A Measure of Science

Scientists need to hold policy-makers to account

Shaun Hendy Sep 30, 2014

Over on Public Address last week, New Zealand Association of Scientists President, Dr Nicola Gaston, wrote a very important post on Science and Democracy. When politicians ignore scientific advice, or special interests seek to undermine such advice, how should scientists react? Dr Gaston considers the guidance on offer for scientists in such … Read More

Science and its privilege in the policy arena

Shaun Hendy Aug 25, 2014

Scientific evidence is held in high regard by New Zealand’s government and its public officials, and frequently plays a significant role in the policy arena. As the late Sir Paul Callaghan said, “‘Science is the compass on the voyage we must all make into the twenty-first century.” But as government moves to appoint science advisors across its Ministries, it is … Read More

Misogyny in science

Shaun Hendy Jul 09, 2014

I had to wait until fourth form for my first lesson about feminism. I went to an all-boys school in provincial New Zealand, where classes on contemporary political issues were few and far between. So I sat up straight when my maths teacher told us that feminists believed that “All men are rapists.” For his fourteen-year old audience, he felt … Read More

Evidence-based science policy

Shaun Hendy Jun 11, 2014

In May last year, the New Zealand Herald ran an editorial in which it declared: Science has been a black hole for taxpayers’ money. Governments of all stripes agree that science is something they should fund without knowing very much about it. Ironically, the editorial went on to praise the virtues of the National Science Challenges … Read More

Timing is everything

Shaun Hendy Feb 17, 2014

Today, I will be reflecting on the importance of good science communication at the University of Waikato’s International Symposium on “Transforming Engagement on Controversial Science and Technology”. There is a lot to say, and a lot that has been said, about science communication. In this post, however, I want to reflect on an aspect of science communication that is … Read More

Marsden 2013: Big increase in funding lifts success rate

Shaun Hendy Jan 24, 2014

This post is late, very late! I have a long list of excuses, many of which involve moving to Auckland and writing a Centre of Research Excellence Proposal. But with the 2014 Marsden round almost upon us, it is well past time to look at the numbers from 2013. 2013 saw a big increase in the funds handed out. In … Read More

The Physics of Santa

Shaun Hendy Dec 24, 2013

At this time of year, many parents worry about the risks posed to their children from exposure to Santa Claus. We know very little about the science of Santa because the government refuses to fund research into Christmas,as it cannot be linked to direct economic benefit. Yet, as Colin Craig has been at pains to remind us this … Read More

Pounamu returns Thursday Aug 29

Shaun Hendy Aug 25, 2013

This coming Thursday (Aug 29) from midday we will be running Pounamu again for 24 hours. This is a free, online game set in a future world where all of us can use science as easily as they can use a computer now. We ran the game for the first time last year, … Read More

Getting Off the Grass

Shaun Hendy Aug 06, 2013

Fonterra’s discovery of the bacterium that causes botulism in a batch of whey protein concentrate has alarmed many.  As the whey protein is an ingredient in popular infant formulas, many parents will be worried that they have inadvertently exposed their children to potentially fatal bacteria.  Hopefully, the recall of  products that use Fonterra’s whey ingredient will prevent any illness, even … Read More

Complexity, emergence and networks

Shaun Hendy Jul 11, 2013

What do magnets, stock markets, and Facebook all have in common? With Get Off the Grass off to the printers, I now have some time to ponder such important questions. So tonight at 8.40pm, I’ll be back talking to Bryan Crump on Radio NZ Nights about what it is that these things share: namely, complexity. (You can listen the … Read More