A PHYSICIST WRITES . . .
Welcome! This website contains the columns that I’ve been writing since July 2002 for the newsletter of the Thames Valley Group of Advanced Motorists. When I started, I had only a handful of topics in mind. I never guessed that not far short of 16 years later I would still be writing on the oddities of motoring (though other topics do creep in!) as seen through a physicist’s eye.
The columns are of course personal opinion and don’t represent the views of either the Thames Valley Group or the IAM. I am happy for them to be reprinted in other newsletters and elsewhere, over my name and under the heading A Physicist Writes..., together with a mention of the Thames Valley Group and the original date of the column (so as to explain any reference to past events).
I have added a page that ought to be of interest to any air traveller. It contains vital advice (transcribed from a TV programme) on how to increase your chances of survival in the extremely unlikely event that you find yourself in an aircraft that has to make a crash-landing. Unless you ‘don’t want to know’, click here to read it.
If you are not an advanced driver yourself, take a look at the Information page (click here). Let me know if you would like me to email you when I add more columns, every two or three months. And do please pass on the address of this site (www.petersoul.co.uk) to anyone you think might enjoy it or benefit from it.
Click on a year or month link below, or word-search the columns if you prefer.
2018: the latest on electric cars, obstacles to self-driving, the substitute phone...
2017: bicycling, the risk of an accident, smart motorways, French experiences...
2016: views from space, centre white lines, licences at 70, Olympic outcomes...
2015: avoiding deer, viewing the sun, extra-terrestial life, the story of a shunt...
2014: fuel consumption, clearing the windscreen, the colour of your new car...
2013: traffic-light dilemmas, space-saver spare tyres, risks on the roads...
2012: black spots, reaching 100, basketball on wheels, speeds high & low...
2011: electric cars, Clarkson in the dark, road trains, levelling headlights...
2010: hatching, Toyotas recalled, cars and hills in 3D, Legionnaires’ Disease...
2009: blue m-way signs, cruise control, speed-limit silliness, deceleration sense...
2008: seven senses, seeing what’s ahead, mind-work, careless overtaking...
2007: other drivers, hazard and risk, safer steering, a new Highway Code...
2006: the great trunk roads, sliding about, all sorts of energy, failing eyesight...
2005: judging speeds, steering straight, driving habits, stopping-distances...
2004: blind spots, wheel-nuts, dozing off, roundabouts, long molecules...
2003: lighting, eye and brain, M4 queues, roads in Eire, acceleration sense...
2002: cat’s-eyes, tyre grip, listening to speed, M4 noise, driving for comfort...
Information on advanced driving
July (eyes in the dark)
September (tyre grip, acceleration, how to be a speed camera)
October (motorway noise)
November (travelling in comfort)
January (over-working the brain)
February (lighting up)
March (lighting up — continued)
April (eye, brain and the road ahead)
May (tyres and mileages)
June (speedos and other meters)
July (eye, brain and the road ahead — continued)
September (doctors’ surgeries and motorway queues)
October (writing from Ireland)
November (position, speed, acceleration sense)
January (door pillars, blind spots, rear-view mirrors)
February (shuttered lamps, black ice, invisible horses)
March (now you see it, now you don’t)
April (turning wheel-nuts and corners)
May (roundabouts, M4 sightings, signs in pairs)
June (John Dunlop, long molecules, astonishing adhesion)
July (lessons in staying awake)
September (headaches, Moiré patterns, road layouts)
October (what’s your speed?)
November (losing sleep — twice a year)
January (questions, questions)
February (what’s your speed? — continued)
March (steering a straight line)
April (the force of habit)
May (from one car to the next)
June (reacting to amber)
July (road markings and surfaces)
September (stopping within the distance)
October (trouble with washer nozzles, tax discs, parking signs)
November (stopping within the distance — continued)
January (filling to the brim, air-bag safety, spare specs in Spain)
February (the great trunk roads)
March (all sorts of energy)
April (all sorts of energy — continued)
May (ideas for your safety)
June (sliding hither and thither)
July (silliness and common sense)
September (potential energy, green cars, high technology)
October (don’t be blind to blindness)
November (anticipating the 2007 Highway Code)
January (other drivers — oncoming, on roundabouts, on your tail)
February (Beirut traffic-lights, fading road-signs, the Highway Code still awaited)
March (looking behind you)
April (muddled mathematics, scattered sunlight)
May (wasteful headlights, doubtful percentages, unhelpful indicators)
June (anniversary thoughts)
July (hazard, risk and accident)
September (learning from Irish experience)
October (astronomical distances, safe steering)
November (cutting the new and bigger Highway Code down to size)
January (seeing after dark, handling jump-leads, buying a starter-pack)
February (from 0 to 60, from sidelights to headlights, from England to Wales)
March (seven sorts of sense)
April (seeing clearly and not so clearly)
May (sheep, horses and nightmares)
June (a word beginning with m)
July (bottle-necks, pillow-humps, cat's-eyes, traffic-lights)
September (speeding up and slowing down)
October (all in the mind)
November (instant flashing, French thinking, careless overtaking)
January (signs of blue)
February (light-emitting diodes, red-light discipline, upside-down arrows)
March (the keys to good driving)
April (old cars, new directions)
May (gearing up for the journey)
June (hatching, entering, exiting, escaping)
July (my next car could be cruise controlled...)
