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
I went for a walk the other day in a patch of podocarp forest – New Zealand’s classic bush, a temperate jungle that is little changed since the Jurassic. The forest is filled with huge trees – especially rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum), the undergrowth lush with silver ferns (Cyathea dealbata). These days the undergrowth is less than … More A walk in a Jurassic forest
The other day I spotted something on sale in a sandwich bar and decided I’d seen it all. Paleo Muesli, a Paleo Roll and other Paleo-labelled products, all described as ‘decadent’. I almost rolled about laughing, because one of the reasons why the ‘Paleo diet’ is so popular is because it rejects the foods that have fuelled … More In which I discover ‘decadent’ paleo food
In what has to be one of the biggest ‘ewwww-factor’ experiments in a while, paleontologists at Yale recently tweaked chicken DNA to give the birds toothed jaws, a bit like Velociraptor. Although there was a lot of work involved in finding out which two DNA strands to tamper with, the process apparently didn’t add anything … More Chickenosaurus lives! But should we really play God with genes?
My book Coal: The Rise and Fall of King Coal in New Zealand was published late last year by David Bateman Ltd. It was my second science-oriented book in a month. It’s not often that authors are able to publish books in quick succession with major publishers. In point of fact, my schedule included four releases between … More Does what we write define us as writers?
A swan plant in the back garden is filled with Monarch caterpillars. Eventually they’ll eat their fill, chrysalise, and turn into butterflies – all irrespective of the human society around them and all its drama and stupidities. It’s an inspiring thought. Taking a photo wasn’t easy. The plant was moving in the wind and the target miniscule, … More Summer writing inspirations – Monarch caterpillars
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