Learning the dark truth of the human condition

Human reality is a funny thing. Society, as a whole, behaves differently from individuals – yet is made up of them. Understanding people, individually and en masse, is the raison d’etre of the social sciences. And it strikes me that conceptual realities of human nature often emerge in front of our noses, often in microcosm. I … More Learning the dark truth of the human condition

My adventures at Tamatea High School with a fishy maths teacher

It sounds funny, all these years later, but when I went to Tamatea High School my maths teacher, universally known to classes (but not to his face) as ‘Cod’, tried to teach calculus without revealing either how it worked or what it was for. Cod’s lessons were typically: ‘if you have these letters, which stand … More My adventures at Tamatea High School with a fishy maths teacher

The battle of Jutland and the Royal Navy’s steampunk computers

It’s Jutland day again – 101 years since the great fleets of Britain and Germany clashed in the North Sea in what was expected to be a kind of second Trafalgar in which the German High Seas Fleet was supposed to be sunk. It wasn’t. The British won it strategically: the German fleet scuttled back … More The battle of Jutland and the Royal Navy’s steampunk computers

The earthquake apocalypse – it’s coming. Probably.

Something slightly scary occurred to me the other day. Analysis of the Mw 7.8 quake that ripped through central New Zealand last November suggests it was awesomely complex. We usually imagine quakes being caused when one fault line moves. Or maybe two or three faults, because faults tend to exist in connected systems. And often, … More The earthquake apocalypse – it’s coming. Probably.

New Zealand is earth’s eighth continent. Just mostly underwater.

I was all ‘woohoo’ last week when news broke that New Zealand is actually a continent about half the size of Australia, albeit mostly underwater. The discovery was published in the March-April issue of GSA Today in a paper authored by a team of New Zealand and New Caledonian geologists, including Nick Mortimer, Hamish Campbell, … More New Zealand is earth’s eighth continent. Just mostly underwater.