Events are held on the last Wednesday of the month, March - October

The Horse and Trap
3 Enfield Street
Mount Eden, Auckland
Phone: 09 630 3055
Arrive 6pm for 6:30pm start until ~8pm

The Auckland Museum Institute presents

Cafe Scientifique - Auckland

Auckland Museum Institute Whaowhia 2012




Visit our CafeScientifiqueNZ channel on YouTube to view archived videos of Cafe Scientifique events from 2011 and earlier.

Jessica Costa
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Website Auckland Museum Institute - Cafe Scientifique
Twitter @CS_NZ
Facebook Cafe Scientifique Auckland


Remember: our events are always the last Wednesday of the month, March - October!

September 24, 2014
Mathematics and Biology - are they really such strange companions?

Prof James Sneyd
Dept of Mathematics
U of Auckland
James Sneyd is used to getting confused looks from people – all he has to do is tell them he does “Mathematical Biology”.  Aren’t those completely opposite areas?  Well, James says, this might be a popular view, but it’s simply not true. For well over 300 years mathematicians have been deeply interested in biological questions (in musical questions too, another interest of James’), and some of the greatest scientific minds of the past centuries have worked right in that fuzzy area that sits squarely between Math, Physics and Biology. The modern word is “interdisciplinary”, and that is the space where James works. It’s not Math, it’s not Biology, it’s Math Biology, and it’s the wave of the future.
James Sneyd is Professor in Applied Maths at the University of Auckland.


Recent speakers   

Remember: our events are always the last Wednesday of the month, March - October!

August 27, 2014
Statistics in the media:

Prof Thomas Lumley
Dept of Biostatistics
U of Auckland

Journalists are trained to be suspicious and questioning when people try to feed them stories. They typically aren't trained on statistics, which makes dodgy numbers a good strategy for getting stuff into print.  The main issues that we target in StatsChat are bogus polls, failure to divide one number by another, and lack of context, and I will give some examples. Things do seem to be improving, at least in the 'news' parts of the newspapers.

Thomas Lumley is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland, and a major contributor to the StatsChat blog.  He works on genetics, semiparametric statistics, statistical computing, and the statistical problems encountered by his co-workers in heart disease epidemiology.

July 30, 2014
Get off the Grass: Kickstarting NZ's Innovation Economy

Prof Shaun Hendy
Dept of Physics, U of Auckland
Director, Te Punaha Matatini
New Zealanders work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world.  In their book “Get off the Grass”, Shaun Hendy and the late Sir Paul Callaghan argued that if New Zealand is to grow its economy more rapidly it must build nationwide communities of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses. It must “get off the grass” and diversify its economy beyond the primary sector.  But can New Zealand really learn to innovate like a city of four million people? Can we learn to live off knowledge rather than nature?  Join Shaun Hendy to hear how we can do just that.

Professor Shaun Hendy FRSNZ is Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini, a Centre of Research Excellence that studies complex systems, and a physicist at the University of Auckland.  In 2013 he was awarded the Royal Society’s Callaghan Medal and the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize for his contributions to communicating science.

June 25, 2014 
Ocean Acidification: Threats and Challenges

Dr Todd Capson
Science and Policy Advisor to the Global Oceans Health Program, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

Just when you thought the climate change threat couldn’t get any bigger…it turns out that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means more carbon dioxide dissolved in the world’s oceans – which makes the seawater more acidic.  That’s a very bad thing if you’re a marine organism that can’t tolerate a change in acidity, or a nation like New Zealand that draws significant economic and cultural value from a healthy sea.  When the problem is this big, what can anyone do?

Join Dr Todd Capson, chemist, biochemist and Science and Policy Advisor to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, to hear how bilateral collaboration between the United States and New Zealand is powering efforts to address acidification in the Pacific and Southern oceans.

April 30, 2014
DNA sequencing: Everything you want to know about yourself, but were afraid to ask

A/Prof Cristin Print, University of Auckland
What do you have in your genes? Would knowing your DNA sequence help you, or could it open a nasty can of worms? Is your DNA yours to sequence anyway, or does it also belong to your parents and children? The first human genome sequenced cost US$ 3 billion and took 13 years. By the end of this year scientists may be able to sequence your genome for as little as US$ 2,000 in 2-3 days. Join medical genomic researcher, Cristin Print to see what a genome sequence really looks like. Discuss the excitement of this world-changing technology and also the ethical considerations and risks.

March 26, 2014
Big News About The Big Bang
Richard Easther, University of Auckland

Cosmology was front page news all over the world this month -- "Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang's Smoking Gun" said the New York Times (Front page, above the fold). Come and ask Prof. Richard Easther, a theoretical cosmologist at the U of Auckland, what this means, what happens now, and what we are doing about it in New Zealand.

October 30, 2013
The empowered energy consumer of the future – choice or confusion?
Nirmal Nair, Energy Theme Leader, Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland

The traditional roles of energy producer and energy consumer are beginning to change worldwide.  “Smart Grid” technology, together with affordable energy generation and storage options, presents consumers with new opportunities to break their dependence on energy producers and distributors – but only if they can master the nuances of generation, storage, home energy management, electric vehicle charging, grid friendly device control, and so on.  Just what does the future look like for a choice empowered consumer?

