Figuring out the historical facts from the fakery

There’s a common belief that the work of historians consists of collecting ‘the facts’ from documents and writing them down. And that’s it. I mean, how hard can it be? I can’t even begin to express the issues I have with such thinking. But let’s start with the obvious one – ‘the facts’. It’s something … More Figuring out the historical facts from the fakery

Does the Moon cause earthquakes – or is that a bit looney?

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit New Zealand on 14 November – and the sequence of events that followed – has been complex in every sense. The main shock itself was a highly complex rupture of multiple faults that extended northwards and delivered a hefty punch to Wellington, well distant from the putative epicentre. That … More Does the Moon cause earthquakes – or is that a bit looney?

It’s 85 years since the Hawke’s Bay quake and we still don’t know how many died

On 3 February 1931 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand – particularly hitting the town centres of Napier and Hastings. It remains the worst natural disaster ever to strike New Zealand in historic times – despite some doubt as to the precise casualty figure, it was still 50 percent more than the … More It’s 85 years since the Hawke’s Bay quake and we still don’t know how many died

Is Russia stirring up the moon landing loon conspiracies?

It seems this week that Russia’s ‘Investigating Committee’ wants an investigation into the US moon landings of 1969-72 – not so much to reveal them as fake, but to find out where missing moon rocks have gone. I know where one is – a scrap weighing less than 1 gm, which is in the Carter … More Is Russia stirring up the moon landing loon conspiracies?

And now Kiwis are facing a potential mega-quake and tsunami. But of course…

This week’s news that a previously unsuspected magnitude 8+ mega-quake could hit central New Zealand and then douse the place with tsunami isn’t too surprising to me. I wrote the most recent pop-sci book on our earthquakes. It was published by Penguin Random House last year. While I was writing the book I had a chat … More And now Kiwis are facing a potential mega-quake and tsunami. But of course…

What happens when somebody does something stupid to the environment

I thought I’d share a photo I took a little while ago as an object lesson in what happens when somebody does something stupid with the environment. This is a was-a-road on the coast south of Napier, in New Zealand. It’s at the edge of an alluvial plain. Last time I saw this road – just … More What happens when somebody does something stupid to the environment