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

12 Gadgets of Christmas - Griffin's Gadgets

Dec 13, 2017

In the run-up to Christmas we here at Sciblogs are looking at some gadgets we’ve been playing with this year… from Huawei’s new Mate 10 smartphone to the Anki Cozmo intelligent robot.  Let us know in the comments what you have been playing with too – what do you recommend gadget-wise as a Christmas stocking filler. View the Gadgets of Christmas reviews assembled here. Read More

12 Gadgets of Christmas: Nest Cam IQ indoor - Griffin's Gadgets

Dec 13, 2017

This is a Sciblogs series running through until Christmas Eve highlighting some of the gadgets we’ve been using this year… gadget no. 2 A couple of weeks ago, an alert popped up on my phone informing me that there was an unfamiliar face in my living room. Nest Cam IQ ‘Good grief!” I thought. A burglar is probably unplugging my Xbox console, ready to make off with it and my prized Twilight Zone DVD box set. I opened the Nest app on my phone to see what carnage was unfolding in my living room nine thousand kilometres away (I was in Tokyo at the time). The person captured by the Nest Cam IQ sitting on my TV cabinet turned out to be my partner – reclining on the couch folding washing while she watched the type of … Read More

12 gadgets of Christmas: Anki Cozmo - Griffin's Gadgets

Dec 12, 2017

This is a Sciblogs series running through until Christmas Eve highlighting some of the gadgets we’ve been using this year… gadget no. 1 I feel sorry for the people responsible locally for promoting the Anki Cozmo. They really had to try hard to convince me that reviewing a toy robot was going to be a worthwhile experience. I’d also just come back from the robotics expo in Japan, where I had my fill of cutesy but not particularly useful robots – from mechanical dogs, to a cat like robot that sits on your knee, heats up and purrs just like a cat. Weird. But a flash of inspiration struck me as I unwrapped the Cozmo in the office. My colleague at the Science Media Centre, Dacia Herbulock, has two curious-minded and gadget-loving kids. Why not unleash … Read More

After the quakes – hard lessons that help us all do better - Scibooks

Dec 08, 2017

I was at the science communicator’s conference in Auckland on the afternoon of 22 February, 2011, when the massive earthquake struck Christchurch. The theme of the conference was “Listening to the other side” and we’d enjoyed several stimulating discussions during the day as non-scientists gave their views on ways to effectively communicate the science of complex issues. That abstract discussion turned brutally real over lunch as our colleagues in the room began to receive messages from their loved ones and we all got a sense of the magnitude of the disaster. Some people headed directly for the airport while others hit the phones as they assumed their roles as crisis communicators. On the ground in Christchurch, journalists at the The Press newspaper stumbled out of their shattered newsroom. Within minutes, many of them had taken up cameras and note pads … Read More

Sciblogs goes shopping: new ‘Consuming Science’ Series - Griffin's Gadgets

Nov 27, 2017

Science sells.  You don’t have to look far in the supermarket to see that advertisers have cottoned on to this fact. Technical sounding jargon, endorsements from experts and references to ‘clinically proven’ results are everywhere you look. Sometimes you just wish someone could cut through hype and give a clear steer on how best to spend your money. Allow me to introduce the Sciblogs ‘Consuming Science’ series. Over the next two weeks at Sciblogs we’ll be publishing posts exploring the everyday science of consumer products and services. Covering everything from genetic ancestry tests to Band-Aids, our bloggers will be digging into to the science of the stuff that winds up in your shopping trolley or on your credit card bill. Don’t get us wrong – It’s amazing hearing about … Read More

The scientific effort to take out our biggest pests - Griffin's Gadgets

Nov 16, 2017

Nearly 18 months on from the previous government announcing Predator Free 2050, an ambitious goal to eradicate our most destructive invasive pests, the research that will underpin the strategy has been unveiled. Predator Free 2050 Ltd is the company that was set up to invest in predator eradication and steer the major scientific effort that will be required to achieve the goal. In particular, the intermediary goal of eradicating at least one small mammalian predator from the mainland by 2025 will be a tall ask – that’s a mere eight years away. Rats, stoats and possums are all in the scientists’ sights as they progress work on all three target pests. You can view the strategy here. The scientific effort will be divided into three parts: ‘Environment and society’ will explore social and cultural views about predator … Read More

Simon Upton – New Zealand science like an ‘exotic botanical garden’ - Griffin's Gadgets

Nov 10, 2017

The Crown Research Institutes are 25 years old and they celebrated yesterday with a series of talks and a showcase of their science at Te Papa in Wellington yesterday. Labour’s Research, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Megan Woods, a former Plant & Food employee herself, gave a fairly measured speech that strayed little from the science and research-related commitments made in Labour’s coalition agreement with New Zealand First. You can listen to it below. https://archive.org/download/1601250006/160125_0006.wav More forceful was the newly instated Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, who as Minister of Research, Science and Technology in the National Government was responsible for setting up the CRIs back in 1992. Upton’s speech is available in full here. And you can listen to it below. https://archive.org/download/1601250007/160125_0007.wav But some of the highlights from it suggest Upton is alarmed at … Read More

Auckland botanist inspires science award name change - Griffin's Gadgets

Nov 01, 2017

The New Zealand Association of Scientists this evening presented their annual awards in Wellington, honouring some of the country’s top researchers with a suite of prestigeous medals. Dr Lucy Cranwell See full details of the winners below. One nice surprise was to see the Association’s science communicator’s medal, which has been won in recent years by scientists including Michelle Dickinson, Mark Quigley and Simon Lamb, renamed in honour of botanist Lucy Cranwell (1907 – 2000), who during a long career spanning much of the 20th century developed a reputation as an engaging science communicator. Dr Cranwell assumed the role of botanist at Auckland Museum in 1929 as curators prepared to move into its current location above Auckland Domain. She was just 21 and held the position for 14 years, during which time she came up with innovative ways to engage … Read More

A change of government: 5 things it could mean for New Zealand science - Griffin's Gadgets

Oct 19, 2017

After days of reading reports from frustrated reporters camped out in front of the elevators in Bowen House, we finally have an answer on the shape of our next government – a Labour-New Zealand First coalition. The Greens, with a confidence and supply arrangement with Labour, will be in the mix in some capacity as well by the time the dust settles. A tired looking Winston Peters informed the country this evening that the majority of voters had signalled a desire for change and that, with the economic outlook set to deteriorate, change that benefited the majority of New Zealanders would be on the cards. Science in its own right didn’t really feature as an election issue, but the various science-related policy statements of Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party we collected at the Science … Read More

Fonterra’s blindspot – synthetic milk - Griffin's Gadgets

Oct 13, 2017

Last year I found myself sitting on a plane beside a Fonterra executive who was bound for Chicago, where the dairy giant’s US operation is based. I asked him what he considered to be the biggest issues the company faced. He immediately mentioned “trace-ability” and giving Fonterra’s customers confidence in the safety of its products, something that is rightly front of mind following the company’s costly botulism scare of 2013. He then explained at length the logistical headaches of shifting large amounts of milk powder to offshore markets like China in a cost-effective manner, one of the most practical problems Fonterra faces every day. Then I said: “what about the threat of synthetic milk?” watching his face closely to see how he’d react. He raised his eyebrows, looked out the window over the Pacific for a couple of seconds … Read More