Home' Greymouth Star : January 6th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, January 6, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1540 - England’s King Henry VIII weds
fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. The marriage lasts
1838 - Samuel Morse first publicly
demonstrates his telegraph, in Morristown,
1852 - Louis Braille, French inventor of a
system to enable blind people to read, dies.
1919 - Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US
president (1901-1909), dies. An expansionist
politician, he acquired the Panama Canal Zone
(1903). He also made an unsuccessful run for
president in 1912.
1941 - US President Franklin D
Roosevelt defines American goal
of “Four Freedoms” — freedom of
speech, freedom of worship, freedom
from want and freedom from fear.
1942 - The Pan American Airways
Pacific Clipper arrives in New
York after making the first round-
the-world trip by a commercial
1963 - Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
launches his “white revolution,” including
redistributing land to peasants and giving
women the vote.
1981 - Scottish author A J Cronin, author of
The Keys Of The Kingdom and other best-
selling novels, dies. He was also the creator
of the British television series Dr Finlay ’s
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Joan of Arc, French leader and saint (1412-
1431); Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, French
balloonist (1745-1799); Max Bruch, German
composer (1838-1920); Kahlil Gibran,
Lebanese-American philosopher (1883-1931);
E L Doctorow, US author (1931-); Harry
M Miller, Australian entrepreneur
(1934-); Murray Rose, Australian
Olympic champion swimmer (1939-
2012); Bonnie Franklin, US actress
(1944-); Anthony Minghella, British
film director (1954-2008); Rowan
Atkinson, British actor-comedian
“There may be Peace without Joy, and Joy
without Peace, but the two combined make
Happiness.” — John Buchan, 1st Baron
Tweedsmuir, Scottish author (1875-1940)
“Consider how I love your precepts; preser ve
my life according to your steadfast love.”
— Psalm 119:159
Winner of the
£100 gold nuggets
at Hokitika on
Saturday, Mr Fred
Cropp will find his prize handy for a proposed
overseas motor tour. With four other men he
is planning a trip by minibus from Singapore
to England. The tour is expected to take nine
Three of the men come from Christchurch
and the other from Invercargill. The trip had
been in the offing for a long, long while, Mr
Cropp said. He said he had always been keen
on travelling and had toured Australia with
a New Zealand Railways bowling team in
1956. The coming trip had been advertised in a
newspaper and there had been quite a number
Their opinion may not be shared by shop
assistants, but many Greymouth housewives
today looked for ward to re-provisioning of
larders after the last long holiday till Easter.
Shelves, refrigerators and bread bins have
grown progressively emptier as the four-day
New Zealand holiday advanced. For many the
food position was worsened by the usual crop
of festive season visitors “dropping in” for the
Today the business heart of Greymouth came
back to life. There was a touch of post-holiday
or Monday morning depression about it for
some but at least housewives were thankful.
Twelve girls have entered for the Miss West
Coast 1965 contest, to be staged here on
Tuesday, January 19. Whether it is the lure of a
chance to compete among the Dominion’s best
in the Miss New Zealand contest or not, the
fact remains that this year ’s contest is likely to
be the biggest ever staged here.
uFood for thought
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A high-tech version of the reputedly
life-saving punch to a shark’s nose is
being tested in an effort to protect
humans without harming the toothy
predators or other sea creatures.
In the blue waters of a small bay in
Cape Town, a revolutionary experiment
with an electronic barrier seeks to exploit
the super-sensitivity of a shark’s snout to
keep swimmers and surfers safe.
The technology has been developed by
South African experts who invented the
electronic shark pod for use by surfers
and divers — now marketed by an
Australian company — and could be
applied globally if successful.
The pod and years of research have
shown that sharks will turn away when
they encounter an electrical current —
and that has prompted this experiment
on a much larger scale.
A 100m cable with vertical risers
designed to emit a low-frequency
electronic field is in the process of
being fixed to the seabed off Glencairn
beach, and will remain there for five
“If successful, it will provide the basis to
develop a barrier system that can protect
bathers without killing or harming sharks
or any other marine animals,” says the
KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, which
developed the shark pod.
As for humans, “if someone touched
the small part of an electrode that is
exposed, they might experience a tingling
sensation” but would suffer no harmful
The barrier would mark a major
shift away from the shark nets used in
KwaZulu-Natal on South Africa’s east
coast for the past 50 years, which also kill
other animals and have been criticised as
Research has shown that sharks have
a gel in their noses which makes them
more sensitive to electrical currents than
other species, and thus ordinary fish and
sea life such as seals and dolphins should
not be affected by the barrier.
“ We are doing our damndest to do
something environmentally friendly,”
sharks board project specialist Paul von
But the challenges are huge.
“It is easier to design things to put in
space,” said Claude Ramasami, project
manager at the Institute for Maritime
Technology, which is helping the sharks
board put its plans into practice.
This is because of the relentless power
of the sea, shifts in the seabed, undersea
structures and marine life — and simply
using electricity in water.
One reason that Glencairn in the Cape
was chosen as the site for the experiment
is that it is relatively protected compared
to the often pounding surf on the tourist
beaches of KwaZulu-Natal, where
Durban is the provincial capital.
The clear waters will also enable fixed
cameras and shark spotters on nearby
cliffs to monitor the movements of the
predators within the bay and see whether
the barrier turns them away from their
usual cruising routes.
There should be no shortage of action:
in a 25-day observation period, 53 sharks
were seen off the beach.
