Alert Newsletter: Issue 642

1. 2010 ‘Talking Heads’ lecture series

The 2010 lecture series, ‘Talking Heads’, is produced by Radio New Zealand in partnership with the Royal Society of New Zealand and looks at the mysteries and marvels of the human mind. These lectures are being recorded by Radio New Zealand for broadcast later in the year.

Art, Autopsy and Anatomy: The history of surgery on the brain – Edward Mee, 6.30pm, Tonight, Bruce Mason Events Centre, North Shore, Auckland.

How Do I Know Who I Am? – Donna Rose Addis, 7.30pm, Monday 18 October,  Davis Lecture Theatre, Whanganui Regional Museum, Whanganui.

The Evolution of Language – Mike Corballis, 3.00pm, Tuesday 19 October, Southward Car Museum, Kapiti .

Acting on impulse: How early childhood experiences shape the development of the brain of teenagers and beyond – Ian Lambie,  7.30pm, Wednesday 27 October,          Century Cinema, Napier.

The Making and Breaking of Memory – Cliff Abraham, 7.30pm, Thursday 28 October, City Gallery Auditorium, Wellington.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Please note that latecomers will be refused entry.  We advise that you arrive early to secure a seat. Seat bookings are not being taken. Find more information at including broadcast times.

2. James G. Hay Travel Award, applications close 6 December 2010

The James G. Hay Travel Award is to assist current New Zealand university staff or New Zealand-registered post-graduate students in biomechanics present a paper at each biennial ISB Congress.

To apply for travel assistance to attend the XXIIIrd ISB Congress in Brussels, Belgium from 3-7 July 2011:

For further information:

3. Signs of Change – national e-conference, 15-16 November, Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington, Palmerston North, Auckland

Signs of Change is a national e-conference showcasing examples of fundamental changes on the path to sustainability. It will take place in Christchurch with local live video connections to venues in Dunedin, Wellington, Palmerston North, Auckland. The conference is for engineers, scientists, business people, council workers, educators, students, health workers, farmers, transition town members… anyone who wants to know about initiatives in sustainability.  The Royal Society of New Zealand is hosting and organising the Wellington end of the conference. To find out more and to register:

4. The Royal Society of New Zealand – our story in pictures

We now have a short showreel giving an overview of our broad spectrum of activities – from awarding scholarships and medals, to publishing journals; from managing research funding contracts, to raising public awareness of research and its benefits. You can access the showreel via the home page of our website Make sure you have the sound turned on as music plays behind it.

5. FUSIONZ Science Jobs

This week, Fusionz has 3 vacancies for jobs. The latest jobs are:

Research Technician: Auckland

Research Technician: Christchurch

PhD Studentship: Palmerston North

For more information and to list your vacancy visit

6. Appointment of Chief Executive, Ministry of Science and Innovation

The State Services Commissioner, Iain Rennie, has announced the appointment of Murray Bain to the newly established position of Chief Executive, Ministry of Science and Innovation. The Ministry of Science and Innovation will be established formally on 1 November 2010.

Mr Bain is currently the Chief Executive of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (the Foundation). He was appointed in 2004. While in his current role Mr Bain has established effective relationships with stakeholders in the science and business communities and across government and he has ensured that the Foundation achieves results by working collaboratively with them.

Mr Bain has a Master of Commerce (Honours), Economics, and a Bachelor of Science, Pure Mathematics, from Canterbury University. He takes up the appointment on 1 November 2010.

7. New web portal opens window to vast storehouse of information about Bay of Islands coast

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and National Institute of Water & Atmosphere (NIWA) today launched a new web portal providing free public access to data gathered by the Bay of Islands Ocean Survey 20/20 project. The portal – found at – contains a vast storehouse of information about the area’s marine life and supporting ecosystems, including high-resolution seabed maps and 20000 images.

8. Victoria University Public Lecture – Blenheim – Wednesday 3 November 2010

5.30 pm – 8.00 pm, Marlborough Convention Centre, 42a Alfred Street, Blenheim

Robotics: Science Fiction and Science Reality: Professor Dale Carnegie, Mechatronics Research Group at VUW explores the current state-of-the-art in various aspects of robotics research – an exploration that reveals just how far this field has progressed. Indeed, much of what we thought was science fiction is actually happening today.

Industrial Design Disasters: Professor Simon Fraser, Head of the Victoria’s School of Design, provides an insider’s perspective on an accumulation of failures, flops and fiascos that reveal how designers think, work and test the limits of design innovation. Design and innovation can be a risky business and designers regularly walk the fine line between success and failure. Too much innovation and your

product may not be understood, too little and you may lose your competitive edge. We celebrate the successes while brushing failure under the carpet. Yet failure is often more revealing and fascinating than success.

Email with ‘Robotics’ in the subject line (acceptances only) or contact the Information Desk on 04-463 6700 to register your attendance by Friday 29 October.

9. Climate change survey

VUW School of Geography, Earth and Environment Sciences and the School of Psychology Masters student, Alana Cornforth, is carrying out an online survey of  people’s knowledge about climate change.  Alana would like to collect worthwhile data from a wide range of people, both climate change experts and the general public. The survey is anonymous and closes on 1 November 2010. To participate: climate change survey (

10. Our Changing World, tonight 9.00pm, Radio New Zealand National

Allison Ballance, Ruth Beran and Veronika Meduna, email Tel (04) 474 1910.

The threat of being buried in rubble in an earthquake is a real and horrifying prospect, and trying to rescue trapped people is a dangerous task. To help in such situations, Victoria University engineer Dale Carnegie is developing a hierarchy of small, autonomous ‘rubble robots’ – he tells Alison Ballance how the ‘grandmother’ will deploy all-terrain ‘mother’ robots, that enter such sites and in their turn deploy expendable mobile phone-sized ‘daughter’ robots to search for signs of life.

At the University of Canterbury, a virtual patient has been designed so that students can learn how to test hearing in a simulated audiology booth, in their own time. Ruth Beran watches how hearing is tested in real life and compares it with the computer-based version.

Most of us think that we are free to choose what to believe but University of Otago philosopher Alan Musgrave challenges this notion in the first of a series of conversations with Veronika Meduna about basic assumptions in science, religion and mathematics.

The Natural Extracts team at Plant and Food Research in Nelson are finding novel high-value uses for molecules found in fish waste, such as Omega Three fatty acids and industrial enzymes, and they show Alison Ballance how they are scaling up their laboratory research in a new pilot plant.

Shorter science, health and environment features also air during Afternoons with Jim Mora at 3.35 p.m. on Monday and Thursday. The programme is repeated at 1.10 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

You can download a podcast or listen to streaming audio of programmes you’ve missed in the complete programme archive at:


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