Griffin's Gadgets

The Martian: Blows Gravity and Interstellar out of the water

Peter Griffin Oct 05, 2015

Space movies have become a hot genre over the last few years, with star-studded blockbusters Gravity and Interstellar reigniting interest in the drama of space exploration. The makers of those movies also prided themselves on the scientific authenticity of their movies, appointing science advisors to help them get the technical aspects if not exactly right, at least plausible. Those two movies … Read More

Marsden Fund: Benefits quantified for first time

Peter Griffin Oct 02, 2015

New Zealand’s leading ‘blue skies’ research fund boosts Kiwi science, but could be tweaked for greater efficiency, says a new study. An evaluation conducted by researchers at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research institute has found that Marsden funding increases the scientific output of the funded researchers. Compared to similar groups that do not receive funding, a team that is given  … Read More


Google’s big rival in driverless cars

Peter Griffin Sep 13, 2015

For the last two years, Professor Amnon Shashua has been driving between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem largely without touching the steering wheel of his car. “It’s illegal, don’t tell anyone,” says Shashua, a computer vision and machine learning expert at Hebrew Univerity and co-founder of the Israeli company MobilEye. “If I enter a traffic jam, I go to sleep or … Read More

Geologist named inaugural L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Fellow

Peter Griffin Sep 09, 2015

A $25,000 scholarship was set up recently by cosmetics maker L’Oréal and UNESCO to recognise women in science in New Zealand and the inaugural fellow has just been named – Dr Christina Riesselman, a geologist at the University of Otago. I got to know Dr Riesselman when she completed our two-day Science Media SAVVY course in Dunedin – hopefully some … Read More

Nothing but blue sky… and it pays off

Peter Griffin Aug 31, 2015

Around the world there’s growing pressure on blue skies research as cash-strapped governments look for quick answers to complex questions. In Israel, I spoke to numerous Nobel Laureates who bemoaned this state of affairs. They told me that they would not have made their discoveries if they hadn’t been given the remit to follow their curiosity. Some of them made discoveries … Read More


Israel: Startup Nation

Peter Griffin Aug 28, 2015

Sciblogs editor and Science Media Centre director Peter Griffin spent a week in Israel attending the World Science Conference and visiting some of the country’s most innovative technology startups. Check back here for new posts documenting the insights he gained from the ‘startup nation’. Also check out Peter Griffin’s interview with Radio New Zealand about Israel’s startup ecosystem. Read More

Salt of the earth

Peter Griffin Aug 21, 2015

When you drink from a tap in Israel, chances are that you are taking a mouthful of the Mediterranean. As I explained in my last water-themed post, around 60 per cent of Israel is desert and the rest of it is pretty dry too. The Dead Sea on the east border of the country is an incredibly salty body … Read More

When boring is good

Peter Griffin Aug 21, 2015

“Do you ever feel tired during the day? Do you suffer from mild headaches?” The questions were coming thick and fast from Gabi Arad, of Israeli medical device maker Itamar, which is based in the ancient Roman town of Caeserea, halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The previous night I’d worn to bed Itamar’s US$5,000 WatchPAT device, a bulky watch … Read More

Scotland’s GM ban and the backlash from science

Peter Griffin Aug 19, 2015

A group of scientific institutions in the UK and Europe have today sent an open letter to Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, expressing dismay at Scotland’s proposal to ban GM crops in the country. Here’s the letter in full… 17th August 2015 Dear Mr Lochhead Your announcement that the Scottish Government proposes to ban … Read More

The effort to green the Negev

Peter Griffin Aug 18, 2015

A look at a map of the Middle East confirms that Israel is a tiny country relative to its neighbours. But consider the fact that 60 per cent of its landmass is also covered in desert, an arid expanse to the south of the country – the Negev. Yesterday I ventured into the blistering heat of the Negev desert, where … Read More

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