Science

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

When analogies are taken too far: Spacetime is bent, but it’s not quite a stretchy membrane - Physics Stop

Marcus Wilson Sep 30, 2020

Last week I was asked by some school students about the nature of gravity. What is it? Isaac Newton, and a whole pile of textbooks following him, treat gravity as an attractive force between two objects. It’s a force that is proportional to the product of the masses of the two objects, and is inversely proportional to the distance between … Read More

Rocky icebergs and deep anchors – new research on how planetary forces shape the Earth’s surface - Guest Work

Guest Author Sep 29, 2020

Simon Lamb, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington Have you ever wondered why the Earth’s surface is separated into two distinct worlds – the oceans and large tracts of land? Why aren’t land and water more mixed up, forming a landscape of lakes? And why is most of the land relatively low and close to sea level, making … Read More

First steps: Jerry DeSilva on the evolution of bipedalism - BioBlog

Alison Campbell Sep 25, 2020

Yesterday morning I got up (at the rather early and unaccustomed hour of 3.30am) to listen to a webinar by paleoanthropologist Dr Jeremy DeSilva¹. Titled “First Steps”, his presentation was about the origins of bipedalism in the human lineage. It was a fascinating session & I thought I’d turn my notes into this post, to share with students, teachers, and … 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