BREAKING: New Zealand’s North Island Hit by 6.3 Magnitude Earthquake

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Not to be outdone by Japan…

A massive earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 has struck central New Zealand.

The quake occurred off the coast of the North Island, 138 km from Palmerston North at a depth of 37 km.

This comes a week after a 7.8 magnitude tremor hit near Christchurch, causing widespread damage and killing two people.

Thousands of aftershocks have been recorded since last week’s quake…(read more)

Source: Daily Mail Online


Yes, New Zealand Wants to Change Its Flag

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These Are the Finalists?

There really isn’t much by which to distinguish the flags of New Zealand and Australia. The former comes with a Union Jack flag in the top left against a deep blue background with red stars. The latter includes a Union Jack flag in the top left against a deep blue background with — wait for it! — white stars.

That’s resulted in quite a bit of confusion — usually to the disadvantage of smaller New Zealand. That country’s prime minister, John Key, has spoken of being seated in front of Australia’s flag at multilateral fora, a wonderful bit of small-country anxiety that HBO’s John Oliver recently satirized to great effect…(read more)

ForeignPolicy.com


Ed Feulner: Why Hong Kong Might Lose Its No. 1 Spot on the Index of Economic Freedom

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Hong Kong in many ways continues to act as a fine example for other countries who aspire to be economically free, its foothold on the No. 1 spot is slipping…

Ed Feulner writes: It’s good to be No. 1. But as any former champ will tell you, you have to avoid becoming complacent if you want to stay ahead of the pack. First-place finishes aren’t guaranteed, just ask Hong Kong.

Every year since 1995, the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal have measured the state of economic freedom in the world. We go country by country, poring over the details of who’s up, who’s down, and who’s treading water. Through all the changes we’ve charted, one thing hasn’t changed: Hong Kong takes the top slot.

“To see what Hong Kong does right, consider business licenses. Obtaining one there requires filling out a single form, and the process can be completed in a few hours. In many other countries, it’s more complicated and can take much longer. Bureaucracy, inefficiency and even corruption abound.”

“As the economic and financial gateway to China, and with an efficient regulatory framework, low and simple taxation, and sophisticated capital markets, the territory continues to offer the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the mainland,” write the editors of the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.

To see what Hong Kong does right, consider business licenses. Obtaining one there requires filling out a single form, and the process can be completed in a few hours. In many other countries, it’s more complicated and can take much longer. Bureaucracy, inefficiency and even corruption abound.

“As the economic and financial gateway to China, and with an efficient regulatory framework, low and simple taxation, and sophisticated capital markets, the territory continues to offer the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the mainland.”

But while Hong Kong in many ways continues to act as a fine example for other countries who aspire to be economically free, its foothold on the No. 1 spot is slipping. Singapore, the perennial No. 2 finisher, has seen the gap between it and Hong Kong steadily narrow in recent years. Only two-tenths of a point (on a scale of 1-100) separate its Index score from Hong Kong’s.

In short, they’re virtually tied. And it’s worth noting that Singapore’s Index score is unchanged this year, which means Hong Kong has only itself to blame for coming within a hair’s breadth of losing the top slot. The question is, why? Read the rest of this entry »


SLS SWING: Olaf Diegel Reveals First Prototype of 3D-Printed Alto Saxophone

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“It really surprised me as to how mechanically complex a sax was and it did make me wonder as to whether the mechanisms could be simplified.”

— Olaf Diegel

While attending Euromold 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany, last December with a band playing 3D-printed instruments, Olaf Diegel was set a challenge by the head of 3D Systems, Avi Reichental. The Professor of product development at Lund University, Sweden was given the task of creating a 3D-printed working saxophone. The first ODD prototype was revealed last week in a short demonstration video, which you can see here.

