Science & Technology
Do dogs really, truly understand what we tell them? Scientists trained some pups to endure MRIs to help find out as Lauren Makenzie Reynolds explains.
Genomics expert Devang Mehta explores whether it is safe to eat genetically modified food.
New Zealand’s most sacred tree is under threat from disease, but the response so far has been slow as Matthew Hall explains.
We know how to fight wildfires effectively. Why don’t we do it? Microbial ecology expert Michael Graw discusses what we should be doing to combat wildfires.
Hallucinations may be a symptom of mental illness, but they are not necessarily harmful as Yewande Pearse explains.
After the recent discovery of a large liquid water lake on Mars Jonti Horner explores what this means for the ongoing quest to find life on the red planet.
Doctoral candidate Hannah Thomasy discusses the impacts of all-nighters on the brain. Is staying up late a health-risk?
What is a hallucinogen? Benjamin Bell explores what these mind-altering drugs do in our brains.
Dogs stick their noses in everything, but many people believe their saliva is beneficial. Jennifer Tsang from Massive Science explains.
Extinction is a natural process, but it’s happening at 1,000 times the normal speed. Does this mean we are experiencing a sixth mass extinction event?
With the effects of climate change continuing to be widely felt around the world and the ongoing increase of CO₂ in the atmosphere why can’t we just pull carbon dioxide out of the air?
New research has shown that Orangutans have been adapting to humans for 70,000 years.
What is the science behind superstition and why do we believe the unbelievable? Neil Dagnall & Ken Drinkwater investigate.
As climate change encroaches, our heritage is drowning according to Patty Hamrick.
Suicide rates have been steadily rising in the United States. So what explains the increase in the numbers of people taking their own lives, and what can be done to solve what amounts to a crisis in public health? Maria Armoudian speaks with Mark S. Kaplan.
Trauma has profound and lifelong physical and psychological effects on its survivors. It can damage the mind, the brain, and stunt development. What exactly is trauma? How does it affect us individually and as a society? And how can trauma survivors recover from these experiences?
The militarization of outer space? Gbenga Oduntan looks into Donald Trump’s plan to create a space force.
Benjamin Bell lays out a cautiously optimistic case for using the psychedelic in therapy for social anxiety.
Epigenetics has been hailed as the missing link between genes and environment. Nicola Shepheard explores this phenomenon in greater detail and seeks out whether inheritance is about more than just genes.
Monica Grady looks at the recent detection of organic material on Mars and whether this means more evidence of past life on the red planet.
Maria Armoudian speaks to Ellen Wright Clayton, Mark Rothstein, and Dennis McNevin about how DNA and other private data can be used and misused in law enforcement, healthcare and employment.
Our options as a humanity may be dwindling in the face of climate change. The coming changes may completely alter the world as we know it with collapsed ecosystems, mass immigration of climate refugees, and more devastating wars over basic necessities such as food and water. Maria Armoudian speaks to Gwynne Dyer about the scenarios we face with climate change.
In this special extended episode of the What If? podcast, Luke Goode talks about the future of mental health with a panel of international experts who were recently brought together as part of an Australia and New Zealand lecture tour entitled ‘Mental Health Crisis.’
National income and income inequality impacts on body size of children and adolescents, according to new research from the University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.
Arunima Malik & Ya-Yen Sun look into the carbon footprint of tourism and find out it is bigger than we thought.
Doctoral candidate Theresa Laverty looks at how bats could guide humans to clean drinking water in places where it is scarce.
Predators are helping farmers and reducing car crashes with surprising results.
Reuben McLaren speaks to Marewa Glover about whether the Government’s smokefree 2025 policy is indeed the least harmful way to reduce the harm that tobacco causes.
Professor Simon Thrush from the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Auckland talks about his big question, “how do we restore marine ecosystems?”
Professor Judith Littleton from the School of Social Sciences at the University of Auckland talks about her big question, “How are illness and disease created in particular bodies?”
In the first video of our new “big question” series Daniel Hikuroa from Māori and Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland talks about his big question, “Why are we killing our rivers?”
Robots are not part of some science fiction future, they’re here now and being used in ever more interesting and adventurous ways.
After the recent passing of world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, Maria Armoudian talked with Peter Galison and Priya Natarajan about the work and legacy of Hawking within the context of physics.
A major University of Otago-led study into an ancient climate change event that impacted a significant percentage of Earth’s oceans has brought into sharp focus a lesser-known villain in global warming: oxygen depletion.
Shalene Singh-Shepherd outlines new research that looks into how parasites choose their hosts.
