Lower Hutt

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Recent Events

Thursday 25th October 2018

What One-Cell Organisms Usually Do In Their Spare Time

Giuseppe Cortese

Tiny does not always equate to insignificant. Microscopic organisms are one of the main reasons humans can inhabit the Earth. Sure, it took cyanobacteria about 3 billion years, but generating enough oxygen to build our atmosphere, thus allowing larger organisms to hang out in it, is not a trivial task after all.

When they are not busy making our planet habitable, micro-organisms go about their daily lives by learning to adapt to very specific conditions in the ocean.

Thursday 27th September

Ruapehu and Tongariro – Tiny Crystals Reveal a Whole New Story

Graham Leonard

The chemistry and isotopic ratios in tiny mineral crystals in lava from the Tongariro National Park have helped us completely revise our understanding of the life histories of these dual world heritage volcanoes.

The volcanoes spent more than 90 % of their lives fighting it out with thick ice. Join Graham Leonard of GNS Science to find out more about their lives.

Thursday 26th April 2018

Whales in a changing ocean

Anton van Helden

Whales have had to contend with a lot of human interference, from early coastal whaling, to the extirpation of whale populations by industrial whaling. Whales continue to be affected by human activities, and not just our activities in the sea.

While we are all aware of the Japanese whaling effort in the Southern Ocean, where some 300 animals have been taken on a semi-annual basis despite international court rulings and international opposition, we are perhaps less aware of the huge numbers that die as a consequence of fisheries interactions, up to 300,000 animals a year.

Thursday 28th September 2017

Mapping ‘ocean weather’ with ocean robots

Joe O’Callaghan

We live in a data-rich world in which instant access to information is the rule, not the exception. However, despite the ocean being the ‘backyard’ of 75% of NZ’s population, this rule doesn’t yet apply there.

‘Shelf seas’ are areas of the ocean where the water depth is less than 200m. Around NZ, shelf seas are found from open coastlines to shallower harbours, and are the regions where most marine economic and social activity takes place. Shelf seas are sites of interactions between processes such as river flows, tides, wind mixing and surface heating. These interactions vary in space and time, causing the complex, three-dimensional ocean flows and stratification that are considered to be ‘ocean weather’.

Thursday 31st August 2017

New Zealand buildings and their resilience to earthquake

Andrew King

Earthquakes are a natural phenomenon that is part of the geological evolution of our landscape. They are rare, sudden, and very frightening. While earthquakes often result in the re-formation of our landscape, they seldom themselves cause injury or deaths; these are the consequences of failures in buildings subjected to the shaking and land deformation that earthquakes cause.

Thursday 29th June 2017

How can we stop the next generation of bullies, victims and bystanders?

Vanessa Green

The recognized definition of bullying is a repeated harmful act towards another, with a power imbalance. Repetition is particularly relevant; regardless of whether bullying is repeatedly targeted at one person, or is one person targeting a number of others, it is damaging yet another generation of New Zealanders and helping to fuel our appalling statistics for youth suicide, domestic violence and child abuse. Vanessa suggests that to be able to understand bullying’s complex nature, we need a socio-ecological approach that appreciates it is a community issue that needs a community response.

Thursday 25th May 2017

How do we improve the lives of families?

Len Cook

Len Cook, Families Commissioner since 2015, deals with the intersection between statistics and social policy for our families, children and whānau. How do we know what social services are most needed for families and how best to make social investment? It is crucial to use big data and other forms of evidence to give us insights on what works, within the framework of our politics and our culture, and to communicate this evidence effectively.

Thursday 30th March 2017

Advances in modern alchemy

John Futter

The nano-level surface modification of everyday objects – making atoms do what they usually do not want to do – to give them better or new properties leads to new sensors, medical benefits, new alloys, and new solutions to age-old problems.

Thursday 23rd February 2017

Where does our water come from? Keeping our tap water safe

Mike Toews

Much of the tap water we drink is extracted from underground aquifers around New Zealand. It is important to know where our drinking water comes from so we can have confidence that it is uncontaminated and safe to drink. To ensure high drinking water quality standards in New Zealand, all groundwater used as drinking water needs to be stored underground for more than one year to be certain that pathogens have been filtered out. However, this is not easy to check since we cannot directly see where groundwater is flowing underground.

