The first mathematical model for cow behaviour (I kid you not)

Apologies for the slightly dodge agrarian pun in the subject line. Reading the headline for this, however, has had me hanging onto my chair in hysterics for the last 5 minutes (a long time, believe me).  And, given the extent to which kiwis care about cows (and their climbing numbers here), it was, I thought, something to be shared immediately. So, on to details! The paper in question aims to explain, and predict, how it […]

A very different form of mining…

I came across this last week, and thought it was certainly an interesting way of addressing New Zealand’s mining issues. The conversation around whether, and if so to what extent, New Zealand should mine its national parks for mineral resources is a heated (haha) one.  And, I might add, not one into which I’m going to assert myself. Now, someone* has gone and suggested another way that New Zealand could benefit from mining but, wait […]

Art and science – a good pairing?

Would the metaphorical offspring of art and science be better than their parents, mediocre, or oxygen thieves? This is the basis the discussion currently being held on the New Scientists website (yay, you guys are awesome).  They’ve written not only an editorial on the subject, but assembled the viewpoints (with more still to come, I believe) of a unmber of extremely interesting people who might have a viewpoint on the subject. My first thought when […]

Cows up, sheep down

Statistics New Zealand’s just released its figures for New Zealand’s agricultural production to June 2009. The overall message? Dairy cows are up 5% to almost 6 million, with a particularly big increase in the South Island.  On the other hand, sheep are down 5% to a little over 32 million: half their peak 1982 level of 70.3 million, and now at levels last seen in 1948. Happily for wine lovers, we’re also increasing the amount […]

Smart agents for smart grids: an application of game theory

No, it’s not a reference to spies who can park well.  Or something. It’s about electrical smart grids.  And how we might get the best out of them.  But I think some explanation is in order first – hell, I know I had to do some research before being able to explain it… Firstly, what is a smart grid?  Well, it’s not like a smart meter.  Smart meters, the subject of much discussion in the […]

In honour of Friday drinkies

It’s about that time, of that day of the week.  I refer, ladies and gentlemen, to the hallowed tradition of imbibing alcoholic beverages at day end on a Friday (well, in the Western world, at any rate). All over New Zealand, people are happily clutching (or soon to be clutching) flagons of beer, pitchers of wine, and schooners of cocktails.  And it is the last to which I shall devote this post, having previously spoken […]

Germs, germs, everywhere (but what is one to think?)

Having very recently been laid flat with an entree of pharyngitis and a side order of tonsillitis, I thought I’d attack again the subject of germs, viruses and bacteria. Note: Anyone with a microbiological background may well want to skip this post:  it’s aimed at the non-experts among us.  You know, the people at whom all those terrible anti-all-lifeforms-in-your-home ads are aimed :) So yes, a primer! Bacteria First up: bacteria.  Bacteria are tiny little […]