain, that it may well have its origins in an explanation by a certain Michio Kaku. This type of explanation later formed the basis of a […]

Is university structure anti-research?

On August 12, 2014

Last week, I suggested a collaboration between veterinary medicine and engineering. The graduate student in our School of Veterinary Medicine was interested in investigating how accurate the internet could be in tracking the progression of a disease. Meanwhile, the professor in Engineering was an expert in designing software that could extract trends from sources such […]

Lies, damned lies, and Ofsted’s pseudostatistics

On July 23, 2014

It’s been a week since Michael Gove was unceremoniously given the boot from his role as Education Secretary. The cheers of teachers still echo around staff rooms and schoolyards up and down the country. Gove was variously described as incredibly unpopular, a hate figure, utterly ruthless, and a “toxic liability”. And that was just by […]

Independence could hurt Scottish science

On June 24, 2014

The nationalist administration in Scotland’s devolved parliament will, on 18 September, ask those living north of the border to vote on the question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country’.  Scotland’s academics, like everyone else, are considering what is best for their research and teaching outcomes, what is best for Scotland’s universities as a whole, and […]