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Our Changing World

February 2022

Kia ora,

I hope you are keeping well. 2022 continues to be a strange and strained year, but amongst all that is going on, there are still stories of great science happening around Aotearoa to be told.

This month we visited the University of Waikato's facility for macroalgal research in Tauranga to learn about all the different uses for seaweed and freshwater macroalgae that this team is exploring.

Plus found out about how to fingerprint honey to identify where it has come from, and about the antimicrobial potential of some native plants. And in 'Finding faults and eavesdropping on earthquakes' the wonderful Alison Ballance caught up with two earthquake researchers to learn about their work to better understand their mechanisms.

And last but not least, we started the month with a hunt for a left over piece of the Dunganville meteorite near Greymouth on the West Coast with a group of geologists and geology students from the University of Otago. After hearing the episode Lynda Ferguson from Greymouth got in touch to share the story of how her father, Ron Ferguson, helped recover it from the stream. Below is a picture kindly shared by Lynda, of the meteorite on a footstool on her front lawn, with her father Ron in the cap on the left, and Ted Dowie, who first found the meteorite, on the right.

Happy listening, hope you enjoy.

All the best,
Ngā mihi nui,
Finding faults and eavesdropping on earthquakes
Alison Ballance introduces us to two Victoria University of Wellington researchers who are trying to better understand earthquakes.
Geologist Dr. Carolyn Boulton is a ‘fault finder’, interested in how faults slide during earthquakes. And geophysicist Professor Martha Savage eavesdrops on the earth to better understand why earthquakes do what they do.
Multi-talented macroalgae
Claire Concannon pays a visit to the University of Waikato’s macroalgae research facility in Tauranga.
Opened in November 2020, the multi-million dollar facility allows scientists to grow different seaweed and freshwater algae species at scale, and to explore their potential.
On a tour of the facilities Claire learns how the macroalgae are grown, and about some of the projects the programme is involved in - from methane reduction in grazing animals, to human health, to cleaning up wastewater.
Honey fingerprints and plant powers
Claire Concannon meets a University of Waikato chemist who is figuring out the elemental fingerprint of New Zealand honey.  
While Katy Gosset catches up with a researcher at the Bio Protection research centre who is testing the ability of native plant species to reduce e.coli contamination in soil.
Hunting for meteorites
Our Changing World tags along on a meteorite hunt in the old gold mining district of Dunganville on the South Island’s West Coast.
Claire Concannon joins Dr. James Scott and students from the geology department at the University of Otago as they follow in the footsteps of Mr. Ted Dowie who, in 1976, discovered the largest recorded meteorite in New Zealand to date.
Using clues from a report about Mr. Dowie’s find, and equipped with metal detectors, the team hope to discover a left-over piece of this iron meteorite.
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