Category Archives: Past Events

Thursday 27 August 2020: Mathematics and Scottish Country Dancing

Thursday 27 August 2020 at 6:00pm

Planetarium, Napier Boys’ High School, Chambers St, Napier
Professor Rod Downey

There are those who would argue that these two activities are some of the pinnacles of human achievement. I work in mathematics and specifically algorithmics and the theory of computation. I am a teacher and deviser of Scottish country dances. I will try to explain how the cognitive processes in my kind of mathematics and dancing resemble one another. Whilst doing so, I hope to give insight into a small part of modern mathematics which I know something about and an interesting and fun dance form. I will illustrate with some videos and diagrams.
When interviewed by Radio New Zealand, I know that people found the combinations of mathematics, Scottish Dancing and surfing a strange mix, but at least the first two are completely natural.
The talk is meant for a general audience, and you won’t be forced to bring your dance shoes.

Professor Rod Downey came to New Zealand in 1986.  He has worked at Victoria University of Wellington ever since. He works in several areas: mathematical logic, computability theory (the theory of computation), algebra, combinatorics and analysis. In the early 1990’s with Mike Fellows he co-invented Parameterized Complexity, which is a major branch of theoretical computer science; an area which uses “parameters” to understand running times or algorithms. As his Wikipedia page shows, he has won numerous awards, including two Shoenfield Prizes, and  culminating in  a Humboldt Prize  and the 2018 RSNZ Rutherford Medal.  He is currently developing a theoretical framework for Online Algorithms, which are the kinds of algorithms we deal with when we can’t see all the input. For example, each time you click on some website, in the background there is an online algorithm trying to target you to buy things.

Wednesday 5 August 2020: Buildings That Teach: Influencing Sustainable Values

Wednesday 5 August 2020 at 6:00pm

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 1
Dr. Mazin Bahho, Senior Lecturer, EIT

This presentation is about a research project that discusses the process of retrofitting an existing structure to become an exhibit as a sustainable building and a facility that inspires responsible environmental behaviour in the community. It involves a disused log cabin at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), Napier, which was previously used as a staff office space for the Arts Programme and an artist-in-residence living space. The building is also located on a site that has strong historic, cultural, and spiritual associations with local Māori. Today, the previously abandoned cabin is an eco-friendly, sustainable building with insulation, double-glazed windows, solar panels, water storage and a wastewater treatment system.

Mazin’s research discusses how to create a brief for this specific building, given the wide, and sometimes conflicting, body of knowledge about how a sustainable building should be. During this process, he used qualitative and interpretive research strategies. Then the project was offered to a group of Second Year Design students at EIT as part of the Design Studio course. This involved setting design criteria for an exemplary sustainable building. The presentation also discusses how the eventually selected sustainability criteria were adopted.

Dr. Mazin Bahho completed his M Sc Degree in Architecture from the University of Baghdad in 1987, also with distinction, specialising in Modular Design. Before immigrating to New Zealand in 1995, he worked as an architect in Iraq, Jordan, and the UK in fields of architectural design practice, observation, planning, site residency, shop-drawings, documentation, and supervision of a wide range of projects: residential, commercial, cultural, and educational. He established his own architectural practice in Baghdad from 1991 – 1994. Mazin was involved in a number of architectural competitions and achieved success and honourable awards.

Mazin moved onto complete his Ph.D. with the Victoria University of Wellington. Mazin was the Programme Coordinator for EIT’s Visual Arts and Design Programme from 2009 – 2011. He is passionate about investigating the qualities of living spaces to visualise and construct design solutions and the issues of human habitation with a focus on ecology and culture. His investigations aim is to provide a workable model that can potentially influence attitudes to spatial design within the community.