Thursday 24th November 2016

Stem cell research at the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute

Paul Davis

In 1998, the Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Foundation was formed, with the aim of establishing a research institute. The dedicated research premises for the Gillies McIndoe Research institute were opened in Newtown, Wellington in December 2013.

Thursday 27th October 2016

Time for a new kilogram (ampere, kelvin, mole)

Laurie Christian

The time is right for fundamental changes to be made to the kilogram and other base measurement units. Measurements will have a sounder basis and the world will no longer rely on the last remaining physical artefact, a metal cylinder locked in a Parisian vault.

Thursday 29th September 2016

Congratulations! It’s Fragile X!

Chris Hollis

Fragile X Syndrome is the leading known inherited cause of autism. It is an inherited genetic disorder that affects around one in 4000 people. It causes mild to severe developmental delay, learning difficulties, and a wide range of sensory and behavioural issues. Although there is no cure, this single gene disorder has been well studied and there is now a wide range of effective treatments, interventions, and strategies that help individuals with Fragile X lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Thursday 1st September 2016

Frozen secrets revealed

Richard Levy

What does it take to melt an Antarctic ice sheet?

What are the consequences for New Zealand if Antarctica melts?

Almost forty years have passed since the visionary glaciologist John Mercer wrote that fossil fuel consumption could drive warming that would start rapid melting of the West Antarctica ice sheet and cause a five-metre rise in sea level. Since then, considerable scientific research has examined the causes and consequences of ice sheet growth and collapse. Large international drilling projects have bored beneath the ice to recover hidden records of ice sheet response to past intervals of warmth. Small teams have gathered fossils from layers of sediments in the Transantarctic Mountains to gain insight into Antarctica’s climate during times when carbon dioxide concentrations were last similar to those expected in the coming decades. Satellites have been launched into planetary orbit to monitor the ice sheets and determine rates of change. All of these efforts help us understand how the frozen continent has evolved.

Thursday 28th July 2016

Love online – can you really find true love on the Internet?

Martin Graff

What do we find attractive? How do people actually portray themselves online? Can you have a virtual affair? Does online dating really work, and how can you maximize your chances of finding love online?

This session will examine all of these issues and cover some of the major research work on the online disinhibition effect, which suggest that we disclose more personal information, and do this more quickly in online environments. Martin will also talk about dating site profiles and how to approach online liaisons, drawing on his research into online infidelity, asking whether it is possible to have a virtual affair.

Thursday 30th June 2016

“There be dragons” – the great unknown that surrounds us

Andrew Stewart

New Zealand is ruled by the sea, yet its ocean inhabitants are largely unknown; especially in waters deeper than 1,200 m. It is a highly dynamic environment, bisected by tectonic plates, with thousands of seamounts, trenches and ridges. Our territory extends from the sub-tropics of the Kermadec Islands to the sub Antarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands. Out of this vast marine area, fishing has become part of our national identity; from Maori cultural interests and traditional gathering, industry (harvesting, aquaculture) with export earnings and employment, to recreational fishing. More than one million New Zealanders report that fishing is their recreational pastime. Yet over half of our EEZ is deeper than 2,000 m, and is almost entirely unexplored.

Thursday 26th May 2016

Triple Treat – a trio of tertiary trained travellers

Christoph Kraus, Samuel Webber, Luke Harrington

Join three graduates studying at Victoria University to hear about their cutting edge fieldwork and research methods in Antarctica, South America, Papua New Guinea and the world’s poorest countries.

Christoph Kraus is a recent Masters graduate who has studied the West Antarctica Ice Sheet to understand sea level changes over the last 34 million years in order to predict future climate change scenarios and the impacts of sea level rise.

Samuel Webber is a Masters student studying rare geological fault features in Eastern Papua New Guinea. Hear more about his unusual fieldwork and the challenges of working in remote locations.

Luke Harrington is a PhD student who is studying the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest countries; he will discuss economic disparity and heat extremes between wealthy and poor countries.

