Connecting Stargazing, Nanotechnology and the Future in NZ

7:30 PM, Thursday 26 June, Holt Planetarium, Chambers St, Napier

Elf Eldridge, Victoria University of Wellington

Elf_EldridgeThe Hawke’s Bay branch, in collaboration with Victoria University of Wellington, hosted a visit to Hawke’s Bay by Elf Eldridge, a Senior Tutor at the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria University.

Elf is currently doing a PhD with the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, where he is using a device called the qNano, produced by a Christchurch-based company, to look at the characteristics of tiny invisible particles that can be found everywhere in nature (similar to viruses and bacteria). In his role at Victoria, Elf’s time is split between visiting schools and working with students and teachers to encourage more students to consider engineering and computer science as a career, and supporting currently enrolled students with their studies.

Elf’s talk gave a broad introduction to the field of nanotechnology, what it is, why it’s important and how a number of New Zealand researchers are leading their field in (literally!) understanding the tiny. He discussed his own research around the detection of nanoparticles in a variety of different media and how that relates to environmental and health concerns. Elf also tackled some of the bigger questions that commonly haunt the area, including “What about Grey Goo?” and “Why are New Zealand taxpayers funding research into this field?”. Finally, Elf provided a glimpse into some of the pressing issues around being a science PhD student in New Zealand, and relate how institutes like MacDiarmid are attempting to address these and to make New Zealand a place where talent wants to live.

The Branch thanks Elf and Victoria University for his presentation, and also for his three days spent exciting students in local schools and promoting science and technology careers.

Sustaining the art of moko

7:30 PM Wednesday 11 June 2014 – MTG Century Theatre, 9 Herschell Street, Napier

About 150 people braved a wet night to attend this lecture by Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Professor of Māori Research and Development, University of Waikato. An additional aspect was provided by MTG Napier opening for people to see exhibits. In particular, a selection of chisels of various ages were on display, along with a Goldie portrait that clearly illustrated the depth of scarring created by ta moko.

TaMoko10x10After almost dying out in the 20th century, moko is now worn by many young Māori as a symbol of identity and ethnic pride. The Marsden-funded research team looked at the history and technology of moko – searching through old manuscripts and artefacts held by institutions across the world.

Community participation was an essential part of documenting the modern moko revival. The research team interviewed moko wearers and artists and examined the cultural and spiritual issues surrounding moko wearing, including the controversy sometimes apparent in modern life.

They also examined the exploitation of moko in popular culture around the world by figures such as rock singers and football players.

Ngahuia Te Awekotuku

Ngahuia Te Awekotuku works at the University of Waikato researching ritual, heritage and gender issues. She is of Te Arawa, Waikato and Tuhoe descent and has worked for many years in the heritage and creative sectors as a curator, governor and advocate.

Her book Mau Moko: The World of Māori Tattoo was the winner of the inaugural Ngā Kupu Ora Māori book of the decade.

Flier available here>

This lecture was part of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 10 x 10 Lecture series, celebrating 20 years of Marsden Fund research.

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Black Holes, White Holes and Wormholes

7 pm Tuesday, June 10th at the Holt Planetarium, Chambers Street, Napier

Jocelyn Bell Burnell - imageMany thanks to the Hawke’s Bay Astronomical Society for this lecture by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Dame (Susan) Jocelyn Bell Burnell, DBE, FRS, FRAS is a Northern Irish astrophysicist. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars while studying and advised by her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish, for which Hewish shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Martin Ryle.

Bell Burnell was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002 to 2004, president of the Institute of Physics from October 2008 until October 2010, and was interim president in early 2011. In 1999 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to Astronomy and promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2007.

In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. In February 2014 she was made President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the first woman to hold that office. She is currently Visiting Professor of Astrophysics in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Mansfield College.