RIP Sir Ed

Beekeeper. Mountaineer. Philanthropist. Arguably the greatest New Zealander in our nations history. Sadly Sir Edmund Hillary died this morning at age 88. Rest in peace.

Baby names

The Department of Internal Affairs has announced the top New Zealand baby names for 2007 – see how many little ones you know contributed to the count…

Boys:

1. Jack, 2. James, 3. Joshua, 4. Daniel, 5. William, 6. Oliver, 7. Samuel, 8. Benjamin, 9. Ethan, 10. Ryan, 11. Jacob, 12. Liam, 13. Thomas, 14. Lucas, 15. Luke, 16. Noah, 17. Riley, 18. Jayden, 19. Matthew, 20. Alexander, 21. Hunter, 22. Dylan, 23. Blake, 24. Max, 25. Caleb, 26. Lachlan, 27. Logan, 28. Connor, 29. Tyler, 30. Joseph.

Girls:

1. Ella, 2. Sophie, 3. Olivia, 4. Emma, 5. Charlotte, 6. Emily, 7. Lily, 8. Grace, 9. Hannah, 10. Isabella, 11. Jessica, 12. Ruby, 13. Amelia, 14. Lucy, 15. Madison, 16. Chloe, 17. Brooke, 18. Ava, 19. Mia, 20. Paige, 21. Zoe, 22. Holly, 23. Kate, 24. Caitlin, 25. Maia, 26. Georgia, 27. Samantha, 28. Sophia, 29. Sienna, 30. Jade.

According to this NZ Herald article, “three new names – Lucas, Hunter and Lachlan – entered the top 30 boys list, at the expense of Charlie, Nathan and George. And for the girls, Sophia, Sienna and Jade replaced Sarah, Jasmine and Hayley.”

New Zealand takes world title!

It’s true! Forget the yachting, cricket, rubgy and netball, NZ has finally scored a world title… for sending txt msgs! 😛

Elliot Nicholls, 17, broke the world record in Dunedin yesterday, not once but twice, texting a 160-character message blindfolded and finishing in 51 seconds on his second attempt and then 45 seconds on his fourth try.

…more via stuff (also WebCite)

Carbon Credits sold on TradeMe

The first public offering of certified Carbon Credits sold on TradeMe yesterday and today, a couple of parcels for households and one for a business. If this is pretty random stuff to you, I suspect you’re not alone – I’m still trying to grasp the ins and outs of it too…

Meridian Energy put the parcels of credits up for purchase, having come from their wind farm at Te Apiti, with the idea being that you can use the credits to offset your carbon dioxide emissions (calculate them at carboNZero).

So why buy carbon credits? For a business it might be good for marketing allowing a claim of “carbon neutral” (ie clean and green) to be made, whereas an individual would do so solely for ethical reasons. However, here’s where I would argue that you’re far better off making changes to your lifestyle or home/business that are more energy efficient or environmentally friendly first, rather that simply paying to offset bad practices. If and when you’ve got your emissions as low as practically possible (and I’m sure everyone can do more) then look at buying to offset the final amount if you must.

In this case the parcels of 20 credits (offsetting 20 tonnes of CO2) went for around $3,000 (view auctions here and here) and the parcel of 1000 credits went for a little over $19,000 (auction here). What happens next is up to the buyer – they can either retire the credits thus offsetting their emissions, or keep em and on sell them at a later date (presumably for a profit…)

Meridian claim they put the credits on TradeMe to get people talking about their carbon footprint and how to reduce it. Given this ramble, and combined auction page views of over 30,000, I guess they succeeded.

I am the “Person of the Year”…

…according to TIME magazine. Well, actually, since you are reading this then you are also the person of the year!

Why are we people of the year? Because we are part of an enormous community that is sharing knowledge and resources on a scale never before seen in history. And the how is the internet. Among the tools we use are popular Web 2.0 and social network sites like digg, YouTube, Wikipedia and of course blog sites – like the one you’re reading now.

From TIME.com,

…for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you.

So am I worthy of such a title? Maybe. Maybe not. I run a blog and have contributed content to several websites including YouTube. I regularly digg stories I think are worth a look (appearing on the right of this blog as “My Diggs”) which helps drive the social news website digg.com. Without ordinary people like me these sites, with their wealth of content, would cease to exist. So yes, I’ve contributed to and helped shape our digital world.

On the flipside though, I can’t help thinking it’s a bit of a cop-out for TIME to announce that every internet user is the Person of the Year. Or maybe it’s an elaborate publicity stunt (it got a mention here afterall) and this certainly isn’t the first time they’ve pulled something like this. In 1982 the title went to “The Computer”! For more info on the topic, where else to head but Wikipedia! There you’ll find all the Persons of the Year dating back to 1927, along with some history and controversy.

So, now that you’ve read this, continue surfing, blogging, linking, tagging, uploading, commenting and bookmarking. The internet exists because of you and I. Yay us!

A moment of silence for Pluto

In case you missed the science news in the last week, we now only have 8 planets in our Solar System with Pluto demoted to “dwarf planet” status, 76 years after it was discovered.

I must admit that while studying Astronomy at Uni I was never 100% convinced that Pluto should be called a planet. It is afterall tiny, in a binary orbit with its moon Charon (the centre of gravity of the pair is located between them), and its orbit is higly tilted from that of the remainder of the planets and crosses inside Neptune’s.

The decision was made by scientists meeting recently in Prague who agreed that a planet (put simply):

  1. orbits the Sun
  2. is big enough to be nearly round
  3. has “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit”

Point 3 is a little strange since other planets don’t pass this test – including Earth, which orbits the sun with many near earth asteroids (ie our neighbourhood is NOT clear).

That aside, the result is that we now have 8 planets, and currently 3 dwarf planets – Ceres, Pluto and “2003 UB313” (how’s that for a stupid name!) Ceres orbits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Pluto’s binary companion Charon is NOT a dwarf planet as it’s classifed as a “satellite” (or moon), and lastly “2003 UB313” orbits beyond Pluto.

While I tend to agree with the decision from a technical point of view, it has divided the scientific community. Many disagree with the change and reckon things should have been left alone, and to complicate matters only 424 of the 2500+ attending voted on the issue.

One group happy with the decision might be the publishers of school and uni text books – just a few are now out of date and in need of reprinting!

For more, see the following Wikipedia entries,