Thursday 31st March 2016

Conservation and ecology: integrating humans into the science story

Wayne Linklater

Ecological sciences have been slow to understand and investigate people, their communities and societies when undertaking research. They tend to focus on the wildlife. As such, many programs have failed to have the required impact.

We are living in the Anthropocene – a time when people affect every ecosystem on the planet and wildlife habitats are rapidly diminishing to make room for people. Moreover, we live with growing conflict around biodiversity, especially how to sustain wildlife, in cities and populated environments.

Thursday 24th September 2015

South Sea pearls: the history and science

Brian Jones

Pearl formation in mollusc tissue is a fascinating biological process and there has been much work to determine the best process for producing quality pearls. The process of producing nacre involves secretion of a protein matrix along which a crystal lattice of calcium crystals forms, and impurities as well as reflection from the crystal surface provide the colour. The trick is to get the mollusc to secrete a perfect sphere up to 22 mm in diameter. Pearl nacre is also an excellent substrate for human bone growth, and the use of ground nacre in bone reconstruction surgery is well established.

Thursday 27th Aug 2015

Slow slip or slow earthquakes – should we be worried about the ones we can’t feel?

Stuart Henrys

With the growing use of GPS technology, scientists can now detect short-term changes in rates of movement between tectonic plates using GPS over periods of days to years. We know from these studies in New Zealand that the plate boundary does not always simply lock up and slip during earthquakes, or creep steadily but can also move in so-called slow-slip events (SSEs), or ‘slow earthquakes’. Like earthquakes, slow earthquakes involve faster than usual slip along a fault. However, unlike a typical earthquake, SSEs occur over periods of weeks to years, and they do not cause a sudden release of seismic energy. Deep (> 30-25 km) SSEs are well documented beneath the Kapiti Coast but, importantly for us, shallow events (

Thursday 30 July 2015

Matariki and Te Maramataka: How Māori used the celestial objects to track time

Pauline Harris

Like many ancient civilisations, Māori used the heavenly bodies to track the passage of time. The regular motions of the Sun, moon and stars were used as clocks for agriculture, seasonal fishing, rituals, festivities and other activities. Travel was also based on celestial navigation and “star paths”.

The year and the seasons were signified by the appearance of certain stars and the movement of the Sun during the year, whilst the monthly calendar (Te Maramataka) is based on the phases of the Moon. Dr Pauline Harris of Victoria University and members from the Society for Māori Astronomy, Research and Traditions (SMART), will present an insight into how Māori and other societies used the celestial objects to track time.

Thursday 28th May 2015

Understanding why crime happens

Russil Durant

Crime, in its various forms, is the source of a significant amount of pain, suffering, and distress in our society. In order to reduce crime, it is essential to a have a clear understanding of why it occurs. This talk will investigate an evolutionary approach that explains a diverse range of criminal activity including violence, homicide, theft and drug use. We highlight the importance of both biological and cultural evolutionary processes (nature versus nurture) which can significantly advance our understanding of criminal behaviour and can be used to develop more effective prevention and rehabilitation programmes.

Thursday 26th March 2015

Global decline of bees

Phil Lester

Honey bees face a multitude of threats including pathogens and pesticides. There are a multitude of pesticides applied to crops that can have lethal or subtle sublethal effects. Similarly, there are a plethora of bee pathogens, with over 20 viruses alone. How much of a role are these factors playing in New Zealand and are our bees under threat?

Thursday 26th Febuary 2015

Decarbonising UK electricity generation, and the role of carbon capture and storage (CCS) – Can the UK generate electricity as cleanly as NZ?

Trevor Drage

The UK is facing a period of significant challenge and change as it moves towards meeting the greenhouse gas reduction targets set in the 2008 climate change act. Responsible for approximately one third of the UK greenhouse gas emission, the electricity-generating sector is going through a period of significant change, to shift from the current fossil fuel (coal and gas) dominated generation technologies to low or zero carbon generation technologies by the end of the 2020’s. Carbon capture and storage is a key technology that is currently under development and is vital for the UK if it is going to generate electricity in an affordable and sustainable way.

