Peter Griffin

Peter Griffin is the founding manager of the Science Media Centre and the founder and editor of Sciblogs. Prior to founding the SMC, he was Technology Editor of the New Zealand Herald. He is a technology commentator for the New Zealand Listener, Radio New Zealand and Newstalk ZB. Peter is a member of the senior management team of the Royal Society of New Zealand. x

Your chance to help shine a light on important science-related issues - News

Aug 31, 2017

Sciblogs has joined the PressPatron platform, a crowdfunding service that makes it easy for people to make one-off or monthly payments to support content they are passionate about. We know that Sciblogs readers and those of you that comment here and in our Facebook group and on Twitter, are passionate about quality, evidence-based coverage of science-related issues. Unfortunately it is hard for mainstream media outlets to resource these types of stories, which is why we are supporting an effort to generate funding to help journalists and publishers tackle the issues that matter. On the Sciblogs site on desktop and mobile, you will now see a red banner along the top that allows you to “become a supporter” of the recently launched Aotearoa New Zealand Science Journalism Fund, which raises money to support science-related journalism projects. Read More

Forget fake news – the bigger problem in science is PR hype! - Griffin's Gadgets

Aug 18, 2017

Thousands of scientific journal papers are being published every week and their authors and institutions are often under intense pressure to generate interest in the research beyond the world of peer review. Research leader Professor Sally Dunwoodie from the Victor Chang Institute with her team. Credit: Victor Chang Institute That can be a healthy thing – it is increasingly acknowledged that the impact scientists have goes well beyond their contribution to the scientific literature to include public engagement. It means that researchers and their institutions need to improve their game when it comes to communicating their science, if they want to be featured in the top media outlets. The unhealthy aspect of that is the trend towards hype and sensationalism in press releases issued by research institutions. Press officers are competing with click bait and feeling pressure from their … Read More

The political parties and where they stand on science - Griffin's Gadgets

Aug 11, 2017

With the Metiria Turei controversy behind us and ‘Jacindamania’ fading, it may be time for policy positions from our political parties to get more of an airing. Yesterday saw the New Zealand Association of Scientists and the New Zealand Public Service Association team up to give the major political parties and TOP candidate Geoff Simmonds the opportunity to outline their science-related policies. Why is the PSA interested in science? Because a large number of scientists are also public servants and there has been debate in recent years about the priorities of science funding, the career pathways for scientists in New Zealand and the role of scientists in public discourse. A full recording of the panel discussion, courtesy of the NZAS is available below, and I’ve attempted to summarise each party representative’s points underneath. By and large it was … Read More

The Martian Trust – a nutty idea that just won’t work - Griffin's Gadgets

Aug 01, 2017

In December I was invited to a meeting at Carter Observatory of The Martian Trust, a charitable organisation set up in New Zealand to “build a self-sustaining research base on Mars”. I’m passionate about space and science, so I was intrigued to hear how the trust, founded by former Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Dr Charles Polk, planned to achieve such an ambitious goal. I mean, the key space players from NASA to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, are gearing up to colonise Mars, a vastly expensive and risky endeavour. Could the Martian Trust make a meaningful contribution to space exploration alongside these giants? Not long into that meeting in the Carter Observatory’s gorgeous boardroom cum library, I came to the conclusion that the answer was  a resounding ‘no’. As I walked home in the pouring rain (there wasn’t a cab or … Read More

Wikipedia is where everybody starts – boosting the profile of New Zealand women in science - Griffin's Gadgets

Jul 28, 2017

How many women of New Zealand science, living or deceased, can you name? Before I started working at the Royal Society running the Science Media Centre, I’d have to admit that it was an embarrassingly small number on either count. Now, I’m privileged to have met hundreds of women in science and to have learned about numerous other women who were pioneers of science in New Zealand. The profile of women in science – via the peer-reviewed literature, media, public events and participatory science, is greater than its ever been. But it is no surprise that the history of science in New Zealand is dominated by white men. Rutherford, MacDiarmid, Wilkins are our three revered Nobel Laureates, but from Hector to Marsden to Callaghan, our historical narrative is mainly about great men who did great things. We also have great women … Read More

