Science and Society

Thoughts on the proposed changes to NCEA - BioBlog

Alison Campbell Feb 28, 2020

Many readers will probably have read this RNZ article (or heard the related interview), or seen calls for consultation on the Ministry of Education’s suggested changes to the number of subjects – and achievement standards – on offer to year 11 students. I’ve been following (& participating, where I can) all this with colleagues and friends, and … Read More

Beating the evolving COVID-19 pandemic – unprecedented human collaboration in discovery and innovation - Diplomatic Immunity

Helen Petousis Harris Feb 26, 2020

Less than two months after China told the WHO there was a problem, a lot has happened. Sadly, deaths, confirmed cases and countries affected are increasing every day. However, on a scientific and medical level, what is going on to contain, cure and prevent this new disease is truly inspirational. Let’s look at the build-up to this global health emergency … Read More

Why do students need to learn about the nature of science? - BioBlog

Alison Campbell Feb 25, 2020

You’re probably aware that the Achievement Standards used to assess senior school students’ learning are being reviewed. Science is one of the ‘pilot’ subjects in this process, where a ‘Subject Expert Group’ has developed 4 draft Science standards¹ (a significant step away from the current 30+, and a response to advice from several high-level advisory groups). These drafts … Read More

When is the day inserted into a leap year? - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 24, 2020

Surprisingly enough, one could argue (as I often do) that the day inserted into a leap year is not that we label 29th February, but actually the 24th of February. Here I explain why, briefly.  Almost everyone assumes that the day added into February in a leap year is the 29th, but that assumption is based on a lack of … Read More

New launch of 60 SpaceX satellites crossing NZ - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 22, 2020

Last Monday SpaceX launched another clutch of Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit, bringing up to 300 the number of these units intended to bring 5G internet to the whole globe. In this post I present a movie showing how all 300 such satellites will be zipping around our planet over the next eight days (until the end of the month), … Read More

Futures Fatigue and Futures Inertia - Ariadne

Robert Hickson Feb 18, 2020

Nobody thinks about the next century anymore. That at least is Sci-Fi writer William Gibson’s observation (in this BBC 4 short interview, starting at 1:43:50 ). He calls it “Futures Fatigue”, but isn’t judgemental about it. Gibson notes that in the 20th century speculation about the 21st (and beyond) was common. Now the focus is much more … Read More

Updating the role of the state: the case of housing in New Zealand - Public Health Expert

Public Health Expert Feb 17, 2020

Prof Philippa Howden-Chapman Housing policy is building up to be the key election issue again. In this blog I reflect on the importance of the role of the New Zealand Government in improving access to affordable housing. I look at what the Government has been doing to increase quality public housing and to reduce homelessness and why the public housing waiting … Read More

Coronavirus update: spread outside China and a new name - Infectious Thoughts

Siouxsie Wiles Feb 16, 2020

With over 69,000 confirmed cases and 1,600 deaths, here’s your round-up of the latest coronavirus news. New disease and virus have now officially been named On the 11th February, the WHO Director General announced a new name for the disease: COVID-19 which is short for coronavirus disease 2019. The naming follows the WHO’s commitment not to call diseases after … Read More

What’s in a name? Why the coronavirus needed its own - Lately, In Science

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Feb 12, 2020

As of today, the novel coronavirus spreading in China is called COVID-19. Why does it matter? Around the office, we’ve had several conversations over the past few weeks about how 2019-nCoV needed its own name. First, it was getting annoying calling it by the above designation, and ‘novel coronavirus’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue either. And it was … Read More

Prediction: NZ will probably never have another measles epidemic - Diplomatic Immunity

Helen Petousis Harris Feb 10, 2020

The Ministry of Health has announced a package that might ensure New Zealand will never experience another measles epidemic. While at the time of writing the details are still limited it appears that the important limitations in our current programme have been acknowledged and the intent is to address them. Great stuff. The commitment is starting with $23 million and … Read More