This post begins on a personal note. My Mum passed away, suddenly, last week. Mum got me writing, encouraged me to write – and was an avid reader of what I wrote. Including this blog, where her favourites were my science posts. Mum taught me to wonder about everything – about the way our curiosity fuels our… More Of the sense of wonder that casts light into the darkness
Four generations have been born in the century – this weekend – since New Zealand forces struggled to the top of Chunuk Bair, then a bare mountain range in the centre of the Gallipoli peninsula. They had come there from the uttermost ends of the Earth – a symbol of the way in which industrial… More The centenary of Chunuk Bair reminds us it’s time to re-think New Zealand’s history. Again.
It’s a century, this weekend, since New Zealand forces attacked Chunuk Bair as part of a failed effort to end the Gallipoli campaign. Curiously, we neither know exactly how many New Zealanders fought in that eight-month campaign – or how many became casualties. That question has been exercising some of the key figures in New Zealand’s military-historical community… More How many Kiwis fought on Gallipoli? I think the answer’s an essay, not a number
This week the SETI institute announced they were going to check the newly discovered Earth-size world 1400 light years away, Kepler 452b, for radio transmissions. I don’t think they’ll find any. Here’s why. The problem is that near-Earth size, insolation and orbit – which is all we know just now – doesn’t necessarily mean Earth-like. The planet was… More Why the new ‘Earth 2.0’ is more likely to be Venus 1.1
I was asked the other week, on Facebook, why Jupiter doesn’t just fly off into space. You know, it’s so enormous, surely the Sun can’t hold it. Actually, it can. Jupiter is around 300 times the mass of Earth, sure – but it’s only 0.09 percent the mass of the Sun. Not only can the Sun… More The Sun’s big. Really big. And really grippy.
Yesterday’s Pluto flyby’s been one of the most amazing unmanned space moments of the last half century – up there with the Voyager probes and with the Mars rovers. It’s also only the beginning. Over the next sixteen months the probe will transmit the data it picked up during that super-fast cruise through the Pluto system.… More Why the Pluto flyby means we need to re-think our view of the solar system
Last weekend I visited Sir Peter Jackson’s giant diorama of New Zealand’s attack on Chunuk Bair at the height of the Gallipoli campaign in August 1915. Giant? You betcha. With 5000 custom-posed 54-mm figures, individually painted by volunteer wargamers from around New Zealand, the only word is wow! Here are my photos. The whole thing was assembled by… More Peter Jackson’s re-definition of awesome – the Gallipoli diorama, close up