Thursday 27th November 2014
Light-Emitting Diodes as Bright and Energy-Saving White Light Sources – One Step To Fight Global Warming

Frank Natali

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three Japanese scientists for the invention of a new kind of light-emitting diode, or LED, that overcame a crucial roadblock for creating white light sources which are far more efficient than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. With global warming effects becoming serious, the reduction of carbon dioxide is of primary importance and the widespread use of LEDs can effectively save more than 50% of the electricity consumption for lighting and reduce carbon emissions by tens of tonnes annually. Come along to discuss the economic and social impacts of this invention and some of the challenges that must be addressed to further advance LED light sources.

Dr Franck Natali is a Lecturer of Physics at Victoria University of Wellington, with industrial and academic expertise in the research and fabrication of light emitting diodes for energy saving purposes. Dr Natali studied in France for an MSc in Electronic Engineering (University of Bordeaux) and a PhD in Physics (University of Nice). Later, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Canterbury, and a researcher on thin film deposition systems inside Riber, a world-leading supplier of products and services for the compound semiconductor community.

Thursday 30th October 2104

Biotechnology and Society – Traditional to Modern and on into the Future

George Slim

This country’s economy has always been about adding the technology to the bio. Then we blackened our reputation by becoming the inventors of continuously brewed beer. Now the Northland District Councils want to go GE Free. How does New Zealand’s biotechnology industry fit into this most global of sectors? George Slim will talk about the trials and tribulations of doing biotech – in all myriad guises – at the last bus stop at the end of the world.

Thursday 25 September 2014

WECR Special: From Kiwi to Raman, celebrating Wellington’s Emerging Researchers

Kristina Ramstad and Brendan Darby

Victoria University School of Biology

All New Zealand’s kiwi species have experienced extreme range contractions and population size reduction due to habitat destruction and the introduction of mammalian predators. Today, kiwi survive primarily in sanctuaries, which often leave populations isolated from one another. Small population size and isolation can cause genetic bottleneck effects and contribute to inbreeding, which in turn can reduce the genetic health of populations making them less likely to persist over the long term.

Thursday 28th August 2014

Knowing your mind and getting it to work for you

Matt McCrudden

Along with death and taxes, learning is ubiquitous. While we cannot escape death, and try to devote as little time as possible to taxes, understanding how we learn can enrich our lives by empowering us to be more strategic in how we learn. This is relevant for students of all ages. Consider this: Has anyone ever taught you how to learn? It is generally assumed that some people learn better than others, and that they are naturally gifted. We will discuss the some general ways in which our mind works and how we can get your minds to work better for us.

Thursday 26th June 2014

The limits to growth

John Robinson

The most important scientific question of our time is the overpopulation of the earth, and the damage done, which suggests an uncertain future. This awareness started to grow in the 1960s and 1970s. The Commission for the Future was formed in 1978 but lasted just 4 years. Dr John Robinson started work on futures research in 1973 with studies of The limits to growth and went on to work with many European groups, building on more complex models and scenarios (giving sets of possible futures) until he realised that it was preferable to apply the scientific method to develop a forecast that could be tested.

Thursday 29th May 2014

Living in the shadow of Angkor: how well archaeological practice actually records history

Nancy Beavan

Since 2003, Dr Nancy Beavan has studied the Jar and Coffin Burial phenomena of the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. She was awarded a prestigious Marsden grant in 2013 to continue this work. The Cardamom Mountain Jar and Coffin mortuary ritual includes ceramic jars and log coffins (from locally harvested trees) as burial containers, which were set out on rock ledges at 10 currently known sites in the eastern Cardamom Massif. They date from AD 1395 to 1650. The time period reflects the 15th century decline of Angkor as the capital of the Khmer kingdom and the shift of power to new Mekong trade ports. However, the Jar and Coffin ritual practice has no relationship with any known mortuary practices during pre-Angkorian times or with the typical Hindu/Buddhist cremation rites in the 9th to 15th centuries of the Angkorian era.

Thursday 27th Mar 2014

Music from Tesla coils – electrifying!

Josh Bailey

Tesla coils, invented by Serbian-American Nikola Tesla in the 1890s, produce high-voltage electricity and have inspired many kinds of research, but he probably never expected them to be used to create unique sound and music. The arcs of electricity heat the air rapidly, and the movement of the air creates the sound, but slightly differently each time.

