Author Archives: Antony Steiner

Mental Travels in Space and Time

6.00pm Thursday 15 June 2017
Ballroom, Napier Conference Centre, Marine Parade

2017 Rutherford Lecture presented by Professor Michael Corballis
Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Auckland

We have a remarkable capacity to mentally relive past events, imagine future ones, and even invent fictitious ones. This mental escape from the present allows us to plan our futures, deliberate on the past, and find inspiration in imagined scenarios. We can also transport ourselves into the minds of others, enhancing empathy and social understanding. Sometimes, our minds elude conscious control and wander in unpredictable ways, providing a potential source of creativity. Professor Michael Corballis will discuss the neuroscience and evolution of our mental excursions, and their implications for innovation, storytelling, and even language itself.

Professor Corballis was awarded the Rutherford Medal in 2016 for foundational research on the nature and evolution of the human mind, including cerebral asymmetries, handedness, mental imagery, language, and mental time travel.

Michael’s latest book is “The Truth about Language: What it is and Where it came from”.

FREE PUBLIC EVENT – Guarantee your seat by registering here

 

Branch AGM 2017

Held Thursday 1 June at Holt Planetarium, Napier

The 142nd Annual General Meeting of the Branch was well attended and members afterwards  enjoyed a wonderful presentation of the night sky by Gary Sparks in the Planetarium itself.

Lynne Trafford’s President’s Report was delivered and unanimously approved. Lynne thanked the year’s speakers, financial supporters, venue providers and council members and highlighted the Branch’s contribution to science promotion through the EIT Hawke’s Bay Regional Science and Technology Fair, Curious Minds Science Camp, school visits by speakers and HB Scientists on Air. She also noted the growth in membership over the past year and encouraged the recruitment of new members as well as continued support by current members.

Jenny Dee reported on the 2017 Curious Minds Science Camp. 161 students attended the three workshops run by GNS Science/East Coast Labs, Plant and Food Research and Murray Gosling (supported by Opus). Feedback has been very positive.  Jenny acknowledged the speakers who gave talks at local schools.  Professor Chris Battershill visited Napier Boys High School, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger went to three schools and Professor Peter Dearden spoke at Taradale Intermediate School.

The Financial Report which had been circulated prior to the meeting was presented and unanimously approved. The meeting resolved to keep Annual Subscriptions at their current level. This is a very affordable amount and potential members are reminded to consider joining to receive direct newsletters and to show their support of Branch and Society activities.

Election of Council and Officers

The following were elected or re-elected:

  • President – Lynne Trafford
  • Immediate past-President –  Dan Bloomer
  • Vice President – Antony Steiner
  • Treasurer – Jennifer Hartley
  • Secretary  – Kathleen Kozyniak
  • Re-election to Council having completed a two year term – Jenny Dee, Michael Broadbent, Antony Steiner
  • Council members continuing having completed only one year of a two year term – Jeff Reid, Stephen Swabey, John Warren, Jeff Cooke and Kathleen Kozyniak.

Special Item – Honorary Life Member

Michael Broadbent was elected an Honorary Life Member of the Branch as recommended by the Council.  Lynne described Michael’s service to the Branch over the years.  The motion was seconded by Jeff Reid and approved with widespread applause.

Why are Bees so Awesome?

Tuesday 23 May 2017 at 6.00pm
Lecture Theatre 2, EIT, Gloucester Street, Taradale
Admission by gold coin donationProfessor Peter Dearden
Director of Genetics, Biochemistry Department, University of Otago

Honeybees are a vital part of our agricultural production, but also a remarkable example of the product of evolution. Bees have their own social system, symbolic language, produce different castes and build extravagant structures. Bees are also under threat from insecticides, pests and diseases.

In this talk Peter will discuss both his fundamental research into how the honeybee social system evolved, but also what we need to do to save the honeybees of the world.  He might even tell how honeybees might save us!

In 2014, Peter was the recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Callaghan medal for science communication.

Our thanks to the University of Otago for their support.

Science Technology Camp 15-18 May 2017

Year 7 & 8 Science and Technology Camp, 15 to 18 May 2017, Hawke’s Bay

The Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand has, once again, received funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund, to run a Science and Technology Camp for Year 7 and 8 students and their teachers, during Primary Science Week in May 2017.

Over the four days, approximately 170 Year 7 and 8 students, accompanied by teachers and parents, from 11 schools in Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay, will attend one or two-day hands-on workshops on a variety of science and technology subjects, related to the world around them. They will return to school with a better understanding of maths, science and technology, and its relevance to their everyday lives.

The following three workshops will be on offer:

Geology workshop (2 days)

Venue: National Aquarium of New Zealand

Run by: Julian Thomson from GNS Science, assisted by Carol Larson from the Aquarium, and Kate Boersen from East Coast LAB.

Topic: The students will spend the first day at the Aquarium, investigating the geology of New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay, and its consequences. The students will use resources from all three organisations, to study sedimentary rocks and fossils, and volcanic rocks and faults / earthquakes. On the second day they will take a field trip to a local site with varied geology, and use their new knowledge in inquiry-style investigations.

Bridge Science workshop (1 day)

Run by: Murray Gosling, a teacher at Hastings Intermediate School, who was on the 2015 Science Teaching Leadership Programme, assisted by land surveyors and bridge engineers from local companies.

Topic: The students will learn about land surveying and how it is involved in bridge design, use a theodolite to survey a location for a hypothetical bridge, visit a bridge, investigate why bridges are not all the same design, and how their design and construction is based on maths and science. They will design, build and test their own bridges. Land surveyors and bridge engineers from local companies will be involved in the workshop.