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For the latest addition to the 3D-printed band, Diegel used a traditional alto sax as a design template to match the various key spacings and mechanisms. He worked in SolidWorks CAD software to produce the STL files needed for printing the nylon blower on a selective laser sintering (SLS) printer. The process took around 6 months due to a move from New Zealand to Sweden and other projects that demanded his attention, and the working prototype is made up of 41 components, not including springs and screws. Read the rest of this entry »


Children’s Hospice Easter Appeal Gets Unexpected Flock of 6,300 Knitted Chicks


BREAKING: 122 Objects Spotted by Satellite in Search for Flight 370

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For ABC News, Dan Good reports: New satellite images show a debris field of 122 objects floating in the Indian Ocean potentially connected to doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, officials said at a news conference today.

Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the images were taken on Sunday, March 23, about 1,600 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia, and relayed by the France-based Airbus Defense and Space. Authorities received the images Tuesday.

122-objects-news-alertHishammuddin said the objects were seen close to where three other satellites previously detected objects. The newly-spotted objects vary in size, with the largest about 75 feet in length, Hishammuddin said. Some objects appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid debris.

“This is another new lead that will help direct the search operation,” he said.

That desperate, multinational search operation resumed today across a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean after fierce winds and high waves that had forced a daylong halt eased considerably.

Six countries were participating in the search — Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, China and South Korea. A total of 12 planes and two ships were involved, with the search area divided into east and west sectors.

Read the rest of this entry »


Machine Envy: Science is Becoming a Cult of Hi-Tech Instruments

Impressive hardware at Pacific Biosciences, a genome sequencing company. Photo by Gregg Segal/Gallery Stock

Impressive hardware at Pacific Biosciences, a genome sequencing company. Photo by Gregg Segal/Gallery Stock

Giant instruments are giving us a sea of data. Can science find its way without any big ideas at the helm?

Philip Ball  writes:  Whenever I visit scientists to discuss their research, there comes a moment when they say, with barely concealed pride: ‘Do you want a tour of the lab?’ It is invariably slightly touching — like Willy Wonka dying to show off his chocolate factory. I’m glad to accept, knowing what lies in store: shelves lined with bottles or reagents; gleaming, quartz-windowed cryogenic chambers; slabs of perforated steel holding lasers and lenses.

It’s rarely less than impressive. Even if the kit is off-the-shelf, it is wired into a makeshift salmagundi of wires, tubes, cladding, computer-controlled valves and rotors and components with more mysterious functions. Much of the gear, however, is likely to be homemade: custom-built for the research at hand. Whatever else it might accomplish, the typical modern lab set-up is a masterpiece of impromptu engineering — you’d need degrees in electronics and mechanics just to put it all together, never mind making sense of the graphs and numbers it produces. And like the best engineering, these set-ups tend to be kept out of sight. Headlines announcing ‘Scientists have found…’ rarely bother to tell you how the discoveries were made.

Would you care? The tools of science are so specialised that we accept them as a kind of occult machinery for producing knowledge. We figure that they must know how it all works. Likewise, histories of science focus on ideas rather than methods — for the most part, readers just want to know what the discoveries were. Even so, most historians these days recognise that the relationship between scientists and their instruments is an essential part of the story. It isn’t simply that the science is dependent on the devices; the devices actually determine what is known. You explore the things that you have the means to explore, planning your questions accordingly.

Read the rest of this entry »


New Zealand Anti-Drug-Driving Ad Goes Viral

This ad, featuring three spot-on Māori kids bragging about whose dad is the best “blazed” driver, was declared an “instant Advertising Hall of Fame Drugs PSA classic” by advertising blog Copyranter.

Made for the New Zealand Transport Agency by Oscar-nominated director Taika Waititi, “Blazed – Drug-Driving in Aotearoa” (Aotearoa is the Māori name for New Zealand) has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube since it was first posted, on September 13.

TIME.com  [New Zealand Herald]


10 Countries That Spend the Most on Food, Alcohol and Tobacco

Getty Images

Getty Images

TIME.com‘s Samantha Grossman writes: Americans have the largest disposable incomes in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re the dropping the most cash on food, alcohol and tobacco. Analyzing data from the USDA and EuroMonitor International, the folks over at the Huffington Post noted that as a whole, Americans spend a smaller portion of their incomes on food than their peers in other developed nations. On a more comprehensive ranking, which factors in all money spent on food eaten at home, dining out, alcohol and tobacco, the U.S. places just nineteenth. Read the rest of this entry »