Fascination Science

A free lecture series

Come and hear from some of the leading minds in science today. Massey University Auckland scientists take you into the fascinating world of scientific discoveries.


All lectures start at 7pm followed by drinks and nibbles.

Professor Gaven Martin with illustration on screen

Mandelbrot and fractals: the geometry of chaos

Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin

30 May 2017

Fractals and fractal structures are ubiquitous in nature where small scale symmetries are repeated at ever larger scales or large scale symmetries repeated at ever finer detail. We can see this in snowflakes and in the Mandelbrot set.

The remarkable fractal Lorenz Butterfly (the butterfly effect) arising from simple models of weather predictions shows fractal structures naturally arising in chaotic systems. 

The mathematical concept is difficult to define formally even for mathematicians, but key features can be understood with little mathematical background. We will discuss these, along with the notion of fractional dimensions (a measure of the scaling properties of an object) and emergent structures in dynamical systems.

Image of brain with lasers behind

Can we teach lasers how to perform brain-inspired information processing?

Professor Ingo Fischer (Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems, Palma, Spain)

14 June 2017

We are witnessing a revolution in computing. For decades electronic computers, have dominated advances in computing. Nevertheless, for certain tasks, including speech, image and pattern recognition, we humans still easily outperform computers. Moreover, physical limitations in transistor size and the power consumption of electronic computers call for alternative concepts and hardware.
Among these new concepts, brain-inspired information processing is gaining more and more attention because it is offering fascinating new opportunities. What if we could create learning-based brain-inspired information processing concepts by using light? With a minimal design approach and components that are usually the backbone of our global communication networks (such as a simple semiconductor laser and some optical fibre), powerful computing can be achieved.

Kermadec Islands underwater looking up at shark

New marine discoveries at the Kermadec Islands

Dr Libby Liggins (Massey University) and Dr.Tom Trnski (Auckland Museum)

27 June 2017

Small, remote islands such as New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands have long been revered as natural laboratories­. Here we can examine the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity.

Typically, the biodiversity of the marine environments surrounding islands is less-studied. However, our recent expeditions to these Islands have exponentially increased our knowledge of the marine biodiversity. This highlights the scientific and conservation importance of this region.
Dr Liggins and Dr Trnski have dived and explored the Kermadec islands and will share some, until now, secrets of the intriguing marine biodiversity from this special place. They will talk about their expeditions and highlight recent discoveries.

Previous lectures

Gravitational waves: Listening in to the sounds of the universe. Professor Joachim Brand

This lecture examined how the detection of gravitational waves resembles listening more than seeing and how the merging of two black holes was 'heard', a discovery that most likely could never have been made with conventional telescopes.

Joachim also looked at the amazing technology of laser interferometry that made this detection possible, and the development of quantum technologies that will make future detectors even more sensitive.


Antibiotics save countless lives every year, but like an ageing title-fighter, their punch weakens over time. A Massey University evolutionary biologist will speak to an Auckland audience about what we might do when the antibiotic-era comes to an end and who the next contender will be.

Returning from talks at BBC Future’s World Changing Ideas Summit in Australia and TedX Tauranga, Dr Heather Hendrickson, will share the wonders of scientific discovery in the third of a free lecture series held at the Massey University’s Albany campus.

Nanoparticles photo

The holy grail: new porous materials with beautiful structures and unparalleled functions

Porous materials have fascinated humankind since the Greeks discovered zeolites: stones that could give off water.  Of late, a new class of porous crystals has been discovered.  Known as metal-organic frameworks, they have beautiful architectures that can be tuned at the molecular dimension.

The structures and applications of these materials is only limited by the imagination.  Can they be used to sequester CO2 directly from air?  Is the targeted delivery of bioactive payloads in the human body possible?

Like to attend?

These events are free, but please rsvp so we know numbers that will attend. All lectures are in the Sir Neil Waters Lecture Theatre, Massey Auckland campus.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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About the speakers

Ingo Fischer


Gaven Martin

Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin

Tom Trnski


DR Libby Liggins

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Sir Neil Waters Lecture Theatre
Massey University Auckland

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