Science

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

Pandas and Bamboo: A recent dietary specialisation? - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Brendan Moyle Feb 11, 2019

Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) eat bamboo and not much else. This in evolutionary terms is odd. It’s odd in part because the panda has a short gut typical of carnivores. And it still possesses many of the genes associated with a carnivorous lifestyle. This is largely due to belonging to the bear family Ursidae. This is a group of animals … 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

New Caledonian crows smart enough to plan three steps ahead to solve tricky problem - Guest Work

Guest Author Feb 08, 2019

Alex Taylor, University of Auckland My ideas about animal behaviour were turned upside down in 2002 when I watched Betty, a New Caledonian crow, fashion a hook from a piece of wire and use it to pull a small container with meat from a tube. Betty’s behaviour captivated scientists because it seemed so creative: there was no … Read More

Are deer the new moa: Ecosystem re-wilding or a flight of fancy? - Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Nic Rawlence Feb 08, 2019

It’s the depths of winter and I’m squatting in the snow, surrounded by southern beech forest, using a pair of tweezers to pick up fresh steaming deer poo. Pooper scooper: Braving the cold in the name of science, these deer droppings are a harbinger of a changing world. Photo courtesy of Jamie Wood. My wife Maria, and palaeoecologist … 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

Alice the camel - Unsorted

Marcus Wilson Feb 05, 2019

As we drove on a family outing at the weekend, we sung “Alice the camel”.   For those who don’t know it, it goes like this (to the tune of “Dem Bones”): “Alice the camel had five humps; Alice the camel had five humps; Alice the camel had five humps; so go, Alice go! Alice the camel had four humps… Alice … Read More

A random bioinformatics career walk … and how Genomics Aotearoa is helping researchers be a little less scared of the “command line” - Genomics Aotearoa

Genomics Aotearoa Jan 30, 2019

Dr Alana Alexander A “random walk” is a mathsy term for a path strung together with a bunch of random steps (not unlike trying to walk my stubborn St. Bernard cross on a leash). Despite being a bioinformatician (which folks often think means “also a maths wiz”), my maths is (unfortunately) not great. Therefore, I mention random walks not because … Read More

Harry Hindmarsh Atkinson: obituary - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Jan 27, 2019

Harry Atkinson in 2012 (courtesy William Tobin). Harry Atkinson was one of those able New Zealanders who went overseas to study, fully intending to return one day to these shores to live, but due to their great success in their adopted homelands never did so. A physicist by training, he moved into science advice and administration in Britain and … Read More