Sunday, November 14, 2010

A video camera is sent to space!

Here is a cool video of an HD video camera that is attached to a big balloon filled with helium and sent to the edge of space. It's about 6 minutes long, but worth the watch.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

Who says you have to be NASA to have a space program. Maybe we need to start the Longburn Adventist College Space Exploration Program.  LACSEP? Not quite catchy enough, I'll keep working on it :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Physics marking schedules are now in the Resource Drive.

Hi all,
I have put the marking schedules for year 12 Physics and year 13 Physics in the resource drive, in the folder called "Mr Woollaston" It would be worthwhile for physics students to look at the schedules for their exams. We won't have time to go over these in class.

Happy studying!

~Mr W

study cartoons, study cartoon, study picture, study pictures, study image, study images, study illustration, study illustrations

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is the Universe a Hologram?

Star Trek's "Holodeck"
Recently I have come across a few articles on the geeky sites that I look at about how Physicists have decided that the universe is kind of like a hologram. But perhaps the most experience that I have had with holograms is watching Star Trek. So in an effort to understand what they mean, I did a bit more research. This post is an attempt to make sense of what they are thinking. I hope it helps. I'm not sure that I am completely convinced, but it is an interesting idea.

The concept of a hologram is probably different to what you would expect. It is actually nothing to do with "3D photography". In fact holography is more like storing sound data on a CD. The sound isn't actually on the CD, but the information that is needed for your stereo to convert that data back to sound is. This is what holograms do - they store the information about a 3D object on a film in a way that it can be "recreated" as long as you have that film. They use lasers and the concept of interference to "record" how an object looks and with this information they can recreate the 3D image of what the object looks like without it being there.

One of the coolest things about a hologram is that each part of the hologram contains all of the information about the object. For example, if you made a hologram of your self, and then cut it in half, and looked at it again, if wouldn't only show half of you. It would still show all of you, but with less quality. If you cut it in half again, then it still shows all of you, but even less quality. Every part of the holographic film contains all of the information!

In physics, there is a very important speed limit - the speed of light. Not even information can ever travel faster than light. Or so we thought. But recent discoveries in quantum mechanics have proved otherwise. There are certain particles that stay connected to each other somehow: it doesn't matter whether they are 10 cm apart or 10 billion light years, they each "know" what is happening to the other one. This flies in the face of our current understanding of physics.

So where does the hologram come into it? Well, some pretty brainy guys have suggested that our universe is actually more complex than we have realised. Our closely held theories are actually just scraping the surface of reality. Here is a good analogy: Imagine an aquarium containing a fish. Imagine also that you are unable to see the aquarium directly and your knowledge about it and what it contains comes from two television cameras, one directed at the aquarium's front and the other directed at its side. As you stare at the two television monitors, you might assume that the fish on each of the screens are separate entities. After all, because the cameras are set at different angles, each of the images will be slightly different. But as you continue to watch the two fish, you will eventually become aware that there is a certain relationship between them. When one turns, the other also makes a slightly different but corresponding turn; when one faces the front, the other always faces toward the side. If you remain unaware of the full scope of the situation, you might even conclude that the fish must be instantaneously communicating with one another, but this is clearly not the case.

So, like the fish in the example, our universe may actually be more deeply connected than we thought, and these strange particles that don't behave as we expect might actually be the same thing. Like in a hologram, these things look like they are separate, but in fact the information for them is stored in the same place. Perhaps it is our perception that is wrong.

Another reason that the hologram idea is getting some attention is that the universe seems to have a maximum resolution. If you thing of a computer screen, then the resolution is dependent on how many pixels you have. We all have the notion that the scenery that we look at with our own eyes has an infinite resolution, but that isn't the case. there is actually a maximum resolution that we can get, just like an image on a screen. However, this maximum resolution is in three dimensions, if you can visualize that.

So our universe has a number of properties that have caused scientists to wonder if it is a giant, complex hologram.

Makes you think.

PS: Don't ever believe a scientist if they try to tell you they have got it all figured out.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sailing stones that defy physics

This picture shows some examples of one of the weirdest things on our planet - rocks that zoom around the desert (well, zoom in geological time frames) but no-one knows how they manage it. Some of these rocks have masses over 300 kg. The go uphill, downhill, change directions, keep going straight or don't move at all depending on ... actually we have no idea what their movement depends on.

There are a number of theories. Rain, wind, fog, ice or dew are all on the cards, but there are a number of problems with these. First, it's a desert. Not much precipitation of any kind. Second, if it was just wind, it doesn't explain why some rocks move one way, but there could be a rock right next to it that goes the other way, and another that doesn't move at all. There should be some sort of consistency.

This one is just crazy.

