Science and Society

Coronavirus: the road to vaccine roll-out is always bumpy, as 20th-century pandemics show - Guest Work

Guest Author Sep 26, 2020

Samantha Vanderslott, University of Oxford If you have been following the media coverage of the new vaccines in development for COVID-19, it will be clear that the stakes are high. Very few vaccine trials in history have attracted so much attention, perhaps since polio in the mid-20th century. A now largely forgotten chapter, summer polio outbreaks invoked terror in parents. Read More

Flight to nowhere sends the wrong message in climate crisis - Planetary Ecology

Robert McLachlan Sep 25, 2020

Qantas Airlines’ 7-hour “flight to nowhere”, that sold out in 10 minutes with prices from A$787 to A$3787, seemed like a sick joke to climate advocates. Apart from the waste of fuel and the pointless emissions, passengers would be able to see first-hand, from a plane just like those that carried coronavirus around the world so effectively, the sweeping devastation … Read More

Small asteroid to make near-miss of Earth in NZ skies tonight - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Sep 24, 2020

Sorry for the late notice on this one, but I only just heard myself, in common with most of the human race. A small asteroid, somewhere between the size of a truck and the size of a house in dimensions, will hurtle past the Earth tonight, dipping closer to our planet’s surface than the altitude at which TV transmission and … Read More

Humans ignite almost every wildfire that threatens homes - Unsorted

Guest Author Sep 23, 2020

Nathan Mietkiewicz, National Ecological Observatory Network and Jennifer Balch, University of Colorado Boulder CC BY-ND Summer and fall are wildfire season across the western U.S. In recent years, wildfires have destroyed thousands of homes, forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate and exposed tens of millions to harmful smoke. Wildfires are a natural disturbance for these regions, but when … Read More

Indigenous perspectives on unrestricted access to genomic data - Genomics Aotearoa

Genomics Aotearoa Sep 23, 2020

By Genomics Aotearoa researcher Maui Hudson, University of Waikato It is vital that genomics research respects genomic data and genetic heritage from indigenous communities. Genomics research is a rapidly growing field of study, and there is a strong push to make the huge amount of data being produced open source for all researchers to use – the rational being … Read More

Terrible luck: lockdowns on learning and youth job prospects - COVID-19

Guest Author Sep 23, 2020

What is bad luck? Bad luck is spilling spaghetti sauce down your shirt right before an important meeting. When the person in front of you gets the last seat on the bus, that’s bad luck. Bad luck is when it’s sunny outside, so you leave the house without a coat, and it hails almost immediately (unless you live in Wellington, … Read More

New Zealand will make big banks, insurers and firms disclose their climate risk. It’s time other countries did too - Guest Work

Guest Author Sep 18, 2020

Ivan Diaz-Rainey, University of Otago This week’s announcement of mandatory disclosures of climate-related risks for companies and financial institutions is arguably the New Zealand government’s most significant climate policy — even more so than the Zero Carbon Act itself. The new policy will come into effect in 2023. It requires all banks, asset managers and insurance companies with … Read More

Things that grow fast, and things that surprise us - Tuhia ki te rangi

Guest Author Sep 17, 2020

Marie Becdelievre January 2020. The number of news article mentioning coronavirus exploded and anxious voices whispered about a global pandemic. Whisper? To me, it was only a whisper. I tend to learn about the world through non-fiction books, conferences, and academic research rather than news and social media, so I did not see the crisis coming. But as whispers … Read More

Tackling the hard issues – trust and relationships - Genomics Aotearoa

Genomics Aotearoa Sep 15, 2020

By Claire Grant, Genomics Aotearoa Communications Manager Community consultation is becoming an increasingly important aspect of research programmes in New Zealand, and with that comes the art of relationship building. Engagement between scientists and user-groups is certainly nothing new. But as stakeholder involvement becomes more of a requirement for science, it becomes harder to define what constitutes effective consultation, and … Read More

Now everyone’s a statistician. Here’s what armchair COVID experts are getting wrong - COVID-19

Guest Author Sep 14, 2020

Jacques Raubenheimer, University of Sydney If we don’t analyse statistics for a living, it’s easy to be taken in by misinformation about COVID-19 statistics on social media, especially if we don’t have the right context. For instance, we may cherry pick statistics supporting our viewpoint and ignore statistics showing we are wrong. We also still need to correctly interpret these … Read More