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AuthorBen Wylie-van Eerd

Author Archive: Ben Wylie-van Eerd

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October 10, 2011

I’ve decided to be uncharacteristically blunt with the title of my last column of the year—Hopefully now that you all have been at university for a year or longer, you are all very aware that correlation does not imply causality. But it is a seductive and subtle point, this one. It’s not unknown for even […]

October 2, 2011

I’m gonna level with you—I don’t like John Key. When he appeared on Hard Talk and, in front of an international audience, sweepingly dismissed research brought before him by scientists from his own country, I felt colossally insulted. So I wonder what his reaction will be, if any, to the recent findings of the OECD […]

September 25, 2011

Oh, you wanna hear my opinion? Well okay, here it is: The economy is broken. Actually no it’s worse than broken, it’s completely fucked. Not exactly a unique opinion, to be sure. But whenever I hear people talking about it they always have the wrong idea. It’s investor confidence this or debt that or taxation […]

September 19, 2011

A few times in this column I have mentioned the prime minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman—usually when he writes giant reports on topics I had planned to write a column about next week! He has an amazing habit of beating me to the post. But petty quibbles aside, I’ve been really glad to […]

September 12, 2011

This week, a little more on education and a realisation about growing up in today’s world. One of the other things I noticed about Richard Feynman’s education throughout his college (that’s US for university) days was that he was always surrounded by other scientists. Physicists, mathematicians, chemists, oh my! In the universities he attended, there […]

September 5, 2011

For today’s column I thought it would be nice to celebrate a couple of the recent successes in science from New Zealand and around the world. First up is a recent approval of a new drug to fight HIV. The drug, called tenofovir, is a vaccine. This means that it can help prevent you getting […]

August 15, 2011

Recently in the papers, it was reported that mud and sediment in certain parts of the Pacific, including parts around New Zealand, were surprisingly rich in materials called ‘rare earth minerals.’ Okay, first of all, what is a rare earth mineral? As the name suggests, these materials are chemical elements which are relatively rare on […]

August 8, 2011

The subject of today’s column is the science in a speech given at the end of June by the outgoing head of New Zealand Federated Farmers, Lachlan McKenzie. Obviously upset at the bad reputation farmers are getting for the condition of our waterways, he decided to tell us a few things. He raises a few […]

August 1, 2011

It may interest you to know that this June, ERMA approved the release of a species of fungus into the New Zealand ecosystem. The fungus is called Uromyces pencanus, and it is being released as a biological control agent for Chilean needlegrass. This means that ERMA considers Chilean needlegrass to be a pest, and they […]