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