Force for awesome: thanks and farewell, Dr Peter Ireland

So very, very much fun physics stuff this week on @RealScientists with @Hippopeteamus aka Dr Peter Ireland of the Uni of Newcastle at the tiller. Despite the minor handicap of being several hundred km from his office and lab for the duration of the week (which happened to coincide with a family ski holiday), Pete still managed to take our followers on a road trip through some of the coolest highways and byways of applied physics – from his own interests in foams, bubbles and tribocharging (static electricity to your mum) to simple-but-brilliant dissections of the physics behind lightning, cracking, why glass ISN’T a liquid after all, and how jet fighters with forward-swept wings manage to prevent themselves frisbeeing hopelessly through the air like a ninja star. Usually. Oh, and heaps of photos from his trip to NASA, because NASA.


The topic-based conversations were so great we’ve decided to Storify them separately, as well as our usual capture-all archiving of Pete’s full week (Part 1 and Part 2). These will pop up in the next few hours, so check back later for links to our curator conversations on…

Glass with care: it’s not a liquid after all (so there)

Winging it: the sound barrier, variable-geometry, forward-swept, backward-swept and ‘sticky-outy’ (technical term) wings

Thunderbolts and lightning: very very frightening (tribocharging gets turbocharged)

Fractured fairytales: cracks, fractures and self-healing materials

No need to diss, no need to bring static: tribocharging 101

Thanks once again to Pete for an exceptionally fun week on the account where I’m sure everyone learned a little or a lot about a lot more than a little. Keep following him on his own account, and stay tuned for next week’s curator – evolutionary geneticist and Young Australian Skeptics overlord Jack Scanlan.


James is a recovering scientist and escaped postdoc who works in research management at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He's now retired from active @RealScientists duty, after serving from the project's beginnings in 2013 through to mid 2015. When not managing research, surviving #PlanetParenthood or pretending not to be an expat Australian in the Deep South of NZ, he tweets @theotherdrsmith.

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