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,” […]

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 […]