Griffin's Gadgets

Kiwi rocket scientist gets rare NASA honour

Peter Griffin Oct 13, 2015

His name adorns medals, roads and even a mountain. Now NASA has paid Kiwi rocket scientist, the late Sir William Pickering, a significant tribute, dedicating an auditorium at its iconic Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pickering’s name. In July a ceremony at JPL in Pasadena including staff, dignitaries, former JPL directors and Sir William’s daughter, Beth Pickering Mezitt, celebrated the naming of … Read More


Stunning images from the field

Peter Griffin Oct 08, 2015

Every year, NIWA runs a competition to choose the best photos taken by its scientists in the field. This year’s crop of photos is as impressive as ever. Scientific diver Crispin Middleton won the Our People section for a photography he calls “Toado Selfie.” Taken at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve, he is surrounded by panicked Starry Toado Pufferfish. These … Read More


Engineers and the pay gap

Peter Griffin Oct 08, 2015

The pay gap between men and women has grown to 11.8 per cent, two per cent up on a year ago according to Statistics New Zealand’s New Zealand Income Survey.  The median weekly wage overall is $621 before tax, up $26 on a year ago. For men, the average hourly wage rose 4.6 pert cent to $24.07. But for … Read More

4 1

Discovering planets… from your couch

Peter Griffin Oct 07, 2015

It was about 25 minutes into Chris Lintott’s Royal Society lecture that the proceedings nearly went off the rails. Professor Chris Lintott An audience member put his hand up to make a comment, which Lintott, Professor of Astrophysics and Citizen Science at the University of Oxford, paused his talk to answer. “I’ve seen that shape before,” said the grey-haired man in … Read More

Where our science investment is going

Peter Griffin Oct 05, 2015

The Government this morning released the National Statement of Science Investment 2015 – 2025, which lays out the priorities for investing government money in science and innovation over the next decade. I’ll leave analysis of the report to experts who the Science Media Centre has contacted for reaction which will be released later today. But regardless of whether … Read More


The Martian: Blows Gravity and Interstellar out of the water

Peter Griffin Oct 05, 2015

Space movies have become a hot genre over the last few years, with star-studded blockbusters Gravity and Interstellar reigniting interest in the drama of space exploration. The makers of those movies also prided themselves on the scientific authenticity of their movies, appointing science advisors to help them get the technical aspects if not exactly right, at least plausible. Those two movies … Read More

Marsden Fund: Benefits quantified for first time

Peter Griffin Oct 02, 2015

New Zealand’s leading ‘blue skies’ research fund boosts Kiwi science, but could be tweaked for greater efficiency, says a new study. An evaluation conducted by researchers at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research institute has found that Marsden funding increases the scientific output of the funded researchers. Compared to similar groups that do not receive funding, a team that is given  … Read More


Google’s big rival in driverless cars

Peter Griffin Sep 13, 2015

For the last two years, Professor Amnon Shashua has been driving between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem largely without touching the steering wheel of his car. “It’s illegal, don’t tell anyone,” says Shashua, a computer vision and machine learning expert at Hebrew Univerity and co-founder of the Israeli company MobilEye. “If I enter a traffic jam, I go to sleep or … Read More

Geologist named inaugural L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Fellow

Peter Griffin Sep 09, 2015

A $25,000 scholarship was set up recently by cosmetics maker L’Oréal and UNESCO to recognise women in science in New Zealand and the inaugural fellow has just been named – Dr Christina Riesselman, a geologist at the University of Otago. I got to know Dr Riesselman when she completed our two-day Science Media SAVVY course in Dunedin – hopefully some … Read More

Nothing but blue sky… and it pays off

Peter Griffin Aug 31, 2015

Around the world there’s growing pressure on blue skies research as cash-strapped governments look for quick answers to complex questions. In Israel, I spoke to numerous Nobel Laureates who bemoaned this state of affairs. They told me that they would not have made their discoveries if they hadn’t been given the remit to follow their curiosity. Some of them made discoveries … Read More


Site Meter