Josh Bailey is a research software engineer who works for Google. His hobbies include industrial sonic art, and high voltage in particular, including Tesla coils. Come along to hear him talk about Tesla coil design and operation, high voltage effects, and interfacing of the coils to musical instruments.

Thursday 29th August 2013

Breaking the Diffraction Limit with Nearfield Photolithography

Ciaran Moore

School of Engineering and Computer Science, Victoria University of Wellington

Photolithography is one of the key technologies that makes possible the myriad of electronic devices and gadgets that we use every day – from engine control units in motorcars to mobile phones that take pictures and connect to the web – none of these could not exist at the same size, power rating, or price were it not for the photolithography process. The pace at which new improvements and refinements are introduced to photolithography is breathtaking, too, with the minimum feature size that can be resolved shrinking by half roughly every two years since the 1960s.

Thursday 27th June 2013

Getting on with it – the effects of genetic testing

Alison McEwen

Genetic testing for familial breast and ovarian cancer has had recent media exposure following the announcement by Angelina Jolie that she carries a BRCA1 gene mutation. In New Zealand, families can request a risk assessment through Genetic Health Services NZ. The assessment involves collection of a detailed family cancer history. Genetic testing to look for a mutation in genes associated with hereditary cancer may be offered to families assessed as high risk and who meet certain criteria.

Thursday 30th May 2013

Geothermal energy – is there enough?

Brian White

Is there enough energy left in developed fields or are they running out i.e. is geothermal energy sustainable?

Are there enough geothermal resources left to help supply future growth in electricity demand?

Does the current flat electricity demand mean we all have had enough electrical energy, and what does this mean for our renewable energy targets?

Are there enough ‘other’ geothermal resources to meet other energy needs e.g. home and business heating or hot water?

Thursday 18th April 2013

The ecological view of cats

John Flux

Where do domestic cats fit in the complex hierarchy of good and bad predators?The domestic cat is New Zealand’s top carnivore. In the light of recent publicity and ill-informed debate, two critical points are:

What are the effects of cats on wildlife?
What would happen if cats were removed?

Scientist John Flux studied the effect of his suburban cat for seventeen years and compared the results with a fifteen-year period without a cat. He discovered his cat clearly had a beneficial effect on native wildlife, but does this hold for other cats in other areas?

Thursday 28th March 2013

Mad on radium: New Zealand in the Atomic Age

Rebecca Priestley

New Zealand is known around the world for its nuclear-free stance – banning US nuclear ship visits, saying no to nuclear power, selling the country as clean, green, and nuclear free. But New Zealand was once as excited about the dawning atomic age as any other nation.

Thursday 29th Nov 2012

Preservation, exploitation, restoration: what is the right balance?

Sascha Feary

Ecological restoration is an idea that is close to many New Zealanders’ hearts. Many of us feel strongly about our natural heritage and believe it important to preserve our environment for future generations as much as possible and to at least try to restore it when things have not been preserved as we would like. Human values play a very significant role in this discussion, as they help determine whether a landscape is allowed to degrade in the first place, and then whether we will think it worthwhile to invest in restoring it and to what extent.

Thursday 25th October 2012

Medical Devices From Mutton – Materials For Regenerative Medicine

Barnaby May

Our humble sheep are helping NZ to lead the world in novel solutions for healing! We may take it for granted that our wounds will automatically heal. Though this is frequently the case, complicating factors sometimes intervene to hinder or even block healing, potentially leading to pain, disfigurement or life-threatening infection. There is huge demand for technologies which aid the regeneration of missing or damaged tissues, resulting, for example, from trauma, surgery or disease. Temporary cellular scaffolds, potentially developed from sheep tissue, which eventually dissipate after acting as a healing template, are a promising solution which has been rapidly adopted by clinicians.

Thursday 27th September 2012

Flips and wiggles – the mystery of Earth’s magnetism

Gillian Turner

Deep below our feet, in the core of the planet churns a cauldron of molten iron – the source of the magnetic field that directs our compasses, guides numerous species on their annual migrations, and protects life on Earth from the deadly onslaught of the solar wind. As the core fluid churns, so the magnetic field lines rearrange themselves, the magnetic poles wander, and the direction of the compass needle changes imperceptibly by a few fractions of a degree each year.

