This Way Up

Saturday 21 May 2016, with Simon Morton

Do you have a curious question about food, consumer products, technology, travel or science?  Email us and we'll do our best to find the answer thiswayup@radionz.co.nz

This Way Up 21 May 2016 Part 1

Shoeing horses, dressage downer, and India's limb-lengthening industry.

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Shoeing horses

“Hi, you’ve reached Wood Farrier Services. Sorry I’m busy, underneath a horse…”

Jason Wood is a farrier (and ex-cowboy!) who ensures the horses of Manawatu are well shod. Simon Morton joins him on his daily rounds.

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Dressage downer

A commonly used piece of equestrian equipment – the crank noseband – is raising serious concerns among animal welfare groups in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics.

Horse wearing crank noseband.

Horse wearing crank noseband. Photo: Credit Luise Thomson

An Australian study has measured the stress response of horses fitted with this gear, which clamps a horse's jaws shut and reduces yawning, licking, chewing and swallowing. The kit is widely used in dressage, as well as in show-jumping and eventing.

Now some 30 animal welfare groups from around the world, including the RSPCA in Australia, are calling on the international equestrian federation (the FEI) to control the use of crank nosebands, or even to ban them outright.

Kate Fenner is co-author of the study, led by Professor Paul McGreevy of the University of Sydney's Faculty of Veterinary Science.

"In light of the current results, horse sport administrators may need to decide which oral behaviours they can afford to see eliminated in the name of sport", said Professor McGreevy.

Meanwhile Equestrian Sports New Zealand's chief executive Vicki Glynn says New Zealand riders will be using nosebands and double bridles at the Rio games. Stewards and judges should inspect all gear used in competitions to ensure it is properly fitted and is not causing horses any distress.

"Our concern is always horse welfare and the education of riders via good stewarding," she said. "We constantly review new research and where necessary update our judges and stewards on current thinking. We align ourselves with, and take guidance from, the FEI who have a wealth of global expertise in both competition and veterinary matters."

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India's limb-lengthening industry

India correspondent Vidhi Doshi on India's burgeoning leg-lengthening industry. People are paying serious money to be taller, and endangering life and limb(s) in the process.

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This Way Up 21 May 2016 Part 2

Tech news (Google developers' conference and the rebirth of Nokia?), handheld DNA analyser, buyer's guide to electric heaters, and adult onset ADHD/Martian tsunamis.

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Tech: Google innovates and the rebirth of Nokia?

Technology correspondent Peter Griffin reports on the latest ideas coming out of Google's annual developer conference in California this week. Also the Finnish handset maker Nokia's fallen on tough times since the smartphone took centre stage. But it could be poised for a rebirth.

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Handheld DNA analyser

A handheld DNA analyser could revolutionise the diagnosis of diseases like cancer, malaria, HIV and TB, particularly in the developing world.

Q-POC DNA tester

Q-POC DNA tester Photo: QuantuMDx

Molecular medical testing today is not instant and requires access to a proper medical lab but a new device called Q-Poc could detect a range of diseases within 20 minutes.

Simon Morton speaks to Jonathan O'Halloran of QuantuMDx, who is working on the device.

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Buyer's guide to electric heaters

This Way Up reviews heating heating options and how efficient they are. First up, electric heaters – which rooms are they good for and which ones are best?

 Simon Morton asks George Block from consumer.org.nz:

An oil heater

An oil heater Photo: Wikipedia Ashley Pomeroy CC By 3.0

An electric heater

An electric heater Photo: (aquila2664 Wikipedia CC BY 2.5)

Read an edited extract of the conversation:

I’m amazed that electric heaters are still relevant, because I thought a lot of the new technologies like heat pumps would have made this technology redundant, but it’s alive and well.

George Block: The reason for that is over the past few years... we have been hammering home the message that electric heaters just aren’t powerful enough to service your main source of heat and living areas, but they do have a place. So, for example, in a small area like a bedroom or small study, the amount of money you’ll spend upfront installing a heat pump just for that room is $2,000. That is a lot more than you’ll pay running an electric heater in that small space, which we found to be about $1,300 more than a heat pump.

So the low upfront cost of an electric heater and the fact that they generate just the right amount of heat for a small space means they are the right choice for anything around 15m² to 20m². That’s areas like a smaller bedroom, a study or occasional rooms like that.

You mention that $1,300 figure…

George Block: That’s a ten-year period. So you’ll be spending $ 1,300 more on power bills running one of these compared with a small heat pump. But the heat pump will cost $ 1,500 upfront and another $ 500 to install. So in a small area we think it’s probably best to go for an electric heater. But that doesn’t include things like gas central heating or heat-inducted central heating. If you have those and they’re ducted to various bedrooms they will be a lot cheaper to run than an electric heater.

There’s also another type of panel heater here, micathermic – what are these?

George Block: Micathermic heaters are a recent addition to the electric heating world. Basically, you switch them on and they act in the same way as an old column heater. You have this background, ambient heating. They don’t have a fan so they don’t provide that evenness of heating. But one advantage they do have over oil column heaters is they heat up much faster. So you switch this microthermic heater on and it’s instantly going to come up to temperature and start heating your room. Whereas this oil column is going to take five or ten minutes.

We found that in general oil column heaters are the worst performers in our test.  The reason for that is that they don’t get especially hot and they quite often don’t have a fan so they don’t tend to heat that evenly and it tends to pool up at the ceiling. But we found that if you have an oil column heater with a fan or you place a small desk fan on the ground beside an oil column heater it’ll help it heat up the room three times as fast.

If you’re out there buying an electric heater, what are the key things you need to consider?

George Block: If you want fast, even room heating, you can’t go past an oscillating tower fan ceramic heater. The key to any sort of fast heating is to get a fan. But if you don’t want that whirring away in the background we think a micathermic heater is a great option.

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Adult onset ADHD/Martian tsunamis

Ceraunius Tholus in perspective by Mars Expres

Ceraunius Tholus in perspective by Mars Expres Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0-igo

Dr Chris Smith on new research showing that despite its reputation as a childhood condition, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, often develops in adult life too. Also evidence of tsunamis on Mars

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We play these tracks on the show too...

Artist: The Undercover Hippy
Track: Our Streets (Hiphoppapotamus Remix)
Composer:  Billy Rowan
Album: Monkey Suit
Label: UNCIVIL RECORDS

Artist: Nap Eyes
Track: Dark Creedence
Composer: Nap Eyes
Album: Rough Trade Shops: Counter Culture 15 (off new album 'Thought Rock Fish Scale')
Label: ROUGH TRADE 399318

Artist: Huruma Boys Band
Track: Teresia
Composer:  Huruma Boys Band
Album: Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s and 1980s
Label: SOUNDWAY 915528