Peter Griffin

Peter Griffin is the founding manager of the Science Media Centre and the founder and editor of Sciblogs. Prior to founding the SMC, he was Technology Editor of the New Zealand Herald. He is a technology commentator for the New Zealand Listener, Radio New Zealand and Newstalk ZB. Peter is a member of the senior management team of the Royal Society of New Zealand. x

Brian Greene, string theory and a great ticket giveaway - Griffin's Gadgets

Mar 21, 2017

Theoretical physicist Brain Greene brings his A Time Traveller’s Tale show to Auckland on Sunday night. Sciblogs is offering readers the chance to pick up two A reserve tickets to see this acclaimed show. All you need to do to enter is tell us what “string theory” is. Write your brief explanation of string theory in the comment section below this post here on Sciblogs. We’ll pick what we consider to be the most eloquent explanation of string theory as the winner of the tickets and put your names on the door for the show. Keep it succinct, capture our imagination – and may the best explanation win! Entries close 5pm on Thursday. Don’t miss out! If the task of describing string theory gives you a headache, Think Inc. and … Read More

Theoretical physicist Brian Greene is heading our way - Griffin's Gadgets

Feb 02, 2017

Famed physicist Brain Greene visits Auckland next month in one of numerous events scheduled by leading personalities from the world of science. One of the world’s leading science communicators, Professor Greene will explore string theory, mathematical physics and cosmology in his popular A Time Traveller’s Tale lecture and audience Q&A. The Columbia University professor of physics and mathematics is famous for his popular science books, including The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos. His one and only Auckland appearance is part of an ongoing series by Think Inc, Loop and sponsored by AUT University, that features leading thinkers from around the world. Last September saw Dr Ben Goldacre feature on the Think Inc. bill in a well-received lecture and Q&A in Auckland. Tickets for A Time Traveller’s Tale start at $79. Professor … Read More

Sciblogs Horizon Scan: experts on the big science-related issues ahead - Guest Work

Jan 17, 2017

What does the future hold in store for New Zealand science? What are the big issues our small, isolated country will face in a world of accelerating change? The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to pause for a moment and think a little more deeply about what could be around the corner. This summer at Sciblogs we are kicking off a special series of posts from New Zealand researchers looking at what the future holds across a range of fields. We’re calling it ‘The Sciblogs Horizon Scan’. Think of it as a bit of informed crystal ball gazing. Over the coming weeks you’ll see posts from our regular contributors and guests aiming to answer some of the big questions about what their field of research might look like five, ten or even fifty years down the … Read More

An insight into one of the world’s biggest R&D spenders – Microsoft - Griffin's Gadgets

Dec 22, 2016

Microsoft, the tech company best know for the Windows computer operating system and Office productivity suite, spent over NZ$17.3 billion on research & development in the last year. To put that in perspective, Microsoft spends more than Google, Amazon and Apple on R&D, companies that are generally more often associated with cutting-edge innovation and futuristic technologies. To give you an idea of the scale of Microsoft’s spend, consider this – in 2014, New Zealand businesses and the government spent a total of $2.7 billion on R&D. As they strive to come up with the ideas that will power the next wave of technology, the biggest tech companies are out-spending many countries – Microsoft’s spend on R&D was 14 per cent of revenue ($123 billion) last year. It doesn’t disclose the exact make-up of its spend within R&D, so its hard to know … Read More

The big science stories of 2016 - Griffin's Gadgets

Dec 14, 2016

Nature’s made herself well known in science this year, with the recent Kaikoura earthquake dominating media attention for the past month.  A plan to make New Zealand predator free and the campylobacter outbreak that sent Havelock North hurtling to the bathroom made science a crucial part of news stories this year. As 2016 draws to a close, the Science Media Centre team with media advisor Sarah-Jane O’Connor acting as editor picked some of the biggest national and international science stories that made headlines. Let us know if you spot any major omissions! Top ten national science stories Kaikoura shakes with multiple faults: Many around the country were rudely awoken shortly after midnight on November 14 when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck North Canterbury. With Kaikoura residents and tourists stranded, roads mangled and an estimated 80,000 – 100,000 landslides: … Read More

