Our Changing World
Thursday 24 December 2009, with Alison Ballance & Ruth Beran
9:06 pm Thursday 20 June: Our Changing World
In a world first, a New Zealand vision scientist has discovered that playing Tetris under controlled conditions may be a cure for lazy eye in both children and adults. While some might query whether a video-game played close up is good for eyesight, Ben Thompson from the University of Auckland has proven otherwise, with the popular tile-matching game helping to train both eyes to work together. Lisa Thompson spoke with Ben and trial participant Jane Brock, who is seeing improvements in her vision first-hand.
At GNS, ion beams are being used to force atoms into solid materials and change their properties, for example making them harder, or more compatible with the human body. Ruth Beran meets John Futter to see some of the projects he is working on.
Since kaka were introduced to the fenced sanctuary Zealandia in 2002 they have grown in numbers to more than 200, and have become a regular sight in parks and gardens in central Wellington. Kerry Charles has just completed her Masters degree at Victoria University, investigating the damage kaka are inflicting on some urban trees, and Alison Ballance joins her in the Botanic Gardens to find out more.
Dillon Mayhew from Victoria University explains how the mathematics of codes and ciphers allows us to transmit volumes of information accurately and securely electronically around the world.
On This Programme
Godwits at Foxton Beach - Part 2
Removing godwits from the net; Phil Battley holding a godwit; processing the birds. (Images: A. Ballance)
Last week on Our Changing World, Alison Ballance joined Massey University's Jesse Conklin and Phil Battley, and a team of shorebird experts, in a mission to cannon net bar-tailed godwits at the Manawatu Estuary. In part two of that story the cannons are fired, and the team discover how many data loggers they are able to retrieve from 24 godwits carrying them. They are especially interested in four birds that have carried the data loggers for two seasons.
Don't forget that Keith Woodley's new book 'Godwits: long haul champions' (Penguin Books) is a great source of information about bar-tailed godwits, and that the Asia Pacific Shorebird Network encourages international co-operation in the study and conservation of shorebirds.
Jesse Conklin removing a data logger, and data logger showing the light sensor. (Images: A. Ballance)
Remembering Future Events
Donna Rose Addis (left) and Victoria Martin (right) from the University of Auckland are looking brain activity to determine whether the same region of the brain, the hippocampus, which is known to be associated with memory and the past, is also responsible for imagining future events. Their research may have implications for people with conditions which effect memory like Alzheimer's disease and amnesia.
Ruth Beran went to meet them, and in the process undertook a modified version of their trial.
Maths and Calcium
At the University of Auckland, a mathematician is doing something rather unusual…for a mathematician. James Sneyd, with a team of others including Merryn Tawhai, is trying to work out what happens in the asthmatic lung. In particular he is interested in how calcium levels (pdf) relate to contractions in smooth muscle and also to saliva secretion. Using large computational models, he is helping experimentalists better understand biology. Ruth Beran meets him in his office to find out more.
Asian Paddle Crabs - Ocean Science Series part 7
In the final story from the University of Auckland's Leigh Marine Laboratory, Amy Fowler introduces Alison Ballance to two species of paddle crab. Most people will be familiar with the native paddle crab Ovalipes catharus (above left), but in 2000 an introduced species, the Asian paddle crab, Charybdis japonica (above right; images: A. Ballance), was discovered around Auckland. This new species is much more aggressive than the native species, and Amy Fowler is investigating aspects of its biology and breeding behaviour, as well as its interactions with the native species, to try and understand its potential impact.
Astronomy Symposium, Auckland 22 January 2010
The Public Astronomy Symposium is hosted by the University of Auckland's Faculty of Science. International speakers describe the search for habitable planets in our Milky Way Galaxy; the nature of `dark matteŕ and `dark energý; cosmic structure, black holes, and the early universe; gamma ray bursts, life in extreme environments, new space missions and gravitational lenses. 22 January 9.15 am to 4 pm, Glenn Owen Building, Lecture Room 098, 12 Grafton Road, Auckland City.
Please RSVP by email by 12 January to: email@example.com
Next On Air Date
Our Changing World will be back on air on Thursday 28 January 2010. Until then, have a great summer.
Audio from Thursday 24 December 2009
Not all audio is available due to copyright restrictions.
Bar-tailed Godwits - part 2 ( 12′ 23″ )
21:06 The cannon nets have been fired and Jesse Concklin and Phil Battley retrieve data loggers from the godwits they have caught.
Remembering the Future ( 12′ 39″ )
21:20 Recent research suggests the same parts of the brain are used for remembering and for thinking about the future.
Calcium, lung function and asthma ( 12′ 31″ )
21:34 Mathematician James Sneyd is modelling the role of calcium in lung function and saliva secretion.
Asian Paddle Crabs ( 12′ 25″ )
21:46 The newly arrived Asian paddle crab is proving to be aggressive, voracious and a fast breeder.