Griffin's Gadgets

Obesity plan gets thumbs down from experts

Peter Griffin Oct 20, 2015

The Government yesterday released details of 22 initiatives, some new, some expansions of existing programmes, that constitute its response to the growing problem of childhood obesity. As expected, there’s no form of fat or sugar tax and no clampdown on marketing of junk food to children. The Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan Voluntary codes and and education campaigns are … Read More

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Everest and groupthink: what went wrong

Peter Griffin Oct 19, 2015

There’s an excellent movie showing in cinemas at the moment that tells the story of an ill-fated 1996 Everest expedition that resulted in the death of expedition leader New Zealander Rob Hall as well as another  guide and two climbers who had paid up to US$65,000 each for the chance to make an attempt on the summit. Rob Hall Everest features breathtaking cinematography (try … Read More

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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