News

Climate change: Biologists told to ‘pull on their boots’ and collect data

John Kerr Sep 11, 2016

An international team of 22 biologists have called on their colleagues to get cracking and collect certain types of data to help predict how the planet’s estimated 8.7 million species will handle a warmer future. “Our biggest challenge is pinpointing which species to concentrate on and which regions we need to allocate resources,” says Associate Professor Mark Urban from the University of Connecticut, lead author … Read More

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Peeking inside a volcanic avalanche

John Kerr Sep 06, 2016

New research has offered a glimpse into the inner workings of one of the most dangerous results of volcanic eruptions – pyroclastic flows. “They are basically mixtures of hot volcanic particles and gas that race down the flank of a volcano to destroy everything its path,” says Dr Gert Lube from Massey University, describing these volcanic juggernauts. He and his … Read More

Ice ages led to ‘explosive’ diversity in Kiwi species

John Kerr Sep 01, 2016

Ancient walls of ice separating kiwi populations have left their mark in the DNA of New Zealand’s most iconic species. A new study published this week in PNAS has revealed the enormous impact historic cold snaps had on the evolution of kiwis. Researchers based in Canada, in collaboration with Department of Conservation scientists, examined a database of kiwi DNA across the geographic … Read More

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Welly, Chch & Dunners: NZ’s most active cities

John Kerr Aug 30, 2016

It seems the weather is no excuse. New Zealand’s cold, wet and windy urban centers are also where the most people get out walking and cycling.  Source: NZTA The findings come from a new report examining levels of active transport – getting around by foot or bicycle – and overall population health in New Zealand’s six largest cities. The … Read More

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What to do about astro-junk in NZ waters?

John Kerr Aug 29, 2016

New Zealand is about join the space race with a new rocket programme, but Kiwis will need to have a think about how this is going to impact our surrounding waters. The government has just opened public consultation on new rules about how material jettisoned into the ocean from rocket launches will be dealt with under environmental legislation. NZ … Read More

Proxima b: the Earth next door?

John Kerr Aug 25, 2016

The astronomy world is abuzz following the discovery of a planet in a neighboring star system, sitting in just the right position to – theoretically – host liquid water.  It is still over four light years away, but the planet Proxima b in the Alpha Centauri system is the closest Earth-like planet we’ve found. The discovery is published today in the journal Nature. Read More

Climate impacts on southern species – where’s the data?

John Kerr Aug 23, 2016

We need to keep an eye on key species to track the impacts of climate change, but southern hemisphere countries like New Zealand and Australia are falling behind. The warning comes from South African and Australian scientists in an article published today in Austral Ecology. As the world warms, say the authors, we need long-term data to understand how plants and animals are changing … Read More

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Why use your memory when you can use your computer’s?

Julie Iles Aug 19, 2016

On every smartphone, there is probably a collection of quickly typed reminders, thoughts, grocery lists, and  titbits of information we thought we might forget. Out-sourcing our thoughts and memories like this is called ‘cognitive offloading’. The term involves everyday activities we may take for granted. From using a calculator to check finances to depending on Google Maps to get around, cognitive offloading is what we … Read More

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Ketamine & depression: NZ part of world-first clinical trial

John Kerr Aug 16, 2016

New Zealand patients will be part of the world’s largest controlled clinical trial testing the “enormous potential” of ketamine as an antidepressant medication. A vial of ketamine. Credit: Wikimedia / Psychonaught Depending on who you ask, the drug ketamine is either a powerful anesthetic, a horse tranquilizer or an illicit narcotic.  However, there is now a growing … Read More

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