In 1989, a year of double denim, flat tops
and the Beastie Boys, 2015 seemed like a
very long time away indeed. So far away
that it was the setting for Back
to the Future II, the second in the hugely
popular film trilogy directed by Robert
Fans watched Doc Brown (Christopher
Lloyd), Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) and
his girlfriend Jennifer Parker (Elizabeth
Shue) take off for the future at the end of
the original film — and, in the sequel,
they touch down 30 years later in 2015.
From food to fashion, technology and
transport, Marty is bowled over by what
he finds there.
So, as the New Year dawns, and we
find ourselves in the very year Zemeckis
envisioned — just how much did Back to
the Future get right?
And what was too far-fetched even for
1. Wearable technology. Spot something
familiar? Is that not Google Glass Marty
is wearing at the breakfast table? The
high-tech specs he sports could pass for
early versions of the computerised eye-
wear — though his could also be used to
answer the phone.
2. Video calls. With Facetime and Skype
now staples, the video call has evolved
from a business medium to an essential
of everyday life. Though we tend to prefer
our screens just a tad smaller.
3. Microwave meals. The dehydrated
pizza could be the predecessor of
microwave meals — in the film, after 12
seconds on the “hydrator plate”, it grew to
a meal-sized dish.
1. Flying cars. We’re not quite at the
stage of seeing cars zip through the air -
though a DeLorean could do wonders for
the rush-hour commute.
2. Hoverboards. Probably a good thing
these have not been invented for the mass
market yet — though some clever bod
has come up with a prototype — the
baggy jeans and Converse look is just so
3. Power clothing. Now this is one
thing we wish 2015 had brought: jackets
that dry themselves and shoes that lace
themselves up. Look, no hands!
4. Fax machines. The film went a little
too heavy on its predictions for fax
machines, which it imagined would be
everywhere in 2015. Fortunately, they’re
There is one key invention Back to the
Future II missed out: smartphones and
tablets, undeniably the most important
technological breakthrough of the last
decade. Apple did not even get a look-in.
Might have come in handy when Marty
and the Doc wanted to escape the future
and head back to 1985.
How did Back to the Future influence technology?
Hoverboards — a miss.
Shark shock experiment to protect swimmers
When it comes to second-guessing the weather, everyone has an opinion. Niwa
meteorologist CHRIS BRANDOLINO has heard most of them. Here he explains the
magic, mystery — and science — of weather forecasting.
Weathering the forecast
ometimes it seems like weather
forecasters get it all wrong. Just
how accurate is your average
Typically a weather forecast
is more accurate the closer are
to the point in time of the forecast. What
I mean by that is that the further you
look into the future, the less accurate the
forecast. We can be confident one, two or
three days out. Up to a week and there’s
The reason for that is because
precipitation, especially convection or
rain that is driven by heat or rapidly
rising air. To forecast that you need
really high resolution weather models
to simulate that in the atmosphere. If
you can’t do that, you can’t get the best
So what do you mean by a weather
A weather model is a simulation or
projection of the state of the atmosphere
over a period of time. It is based,
like all scientific models, on a set of
obser vations, data and calculations.
Weather models include observations
from weather balloons, ground stations
and satellites that are combined with
equations that represent the rules of the
atmosphere. When all that is combined
into something as high-powered as the
Niwa supercomputer, we have an ability
to trust its predictions about similar
situations and therefore make our
Is the supercomputer the first place you
look when you start to prepare a weather
The first thing I want to know when
preparing a forecast is what ’s happening
right now. Understanding “the now ”
through observational data and
comparing it to our computer modelling
is crucial. If the two are fairly similar
then I can feel pretty confident that my
forecast for tomorrow or the next day
might be right.
The least challenging part of the
forecast is temperature projections and
the most challenging precipitation.
Precipitation — or rainfall, sleet, hail
etc — is driven by rising air and you need
really high resolution models to simulate
that in the atmosphere. If you can’t do
that, you can’t get the best results.
Also small differences have a big
impact. I always say it ’s like a dripping
tap. When you see it dripping, the drops
don’t look like much but over time they
add up to litres and litres of water. If you
don’t get “the now ” right, it can make a
huge difference in a fairly short space of
Are there any other challenges?
There are a couple — the Earth is 70%
water so collecting data is challenging
which is where satellites help to bridge
the gap. Having the ability to crunch
the data at a high resolution is also
But there’s also the issue of scientists
who like to deal in probabilities versus
most people who just want to know if
it will rain. A scientist is more likely
to ask: “What is the probability of the
temperature going higher or lower than
11degC?” Someone else will just say: “Is
it going to be hot today?”
What are the differences between
forecasting the weather for a small
geographic area compared to the whole of
In smaller areas people expect finer
detail and you have to know how the
landscape affects places; there are
microclimates across the country which
makes a more general forecast more
It really depends on where you are. In
Canterbury for instance, the Southern
Alps are a key influence on climate,
in Wellington it ’s Cook Strait. But
generally because New Zealand is
an island nation the ocean tends to
temper the really extreme weather other
countries experience — don’t get me
wrong, we’re not immune to it but it ’s not
generally as bad.
What ’s the most common question you
get about the weather and how do you
Sometimes I get asked how come I
have a job where it’s okay to be half right
all the time but mostly I get asked if
it ’s going to rain. I say check out Niwa
weather — www.niwaweather.co.nz —
that ’ ll tell you.
Is a red sky at night really a shepherd’s
Sometimes. Let ’s just say there’s some
truth to it but I wouldn’t bet the farm on
it. Check out Niwa weather instead!
Forecaster Chris Brandolino gives some pointers to the weather.
Clearing up the puzzle of accurate predictions
Just what did Back to the Future get right about 2015?
More than you think
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