Horticultural science workshop (1 day)

Venue: Plant & Food Research, Crosses Road, Havelock North

Run by: Scientists from Plant & Food Research, including Dr Jeff Reid, for many years Chief Judge of the Hawke’s Bay Science & Technology Fair, assisted by Sarah Hope, a teacher from Hastings Intermediate School, who worked at Plant & Food Research last year whilst on the 2016 Science Teaching Leadership Programme.

Topics: The workshop will comprise 3 activities, which will introduce students to some of the maths and science that underpins horticulture in Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand. The 3 groups will rotate around the 3 activities during the day. They will:

  • compare soil health in different locations in the orchard;
  • conduct physical, chemical and sensory analysis of a variety of apples which are involved in the pipfruit breeding programme;
  • identify pests and diseases which affect commercial crops in New Zealand.

We thank the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for their support

http://www.curiousminds.nz/

Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger

In March 2017, the Hawke’s Bay Branch hosted a visit by Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Director of the Centre for Theoretical Chemistry and Physics at Massey University in Auckland. Peter made time to visit three secondary schools in the region, to talk to physics and chemistry students and their teachers about a diverse range of topics, including the newest elements in the periodic table, the composition of atoms, the fundamental forces and particles, the standard model, and the search for a unified theory. But all this was delivered with a sense of humour and infectious enthusiasm that captured his audience’s imagination and at a level that year 12 and 13 students could comprehend. As Albert Einstein said (and Peter quoted) “If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.

Here are his presentation slides

 

Archaeology in Hawke’s Bay – five different perspectives

Wednesday 5 April 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

MTG, Herschell Street, Napier

Entrance by Gold Coin donation

Six local experts will talk about aspects of Archaeology in the context of Hawke’s Bay

  • From ‘The File’ to ‘ArchSite’

    Elizabeth Pishief

  • Provenance Matters

    Charles Ropitini

  • Working with our Ancestors

    Stella August and Wikitoria Moore

  • Archaeology … It’s more than just an Act

    Christine Barnett

  • Ahuriri ‘Re-discovered’: A tale of flood, fire & pestilence…

    Gaylynne Carter

 For more information on these topics and the speakers, please click here:

Archaeology Week programme

As part of New Zealand Archaeology week

Left or Right in Nature, or why is the Universe left-handed?

Thursday 30 March 2017 at 7.00pm
Holt’s Planetarium, NBHS, Chambers Street, Napier
Admission by gold coin donation

Schwerdtfeger_P_seated_website

Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger
Director of the Centre for Theoretical Chemistry and Physics
Massey University in Auckland

Single-handedness is present in everything, down to the tiniest molecule. This was startling to 20th Century scientists, who until then presumed the world was symmetrical. We now know right-handed sugars and left-handed amino acids completely dominate the biochemistry of living organisms.
But if our universe is left-handed, why are humans predominantly right-handed? Even though our hearts are on the left? What is responsible for this leaning toward one side or the other?
Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger and scientists from around the world have devoted years of research to proving or disproving over 50 hypotheses to explain it.
In this lecture he aims to fascinate and enlighten a general audience.

This is but one of many areas of Professor Schwerdtfeger’s wide ranging interests. He is a world-leading authority in quantum chemistry and physics, working on fundamental aspects of chemical and physical phenomena in atoms, molecules and condensed matter. His approach to science is truly interdisciplinary, ranging from chemistry to physics, computer science and mathematics.

He is Acting Head of Institute of the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study and has published more than 290 papers in international journals and books and in 2014 won the Royal Society of New Zealand’s most prestigious science award, the Rutherford Medal, which recognises the combination of eminent research and the advancement of public awareness and understanding of science.

Professor Schwerdtfeger’s visit to Hawke’s Bay is supported by

 

Lecture for Sea Week 2017

“Healthy Seas: Drugs from the Sea, Biodiversity
and Conservation – a New Zealand Story”

Tuesday 28 February 2017, 7.30pm

National Aquarium of New Zealand, Marine Parade Napier

Admission by gold coin donation

Chris Battershill

 

Professor Chris Battershill, Chair Coastal Science
University of Waikato

The story of drug discovery from marine sources is not well known. The important and successful role of New Zealand science coupled with our marine biodiversity, is even less well understood. By far the most common source of biomedicinal leads comes from nature and until recently much of this has been from plants and terrestrial organisms. Aspirin from Willow being one of the most famous discoveries. In the anti-cancer drug space however, extracts from marine organisms, like sponges, produce two orders of magnitude more leads than terrestrial species.

This presentation will showcase a number of successful New Zealand drug and drug lead compounds derived from marine sources. It will explain why these leads work, and demonstrate the enormous and urgent importance of conserving our marine biodiversity for future generations.

Chris Battershill became the inaugural Professor and Chair of Coastal Science with the University of Waikato, in January 2011. Prior to that, he was Leader of the Marine Resources and Biodiversity Teams at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) for twelve years, focusing on conservation, new species aquaculture and biodiscovery.

He completed his PhD at Auckland University in 1986 then undertook a 3 year Research Fellowship funded through the National Cancer Institute (US) based at the University of Canterbury, where he led the biological program associated discovery of anti-cancer active chemicals from the sea. He did Post Doctoral work in Australia and then worked at DoC and NIWA for 11 years focusing on sustainability of marine resource use, again building capacity in research associated with drug discovery from marine sources