Science is no longer cool, according to Chris Mooney. This could have huge consequences for the world, which needs science to help resolve many crises facing us today. But people are paying less attention and giving less credence to science and scientists due in part to politics, mainstream media, religion, and anti-intellectualism.
Scientists say we still have time to address climate change and we have made headway, but we still have a long way to go. What do we need to do to combat climate change, and how worried should we about global warming?
The last two decades have seen the Internet become an essential medium for occupational, academic, and personal purposes. As our culture becomes more dependent on the Internet it is no surprise that we are starting to hear reports of people displaying problematic behaviour in relation to compulsive use of such technology.
With climate change upon us, the Earth is changing the way it functions. What exactly is occurring and where are we headed?
For many years geneticists and psychologists have in worked in separate labs on factors such as our genetic codes and our experiences that they each thought were affecting our physical and mental health respectively. But it may be that our experiences are affecting our epigenetics which can then get handed down for generations to come, contributing to diseases and behaviors such as cancer and depression.
In this episode of What IF? Professor Jeremy Wyatt talks about the new frontier of “third wave” dexterous robots that combine the intelligence and unstructured mobility of second wave robotics with capacities for sophisticated manipulation and fine motor skills in unfamiliar situations.
Scientists are still trying to understand the mysteries of our slumber. Why do we sleep? What is its purpose? And what actually happens during sleep?
Many observers argue that economic forces are corrupting medical care and eroding the trust between patients and their doctors.
Planet Earth has faced five mass extinctions in its lifetime. Now we may be facing the sixth. What have we learned from the previous mass extinctions that can help us avoid a total collapse? Can humanity rescue the planet that it has imperiled?
What technological changes will be needed to power the renewable revolution? Sung-Young Kim has been studying the political economy of the new clean energy revolution. Maria Armoudian sat down with him to discuss his research and what needs to happen as we move towards renewables.
Sanitation and antibiotics have saved the lives of many, but are they also the culprits behind some modern diseases? Martin Blaser argues we might have gone overboard in killing our microbes and that may be causing some of today’s epidemics.
What will the cities of the future look like? Steve Matthewman and Stephen Knight-Lenihan discuss the urban future, looking at ecological resilience, biodiversity, living buildings, and floating suburbs.
What do we have to fear from the rise of robots, automation and artificial intelligence? Darl Kolb, a pioneering theorist on social and technical connectivity, argues that we should rethink the relationship between humans and machines as one of co-evolution and interdependence, rather than one of contest and competition.
Although it is the most important substance in our lives, many people hardly ever think about water, where it comes from, how it is used and its precarious future. Charles Fishman talks to Maria Armoudian about how water has shaped our past and how it will shape our future.
Neuroscience has uncovered so many clues about human attitudes and behaviours that have far-reaching consequences. But scholars and doctors disagree about what it does and does not tell us about what it means to be human.
What causes these sudden changes and how can society be better prepared for such events?
Yadira Ixchel Martínez Pantoja looks into whether the US Department of State promotes GMOs in Mexico.
Storms and fires are on the rise, in both quantity and severity, bringing disastrous consequences to lives and livelihoods. How do we deal with the storms, particularly with the loss of power?
Scientists have made fascinating discoveries about animals and how they communicate. For instance, bird songs are more than music to the ears of the forest; it turns out they are speaking a language understood by many species.
Human history has been drastically changed by our relationship with animals. Brian Fagan contends that it would be a different world if not for our intimate bonds with animals. How have they changed us and the world we live in?
Raising big money is a relatively new phenomenon in academia. How did science, government, and industry become so entwined with one another and what has it meant for scholarly research?
Throughout much of the world, bee populations have been declining, threatening food supplies that rely on the pollinators to reproduce. What is the latest research on the global health of bees and what are ways to prevent further collapses?
In this roundtable discussion, top scholars reveal and explain the realities facing our seas and the strides we are making to protect, restore and recover our oceans.
Anthropology Professor Simon Holdaway talks to Maria Armoudian about how we’ve changed, and how our ancestors have dealt with past disasters and changes in the climate.
With mass extinction upon us, some scientists are working on bringing certain species back from the dead. However, their ability to do so raises ethical and practical issues.
James Russell looks at the issue of introduced species in New Zealand and why distinguishing them from native species is important.
Shaun Hendy, Professor of Physics at the University of Auckland, discusses his nano-technology research and the complications in science communication and science funding with Maria Armoudian.
New scientific discoveries about x and y chromosomes are challenging what we know about what makes us male or female.
What does the melting of glaciers and ice sheets due to climate change mean for the world’s coastal cities? Will this ongoing issue cause problems in the future for urban populations?