A climate sceptic to the end – Chris de Freitas dies - Griffin's Gadgets

Jul 12, 2017

Former University of Auckland academic Dr Chris de Freitas, has passed away after a two year illness from cancer. Chris de Freitas I had no idea Chris was even sick, so was shocked to hear of his death at the age of 68. He was a climate scientist, had a PhD in climatology and trained in Canada and Australia before settling in New Zealand. He apparently had over 200 publications in the areas of “applied climatology, bioclimatology, meteorology, environmental change, microclimatology and general review commentaries, including two recent books, New Environmentalism: Managing New Zealand’s Environmental Diversity, and Natural Hazards in Australasia”. He also rose to positions of responsibility at the University of Auckland serving at one point as Deputy Dean of Science, Head of Science and Technology at the Tamaki campus and four years as Pro Vice … Read More

Finland’s nuclear waste and the NZ connection - Griffin's Gadgets

Jul 07, 2017

You don’t hear much about Finland being a big user of nuclear power, but the country’s four reactors supply nearly a third of the country’s electricity needs. A fifth reactor is currently being built to boost capacity, as other European countries mothball or proceed to phase out their nuclear facilities due to lingering fears over the safety of nuclear following the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in Japan. For those countries that have used nuclear power and will continue to do so, a literally million-year headache is figuring out what to do with the radioactive waste that is a by-product of the energy production. Shipping it to some distant, remote part of the world is increasingly considered unethical. Finland for its part has bitten the bullet and started construction on the Onkalo spent nuclear fuel depository at the Olkiluoto nuclear power … Read More

Media mega-merger was never a sustainable option anyway - Griffin's Gadgets

May 03, 2017

The Commerce Commission’s rejection of a plan for our two biggest media companies to merge is one of the most significant determinations from the regulator in years. Many journalists in NZME and Fairfax New Zealand newsrooms around the country will be disappointed. The merger was pitched to them as the last hope for sustainability in a cash-strapped industry struggling with the transition from print to digital. But the Commission in both its draft ruling and this final determination, was swayed by compelling arguments outlining the incredible market dominance bringing NZME and Fairfax New Zealand together would entail. There was a lot of cogent discussion about the impact this move would have on plurality of voices and democracy. But when it came down to it, the Commission’s main concern was the market dominance the merged entity would have, a situation … Read More

All sorts of fascinating creepiness at Bug Lab - Griffin's Gadgets

Apr 10, 2017

It was after closing time and the museum was quiet and empty, except for a small group of us who had been allowed into the Bug Lab exhibition after hours for a self-guided tour. In the hushed gloom of the exhibition I wandered among the exhibits and stopped in front of a screen explaining the reproductive habits of the jewel wasp. Jewel wasp – such a beautiful name. I started reading about this creature that is found in the Pacific Islands and tropical parts of South Asia and Africa. As I read, my spine went cold, my jaw slackened, the room around me was suddenly empty, swimming with shadowy menace. A repressed memory came back to me from the time, probably when I was about ten years old, I’d seen The Fly on video, the harrowing David Cronenberg version where scientist Jeff … Read More

Royal Society of New Zealand kicks off 150th celebrations - Griffin's Gadgets

Apr 05, 2017

It’s a big day for the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi as it welcomes guests from all over the world to begin six months of celebrations around its 150th anniversary. I’ve been an employee of the Royal Society of New Zealand for nearly nine years. It has been a fantastic host and guardian for the Science Media Centre and it’s a privilege to work with and around such smart and generous people. During the time I’ve gained a greater appreciation not only of the science that has been done since Europeans arrived in New Zealand, but the science that Māori used in the preceding centuries. This traditional Māori knowledge, or Mātauranga Māori, is an integral part of the science landscape in New Zealand today and is, for instance, a key component of the National Science Challenges. There will … Read More