Guest Work

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.

Ambae volcano’s crater lakes make it a serious threat to Vanuatu - Guest Work

Sep 30, 2017

By Chris Firth, Macquarie University  If you turned on the television this week, you may have seen coverage of the potentially imminent eruption of Mount Agung volcano in Bali. However, Mt Agung is not the only volcano in the region behaving badly. An evacuation of 10,000 residents in Vanuatu has been announced thanks to increasing levels of activity at Ambae volcano. While both Ambae and Agung pose significant threats to local populations, they represent very different types of volcanoes. In fact, the unique features of the Ambae volcano mean it presents immediate danger. What’s special about the Ambae Volcano? Ambae does not fit the stereotypical image of a volcano. Rather than being a steep-sided cone, it forms a low-angled mountain, reminiscent of shield lying flat on the earth. Smoke billows from Vanuatu’s Manaro Voui volcano … Read More

Incredible photos from NIWA scientists out in the field - Field Work

Sep 28, 2017

Every year, NIWA runs a competition to choose the best photos taken by its scientists in the field. This year’s crop of photos is as impressive as ever. NIWA, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, has scientists working on projects in some stunning locations, so it’s no surprise that some amazing photos pop up along the way. These beautiful environments form the backdrop for the vast array of environmental science undertaken by our researchers, and are celebrated each year with NIWA’s annual photographic competition for staff. But sometimes it’s the stories behind the winning shots that also deserve telling. Ivory Glacier. Credit: Hamish Sutton Environmental monitoring technician Hamish Sutton tramped for three days, crossed three gorges and negotiated a long section of boulders to get his shot, which won the Our Places category of the competition. The photo … Read More

Mind-reading technology should not be used to solve crime - Guest Work

Sep 26, 2017

By Paul McGorrery, Deakin University There is growing interest in the potential for a technology known as brain fingerprinting to be used in the fight against crime and terrorism, but it’s far from reliable. Its use without consent violates human rights. And importantly, the technology (as it currently exists) can be tricked. Brain fingerprinting seeks to detect deception by essentially reading thoughts. It works by using electroencephelography (EEG) to read the electrical activity of the brain, with the aim of trying to identify a phenomenon known as the P300 response. The P300 response is a noticeable spike in the brain’s electrical activity, which usually occurs within one-third of a second of being shown a familiar stimulus. The idea is that our subconscious brain has an uncontrollable and measurable response to familiar stimuli that the … Read More

Erosional sediment in Coromandel streams - Guest Work

Sep 22, 2017

Last week, Centre of Research Excellence Te Pūnaha Matatini hosted #WaiNZ, a national conversation providing New Zealanders with an opportunity to read blog posts and other media from key influencers talking about their relationships with water. With permission, Sciblogs is re-publishing some of the blog posts here, including Mary Sewell’s thoughts on eorsion and sediment impacts on waterways, shared below.  Opito Bay on the Coromandel Peninsula is a special place to me – where I spent idyllic childhood summers, swimming, diving, exploring, hut-building – and with important experiences that led to my career as a marine biologist today. The Stewart Stream in the middle of the bay was an important location for our adventures; you could travel up it in a small boat or kayak, you could play in the lagoon where it met the beach at its end and for some, … Read More

A new way to regulate surrogacy to give more certainty to all involved - Guest Work

Sep 22, 2017

By Ruth Walker, University of Waikato and Liezl van Zyl, University of Waikato Starting a family through surrogacy is fraught with stresses and uncertainties. For heterosexual couples it is often the last resort after a history of disappointment and even tragedy. Gay couples remain subject to discrimination and stigma when it comes to planning a family. Surrogates face the risk that the intended parents might opt out of the arrangement, leaving them the legal mother of a child they did not plan to raise. They are often not compensated for their service. We think it is time for a new way to regulate surrogacy to provide certainty over legal parentage and protection of the surrogate’s rights. Surrogacy now In genetic surrogacy (also known as traditional or partial surrogacy), the surrogate uses her own egg … Read More