Dr. Nirmal Nair, a power systems engineer by training, leads the Energy research theme at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering and directs the Power Systems Group which contributes to research, advice and advocacy on New Zealand’s power systems and energy sustainability. His research interests include blackouts, electricity markets, smart grids, renewable energy integration and energy policy.


September 25, 2013
Noses, Buses and a Sailor's Foot – new ways to engage with Museum and Art Gallery collections
Simon Gould, curator
Staying relevant is no simple matter for museums, collections and galleries these days. Even a knockout collection displayed and interpreted with traditional methods doesn’t seem to cut it any more. But if the exhibition is filled with touchscreens and Twitter channels, it’s easy to ignore the objects themselves!  Just what sort of experience do we want to have when we visit a Museum, anyway?  Curator Simon Gould explores some exciting possibilities to make the objects, ideas and people that surround every collection more dynamic, participatory and relevant to new as well as existing audiences - just so long as the audience is willing to put a little work in...
Simon Gould has won several awards for his work at University College London, where he was Contemporary Projects Curator for UCL’s Museums and Collections between 2008-2011.  A natural fan of all things interdisciplinary, Simon helped to pioneer exciting new ways for the museums to reinterpret their collections, engage different audiences and generally to work in new and genuinely innovative ways.

August 28, 2013
Championing the Hauraki Gulf
Tim Higham
, Manager, Hauraki Gulf Forum 

The productive waters and islands network of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park are surrounded by a catchment of 1 million people, creating conservation success stories and challenges for resource managers. Join Hauraki Gulf Forum manager Tim Higham to discuss the significance of the Hauraki Gulf and the need for better, more integrated management. Can we protect the ecological diversity of the gulf when it also holds NZ’s largest commercial port? Will restrictions on recreational activities and limits in the gulf prioritize economic interests over every day people? What kind of balance can we hope to achieve?


July 31, 2013

New Zealand at the Large Hadron Collider: What have we learned and where are we going?

The University of Auckland
Department of Physics

New Zealand is an active participant in the research at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, on the  world’s largest particle and nuclear physics experiments.   In 2010 the Large Hadron Collider began  its main physics programme of smashing together protons in search of new particles and forces in the universe. What do we know now about our universe that we did not know in the pre-LHC era?  What questions remain unanswered, and can we ever hope to answer them?   We will discuss Hadrons-to-Higgs particles, and Z bosons-to-Zeptospace.   The LHC is currently  in  Long Shutdown #1 until January 2015 for upgrades and maintenance of both the accelerator and the huge particle detectors. 


June 26, 2013

Waiter! There's nanotechnology in my soup!
with Dr Michelle Dickinson, Senior Lecturer
University of Auckland
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Nanotechnology seems to be sneaking into everything around us.  We’re told it’s going to make the world a better place, but how much do we know about the use of nanotechnology in our day to day lives - should we be worried about the use of nanotechnology in our food, for instance?  Michelle will uncover some of the mystery behind this new science called nanotechnology, and how much of what sounds like science fiction may already be science fact.

Michelle Dickinson is a nanotechnologist who has recently moved from a consulting position in industry to the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Auckland.  Her work involves the use of nanotechnology in medical and technology research.   Michelle is also a science advisor for TV3 and a contributor to Green Ideas Magazine.  Her passion is to encourage environmentally sustainable living through engineering design – when she is not in her research lab you can catch her cycling around the city, or tending to her permaculture garden.


May 29, 2013
Expert Session: The Ascent of Everest 1953
Join Sarah Hillary and Peter Cammell in this expert session as they recognise and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ascent of Everest by the 1953 British Team, and the lasting legacy left in Nepal by Sir Edmund Hillary.

Sarah Hillary, Principal Conservator at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki will share a personal perspective on her parents trip to Nepal in 1961.


April 24, 2013
When the going gets tough, should the tough get creative?!
Dr. Siouxsie Wiles
from UoA and Infectious Thoughts on SciBlogs
While the current NZ government have certainly been increased spending on scientific research, success rates here are still in the single digits for healthcare research. When funding gets this tight, the decision makers tend to back their winning horses – established scientists with large groups. These are the ‘silverbacks’ of the science world as they like to be known. So what should younger scientists do in times like this? Should they give up on their careers or try new ways of fund their research? Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles explains why she thinks scientists should get creative!


March 27, 2013
Fat chance for a healthy weight: rethinking what it takes to stay in shape

Prof. Grant Schofield from AUT's Human Potential Centre
Despite understanding the causes and effects of being overweight, rates of obesity remain high and are higher than ever in children and young people. Isn’t it just as easy as eating better and increasing exercise? Why doesn’t what the experts say about healthy eating inspire us to change our habits? Is it possible that most of what we are telling people about health eating and weight loss is in fact harmful?  Let's walkabout what the science says and what that means for staying in good shape.