The Treaty of Waitangi and ‘Hobson’s pledge’

I have always thought it ironic that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840 largely by accident. If everything had gone according to prospective governor William Hobson’s plans, it would have been signed on 5 February. That was the day Maori assembled outside the house of James Busby at Waitangi to discuss … More The Treaty of Waitangi and ‘Hobson’s pledge’

Science silliness with Star Wars: The Last Jedi

One of the things the Star Wars franchise isn’t particularly known for is the ‘science’ part of the science fiction calculation. I’m talking about everything from visible bolts of laser light that move at about 130 mph (ie: 0.00002 percent of light-speed) through to one-climate worlds, space ‘fighters’ that manoeuvre like First World War dogfighters, … More Science silliness with Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Remembering the Hawke’s Bay quake of ’31 – and the ‘big ones’ of 1460

It’s the eighty-seventh anniversary today of New Zealand’s most lethal historical disaster;  the Hawke’s Bay earthquake. Around 10.47 am on the sunny morning of 3 February, a magnitude 7.8 quake struck the district and threw the towns of Napier and Hastings into ruin. Damage extended from Gisborne in the north to Whanganui in the south-west, … More Remembering the Hawke’s Bay quake of ’31 – and the ‘big ones’ of 1460

Meltdown and Spectre don’t surprise me much

The revelation of widespread computer chip vulnerabilities in January didn’t surprise me too much. Software is complex stuff, hardware even more so down at chip level. The flaws had been around since the late 1990s. Back then, chips and their systems were developed by significant teams of very hard-working experts. Typically, one part of a … More Meltdown and Spectre don’t surprise me much

I’m not saying it’s aliens… but it’s aliens…

It always intrigues me that whenever we see something in the sky that doesn’t meet our existing idea of what’s out there, the first call is ‘ooh – aliens!’ It happened with KIC 8462852, also known as ‘Tabby’s Star’ after the astronomer Tabetha Boyajian – who led the intitial study. This star was exhibiting some … More I’m not saying it’s aliens… but it’s aliens…