Thursday 30 August 2012

Could it be the Higgs Boson?

Matt Visser

There has been much excitement over at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), with scientists at CERN (in Switzerland) announcing that they have a ‘five sigma confirmation’ of a new elementary particle which matches the predictions made for the Higgs Boson. The Higgs Boson is associated with indirectly giving some particles mass.

Thursday 26 July 2012

How safe is our food?: Food risks and the NZ regulatory environment

Mike Clear

The regulation of food (raw, primary and secondary processed) is very complex because, for most countries and NZ in particular, food is exported to many different countries each with their own different food laws which they expect to cover imported food. NZ exports food to perhaps at 150 countries so managing conformance in that complex environment is very challenging. The perception of food risks between countries is often quite different and in general what is a real food risk rather than a perceived one eludes most consumers and indeed many regulators. The Ministry of Primary Industries, formerly (MAF), has the statutory responsibility for food safety and trade. NZ has its own statutes that regulate or impact on food safety which do not necessarily align with those of our trading partners.

Thursday 28th June 2012

Does NZ have a future in nanotech?

John Watt

Nanotechnology is the study of the very, very small. By definition a nanometre is one billionth of a metre, which is about 50,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair. Nanotechnology, as it is known today, has been an active field of scientific research for only around two decades. In that short time there have been rapid advances in our understanding and ability to manipulate this fantastic size regime. Due to their size, nanostructures show very different properties from those we observe in bulk materials. For instance, just by changing the size and shape of a nanostructure, you can define its chemical and physical properties; leading to the possibility of producing materials with designable behaviour. There are an enormous number of applications for nanotechnology, including biomedical applications and next generation solar cells and catalysts.

Thursday 31st May 2012

Kiwimars – Can NZ Contribute To A Space Programme, And Should We?

Haritina Mogosanu and Elf Eldridge

Haritina Mogosanu and Elf Eldridge are both science communicators from the Carter Observatory and members of Kiwispace. Recently, mission commander Haritina Mogosanu organised and ran the first ‘Kiwimars’ expedition, where four kiwis travelled to a Mars analogue environment, maintained by NASA in the deserts of Utah. For two weeks, they simulated life on the orange desert planet that currently hangs low in our northern skies.

Thursday 26 April

Understanding New Zealand earthquakes

Martin Reyners

The recent destructive earthquakes in Canterbury have brought the hazard of earthquakes in New Zealand into sharp focus. What can seismologists tell us about why and how this earthquake sequence happened?

Thursday 23rd February 2012

From stress to strength – the science of resilience

Gaynor Parkin

Do you want to boost your resilience so you “bounce back” even when life is hectic and the demands on you are high?

Find out what some of the recent scientific research has discovered about resilience, and which tools and strategies are most effective for helping us recover and thrive under pressure.

Thursday 24th November 2011

Air quality: how clean is the air that we breathe?

Bill Trompetter

Urban air pollution is an issue that affects many people, often unknowingly, when we breathe airborne chemicals, particulate matter or biological organisms carried in the air.

Air particulate matter pollution in New Zealand has been estimated to cause approximately 900 premature deaths, as well as NZ$1.3 billion in health costs and lost productivity each year.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Seeking More Environmentally-Friendly Cements: Do the Egyptian Pyramids Provide a Clue?

Ken MacKenzie

Portland cement manufacture contributes the second-greatest greenhouse gas burden after thermal power generation. The hunt is on for more environmentally-friendly substitutes (“green concretes”). Inorganic polymers (geopolymers) could provide a solution.What are these new materials? Did the Ancient Egyptians get there first? Do these newly-rediscovered materials have other exciting uses?

Thursday 29 September 2011

World Cup Special: Rugby, Physics and Innovation
Geoff Willmott

No-one needs to understand physics in order to pass, kick, handle, or respect the bounce of a rugby ball. Many New Zealanders have mastered such trivial matters at an early age. The image of a youngster in the park, prominently invoked in the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup, springs to mind.

