Newsletter Digest: IgNobels, Kiwi attitudes to science, SciBlogs anniversary

What do Kiwis think of science?

Next week will see the launch of a study that looks at the public’s perception of science in New Zealand.

The research Science and the General Public 2010, is the latest in a series of studies previously undertaken in 2002 and 2005 by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, and looks at how attitudes to science have changed over time.

Do Kiwis consider science important to their daily lives? Do they think the government should be funding science if the economic benefits are unclear? Should there be tight controls on what scientists are allowed to do? All of these questions and others are discussed in the research conducted by research company Nielsen with analysis from Rose Hipkins, chief researcher at the New Zealand Council for Education Research.

Online media briefing:

The study will be launched at a Science Media Centre online briefing next Wednesday October 6th at 11am. Journalists registered with the SMC will be sent a specific briefing invite as a well as a link to download the paper ahead of the briefing. For further details contact the SMC.

‘Socks over shoes’ wins IgNobel Prize

The annual IgNobel prizes, awarded today in Boston by the Annals of Improbable Research, featured Kiwi scientists at the awards podium.

Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest of the University of Otago, carried off the IgNobel Physics prize, for demonstrating with a randomised controlled trial that people slip and fall less often on icy footpaths in wintertime if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes.

The awards are designed to honour unusual research efforts that ‘make people laugh and then think’.

The awards ceremony was broadcast live via web, and video highlights are posted on the IgNobel’s YouTube channel.

Census of Marine Life complete

A 10-year scientific initiative to assess and explain the diversity of life in the oceans culminates next week with a meeting in London to mark the completion of the Census of Marine Life.

A group of New Zealand scientists who worked on CenSeam, the part of the census studying seamounts, will be in London to help present an overview of the outcomes of the research. The SMC will be releasing a round-up from these researchers on the research they undertook on Tuesday. Contact the SMC for more details.

Sciblogs – one year old today!, Australasia’s largest blog network, celebrates its first anniversary today and round’s out its first year with its highest ranking yet in the New Zealand Sitemeter blog rankings – at 4th place. September was the network’s biggest month to date with nearly 74,000 visits to Sciblogs.

Nearly 3,000 posts have run on Sciblogs in the last year and our team of 30 scientists and science writers have tackled all sort of science-related subjects. We have lots of big plans for the next phase of devlepment for the Sciblogs network and will feature new scientists in the coming months covering topics like infectious diseases, psychology and archaeology.