September (silly ideas about speed limits)
October (induced oscillations, overlooked hazards, a corrected sign)
November (deceleration sense, auditory nonsense)
January (hatching to the left of us...)
February (things that might surprise you)
March (calls and recalls)
April (first cars and fast cars)
May (stereoscopic sights)
June (la photo du jour)
July (legionnaires and footballers)
September (up at the limit, down on the ground)
October (failing to pass, failing to steer, failing to reverse)
November (accelerating on the spot, expanding on the map, growing on the lip)
January (winter grip, Christmas gloom, electric anxiety)
February (coasting to a halt)
March (Clarkson by moonlight)
April (electric cars — charging ahead)
May (witness statements, laid-back tricycles, stopping distances)
June (getting ready to board a road train)
July (arriving home, alarming silence, amplifying force)
September (Clarkson on charge, chaos in the sky, confusion over signs)
October (controlling traffic, lowering premiums, reducing horizons)
November (aligning clocks, headlights and percentages)
January (in a class of my own when driving or walking)
February (invisible motorcycles and black spots)
March (John Humphrys, Robbie the Robot, Ludwig van Beethoven)
April (listening to my Corolla and inspecting a driving licence)
May (driving, breath-testing and hanging in France)
June (writing a hundred times)
July (cars evolving into computers, for better or worse)
September (from Glyndebourne to the Paralympics)
October (speeds more or less limited)
November (consequences of punctures and worse)
January (global warming, bodily cooling, new-year resolving)
February (what’s to be done when amber shows?)
March (in the market for a car and three fuels)
April (suspicions about electric handbrakes and old tyres)
May (the view from the footpath)
June (a parade of tactics)
July (trading up and saving space)
September (brighter cat’s-eyes and a brighter street)
October (assessing risk on the roads and elsewhere)
November (entertaining a visitor)
January (unfazed birds, unrecognized warning-lights, unhelpful percentages)
February (bulb failure and success, fuel consumption and comprehension)
March (misting across, warming up, cooling down)
April (signs of madness)
May (bad vibrations)
June (going round the bend)
July (cars that think for themselves)
September (the silly-season of the year)
October (car hire in Eire, panels in the sun, a new car in what colour?)
November (problems with a spare key, a smooth wheel and an owner’s manual)
January (wide cars, thoughtless people, safe mobile-phone use)
February (charging a battery, typing a column, studying an optical illusion)
March (matters arising from a battery, a column and an optical illusion)
April (deer dodged, sun projected, speed regulated)
May (puzzling over warning signs)
June (saving petrol and other things)
July (going back half a century)
September (life on other planets and a life on this one)
October (the trials of diesel and of driverless)
November (what happens when you’re shunted)
January (stationed in space)
February (to wipe or not to wipe out white lines?)
March (the worst of motorways, the best of views of Earth from space)
April (all reversed: road-sign, eye-test results, cholesterol trend, NZ road rule)
May (editor retiring, tyres suffering, electric cars soaring, eyes deteriorating)
June (superior schooling)
July (surprises from DVLA, from Google and from driving simulators)
September (Olympian achievements)
October (when not to cross the road)
November (screens large and small)
January (problems with units, trouble with fuel, benefits from speed cameras)
February (having second thoughts)
March (the his-and-her-story of the bicycle)
April (cyclists fast & loose, and pedestrians crossing & gently climbing)
May (speed-cushion damage, body-clock disruption, speed-limit ignorance)
June (tiny probabilities: of an accident – and of your having been born!)
July (remembering, forgetting, and being distracted)
September (smartness – on motorways, in the national grid, when drinking)
October (technologies of the present and the future)
November (writing from France)
January (the irresistable rise of electric and driverless vehicles)
February (the future of charging, the ease of lifting, a substitute for phoning)
Information on advanced driving
Escaping with your life...