25th August 2011

International Year Of Chemistry

Rob Keyzers

Chemistry is the introduction to science we all get at high school and forms so much of what we do in the family home; household baking and cleaning products are two simple examples.

Thursday June 30th 2011

The SKA; could it be New Zealand’s?

Melanie Johnston-Hollitt

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope is the most exciting and significant scientific project currently underway in the world. Australia and New Zealand have been shortlisted as potential sites to host the SKA with a site decision due in early 2012.

The proposed SKA will be 50 times larger than any other existing radio telescope and will become the cornerstone observatory for world radio astronomy providing previously unavailable discovery capabilities.

Thursday 26th May 2011

The sounds of science

Mark Poletti

The acoustics of world-class concert halls are continuously compared and debated. Some acoustics may be poor, others may be good for a barbershop quartet but not for a full orchestra. Given that most modern venues are required to be multipurpose, acoustics often become a problem. And who hasn’t been tormented by the ringing and loud screeching feedback in sound systems?

Thursday 29 April 2010

Learning to become immune to cancer

Melanie McConnell

Immunology is a vibrant and ever-changing branch of biomedical science that deals with the study of the immune system. International Immunology Day is an opportunity to reflect on the research being done to improve the lives of people whose immune systems do not work optimally.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Oil and water do mix

Ian Coard

A WelTec (Petone) based organisation is working to produce a fuel option which contains … Water?

Testing has shown the product to have environmental benefits through the reduction of NOx, CO, CO2 and particulate matter by up to 60% and with visible smoke virtually eliminated.

This fuel product is already being used commercially in the Hutt Valley so where to from here?

Thursday 25 February 2010

New Zealand’s Oil Pipelines

Chris Uruski

Oil exploration in New Zealand has been occurring since 1865. Taranaki’s oil and gas fields particularly stand out as obvious rewards of New Zealand’s involvement in the

industry. What about future exploration? Do we have the infrastructure to respond quickly? Are we too far from the rest of the world? How certain is success for an exploration investment? What about the environmental risks?

Thursday 26 November 2009

Plastic Surgery

Swee Tan

Hutt Hospital is one of only four plastic surgery units in New Zealand. Common reconstructive procedures are for wounds following accidents or the removal of tumours, burns survivors, breast reconstruction, cleft lip and palate surgery and the re-attachment of severed body parts.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Àtea1: it is rocket science

Peter Beck

New Zealand and the space race isn’t a usual headline but that’s just where Rocket Lab is taking us. Rocket Lab’s aim is to provide solutions that enable public access to space and develop a space industry within New Zealand.

Thursday 24 September 2009

New Zealand’s native animals: Welfare v Quality of Life

Katja Geschke

The Wellington Zoo animal hospital receives ‘injured’ native species from the DoC, local rehabbers and the community. A major difficulty in the veterinary/scientific triage and prognosis process is in defining ‘welfare’ and ‘quality of life’.

Apart from the immense difference in species, habitat and behaviours, we also contend with the human factor. What is totally acceptable for one person is unacceptable for another. Cultural, educational and sociological differences have a huge impact on our perceived ‘state of mind’ of an animal. Is an objective assessment possible?

Thursday 27th August 2009

High Temperature Superconductivity; a ‘cool’ NZ industry

Ron Baddock

New Zealand has a significant share of the IP and is at the forefront of HTS development. There has been considerable excitement recently over the development of high temperature superconductors from ceramic materials with the capability to transform many aspects of electrical engineering.

The industry is reaching application on a commercial scale and with current energy challenges HTS cables are seen as a key product for renewable power technologies.

Thursday 30th July 2009

H1N1 + 1 = ?

Anne LaFlamme

Senior Lecturer at Victoria University’s School of Biological Sciences

At first New Zealand was trying to prevent the arrival of Swine Flu and then it was a matter of managing the inevitable.

Now without any resistance from human defences, Swine Flu is sweeping through New Zealand communities and so far there has been little to show for it like some other debilitating influenza.