Restoring the mana of the Rotorua/Te Arawa lakes - Guest Work

Sep 21, 2017

Last week, Centre of Research Excellence Te Pūnaha Matatini hosted #WaiNZ, a national conversation providing New Zealanders with an opportunity to read blog posts and other media from key influencers talking about their relationships with water. With permission, Sciblogs is re-publishing some of the blog posts here, including David Hamilton’s reflection on the successes of the Rotorua/Te Arawa Lakes Program, shared below.  Something interesting has been happening in the Rotorua/Te Arawa lakes over the past decade or so. Instead of separating into factious groups, government, NGOs, iwi, members of the farming community, scientists and the wider community have united in kōrero and actions to support restoration efforts on the lakes. Perhaps this is a model for Aotearoa to follow? This whakarāmemene has been made possible by a number of interesting developments. Leaders such as Dr Ian Kusabs(Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Maru) … Read More

New Zealand’s health service performs well, but inequities remain high - Guest Work

Sep 21, 2017

By Jackie Cumming, Victoria University of Wellington This article is part of The Conversation global series about health systems, examining different health care systems all over the world. New Zealand’s health care system is comprehensive and largely publicly funded. It generally performs well, but there are significant inequities in access and outcomes. As international comparisons show, New Zealand’s health care is funded largely through taxation, and we spend less than other countries when measured by cost per person. Health status in New Zealand Overall, New Zealanders live relatively long and healthy lives. Life expectancy at birth sits at 81.4 years, above the OECD average of 80.5 years. It is below that of Australia, at 82.2 years, but higher than in the UK, at 81.1 years. However, life expectancy is lower for Māori and Pacific … Read More

The animalcules* within - Guest Work

Sep 20, 2017

Last week, Centre of Research Excellence Te Pūnaha Matatini hosted #WaiNZ, a national conversation providing New Zealanders with an opportunity to read blog posts and other media from key influencers talking about their relationships with water. With permission, Sciblogs is re-publishing some of the blog posts here, including Siouxsie Wiles‘ reflections water bacteria and health.  *Animalcules is the name that Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch draper, gave the organisms he saw when he first looked at a drop of pond water using one of his handcrafted microscopes in the 1670’s. My connection with water over the years  When I think back to my childhood and the body of water that I identify with most, it’s the swimming pool we were lucky enough to have in our back garden. I remember the excitement of watching it being built, and the … Read More

Te Awaroa – Voice of the River - Guest Work

Sep 19, 2017

Last week, Centre of Research Excellence Te Pūnaha Matatini hosted #WaiNZ, a national conversation providing New Zealanders with an opportunity to read blog posts and other media from key influencers talking about their relationships with water. With permission, Sciblogs is re-publishing some of the blog posts here, starting with Dan Hikuroa‘s call to listen to the voice of the river.  Across Aotearoa New Zealand, many rivers are disappearing or no longer safe for fishing and swimming, and we are seriously concerned about declining river health. It seems like everyone I talk to from my generation or older had a favourite river or waterhole that they enjoyed as part of growing up as a Kiwi kid. When asked, very few them would swim in that river today – if it actually still existed. The ‘bottom line’ regulatory approach of the government’s … Read More

Science or snake oil: is manuka honey really a ‘superfood’ for treating colds, allergies and infections? - Guest Work

Sep 15, 2017

By Nural Cokcetin, University of Technology Sydney and Shona Blair Manuka honey is often touted as a “superfood” that treats many ailments, including allergies, colds and flus, gingivitis, sore throats, staph infections, and numerous types of wounds. Manuka can apparently also boost energy, “detox” your system, lower cholesterol, stave off diabetes, improve sleep, increase skin tone, reduce hair loss and even prevent frizz and split ends. Some of these claims are nonsense, but some have good evidence behind them. Honey has been used therapeutically throughout history, with records of its cultural, religious and medicinal importance shown in rock paintings, carvings and sacred texts from many diverse ancient cultures. Honey was used to treat a wide range of ailments from eye and throat infections to gastroenteritis and respiratory ailments, but it was persistently popular as … Read More