Sci­ence keeps on tick­ing

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

How­ever, tak­ing re­dun­dancy seemed the lesser of two evils, a move they’d seen com­ing in re­cent years at Niwa. As McKen­zie rue­fully points out, the ‘a’ in Niwa – the Na­tional In­sti­tute of At­mo­spheric Re­search – had be­come smaller, as at­mo­spheric re­search fund­ing dwin­dled. Both near­ing re­tire­ment, they put up their hands for re­dun­dancy, not just to pro­tect them­selves, but for the sake of the sta­tion and on­go­ing re­search, oth­er­wise ‘‘young tal­ented peo­ple would lose their jobs’’. Not that this noble at­ti­tude has made the un­ease they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced since July, when Niwa an­nounced it would axe sci­en­tific jobs at Lauder, any eas­ier. What helped coat a bit­ter pill was the in­ter­na­tional out­cry this caused at the loss of mea­sure­ments of chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bons, ul­tra­vi­o­let light and green­houses gasses, and their key role in as­sess­ing the ozone layer’s health. The sup­port from the global sci­en­tific com­mu­nity had

Alexan­dra Sci­en­tists Paul John­ston, left, and Richard McKen­zie check out a Skycam, record­ing sun­shine and ra­di­a­tion. been over­whelm­ing, McKen­zie said. ‘‘We were sur­prised, grat­i­fied, even hum­bled.’’ John­ston strongly be­lieved the threat of scal­ing-down re­search could un­der­mine New Zealand’s sci­en­tific rep­u­ta­tion. ‘‘It will be a black mark that will be re­mem­bered for a while.’’ Hav­ing given 78 years be­tween them to at­mo­spheric re­search, they will con­tinue to give a few days each week in their ‘‘re­tire­ment’’. McKen­zie said he would have more time for in­ter­ests and to play golf. But for John­ston sci­ence is not just his job, it’s his hobby and pas­sion. It would leave a hole in their lives larger than the one they found in the ozone layer over Antarc­tica, not to be on­sta­tion or to keep in con­tact with their young col­leagues, for guid­ance and con­sul­ta­tion. In the mean­time, they will con­tinue data anal­y­sis on a study that looks at the re­la­tion­ship be­tween UV and vi­ta­min D, the ‘‘sun­shine vi­ta­min’’, in blood serum, for the med­i­cal com­mu­nity.

Look­ing up:

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.