Infrequently Asked Questions

Is our flag a brand?

Lynley Hargreaves Jun 29, 2015

If you’ve felt uneasy about the new flag debate, this might be why. A flag, says a University of Auckland geographer, is supposed to be something that defines us as a people in our place, not an exercise in market branding. After a prestigious Marsden Grant looking at the development of Brand New Zealand, Associate Professor Nick Lewis says that … Read More

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Data mining medical trials – a 'game changer'

Lynley Hargreaves Jun 10, 2015

Associate Professor Suetonia Palmer Diabetic? Got heart disease? Which blood pressure treatment will help you most? With hundreds of thousands of medical trials to wade through, even your doctor might not know. But in a paper in the Lancet medical journal published recently, University of Otago Associate Professor Suetonia Palmer, as part of a worldwide team, uses a new … Read More


Tangata Whenua – changing science, changing history

Lynley Hargreaves May 27, 2015

Climate science may be fundamentally changing our view of how humans settled New Zealand and of how pre-European Māori culture changed. Australian National University Emeritus Professor Atholl Anderson FRSNZ tells us how science as a whole is an important part of Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, which charts Māori history from ancient origins to the 21st century. Read More

Wonderful dolphins, still lacking protection

Lynley Hargreaves May 14, 2015

Raewyn Peart When asked for legal assistance for dolphins, New Zealand’s Environmental Defence Society policy director Raewyn Peart was unable to help. But although the group couldn’t join a court case in which the fishing industry was challenging new regulations, Raewyn was so taken by the stories and science that she wrote Dolphins of Aotearoa, now a finalist in … Read More

Science, Poetry & Responsibility

Lynley Hargreaves Apr 29, 2015

The front cover of Gathering Evidence The dissection of football-sized hailstones, the role of Newton’s first law of motion in long-distance cycling, and the ethics of some twenty tons of one woman’s cells posthumously grown in laboratories all feature in Caoilinn Hughes’ poetry book, Gathering Evidence, a finalist for the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize. Read More

Miraculous Manuka

Lynley Hargreaves Apr 15, 2015

Cliff Van Eaton Manuka honey – which at one time beekeepers literally gave away – is now bringing such fantastic prices that plans are afoot to create large-scale manuka plantations, and young people around the country are taking up hives and veils. Beekeeping specialist Cliff Van Eaton – whose fascinating account of how manuka honey became a New Zealand … Read More

Turing machines, coin tosses and internet security

Lynley Hargreaves Apr 01, 2015

Professor Rod Downey The movie The Imitation Game tells the story – albeit not very accurately – of Alan Turing and the WWII code breakers of Bletchley Park. But Alan Turing should be most famous, says Victoria University of Wellington’s Professor Rod Downey, for an entirely hypothetical device called the Turing Machine, invented to disprove an obscure problem in … Read More

'Take scientific risks' – Nobel Laureates

Lynley Hargreaves Mar 18, 2015

Holly van der Salm Prize-winning scientists at an international meeting all gave similar advice, says New Zealand attendee Holly van der Salm – don’t just be a specialist, don’t be afraid to take risks, and go where the exciting science is. A University of Otago PhD candidate, Ms van der Salm now has new books on her bedside table … Read More


Diabetes – the long road of discovery

Lynley Hargreaves Mar 08, 2015

Professor Frances Ashcroft Late one night in 1984, Frances Ashcroft found a key link between the blood sugar level in your body and insulin secretion. That discovery helped transform the lives of those with a rare inherited form of diabetes. The Oxford-based Royal Society Research Professor is in New Zealand this month, speaking about electricity in our cells, the … Read More

Student – cow trampling increases nitrate leaching

Lynley Hargreaves Feb 18, 2015

Kyle Roberston It’s 2015, the International Year of Soils, and eighteen-year-old Kyle Robertson has been doing his bit for New Zealand dirt. By squashing soil with a press and pouring fake cow pee on top, the former Palmerston North Boys’ High School student has modelled the effect of cow trampling on nitrate leaching, with some surprising results. He explains … Read More


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