No one has ever seen a rock move. They seem to be extremely shy. One guy tried to use geosynchronous satellites to track their movements. He came up with some interesting data, but still has no idea how or why the rocks move.

One of the latest theories currently being researched is that the rocks are subject to a magnetic effect. From a physics point of view, it's one of those things that don't make a lot of sense. For movement to occur, there must be a force. I guess it just shows that there are some things we don't yet fully understand.

Lord Kelvin said in the 1900's: "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now." 

I respectfully disagree.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A great website

Hi all, I haven't posted for a while - sorry about that!
This is a great site that I found, which explains some of the tricky questions:
Why is the sky blue? Why does mint taste cold?
All these answered for you with just enough of the science to make them sound flash!

Also thanks to my extensive research, I have now found evidence that sarcasm is a form of supportiveness. Thanks Dilbert:)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Year 10 Mathematics Assignment

Just kidding guys, I'm actually not that mean. Just remember to bring a compass and ruler to every maths class next term, otherwise I will have to bring out angry Mr Woollaston again.

Have a good break! Think about maths!

Mr W.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Good reading for those evil geniuses out there...

Hey all,
Here is a great post of ways to destroy the earth with some physics. And we are not talking just a bit broken, we are talking completely stuffed.

All legit physics as far as current human understanding goes.

Mr W.

PS - I'm not an evil genius hell bent on destroying the earth. But I do think it's handy to know this stuff :)

large hadron collider

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Year 13 Marking schedule.

Hi guys,
Wow I haven't posted to here for a while. Here is a link to the marking schedule:

Mr W

Also a cool photo - Kieran, the new face of physics!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Year 10 Maths Assignment

Your assignment is to write approximately two pages of size 12 text on one of the following Mathematics topics. It should be the kind of thing that someone with very little maths knowledge can understand. You can include pictures, diagrams, and anything else that may help explain your topic. The topics are quite complex, it's your job to make them simple. Do not copy and paste; it must be in your own words. I can and will check this.

Here are the topics:
  • Knot theory.
  • Catastrophe theory.
  • Fractels.
  • Imaginary numbers.
  • Matrix algebra.
  • Differential Equations.
  • Calculus.
  • Set Theory.
You should make sure you cover all of the following aspect on your report:
  • A brief, simple description of the topic.
  • How and when the topic came to be invented, and who was involved.
  • What the topic is used for in the Mathematics world.
  • If it has been applied to the real world, how?
You have the next two periods and then the holidays to complete this. Remember to reference where you get your information from.

If you have any questions, email me at and I will get back to you as soon as I can, but it won't be until the holidays because I am on camp.

Here are a few good websites to make a start with:

Have fun!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Year 12 Physics Assignment Instructions

Hey, I know you all love homework in the holidays, so there are two things that I need you to do in the next 3 weeks. These are designed to get you thinking, revising and summarising the notes and concepts we have learned this term. Bottom line: they will be beneficial to your learning.
Just do it!

The first part of the assignment is to plan, design and draw an eye catching poster that explains one of the subtopics in kinematics. It is a real challenge to put a good poster together, balancing space and information. here is a good one that I really like about coffee:

(click it to enlarge)

The subtopics you have to choose from are:
  • Vectors
  • Motion (the 4 equations)
  • Gravity
  • Force
  • Inertia
  • Newton's Laws
  • Projectile Motion
  • Circular Motion
Please make sure you don't all do the same one. I want to have one poster of each at least. Note that this doesn't have to be done on a computer, but you have this period and next period in the computer room to research or brainstorm the information, diagrams and pictures you may use.

If you have any questions, email me or ask using the comment section below. I wont be able to reply until I get back from camp, but you will have time over the holidays :)

The second part of the assignment is a written part.
You are to investigate, research and write a paragraph on the physics behind all of the following photos.

An example is given at this webpage:

Here are the photos:

(Projectile Motion)


(breaking the sound barrier)

(The force of sound)

Again, any questions you have, email me.
Have fun!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Physics Project

Hey all,
I'm gonna try and get one of these going. They look pretty cool.
I love physics!
The best thing is, electricity is usually really hard to see. this makes it hang around long enough to be a visual thing. Awesome!
Mr W.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shout out to Year 12 Maths!!

Hey, welcome to my blog.
Sometimes I will get you to come on over for resources, help with assignments or just random funny stuff.

Definitely worth bookmarking, and you can become a follower if you want!

Here's a funny one...

See you in class tomorrow


Friday, January 29, 2010

This is awesome!

Hey all, hope you have had a good summer. Just about time for school again, I'm sure you are all ready and pumping!

This is a funny comic for all those who saw Avatar in 3d (or 2d). I managed to catch the 3d version in Vancouver. Awesome! 

PS - let me know if you don't get it. It's ok. Not everyone gets maths humour.