Ancient sponges or just algae? New research overturns chemical evidence for the earliest animals - Hot off the press

Guest Author Dec 01, 2020

Lennart van Maldegem, Australian National University; Benjamin Nettersheim, Max Planck Institute; Christian Hallmann, Max Planck Institute; Ilya Bobrovskiy, California Institute of Technology, and Jochen Brocks, Australian National University Sponges are the simplest of animals, and they may stand at the root of all complex animal life on Earth, including us humans. Scientists study the evolution of the earliest sponges, hundreds … Read More

Big Eye Wide, But Shut - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Nov 23, 2020

A few days ago the US National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the decommissioning of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. This story has been the subject of items in the mass media around the globe, and also in New Zealand. Cables supporting the massive horns and radio receivers above the dish have snapped, the actual dish surface has been … Read More

A few days in the life of an ER - News

Katherine Hurst Oct 30, 2020

Most people hear “ER” and they think of an emergency room – ambulances, patients, life and death situations. But for the staff at the Science Media Centre, ER stands for “Expert Reactions” and means timely comments from experts responding to breaking news.  When news breaks, journalists often want quotes about the importance … Read More

Water on the Moon? - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Oct 27, 2020

The space news this week is largely focused on an announcement from NASA regarding the discovery of water on the Moon. Not liquid water – the lunar surface is far too cold for that – but apparently ice deposits in the surface layers in near-polar regions, and perhaps deeper below the surface too. Finding water on the Moon in an … Read More

Science at the movies: The new comet impact film - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Oct 22, 2020

Disaster movies forever capture the public attention… but did you ever stop to think that the word disaster actually means bad star? That is, ‘dis’ implies a pejorative (as in disease, or disgust, or disrespect), while ‘aster’ comes from the Latin astrum, similarly the Greek astron. Obviously enough, this derives from old astrological beliefs. In modern science, asteroids are called that … Read More

Scholarship Physics - Physics Stop

Marcus Wilson Oct 16, 2020

It’s that time of year when school students become seriously focused on exams. This year has been messy for student learning, and has affected some students more than others, but the NCEA external assessments and the Scholarship exams are going ahead pretty-much as normal. I’ve taken some interest in the Scholarship Physics exams over the past years. Read More

Possible inter-satellite collision on Friday - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Oct 14, 2020

Two objects in low-Earth orbit may collide with each other on Friday, in a hyper-velocity impact which would lead to millions of fragments being left on-orbit, each potentially-lethal to functioning satellites. Fingers crossed (not that I am superstitious) that it is a miss, rather than a hit. One local media article is available here. Above I wrote ‘objects’ because … Read More