Tuesday 7 July 2020: Horticulture trends in The Netherlands and Belgium 2020

Tuesday 7 July 2020 at 6:00 PM

EIT Taradale, Lecture Theatre 1
Dr. Nicolette Niemann

In January 2020 a group of representatives from the New Zealand horticultural industries, government, research and education went on an Executive International Horticultural Program (Exec IHIP) tour through The Netherlands and Belgium, ending at the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin.  The aim was to learn about the horticultural priorities on which Europe is focusing, and how different regions adapt to those requirements.  Europe is focusing on the environment, cooperation and what the consumer wants.  We quickly realised that New Zealand is a small player on the world stage, but that our produce is highly regarded and that we have to work hard to remain at the forefront of quality and innovation which gives us a leading edge in many markets. We discovered trends and policies that will change the way that we will grow and sell produce, and interact with the rest of the world.   Many lively discussions took place during our travels, and Brexit along with COVID-19 were big features during the trip.  The Exec IHIP tour is planned to become an annual event, to generate a pool of strategic thinkers in New Zealand to help us make the best decisions for our future in horticulture.  
Dr Nicolette Niemann is a postharvest physiology scientist at The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited. Her research focuses on understanding and manipulating the chemical reactions that take place in produce after it has been harvested.  Her passion is to minimise the losses of produce from farm to fork, with a speciality in the storage of fresh fruits.  She has regular interactions with growers, packhouses and exporters in the Hawke’s Bay area and does research for service providers in the horticultural industry.  Although a large part of her work focuses on apples, she has experience working on kiwifruit, summerfruit, tomatoes, onions and cut flowers.

Royal Society Te Apārangi videos

Courtesy of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, here are some videos of past lectures. Simply click on any of the images below to watch the lecture

‘What’s really inside your medicine cabinet?’ was a public lecture presented by Professor Dame Carol Robinson in Christchurch on Friday 16 March 2018

‘Climate change: stormy weather ahead’, a public lecture presented by Prof. Jim Skea in Wellington on 21 March 2018

‘Human longevity: myths and possibilities!’ is a talk presented by British gerontologist Professor Sarah Harper, founder of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, with introductions from Professor John Windsor FRSNZ.

Is New Zealand becoming a world leader in the bioengineering industry? 
Professor Merryn Tawhai, Director of MedTech CoRE, examines our capabilities in this field, and also shows the progress of her own research, modelling the human lung with its implications for healthcare.

The 2018 Rutherford Lecture ‘super tour’ was presented by the 2017 Rutherford Medal winner Professor Colin Wilson FRS FRSNZ who delivered his lecture at 22 locations across New Zealand.

‘Energy: what’s possible, what’s not’ with Professor Daniel Nocera (USA).

Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University, Professor Daniel Nocera presented this lecture at Royal Society Te Apārangi on 20 February 2018, thanks to The MacDiarmid Institute.

A pioneer in energy conversion, particularly on the generation of solar fuels, Daniel talks about developing his inventions, the Artificial Leaf, which harnesses solar power to split water molecules into hydrogen fuel, and subsequently, the Bionic Leaf, in the hope that these inventions can become affordable energy sources to those in poverty.

Videos of Royal Society lectures

Here are some of the lectures hosted by Hawke’s Bay Branch that have been videoed (with thanks to Wayne Dobson of EIT), and also videos of events hosted by other branches of the Royal Society.

Wellington Branch of the Royal Society, Hudson Lecture 2019
By Prof. Tony Ward, Victoria University of Wellington

It was our pleasure to present the Hudson Lecture, of the Wellington Branch of the Royal Society, on the 14th August. This year the lecture was by Prof. Tony Ward  “Theoretical illiteracy and therapeutic dead ends: lessons from forensic and correctional practice”. 
The classification and explanation of crime is important for research and practice. The categorization of problems associated with crime sets explanatory targets, underpins predictive models, and ideally provides clinicians with a rich description of offending groups and their various difficulties. Dynamic risk factors and offence type categories are the fundamental constructs in this work and structure forensic practice and guide rehabilitation policy throughout the world. However, in my view there are serious theoretical problems with these two constructs which adversely impact on their utility. Continued reliance on them is stifling the field and is rapidly leading to theoretical dead ends, fragmented practice, and disappointing rehabilitation outcomes. In this talk, I present new ways of formulating DRF and classifying crime and its related problems in the forensic and correctional domains. I demonstrate how these theoretical innovations can lead to better explanatory theories, and more targeted interventions.
Professor Tony Ward, School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, has primarily researched forensic and correctional topics, prominently centered on violent and sexual offenders and rehabilitation. His theoretical contributions have resulted in substantial empirical research projects and innovations in treatment around the world. Tony is the developer of the “Good Lives Model” for the rehabilitation of offenders. He has taught clinical and forensic psychology at the universities of Melbourne, Canterbury, and Deakin and is a professorial fellow at the Universities of Birmingham, Kent, and Portsmouth. He has authored more than 400 academic publications. Tony was made a Fellow of Royal Society Te Apārangi in 2018.
Cheese, platinum and fundamental constants – what is the revision of the SI all about?
By Annette Koo, Measurement Standards Laboratory of New Zealand (MSL)
Worldwide agreement on units of measurement has brought us freedom to trade and innovate, as well as supported improved wellbeing and trust. This talk will describe why are we changing things now and what the revision of the International System of Units promises for the future. In particular, the redefinition of the kelvin away from the triple of point of water will be described, including the measurements contributing to the final value of Boltzmann’s constant and the ongoing implementation of the temperature scale.
Annette completed a physics PhD through Victoria University in 2005 and then spent 3 years in Melbourne as a postdoctoral fellow at CSIRO and then at Monash University doing research into catalysts for solar hydrogen generation. In 2008 she started at Measurement Standards Laboratory of New Zealand (MSL) as a research scientist, developing expertise in the measurement of light and human perception, including design of MSL’s robot-based goniospectrophotometer and piloting the CCPR comparison of spectral transmittance. Annette is now a Principal Research Scientist with MSL.