Thursday 25th June 2009

The significance of New Zealand dinosaurs

Hamish Campbell

Since their first recognition in 1980, dinosaur fossils have been reported from three localities in New Zealand: inland Hawkes Bay in rocks about 80 million years old, Port Waikato in rocks about 145 million years old and northern Chatham Island in rocks about 62-63million years old

Thursday 30 April 2009

The Rights of Embryonic Stem Cells

Mike Berridge

Embryonic stem cells, like the nuclear debate has engaged and polarised the public like few other issues. In the USA the democratic decision making process was subverted by Presidential veto. This has been overturned by Obama with an order to “restore scientific integrity to government decision making”.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Less than a millionth of a metre – what harm can there be?

Ben Ruck

MacDiarmid Institute, Victoria University of Wellington

Nanotechnology studies the manipulation of physical systems with size much less than one millionth of a metre. This study offers immense promise in fields ranging from advanced electronics to modern medicine.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Science – is it just mysticism in a lab coat?

Bernard Beckett

Modern science has managed to unravel the mystery of life, seen back to the dawn of time and peered down the microscope into the weird world of quantum physics. Small wonder then that people now look to science and scientists to answer all our big questions. But are scientists ‘the High Priests of everything’ or is it just mysticism in a lab coat? Have we moved into an era where we believe every scientific study performed by scientists? How do stories influence our science, and how does our science inform our stories? Evolution has messed with our most precious stories. What is the relationship between traditional stories we tell and modern science?

Wednesday 26 November 2008

World Financial Turmoil: could it strike New Zealand?

Brendan O’Donovan, Chief Economist, Westpac

The current financial crisis hitting the world is said to be larger than the economic downturn which created the 1930’s depression. European and American financial markets are in a state of chaos as the share market has taken huge losses across the world, and international banks and financial institutions are going broke. The economic turmoil is hitting hard, ruining businesses and individuals alike. Meanwhile in New Zealand, lending institutions are going into receivership, our local house prices are tumbling, mortgage interest rates are still high and home loans are being called in. Are we in the throes of financial turmoil?

Can it get worse? Is our money safe anywhere?

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Global Warming: what’s to be done?

Robert Holt, Industrial Research Limited

There is no doubt that the earth is getting warmer but there is still strong debate over whether the cause is of man’s doing. What if those who say that the warming earth is a natural process are wrong?

Should Hutt City be building bigger break waters now or gamble on what the true impact of a warming plant will be. Can’t we just plant a tree?

Wednesday 24 September 2008

What is the real cost of mould in homes?

Philippa Howden-Chapman, University of Otago, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Science

Mould problems are common in New Zealand homes. This is largely due to many homes being poorly insulated and remaining cold, damp and expensive to heat. The spores and fungi associated with mould are a serious health hazard, especially to young children, elderly, and those with respiratory problems.

What is the real cost to New Zealand from mould in homes, and why should you be concerned with mould in your own home?

Wednesday 27 August 2008

The Next Big One: Could Taita be the new beachfront?

Russ Van Dissen, GNS Science

Wellingtonians live on an active fault, which means that we are at risk of experiencing an earthquake at any time. We are continuously told to “be prepared”. But prepared for what? What would happen if a very large earthquake (similar to the recent quake in China) struck Wellington? Join Russ Van Dissen from GNS Science who studies the Wellington fault, and its earthquakes. Find out if the Hutt Valley could submerge under the sea. Could Taita be the new beachfront? Would all the houses on the surrounding hills be shaken off, or is it the safest place to live? What would be the effects on infrastructure, and life as we know it? And most importantly – when will the next big shake occur?

Wednesday 30 July 2008

CSI Hutt City – Counterfeit pharmaceuticals and criminal investigations

Dallas Mildenhall, GNS Science

More than ever before our imaginations have been captured by the science of crime solving. Television is saturated with crime dramas giving us tantalizing, if inaccurate, insights into the lives of forensic scientists and seemingly every night the news profiles another drug, rape or murder scandal. In Lower Hutt we have our own forensic scientists, working in laboratories to solve crime. Dr Dallas Mildenhall from GNS Science studies pollen grains and spores to assist police in rape and murder cases, and also specialises in sourcing counterfeit drugs and “health” products that are contaminated with animal and plant remains and toxic or inactive chemicals. Join us for some true life insights into this fascinating field.