The Nelson Science Society

Welcome to the webpage of the Nelson Science Society (NSS) and its constituent, the Astronomy Section. The NSS is a branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand and exists to promote science within the Nelson/Tasman region - we do this by holding regular scientific talks from a variety of experts throughout the year and by promoting science education in schools and colleges.

The Astronomy section is run as an independent constituent of the NSS and maintains its own programme of events (see Astronomy Section pages for full details and newsletter). Please bookmark this website to see details of all upcoming events sponsored by the NSS and its Astronomy section (and other events of interest), and to see details of past activities etc.

Next events (please also refer to calendar of events page):

STOP THE PRESS!! Tuesday, April 22nd, 8.00pm. Nelson Science Society Inaugrial Pecha Kucha Night. Venue: Old St John’s Church, 320 Hardy St. Free entry (koha collection). Bar available from 7.30pm.You must book your free ticket at this link:

Note: You will need to print out your ticket and bring it along on the night.

You will see printed on your ticket: To avoid people missing out because of 'no shows' if you have not occupied your seat five minutes before the event your seat may be given to someone who is waiting.

Come and join Nelson's first quickfire Science presentation bonanza! If you have a Science topic and have been itching to bring it to the attention of the public, now is your chance! Each speaker is allowed 20 slides, and each slide must take only 20 seconds to present - so talks last only approximately 6 minutes. We will be aiming at hosting 12 of these mini-talks on as many different topics as there are aspects to science. Interested  in presenting? See our mailshot for details.

Monday, April 28th, 6pm. "The Evolution of Goodness" by Professor Lee Dugatkin, Professor of Biology, University of Louisville, USA. An Alan Wilson Center sponsored event. Venue: Old St John’s Church, 320 Hardy St. (NOTE 6pm start.)PLEASE NOTE: Tickets for this event (which are free) are being issued via the Alan Wilson Center website, so you are requested to log on and pre-book your tickets via this link:

Summary:  We humans display acts of kindness and generosity all the time. As it turns out, nonhumans are also good to another, sacrificing to help others of their kind.  But why?  Why do both humans and animals show such altruistic, self-sacrificial, behaviour? Scientists and philosophers have long pondered these questions.  This talk will bring us up to date on what we know and what we don’t know about the roots of goodness.
Biography: Lee Dugatkin is a Professor of Biology and a Distinguished University Scholar at the University of Louisville. Professor Dugatkin is one of the world’s leading experts on the subject of the evolution of behaviour.  In addition to publishing over 150 papers in journals like Nature and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Dugatkin has written many articles in more popular magazines such as Scientific American, The New Scientist, and Slate.

Thursday, May 1st, 7.30pm.Nelson Astronomy Section presents: The Canterbury Ringlaser Project: Astronomy from a Cave: Speaker – Clive Rowe. Venue: Cawthron Institute seminar room, near the corner of Halifax and Milton Streets. All welcome, non-NSS members $2.

 About 25 years ago, at Canterbury University, theoretical physicist, Professor Geoff Stedman became interested in a proposal by Hans Bilger (Oklahoma State University) to build a large ringlaser gyroscope which would measure the rotation and orientation of the earth with high precision. A prototype was built in the Rutherford Physics building, and subsequently transferred to a wartime cavern in the Port Hills.

   This successful, but primitive, design was taken up by a German geodesic group led by Ulli Schreiber, and a beautifully engineered machine was created by Zeiss using Schott zero expansion glass, leading to a 4 metre square precision ringlaser in a custom-built cave in Bavaria.  This instrument now measures small variations in the earth's rotation and tilt. It also detects lunar tides and earthquakes.

Tuesday, May 13, 7.30pm. “Nuclear Power – does it have a future?” A talk by Dr Keith Bradley. Room A211, NMIT, access off Alton St. All welcome, non-members $2.

After spending most of his working life in the nuclear power industry, Keith re-examines the assumptions on which he based his choice of industry in 1972 in the light of the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disasters. Is there a role for fission power in tomorrow’s world, and does it meet society’s requirements of economy, safety, security and sustainability?

Keith examines the rationale for nuclear power as a large scale source of base load electricity by examining its performance and comparing it to available alternatives in terms of these criteria.

Keith retired from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), in 2010, following over 35 years in the nuclear industry in roles ranging from process engineering to project and commercial management throughout Canada, Europe and Asia. His current interests include the role of science in public policy, particularly relating to energy and the environment and in the application of nuclear technologies outside the energy field.