Science and Society

Times to Spot the Space Station - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 19, 2019

It’s easy to see the International Space Station passing overhead: you just need to know when and where to look. Oh, and a clear sky. The International Space Station (ISS) regularly passes across New Zealand, a little more than 400 km above our heads – rather less than the distance between Auckland and Wellington. Most of these transits occur … Read More

Breaking the pharmacy cartel - The Dismal Science

Eric Crampton Feb 15, 2019

I wish that government spent even half as much time looking at how its existing regulatory structures create cartels as it did in the rest of its antitrust enforcement. The Herald reports that a new entrant has finally started shaking things up in pharmacy, reducing costs to consumers. They get the framing entirely backwards, focusing on reduced earnings among … Read More

Let’s get things done! - Lippy Linguist

Andreea Calude Feb 15, 2019

If language is about getting a message across and about getting things done, then there is nothing that does it better than a verb. The more I study verbs, the more I feel this humble grammatical object is key to understanding so much about how we communicate and how our minds work. All you need is VERBS If actions speak … Read More

Vets can do more to reduce the suffering of flat-faced dog breeds - Guest Work

Guest Author Feb 13, 2019

Paul McGreevy, University of Sydney and Anne Fawcett, University of Sydney Veterinarians have a professional and moral obligation to reduce or prevent any negative health impacts of disorders in animals. But what if animals are bred with known disorders? And what if those disorders are a big part of what makes them cute? In a paper, … Read More

The Nelson bush fire: What can satellite images tell us about such events? - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 12, 2019

The ongoing fires in the Nelson-Tasman region have quite rightly provoked much alarm. The response of Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the NZ Police, the NZ Defence Force, and many private individuals, has been magnificent. However, the utilisation of satellite imagery for assessing such fires and then planning and responding is deficient in NZ compared to much of the rest … Read More

Lime E-Scooters – Avoiding a collision course with public health? - Public Health Expert

Public Health Expert Feb 11, 2019

Prof Janet Hoek, Assoc Prof George Thomson, Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Caroline Shaw Currently introduced in four New Zealand cities, Lime electric scooters (e-scooters) have elicited varied responses. Proponents argue they will help reduce traffic density, thus bringing health and environmental benefits, while critics suggest they risk unacceptable overall harm to pedestrians, users themselves, and to taxpayers, who … Read More

Satellite imagery of the Nelson bush fire - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 09, 2019

The area burnt in the ongoing bush fire in the Nelson-Tasman region, largely around Pigeon Valley near Wakefield, can easily be seen in satellite imagery collected in recent days.  Earth observation satellites frequently cross New Zealand and, clouds allowing, collect imagery of the land and sea below. In later posts I will discuss such data collection in more detail, but … Read More

Taming inaccurate health and science news: could editors help? - Code for life

Grant Jacobs Feb 07, 2019

A recent study found most of the 10 most popular ‘health’ articles of 2018 were inaccurate. Similar but less skewed results were seen for the top 100 articles. I dislike pointing fingers. For these things, they tend to point at journalists and social media. Instead, I’d like to highlight something less talked about when discussing inaccurate health and science news: … Read More

Satellite Orbits: Global Navigation Systems - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 05, 2019

Apart from the US-provided Global Positioning System (GPS) used by most commercial navigation systems – such as in your car, or mobile phone – there are several distinct networks operated by other space agencies deploying their own satellite fleets. Here I describe the orbits employed by the Russian, European Union and Chinese GNSS constellations. (Part 3 in a series of … Read More

The loose boobies of deathly cold, humour, entertainment, and science communication - Code for life

Grant Jacobs Feb 02, 2019

Last night a clever tweet written by art+science fan ‘girlyratfish’ (@girlyratfish) amused me: – Her riff of the TV news image uses a clever analogy to explain why climate change has affected the polar vortex. It reminded me of an issue in science communication: how do you reach those who never watch or read science … Read More