2006 Lectures

Lectures during 2006

A View from Inner Space

by David Edge, Gasteroentologist, Palmerston North

Techniques used to examine the intestinal tract over the years were outlined – some with cartoons. Current state-of-the-art is a video camera, no bigger than a large vitamin capsule; the speaker uses this technique. Such wireless capsule endoscopy gives new insight into small bowel morphology and pathology in the investigation of gastrointestinal disorders. Many images captured in NZ, including some reactions to medication, were shown. The value of describing morphology / pathology before surgery outlined. There is also potential avoidance of invasive surgery. There were numerous questions from the audience and a long discussion over supper.

[Top]

Measuring poverty

by Dr Geoff Jones, Massey University, Turitea

Described some of the approaches to, and problems in, . As a statistician, he clearly explained how the mix of perceived values, the sensitivities of governments and funding agencies, and the problems of comparability of data make uniform definitions of poverty difficult. Use of consistent values across polygons was demonstrated for Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines.


Small Brains, Smart Minds: honeybee vision, navigation and “cognition”

by Prof M.V. Srinivasan – the 2006 Royal Society Distinguished Speaker.
Australian National University, Canberra,

In a very interesting talk he described how bees, in effect, attempt to maintain a constant speed and direction by reference to their sideways vison and objects passing on each side, slowing as they approach surfaces and as they penetrate into cones. They can learn to respond to odours. ‘Dances’ are used to give direction and distance, at least for more distant food sources. Mr G Arnold chaired the meeting that was held in the Art Gallery.


Geology, biology and marine knowledge from South Taranaki-Wanganui

by Rosemary Millar, Department of Conservation, Wanganui

Results of a survey involving the public and user groups were described. There was a wealth of local knowledge and many sought preservation of the fish resources they had come to know and some ‘hotspots’ of biodiversity (albeit measured in fisher terminology). The talk, and discussion from the audience, included the validity of the definition of the DoC area of interest by simple distance from the shore.


Sea-level changes and stratigraphy of barrier estuaries in southeast Australia

by Dr Craig Sloss, Massey University, Palmerston North.

This was a joint meeting with the Manawatu Branch of the NZ Geographical Society. The talk gave an account of various way to date and measure deposition events around estuaries in southeast Australia where ancient rocks form headlands, rivers flowing from the hinterland cut great channels, and modern engineers tinker with controlling human-modified sediment deposition. An interesting, revised mechanism to explain the situation was of interest to all present.


History in the making: The Parallel Bang

by Dr Jack Bacon – RSNZ Touring Speaker, NASA, Texas, USA.

A meeting held in conjunction with RAS, RASNZ, NZSFA and IPENZ in the College of Education Auditorium, Hokowhitu. In a stimulating 90-minute talk the speaker first put the period of human occupation on the earth into perspective from the big bang. Passing of knowledge from generation to generation once communities were not fully committed to food gathering led to rapid accumulation of knowledge that has accelerated in recent centuries, particularly with more and diverse graduates and the silicon chip. The ability of the neurons in the brain to store and recall information is a vital part of this, and cultural differences important. Rapid communication globally, searching accumulated knowledge using world-wide-web and models with greater integration result from such changes. A century after first human flight there are now constantly c500,000 people airborne and permanent human occupation of space. Counteracting greenhouse gas emissions, partly through utilising the ‘star rotor’ engine, and ongoing lengthening of human lives are among future probabilities.


Fetal nutrition and impacts on health

by Dr Jane Coad, Massey University, Turitea, Palmerston North

A meeting which related to the food theme of Te Manawa’s 2006 Science Festival. Starting with a longitudinal study from the Dutch 1944–45 ‘hunger winter’, the speaker clearly outlined the short- and long-term effects of maternal nutrition during pregnancy on newly born infants and on their later health. While some effects occur when the offspring are post-reproductive other affect the second generation.


Deciphering New Zealand’s geological and environmental history using foraminiferal microfossils – ocean currents, human impacts, sea level rise, and earthquakes

by Dr Bruce Hayward, The 2006 Hochstetter Lecturer
Geomarine Research – Auckland

A joint meeting with Manawatu Branch of the Geological Society of New Zealand. A very stimulating talk gave the audience a real feeling for how these microscopic, marine organisms can be used to demonstrate historical conditions. The speaker’s contribution to building up New Zealand knowledge of their distribution was clear. The discussion showed audience appreciation.


From the Prosecutor’s Fallacy to Environmental Protection: Bayes’ Theorem

Professor D Brynn Hibbert – Royal Society of Chemistry Australasia Tour Speaker, University of New South Wales

27 July:  including: matching spectra for oil spills and the heroin signature program – a joint meeting with the NZ Institute of Chemistry, in the PNth Convention Centre. Without giving detailed chemistry, the talk was a clear account of the importance of distinguishing between statistical probability and actual likelihood when assessing evidence, a distinction that is often blurred in legal presentations.


The Great Ideas of Biology

by Sir Paul Nurse – Nobel Laureate; The 2006 Rutherford Lecturer
President of Rockefeller University, New York; formerly head Cancer Research UK

The audience was treated to an interesting account of the links between the first record of cells, observations leading to the theory of evolution, Mendel’s choice of peas, van Beneden recording 4 chromosome in Ascaris, elucidation of the double helix, to the multiple sites of chemical reactions in each cell with messaging between sites as well as cells. It was suggested that great scope lies in coming to understand how cells and organisms process information. Sir Paul answered questions from the floor, including he questioned the wisdom of the emphasis on short-term research in NZ. Like the previous Nobel Laureate who spoke (Alan McDiarmid), the slides were simple with the talk being the event. Prof. Ian Warrington chaired the meeting on behalf of Massey University and Prof. Judith Kinnear proposed the vote of thanks. There had been numerous press items about the talk in the previous month, and the Branch distributed posters and postcards.


Water: blue gold: The 2006 Manawatu Lecture

by Dr Brent Clothier, HortResearch, Palmertson North

In an excellent lecture the importance of the non-frozen freshwater on earth was outlined and detailed monitoring of movement of water from soil through plants described. The importance of soil as a filter and buffer was made clear. Using horticultural examples the importance of water and land allocation were outlined, including examples from the Otaki area. Question time showed how well the mixed audience had noted the key points of the talk.

Human Nutrition, Genetics and Health-Implications for the Agri-Food Sector

by Dr Warren McNabb,  AgResearch, Palmertson North

In an interesting presentation, Dr McNabb discussed the situation in western societies where diet is a major risk factor. Only about 0.1% of the human DNA sequence contributes to phenotypic variation. While genotype-specific foods can be developed they can only ever hope to target a populations, not individuals. That maternal nutrition can affect expression of the genotype in progeny is just one confounding factor. “In the interim, eat less, exercise more, and chose your parents and grandparents wisely”. Bettina Anderson chaired the meeting.


Studying Terrorism: a Critical Perspective from a Social Scientist

by Associate Professor Jeffrey Sluka, Massey University

He described his work in defining and measuring ‘terrorism’, particularly in relation to the situation in Northern Ireland. In an active discussion the audience supported his scientific approach but was disappointed to learn that similar studies were not being undertaken in relation to current world events