A History of NZ Science in 25 Objects

Unravelling the twisted story of DNA

Jean Balchin Jun 28, 2017

This grainy, black and white photograph is quite possibly the most important photograph in human history. Photograph 51, the unimaginatively-named X-ray diffraction image of DNA was taken by Raymond Gosling in May 1952, a PhD student under the supervision of Rosalind Franklin at King’s College London. Photograph 51 triggered the development … Read More

Decomposition and decapitated pig’s heads

Jean Balchin May 31, 2017

Decapitated pig’s heads floating in the moonlit water may sound like a scene from a B-grade horror movie, yet Gemma Dickson’s investigation into the microbial marine decomposition of human and animal remains has revolutionised forensic science. This may come as a surprise, but currently, if human remains wash up on shore, there is no established scientific method to conclude … Read More

Harold Gillies and Plastic Surgery

Jean Balchin May 11, 2017

A pastel portrait of Gunner John Dyson by Henry Tonks in 1917, depicting the pioneering skill of Harold Gillies’s surgery. As an art history student, I am often asked to describe or praise artworks I’m not particularly fond of. This strangely captivating pastel portrait is not one of them. It reminds me of a softer Egon Schiele portrait, or deftly … Read More