News

Superbug death may herald ‘start of the post-antibiotic era’

John Kerr Apr 21, 2017

Infectious disease experts are “deeply alarmed” by the death of a US woman due to a bacterial infection resistant to all available antibiotics. Writing this week in a  Medical Journal of Australia editorial, researchers warn that the case may herald “the start of the post-antibiotic era.” Professor Cheryl Jones, President of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID), and … Read More

Counting the calories of cannibalism

Jean Balchin Apr 16, 2017

Human cannibalism is a deliciously fascinating topic. Identifying the motivations for human cannibalism remains a contentious issue. A recently-constructed nutritional template for the human body suggests that prehistoric human cannibalism was most likely motivated by something other than nutritional needs. Human flesh may have been cooked for greater calorific value. James Cole, from the University of Brighton found that the … Read More

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The Face of Evil – skin disorders overrepresented in Hollywood villians

John Kerr Apr 07, 2017

The bad guy in movies is more likely to have a skin condition, reports a new study, and it could be contributing to prejudice in the real world.  Dermatologists from the University of Texas have undertaken a quick a stocktake of skin and hair problems among the top ten Hollywood villains and heroes, as cataloged in the American Film Institute 100 … Read More

E-cigarettes to have legal market in NZ, experts cautious

John Kerr Mar 29, 2017

The Government has announced new regulations to allow nicotine containing electronic cigarettes to be sold in New Zealand. Currently e-cigarette devices can be sold in New Zealand but nicotine-containing e-liquid can not (nicotine is a scheduled substance under the Medicines Act), although consumers can purchase e-liquid from overseas for personal use. That is set to change with announcement of … Read More

Neil deGrasse Tyson, science communication superstar, coming to New Zealand

John Kerr Mar 28, 2017

One of the world’s most well known and entertaining science communicators is coming to New Zealand. Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson will be coming to New Zealand – for the first time ever – this July to talk life, the universe and everything. He will be performing his show A Cosmic Perspective in Christchurch (July 4) and Auckland (July 9). Both … Read More

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One bubble in the great bath of existence – Brian Greene on the universe, time travel and string theory

Jean Balchin Mar 23, 2017

Earlier this afternoon, I was fortunate enough to interview Dr Brian Greene, the renowned theoretical physicist and string theorist. Dr Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and is recognized for a number of revolutionary discoveries in his field of superstring theory. I spoke with Dr Greene about his theories on string theory and multiverses, … Read More

What a hoot! Cheeky kea ‘laughter’ sets off playful antics

John Kerr Mar 21, 2017

A warbling kea squawk has been shown to trigger playful behaviour in the cheeky native parrot, which researchers have compared to laughter in humans. Kea are playful birds. They perform aerial acrobatics, chase each other through the air and have jostling play-fights on the ground.  Researchers noticed that in the midst of such behaviour kea screech a particular ‘play call.’ After documenting these … Read More

Dental plaque DNA shows Neandertals used ‘aspirin’

Jean Balchin Mar 09, 2017

Ancient DNA found on Neandertal teeth has revealed fascinating new insights into the behaviour, diet, use of plant-based medicine and the evolutionary history of our nearest extinct relatives. “Dental plaque traps microorganisms that lived in the mouth and pathogens found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, as well as bits of food stuck in the teeth—preserving the DNA for … Read More

Bacteria hitch a ride on raindrop spray

John Kerr Mar 09, 2017

New research reveals how raindrops on soil create bioaerosols – tiny droplets of bacteria-laden water – which can help spread harmful microbes, including kiwifruit pathogen Psa. Although soil bacteria are usually pretty slow at getting around, wet weather has been suggested to give them a hand travelling large distances. But exactly how rain gets bacteria from the soil into the air has been … Read More

Rhinos can correct gender imbalance in the wild

Jean Balchin Mar 08, 2017

Rhinos are able to alter the sex of their offspring to avoid a gender imbalance and reduce competition for breeding, according to a new study led by a New Zealand researcher. Twenty-four years of rhinoceros data, gathered over the course of 45 reintroductions of the animals across southern Africa, provided this first experimental evidence in the wild. Professor Wayne … Read More

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