Pointing At Science

Spaceward Bound “T minus 3 days”

Steve Pointing Jan 13, 2015

Our NASA and other overseas participants have started their launch sequence for arrival on Planet NZ this Friday, and the team in NZ is busy making plans to welcome our fellow “Taupo-nauts”.  A very well deserved acknowledgement goes here to event leader Haritina Mogosanu as she works tirelessly and as far as I can tell without sleep (vampire?) on the … Read More

Spaceward Bound “T minus 4 days”

Steve Pointing Jan 12, 2015

Spaceward Bound is coming to New Zealand for the first time – THIS WEEK!I am really excited to be part of this event to be held in the Taupo region from 16-21st January 2015.  A team of NASA astrobiologists will join a New Zealand science team comprising Haritina Mogosanu, Kathy Campbell and myself – all of us being passionate about … Read More

Bacterial ‘gardening’ to solve antibiotic resistance?

Steve Pointing Jan 08, 2015

Reckless over-use of antibiotics in livestock and humans is creating a healthcare time bomb where some super-bacteria are resistant to conventional antibiotic treatments.  The magnitude of this problem has been recognised by the several governments (see my earlier blog on this: http://pointingatscience.blogspot.co.nz/2014/06/longitude-prize-to-focus-on-antibiotic.html).  This problem is also exacerbated by the fact that few truly novel antibiotics have been introduced in … Read More

Pussyfooting around land mines may help leopard conservation

Steve Pointing Jan 02, 2015

An intriguing conservation story has emerged in recent weeks from the mountainous region of Kurdistan on the Iran/Iraq border.  This area was disputed during the Iran/Iraq War of the 1980’s and was heavily populated with land mines.  These are an evil and indiscriminate weapon with a legacy that affects civilian populations long after any conflict has ceased.  In Kurdistan however, at … Read More


Science highlights for 2014

Steve Pointing Dec 17, 2014

When asked to present a review on the year's biggest science stories for TV3's Firstline show, my colleague heather Hendrickson and I opted to go for examples at opposite ends of the spectrum - from outer space to inner space.  As an astrobiologis... Read More

Astrobiology takes centre stage

Steve Pointing Dec 12, 2014

Astrobiologists are all a flutter today as the Rosetta team announced their first detailed scientific analysis of the comet Philae (http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/).  Their analysis of water isotopes showed that the composition varied significantly from those found in water on our planet today – and this debunks a popular theory in astrobiology that comets were the source of water on … Read More

The science of Christmas

Steve Pointing Nov 28, 2014

I absolutely LOVE Christmas, and being a scientist I have always been keen to understand just how Father Christmas (or Santa Claus, Pere Noel, St Nicolas as he is variously known elsewhere) achieves the incredible feat of making children happy all over... Read More

Interstellar – real science in the movie?

Steve Pointing Nov 12, 2014

The latest Christopher Nolan extravaganza “Interstellar” hit our screens this week – a science fiction epic that begins with the premise that mankind has messed up earth to the extent we need to find a new planet to live on or face extinction. The trailer opens with a world ravaged by massive dust storms that are symptomatic of failing agriculture … Read More

Rosetta makes history

Steve Pointing Nov 12, 2014

Momentous history was achieved in space today - Rosetta's probe Philae successfully touched down on the surface of a comet after a chase of more than 6 billion km.  The probe will attempt to characterise the surface and subsurface of the comet, and may start to answer some of the most fundamental questions about how life began on earth - … Read More