Guest Author

This is the Sciblogs guest blog, where we run science-related submissions from the Sciblogs community and beyond. Contact Sciblogs editor Peter Griffin about making a submission - or about hosting a blog on Sciblogs.

Is this study legit? 5 questions to ask when reading news stories of medical research - Guest Work

Oct 11, 2019

Hassan Vally, La Trobe University Who doesn’t want to know if drinking that second or third cup of coffee a day will improve your memory, or if sleeping too much increases your risk of a heart attack? We’re invested in staying healthy and many of us are interested in reading about new research findings to help us make sense of our lifestyle choices. But not all research is equal, and not every research finding should be interpreted in the same way. Nor do all media headlines reflect what was actually studied or found. So how can you tell? Keep these five questions in mind when you’re reading media stories about new studies. 1. Has the research been peer reviewed? Peer review is a process by which a study is checked by experts in the discipline to assess the study’s scientific … Read More

Why some people still think climate change isn’t real - Climate: Explained

Oct 10, 2019

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz Why do people still think climate change isn’t real? David Hall, Auckland University of Technology At its heart, climate change denial is a conflict between facts and values. People deny the climate crisis because, to them, it just feels wrong. As I’ve argued elsewhere, acknowledging climate change involves accepting certain facts. But being concerned about climate change involves connecting these facts to values. It involves building bridges between the science of climate change and peoples’ various causes, commitments and convictions. Denial happens when climate science rubs us up the wrong way. Instead of making us want … Read More

What each of us can do to reduce our carbon footprint - Climate: Explained

Oct 02, 2019

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz As an individual, what is the single, most important thing I can do in the face of climate change? Nick Golledge, Victoria University of Wellington The most important individual climate action will depend on each person’s particular circumstances, but each of us can make some changes to reduce our own carbon footprint and to support others to do the same. Generally, there are four lifestyle choices that can make a major difference: eat less or no meat, forego air travel, go electric or ditch your car, and have fewer children. In New Zealand, half of our … Read More

A passion turned into a career - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 30, 2019

Ngoni Faya February 11, 2013 is one of the days I won’t forget in my academic life. I was so excited, enthusiastic and more than ready to pursue my Master’s programme in Bioinformatics, which was designed to start with some intense course work to get everyone up to speed with the computing skills essential for research projects. But I was in for a rude awakening. On day one of classes, I was introduced to the command-line interface (CLI) for the first time. The first thing we were instructed to do was to make sure we were working in the home directory. As I stared at that prompt (“the dollar sign” as I called it), I had no idea what to type in there. Hearing the guy sitting next to me saying that he “checked the path and is sure he’s … Read More

Discovery of prehistoric baby bottles shows infants were fed cow’s milk 5,000 years ago - Guest Work

Sep 26, 2019

Julie Dunne, University of Bristol How did people look after their children in the Stone Age? It turns out that prehistoric parents may not have been so different to modern mums and dads. Clay vessels that have been found in Germany could have been used to supplement breast milk and wean children more than 5,000 years ago. They became more common across Bronze and Iron Age Europe and are thought to be some of the first-known baby bottles. Analyses of child skeletons from this period suggest that supplementary foods were given to babies at around six months and weaning was complete by two to three years of age. These bottles are often stray finds on dig sites of ancient settlements and come in all sorts of shapes, but are always very small and have a spout through which … Read More

Why don’t we have electric aircraft? - Climate: Explained

Sep 25, 2019

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz Electric cars, trains, trams and boats already exist. That logically leads to the question: why are we not seeing large electric aircraft? And will we see them any time soon? Dries Verstraete, University of Sydney Why do we have electric cars and trains, but few electric planes? The main reason is that it’s much simpler to radically modify a car or train, even if they look very similar to traditional fossil-fuel vehicles on the outside. Land vehicles can easily cope with the extra mass from electricity storage or electrical propulsion systems, but aircraft are much more sensitive. Read More

Why are climate change skeptics often right-wing conservatives? - Climate: Explained

Sep 20, 2019

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz Why are climate change skeptics often right-wing conservatives? Yu Luo, University of British Columbia; Jiaying Zhao, University of British Columbia, and Rebecca M. Todd, University of British Columbia The scientific evidence for climate change is unequivocal: 97 per cent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that human activities are causing global warming. Given the same evidence, why do some people become concerned about human-caused climate change while others deny it? In particular, why are people who remain skeptical about climate change often identified as right-wing conservatives? According to a recent poll conducted in Canada, … Read More

How much of climate change is natural? How much is man-made? - Climate: Explained

Sep 19, 2019

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz How much climate change is natural? How much is man made? Mark New, University of Cape Town As someone who has been working on climate change detection and its causes for over 20 years I was both surprised and not surprised that I was asked to write on this topic by The Conversation. For nearly all climate scientists, the case is proven that humans are the overwhelming cause of the long-term changes in the climate that we are observing. And that this case should be closed. Despite this, climate denialists continue to receive prominence in some … Read More

Why we won’t be heading into an ice age any time soon - Climate: Explained

Sep 18, 2019

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz When I studied climate in my university geography course in the 1960s, I am sure we were told that the Earth was cooling. We were all anxious about being too cold in our future. Now we are too hot. Is this because the prediction that we were moving towards another ice age was incorrect, or has Earth warmed up so quickly through human activities that it has cancelled out that cool trend and actually reversed it? James Renwick, Victoria University of Wellington The Earth warms and cools on a range of different time scales, driven by different effects. Read More

How different crops or trees help strip carbon dioxide from the air - Climate: Explained

Sep 17, 2019

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz Would it be helpful to undertake a nationwide and coordinated mass planting of trees and plants that are known to have a high uptake of carbon dioxide such as paulownia and hemp alongside the attempts to plant natives? Sebastian Leuzinger, Auckland University of Technology Exotic (but non-invasive) trees have their place in our efforts to capture carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere. We could increase plantings of fruit trees and timber that we use to construct our homes. But this question refers to the potentially faster growth of some non-native species, and the associated faster removal of CO₂. Read More