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Pirate radio

1960s radio

New Zealand had no private radio stations in the early 1960s. The government monopoly was broken by a “pirate” radio station, Radio Hauraki, which broadcast from an old boat anchored in international waters in the Hauraki Gulf.

Waiting for Godots

Robin and Steve

Samuel Beckett’s famous play Waiting for Godot attracts famous actors who want to do something interesting on stage, and this has led to some powerful pairings. Mel Gibson and Geoffrey Rush. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Nathan Lane and John Goodman. But perhaps the most star-studded cast happened in 1988.

Insect gears

Insect gears

Hopping insects have to coordinate their legs carefully. If they push off with one leg before the other they may literally spiral out of control. So how does the issus coleoptratus planthopper nymph avoid this? With gears.

Batman angle

Dutch Angle

Whenever a villain appeared on the old Batman TV series, the scene was not level, but was shot on an angle, as if the viewer’s head is tilted to the side. The term for this is a “Dutch angle” – and it has nothing to do with the Dutch.

The monks’ elixir


According to tradition (in other words, this is probably not true, but it’s a fun story), a military marshal in the court of Henry IV of France presented some Carthusian monks with an alchemical manuscript for an elixir of long life. You can still buy the resulting concoction today.

The asteroid that might hit Earth

1950DA asteriod

1950DA is an asteroid that was discovered in 1950. Our best predictions of its future orbital path suggest that it has a small chance of colliding with the Earth. Because of its size such a collision would be devastating, but don’t worry, it’s unlikely to happen until March 16, 2880.