Rise of the bots – AI shows its chatty side - Griffin's Gadgets

Dec 09, 2016

Think of artificial intelligence and an image of HAL’s piercing red light in 2001: A Space Odyssey or even the emotionally needy android of Ex Machina may spring to mind. But applications of AI are all around us and much more prosaic than those sci-fi icons. Think about Google’s search or the video suggestion features of Netflix. They are being joined by one of the fastest growing applications of AI, and one tech companies including Microsoft are betting big in – chat bots. They are really yet to make their mark here, but artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing is being used to develop platforms that will increasingly see the hassle of day to day online transaction being handled by computer applications that converse with us, learn our behaviour and perform tasks on our behalf. Microsoft’s Dave Forstrom – helping … Read More

The internet of things and farming - Griffin's Gadgets

Dec 07, 2016

The last thing I expected to see when I visited Microsoft Research in Seattle last month were lettuces growing under LED lights and fish swimming in a tank as part of an “aquaponics” experiment. It turns out that the small crop installations are part of growing efforts underway at the software giant looking at the future of food. While Microsoft has leafy greens growing in cabinets all over its Redmond campus that are destined for restaurants that help feed 40,000 staff based there, its interest in food goes much further. IoT for agriculture Paul Johns, senior research design engineer at Microsoft Research walked me through a series of sensor and camera-based technologies Microsoft has developed to monitor crop growth and yield for crops grown in-door under lights. A revolution in LED lighting has made it more affordable to  grow crops indoors … Read More

The real Babel fish – towards universal language translation - Griffin's Gadgets

Nov 29, 2016

If you’ve experienced the anxiety and embarrassment of trying to communicate with people whose languages you don’t understand, you’ll be very interested in what the newest generation of translation technology is allowing. Earlier this month I visited Microsoft Research in Redmond, Seattle and got to see the newest version of Microsoft Translator, which allows real-time translation of group chats. I had a three-way conversation in English, French and German, each of us talking into our smartphones and seeing the appropriate translation on our screens. It wasn’t perfect – our words were occasionally misinterpreted. But it was powerful enough to give us a coherent transcript of a conversation conducted in three languages by three people with distinctive and differing accents and vocal cadence. Microsoft’s Olivier Fortana with smart devices running the new Microsoft Translator The technology is the result … Read More

#EQNZ: Now I know how Cantabrians feel - Griffin's Gadgets

Nov 14, 2016

I’ve experienced a lot of earthquakes in my eleven years in Wellington, but nothing as scary as last night’s quake which lasted for over a minute and shook people out of bed all in the Capital and all over the country. *latest quake and aftershock updates are available on Geonet. As I write this at Wellington airport, the ground regularly rolls beneath me as waves of aftershocks continue. Ironically, I am on my way to two conferences in Christchurch and Dunedin to talk about crisis communications, including a Q&A with The Press reporter Paul Gorman (now cancelled) about what we leaned from the Christchurch quakes. This quake appears to have claimed two lives. So I’m thankful everyone in my apartment building is fine and the damage in the photos below is superficial. But the … Read More

ORCID explained – The new, unique identifier for researchers - Griffin's Gadgets

Oct 17, 2016

Last week saw the launch of the ORCID Consortium which sees 34 New Zealand research institutions back use of a unique identifier for researchers that promises to make keeping track of individuals’ work and evaluation of the research system more effective. ORCID’s New Zealand debut has been funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Royal Society of New Zealand will lead implementation of the system. With around 6,000 researchers currently registered with ORCID, uptake of the system is already significant. “Researchers, research institutions, publishers and funding bodies routinely face the problem of accurately linking research publications, data and other research activities to the right researcher,” says Royal Society of New Zealand President Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford. “The use of unique persistent identifiers allows research work to be correctly attributed to its creator, funding sources … Read More