Each galaxy lives within its own three-dimensional halo of dark matter whose gravitational field corrals the stars within it. Without the stars, the halo would still be there, albeit invisible to our eyes; but if the halo vanished, the stars would scatter into the depths of the universe – just as a Christmas tree remains a tree with or without the pretty lights. Whereas without the tree, the lights would merely be a puddle of colour on the snowy ground.
Showing visitors around the University of Auckland can be a quick lesson in our colonial history. The University is named for the city, which is named for a spectacularly unsuccessful Governor-General of India. Our oldest streets are centred on Queen Street — which is crossed by Victoria Street. The settlers took a belt and braces approach to honouring their young monarch when the city was laid out in 1841.
No-one seems to dispute that the video was played, but minimising it as a conversation starter or "just one viewpoint" will not inspire confidence. If this was part of a wider programme to slip creationism into science classes, it speaks to a failure of leadership and, I believe, integrity.
Unlike almost any other form of transport, regular cycling leaves you fitter and healthier than sitting in a car, or a bus or a train. Not only that, Auckland's best cycle paths run through parks and incorporate a series of stunning bridges, so you are likely to arrive at work with a smile on your face.
This is the week the Nobel Prizes are announced, and today is the day (at least in New Zealand; first place in the world to see the light, as the tourist people say) the Physics prize is announced. And this year the odds-on favourite will be LIGO and the discovery of gravitational waves.
But despite being commonplace, spaceflight is still far from routine. In fact, in the six decades since the Soviet Union started the space race, just eleven nations and the European Union have achieved indigenous launch capability, sending a locally developed rocket into orbit.
On November 17 my alarm went off simultaneously with a call from Radio New Zealand asking me to do an on-air interview about the end of the world. It turned out that it wasn’t the actual end of the world that was making the news.
This week, the University of Auckland (where I work) announced it is joining the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope collaboration. So what is the LSST, what will it do, and why are we so excited about it?
The trees are now festooned with signs, banners and a "yarn bomb", while thousands have joined the Save the Western Springs Pohutukawa group on Facebook and the trees themselves are tweeting. [The Lorax asked who would speak for the trees, but now it seems they can tweet for themselves.]
Bolides are like lotteries – the chances of you winning the big prize are small, but the chances that someone, somewhere will win are pretty good. So if you missed last night's fireball, you will wait a long time before seeing another one.
Sir Robert "Bob" Jones is New Zealand's answer to Donald Trump; a wealthy property investor with a sideline as an internet and old-media troll, albeit with a better barber than The Donald. In yesterday's Herald Jones shares his opinions on which New Zealanders merit a bronze statue, and the list is very short. By Jones's reckoning, the only truly great New Zealander is Sir Edmund Hillary, who conquered Everest, crossed the Antarctic and then devoted his later life to building schools and hospitals in Nepal.
Craig goes far beyond the standard hedging used by politicians who want to put off grappling with climate change ("it's complex", "the jury is still out", "scientists disagree", "I'm not a scientist"), and apparently believes that it is not even possible for human behaviour to significantly modify the climate.
Given the current state of the New Zealand electorate, Craig's party stands a chance of being part of a coalition government. It is worth asking how did the Conservative Party arrive at its positions? Who did it consult? Where does it stand on evidence-based policy-making? Perhaps we should "Ask Colin"?
Incensed by the phrase "homeopathic remedies have failed every randomised, evidence-based scientific study seeking to verify their claims of healing powers" a Tauranga-based homeopathist took a complaint to the Press Council, New Zealand's media watchdog -- as is his right. So far, again, so good.
Astrophysicist Beatrice Tinsley (1941-1981) was once a leading candidate for the "Most Important New Zealand Scientist You've Never Heard Of Award", but has been largely eliminated from consideration by a stage play, having a mountain named after her, and a full-length biography.