Hot off the press

Proceed to your nearest (virtual) exit: gaming technology is teaching us how people respond to emergencies

Guest Author Jun 15, 2021

Ruggiero Lovreglio, Massey University   Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) aren’t just for gaming anymore, they’re also proving to be useful tools for disaster safety research. In fact, they could save lives. Around the world, natural and human-made disasters such as earthquakes, bushfires and terrorist attacks threaten substantial economic loss and human life. My research review looked … Read More

We discovered what’s killing the world’s rarest penguin – and it could help us make a vaccine

Guest Author Jun 15, 2021

Vartul Sangal, Northumbria University, Newcastle   Yellow-eyed penguins are the most endangered penguin species in the world, with just 4,000 left in the wild. Found only in New Zealand and its outlying islands, these birds can grow up to 79cm tall and weigh 8.5kg, which is similar to a one-year-old child. They’re easily identified by the pale-yellow band … Read More

The Irish lough that offers a window into the deep sea

Guest Author Jun 11, 2021

James Bell, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Rob McAllen, University College Cork, and Valerio Micaroni, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington   Deeper than most scuba divers can safely work and above where most underwater robots are designed to descend lie some of the most poorly studied ecosystems in the world. Between 30 and 150 … Read More

What would sustainable tourism really mean for New Zealand? Let’s ask the river

Guest Author Jun 08, 2021

Jason Paul Mika, Massey University and Regina Scheyvens, Massey University   Excitement among Cook Islands tourism operators and officials at the opening of quarantine-free travel with Aotearoa New Zealand was understandable. The impact of the pandemic on the island nation’s economy has been massive and will be felt for a long time. But it wasn’t long before a local … Read More

Power from the ocean: can we use bio-fouling organisms to help extract energy from waves?

Guest Author Jun 08, 2021

Craig Stevens, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research; Louise Kregting, Queen’s University Belfast, and Vladislav Sorokin, University of Auckland People living near the coast are familiar with the power of ocean waves. What we see when a typical wave breaks on a beach is the endpoint of a global energy conversion story. It starts with the sun’s heat driving … Read More

We performed magic tricks on birds to see how they perceive the world

Guest Author Jun 04, 2021

Elias Garcia-Pelegrin, University of Cambridge   Magic tricks can teach us about how the brain works. Magic capitalises on very specific blind spots in people’s attention and perception so the techniques that magicians use to trick audiences are particularly interesting to psychologists like me. Misdirection, for example, relies on the control of the audience’s attention to fool them. A … Read More

Best evidence suggests antidepressants aren’t very effective in kids and teens. What can be done instead?

Guest Author May 25, 2021

Sarah Hetrick, University of Auckland; Joanne McKenzie, Monash University; Nick Meader, University of York, and Sally Merry, University of Auckland   Even before COVID-19 lockdowns, school closures and strict social distancing, depression was on the rise in children and teenagers around the globe. By the age of 19, around 25% of adolescents are estimated to have experienced a … Read More

Social plants: in the wild, staghorn ferns grow in colonies to improve water storage for all members

Guest Author May 18, 2021

Kevin Burns, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington Social colonies are nothing new in the animal kingdom. We know bees, ants and termites live in large colonies, divide labour and co-operate to take care of offspring produced by a single queen. This behaviour, known as eusociality, has evolved independently in insects, crustaceans (certain species of shrimp) … Read More

How snake fangs evolved to perfectly fit their food

Guest Author May 14, 2021

Silke Cleuren, Monash University; Alistair Evans, Monash University, and David Hocking, Monash University   Few structures in nature inspire more fear and fascination than the fangs of venomous snakes. These needle-like teeth are used by snakes to pierce their prey and inject deadly venom. With more than 3000 species of snake inhabiting our world, we wondered: are all their fangs … Read More

Despite major conservation efforts, populations of New Zealand’s iconic kiwi are more vulnerable than people realise

Guest Author May 13, 2021

Isabel Castro, Massey University   Kiwi are moved between populations to lower the risk of inbreeding. Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, CC BY-SA Like many endangered species, Aotearoa’s flightless and nocturnal kiwi survive only in small, fragmented and isolated populations. This leads to inbreeding and, eventually, inbreeding depression — reduced survival and fertility of offspring. Mixing kiwi from different populations … Read More