Thursday 5 Mar 2020: Sea Week 2020 – Precision Seafood Harvesting

Thursday 5 March 2020 at 6:00pm

National Aquarium, Marine Parade, Napier

Dr Suzy Black, Senior Scientist/Team Leader

Plant & Food Research

Admission by gold coin donation

Evolution of fish harvesting technology has focussed on minimising cost and optimising extraction selectivity, i.e. minimising unwanted catch. Because of the sustainable limits of the fishery, our fishing industry is now at the point where increased value can only come from maximising fish utilisation. To achieve this we must be increasingly sophisticated about how we manage and harvest our limited resources. Fishing technology has evolved to the point where we are able to control many aspects of the harvesting process; but where to apply the control to maximise fish value?
 
From our research in the 1990s on King salmon (a model species for understanding the effects of harvesting on post-harvest quality), we developed a new fish-centric, quality-focussed, rested harvesting process. We applied the same approach to NZ’s largest wild fishery (hoki).
 
Development of a Modular Harvesting System (MHS,  which replaces the conventional gear of a trawl), focussed on delivering low-damage, low-fatigue capture of wild fish and the unharmed escape and release of unwanted catch. Commercialisation of this technology has been at the centre of the Primary Growth Partnership-funded Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) programme.
 
This presentation will look at the background, underlying principles and development of the technology, and how fish-focussed industrial fishing technology is not only feasible, but great business.
 
Dr. Suzy Black is a Senior Scientist/Team Leader for PFR’s Seafood Production Group in Nelson. She has a PhD in Fish Physiology from the University of Canterbury, and over 20 years’ experience in development and industrial implementation of finfish capture, handling and postharvest storage technologies.

Wed 19 Feb 2020:1931 Earthquake Commemorative Lecture Unlocking the secrets of the Hikurangi subduction zone

Wednesday 19 February 2020 at 5:30pm

National Aquarium, Marine Parade, Napier

Dr Laura Wallace, Geophysicist, GNS Science

Admission by gold coin donation

Have you ever wondered about that sleeping giant that lies beneath Hawke’s Bay, known as the Hikurangi subduction zone? Dr Laura Wallace will discuss the results of scientific studies that reveal what the subduction zone is currently up to, include the latest on the “slow-motion earthquakes” that occur regularly in the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne regions, and what we have learned about them by placing monitoring instruments on the seafloor. Laura will also assess the earthquake and tsunami potential of the Hikurangi subduction zone, and describe a number of recent international and New Zealand-led missions aimed at better understanding our sleeping giant.

Dr Laura Wallace is a geophysicist at GNS Science in Lower Hutt, with a joint position at the University of Texas. Much of her scientific career has focused on investigating New Zealand’s largest fault, the Hikurangi subduction zone. She is currently leading a multi-national effort to better understand the hazards it poses.

Tue 3 Dec 2019: Wine and Tributes: early knowledge-bearers and sharers in the sciences and humanities in Hawke’s Bay

Professor Kay Morris Matthews, Research Professor, EIT

Tuesday 3 December, 6pm

Room R101, School of Viticulture and Wine Science, EIT,
501 Gloucester Street, Taradale

Cost: $10 a head for drinks and nibbles; pay at the door (cash please). To secure your place, please email: secretary@hawkesbay.rsnzbranch.org.nz

From 1874, large numbers of Pākehā settlers travelled to the Athenaeum in Napier to attend monthly lectures of the Hawke’s Bay Philosophical Institute (HBPI). They came to listen, learn, take part in discussions and meet up with others interested in a range of subjects. In the main, those presenting their ideas and research were local.

Through and alongside the HBPI meetings emerged an inter-generational network of researchers, friends and supporters, both women and men. Drawing upon a range of primary and secondary sources collected during thirty years of research, the focus here is the behind-the scenes mentoring and the relationships between an inter-connected group who sought out and then shared new forms of knowledge. This celebratory tribute for the end of year features William Colenso, Henry Hill, William Spencer, Bessie Spencer, James Large, Amy Large, Frank Hutchinson, Herbert Guthrie-Smith, Georgina Guthrie-Smith and Barbara Guthrie-Smith.

