Scientists’ lot not a happy one


Most scientists don’t have an easy life in New Zealand.

Many are dependent on grants and spend a lot of time and energy making applications to enable them to continue their research and earn a living.

The Prime Minister’s Science Awards, the winners of which were announced today, are long overdue recognition of the importance of science and offer financial award for scientists, science teachers and journalists.

They will give a financial and moral boost for the recipients and also give a much needed boost to science.

In announcing the winners, John Key said:

 “Our scientists are doing high quality research in many areas but too often their achievements receive little public acclaim. Today’s prizes follow up on a Budget promise last year to raise the profile and prestige of science in New Zealand”.

The winners are:

  • Dr Jeff Tallon and Dr Bob Buckley, IRL – The Prime Minister’s Science Prize. Drs Tallon and Buckley receive $100,000 with a further $400,000 going to IRL.
  • Stanley Roach, 18, formerly of Onslow College and now studying at the University of Auckland – The Prime Minister’s 2009 Future Scientist Prize. Stanley receives $50,000
  • Dr Paul Lowe, Morrinsville College, Morrinsville – The Prime Minister’s 2009 Science Teacher Prize. Paul receives $50,000 and his school receives $100,000
  • John Watt, Victoria University of Wellington – The Prime Minister’s 2009 MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist. John receives $150,000
  • Elizabeth Connor, Wellington – The Prime Minister’s 2009 Science Media Communications Prize. Elizabeth receives $150,000.

Sciblogs has more, including a photo of the recipients.

Chorus of Hebrew Slaves


Verdi’s opera Nabucco premiered on this day in 1842.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. What is a contradictanym?

2. What do nota, hauta, rawhiti and rato  mean?

3. Apples and pears, battle cruiser, Gregory Peck and Rosie Lea are Cockney rhyming slang for what?

4. Who is the current New Zealand Poet Laureatte?

5. What does percuss  mean?

Andrei got three right and earned a bonus for being the only one who could name our Poet Laureatte.

Gravedodger got 2 3/4 (though I suppose Gregory Peck could be neck).

David got four and a bonus for extra information which makes him the winner and earns him an electronic bunch of flowers.

PDM got one for deduction.

Richard gets a bonus for reminding me what a gem Shott’s Original Miscellany is.

UPDATE: Samo, whose comment got lost in the Spam file – got 2 3/4.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Sugar’s important


If there’s a good time to realise you’ve forgotten the sugar when baking a cake, it’s not when it’s in the oven half-cooked.

I did it with a Christmas cake last year. It was Alison Holst’s Cathedral Window Cake which has so much dried fruit I figured it wouldn’t matter. It still tasted fine but it fell to bits when it was cut which indicates there’s a chemical reaction with the sugar which holds a cake together.

I did it again yesterday with a Skinny Chocolate Brownie – and can confirm that sugar is important for both texture and taste.


Confessions of a film-going failure


Putting up my hand for an F in film going – I haven’t seen any of the films which won Oscars.

In fact I think I only went to the pictures once last year, that was to see Food Inc  during which I fell asleep.

I watched a couple of films on planes but can’t remember anything about them which might be a reflection on my state of mind while flying and/or the quality of the films.

Are any of the winners, or any other films showing now, worth watching?

March 9 in history


On March 9:

141 BC Liu Che, posthumously known as Emperor Wu of Han, assumed the throne over the Han Dynasty of China.

1230 AD – Bulgarian tsar Ivan Asen II defeated Theodore of Epirus in the Battle of Klokotnitsa.

Portrait of Ivan Asen II from the Zograf Monastery on Mount Athos, 1817

1276  Augsburg becomes an Imperial Free City.

Coat of arms of Augsburg

1500 The fleet of Pedro Alvares Cabral left Lisbon for the Indies.


1566 David Rizzio, the private secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots.


1765 After a campaign by the writer Voltaire, judges in Paris posthumously exonerated Jean Calas of murdering his son. Calas had been tortured and executed in 1762 on the charge, though his son may have actually committed suicide.


1796 Napoléon Bonaparte married his first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais.

1841 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that captive Africans who had seized control of the ship carrying them had been taken into slavery illegally.

1842 Giuseppe Verdi‘s third opera Nabucco receives its première performance in Milan.

1847 Mexican-American War: The first large-scale amphibious assault in U.S. history was launched in the Siege of Veracruz

Battle of Veracruz.jpg

1862  The USS Monitor and CSS Virginia fought to a draw in the Battle of Hampton Roads, the first fight between two ironclad warships.

Battle Between the Monitor and Merrimac, print published by Kurz and allison (1889) Merrimac

1892 Vita Sackville-West, English writer and gardener, was born.

1896 Prime Minister Francesco Crispi resigned following the Italian defeat at the Battle of Adowa.

1910  Westmoreland County Coal Strike, involving 15,000 coal miners began.

1916 Pancho Villa led nearly 500 Mexican raiders in an attack against Columbus, New Mexico.

Pancho villa horseback.jpg

1918 Mickey Spillane, American writer, was born.

1925  Pink’s War: The first Royal Air Force operation conducted independently of the British Army or Royal Navy begins.

Pink's War map.png

1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt submitted the Emergency Banking Act to the Congress, the first of his New Deal policies.


1934 Yuri Gagarin, Soviet cosmonaut and the first human in space, was born.

Gagarin in Sweden.jpg

1947 Keri Hulme, New Zealand writer, was born.


1954 Bobby Sands, IRA member, was born.

Bobby sands mural in belfast320.jpg

1956 Soviet military suppressesed mass demonstrations in the Georgian SSR, reacting to Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization policy.


1956, Opononi George or Opo, also known as the ‘gay dolphin’, died.

Death of Opo the friendly dolphin

 1957 A magnitude 8.3 earthquake in the Andreanof Islands, Alaska triggered a Pacific-wide tsunami causing extensive damage to Hawaii and Oahu.

1957 Andreanof Islands earthquake is located in Alaska


1959 The Barbie doll makes its debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York.


1963 David Pogue, Technology columnist and musician, was born.

1967 Trans World Airlines Flight 553, a Douglas DC-9-15, crashed in a field in Concord Township, Ohio following a mid-air collision with a Beechcraft Baron, killing 26.

1976 – Forty-two people die in the 1976 Cavalese cable-car disaster, the worst cable-car accident to date.

1977 The Hanafi Muslim Siege: In a thirty-nine hour standoff, armed Hanafi Muslims seized three Washington, D.C., buildings, killing two and taking 149 hostage.

1989 A strike forced financially-troubled Eastern Air Lines into bankruptcy.

1990 Dr. Antonia Novello was sworn in as Surgeon General of the United States, becoming the first female and Hispanic American to serve in that position.

1991 Massive demonstrations were held against Slobodan Milošević in Belgrade. Two people were killed.

1997  Observers in China, Mongolia and eastern Siberia were treated to a rare double feature as an eclipse permitted Comet Hale-Bopp to be seen during the day.

Comet Hale-Bopp, shortly after passing perihelion in April 1997.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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