Join an ornithologist on his daily weka survey and hear from two legal experts about disaster law.
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Our Changing World

18 February 2021

Weka: a wily but wary bird

Ralph Powlesland is an ornithologist and author of the book Weka: opportunist and battler.

Twice a day he heads out to do a census of the weka in the backyard of a retired farm on the south side of Pelorus Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds.

Alison Ballance joins him to meet some birds that are both curious and wary.
Ralph Powlesland feeding a weka

Disaster law

The 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes taught us many things about the way earthquakes happen, and how to design and engineer safer buildings.

They also highlighted shortcomings in New Zealand’s legal systems. University of Canterbury’s John Hopkins and Toni Collins explain disaster law to Alison Ballance.
Street of damaged buildings in Christchurch.
Listen to the complete show

A twice-daily walk around the garden gradually reveals the private life of a flightless bird.
And legal lessons from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Earthquake stories from Our Changing World

When the ground starts shaking – GeoNet turns 15

Complexity – six months of Kaikōura earthquake science

When the Kekerengu Fault ruptured

Buildings that better survive earthquakes

Understanding New Zealand’s largest fault

Bull kelp genes and earthquake uplift - a surprising connection

High-rise apartments in central Wellington and earthquake strengthening issues

A decade of earthquakes - Darfield. Christchurch. Cook Strait. Kaikōura. In the past decade, New Zealand has experienced four major earthquakes. Three GNS Science seismologists recollect their experience of the Big Ones and talk about the lessons we have learned from these ten shaky years.

Preparing for the next big quake - University of Canterbury earthquake engineer Brendon Bradley says we can’t predict when and where earthquakes will occur, but “we do have probabilistic models that tell us the likelihood that certain faults are going to rupture over a certain period of time.”

Designing low damage buildings - Low-damage buildings don't just save lives in an earthquake, says engineer Geoff Rodgers - they are designed to be resilient so they can stay in use.

What we do during an earthquake and why it matters – psychologist David Johnston says that when it comes to earthquakes, sometimes doing nothing is a safer option than taking the wrong action.

Liquefaction: lessons from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake - Misko Cubrinovski has spent his professional career studying liquefaction caused by earthquakes, but even he was surprised by how widespread and extensive the effects of liquefaction were following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Disaster law - John Hopkins and Toni Collins explain disaster law and shortcomings in NZ's legal system highlighted by the Canterbury earthquakes.

Christchurch building collapse following 2011 earthquake

Voices from Antarctica

Alison Ballance finds out what it takes to live in and do science in Antarctica, in a podcast series recorded on the frozen continent in November 2019.

Voice of the Kākāpō

Voice of the Kākāpō - an audio adventure through the bumpy bumper 2019 breeding season of NZ's rare flightless parrot
Kakapo. Photo Andrew Digby DOC

An alphabetical jaunt around the periodic table of chemical elements.

Actinium - rare and radioactive
Aluminium - light and versatile
Americium - a radioactive domestic do-gooder
Antimony - takes lives, saves lives
Argon - every breath you take.
Arsenic - the well-known poison
Astatine - awfully rare

Barium - never found on its own
Berkelium and the synthetic heavyweights
Beryllium - sweet and precious, but deadly
Bismuth - an unusual heavy metal
Boron - made by cosmic rays, useful in the kitchen
Bromine - the colour purple and poison gas

Cadmium - colour and quantum dots
Caesium - the time-keeper
Calcium - strength and beauty
Carbon - life and times of the King of Elements
Cerium - combustible and confusing
Chlorine - good for health, bad for health
Chromium - colourful and shiny
Cobalt - goblin of the periodic table
Copper - essential, in moderation
Curium & Meitnerium - in honour of two pioneering women

Dysprosium - hard to get

Erbium - through rose-tinted glasses
Europium - putting the security in the Euro

Fluorine - the non-stick element
Francium - final naturally-occurring element to be discovered

Gadolinium - plays a key role in MRI scans
Gallium - mysterious case of the disappearing spoon
Germanium - important in the first transistors
Gold - a most desirable noble metal

Hafnium - helped land the first astronauts on the moon
Helium - rare on earth but universally abundant
Holmium - obscure, but an important surgical laser
Hydrogen - number 1 in the universe

Indium- Queen of the touchscreen
Iodine - a vital trace element
Iridium and the end of the dinosaurs
Iron - creator of the modern world

Krypton - its name means 'hidden' but it's a real thing

Lanthanum - curious case of a 'lost' element
Lead - sweet-tasting but deadly
Lithium - a mood-enhancing element
Lutetium – an obscure Parisian

Magnesium – loved by everyone and everything
Manganese – the ‘essential’ essential element
Mercury – mesmerising quicksilver
Molybdenum – a catalyst at bacterial to industrial scales

Neodymium – the secret behind supermagnets
Neon – the red of neon lights
Nickel – more than just a 5 cent coin
Niobium – useful at high and low temperatures
Nitrogen – a vital powerhouse

Osmium – heavyweight champion of the elements
Oxygen – the friendly element

Palladium – cleaning up your car’s exhaust
Phosphorus – P was discovered in pee
Platinum – another pricey precious metal
Plutonium – nuclear bombs & nuclear power
Polonium – few redeeming features
Potassium – a matter of life and death
Praseodymium – a long name but not many uses
Promethium – rare and unremarkable
Protactinium – a very dull chemical element

Radium – famous but not very useful
Radon – radioactive basement risk
Rhenium - has a number of claims to chemical fame
Rhodium – used in cars, drugs … & aftershave
Rubidium – expensive and not very useful
Ruthenium – a ‘sort’ of precious metal

Samarium – magnets for making & listening to music
Scandium – the scandal of the scandium cricket bat
Selenium – good reason to eat seafood & Brazil nuts
Silicon – a ubiquitous part of modern life
Silver – a popular noble metal
Sodium – a salt of the earth spectator
Strontium – from sensitive teeth toothpaste to nuclear fission
Sulfur – king of bad smells

Tantalum – a tantalising chemical element
Technetium – the first synthetic element
Tellurium – usually associated with gold
Terbium - turns up in old TVs & new Euro notes
Thallium - the poisoner's poison
Thorium - potential source of cleaner nuclear energy
Thulium - the most laborious of the lanthanoids
Tin – from whistles to organ pipes & anti-fouling paint
Titanium – light, strong & quite pretty
Tungsten – highest melting point of any metal

Uranium - first radioactive element to be discovered

Vanadium - Model T Fords, big batteries & sea squirts

Xenon - a stranger in search of strange particles

Ytterbium - yet another element named after Ytterby
Yttrium - here's that village Ytterby again

Zinc - more useful than you realise

Zirconium - shape-shifting time capsule
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