Professor Kay Morris Matthews was raised in Hawke’s Bay, and has held academic positions at the University of Waikato, the University of Auckland and at Victoria University of Wellington. Kay is now Research Professor, Education, Humanities and Health Science, at EIT.Kay’s published research on William Colenso and Henry Hill has provided insights into their educational and research realms. Her current research, the biography of Anna Elizabeth Jerome Spencer, has led to a greater appreciation of the contributions of others involved in the HBPI, which from 1947, became the Royal Society of New Zealand Hawke’s Bay Branch.

Tuesday 19 November 2019: What is Cold Fusion?

Holt Planetarium, Napier Boys High School,
Chambers Street, Napier

Tuesday 19 November 2019 at 6.00pm

Dr Michael McKubre, Former Director of Energy Research Centre SRI International

Admission by gold coin donation

In 1989 two respected scientists, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, stunned the world with the announcement of possible evidence for nuclear level energetic effects in a distinctly non-nuclear experiment; electrochemistry. The importance of this claim and its potential for science and mankind was as obvious as its improbability.  

Dr Michael McKubre and many others around the world began to test the idea experimentally.  Some succeeded in generating evidence in support of the claim of “cold fusion”; many others attempted but did not encounter the nuclear realm, and the effect was labelled “irreproducible”. With the benefit of 30 years hindsight, scores of person-years effort and tens of millions of dollars spent (in Michael’s lab alone), it is clear that nuclear effects can and do take place in solids and liquids.

Cold Fusion, now more properly termed Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (CMNS), remains exquisitely difficult to control and demonstrate, but holds out the tantalising prospect of a flexible and cheap source of nuclear energy.

In his talk, Michael will explain the principles of, evidence for, the objections to and the potential of CMNS.

After under- and post-graduate studies in Washington DC and Wellington, Michael McKubre completed a PhD in Electrochemistry before heading first to the UK for post doctoral research and then to California to work at SRI, an energy research institute. Michael now lives in Napier, is still active in this field, and is one of our branch members.

Tue 29 October 2019: Distance-Sourced Tsunamis (2019 Geoscience NZ Hochstetter lecture)

Tuesday 29 October 2019 at 7.30pm

Holt Planetarium, Napier Boys High School, Chambers Street, Napier

Dr Bill Fry, Research Seimologist, GNS Science

Any country that borders the ocean is prone to tsunami. New Zealand is no exception and is exposed to tsunami from distant (e.g. South America), regional (e.g. Kermadec) and local (e.g. Hikurangi and Puysegur) earthquake sources. It has recently been recognized that during great subduction earthquakes (magnitude > 8) to the north of New Zealand along the Kermadec trench, the densely populated coastal areas on the north coast of New Zealand may not experience shaking that is significant enough to trigger effective and widespread self-evacuation. Since 2001, the Kermadec trench has generated over a dozen subduction earthquakes with magnitude > 6.5 that have not been strongly felt in north-western New Zealand, the largest with magnitude 7.7. A tsunami-generating earthquake in this region could potentially leave 10s of thousands of people exposed. The lack of obvious natural warning signs coupled with short tsunami travel times (~ 45 to 90+ minutes) from these earthquakes poses a significant risk to these communities; a risk which must be addressed by supplementing natural warning with a cautious interpretation of available instrumental data. Lack of strong shaking from these earthquakes is a function of both the most basic characteristic of earthquake ground shaking (the asymmetric way seismic energy from the earthquake source spreads out and travels to New Zealand) and the loss of seismic energy as waves travel through the volcanic region between Taupo and Tonga. These effects combine to reduce the ability of natural warning based on ground shaking to keep communities safe, and are likely applicable to major earthquake scenarios in other regions of the world. This finding suggests that for optimal reduction of loss of life during large regional earthquakes, self-evacuation messaging must be carefully explained and supplemented with scientific monitoring and alerting mechanisms to protect vulnerable populations. 

Bill Fry is a research seismologist with GNS Science, a NZ Crown Research Institute, tasked with public good earth science, including monitoring and researching geohazards. He obtained his PhD in 2008 from ETH-Zurich in geophysics and has worked at GNS ever since, responding to earthquake and tsunami crises in NZ and liaising with government (central and regional) on numerous occasions through these responses. He has widely published on theoretical and applied topics in seismology and advises the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre on technical issues. His current passions lie in using physics to understand changes in the Earth on human time-scales — processes that dynamically affect humanity.