An Auckland ecologist has been inspired by his young son to develop a just-launched webcast series unraveling the mysteries of science.

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) today launched its online Sci21 talks, which put the spotlight on life-changing science developments of the 21st century.

The brainchild of Professor Steve Pointing, the Sci21 webcast has a Southern Hemisphere focus and brings together distinguished scientists from across the region to share their views on revolutionary science.

"Popular science material on the web is overwhelmingly American and European, and based on American and European issues," Dr Pointing said.


"We face unique challenges in this part of the world, and southern hemisphere scientists bring a different perspective to international scientific issues."

The short talks tackle serious science questions in a light-hearted, entertaining style, and were for anyone curious about how science will impact their life in the future.

Dr Pointing, who contributed to the Herald's World Class Auckland series which wraps up today, said he had been inspired to develop the new series by his son Alvin.

"As a father, with a 10 year old son doing science projects, I found there was a complete lack of material for people who aren't scientists," he said.

"I wanted to create something without the jargon and that looked to the future, to give people of all ages a more visionary take on science and to make learning about science fun."

The webcast built on the success of Dr Pointing's light-hearted video, The Science of Christmas, which was released last December and drew praise from adults and children around the world.

Sci21's first video, released today, looks at astrobiology, with Dr Pointing giving a glimpse into the emerging discipline of astrobiology, and addresses the thought-provoking question of whether life exists on other planets.

It will soon be followed by videos from Weekend Herald columnist Dr Michelle Dickinson, also known as nanogirl, on nanotechnology, AUT Associate Professor Duncan Babbage on eHealth, and a wave of international speakers on topics ranging from beating antibiotic resistance to the potential of photonic laser and sensor technology.

"Sci21 isn't a bunch of dry scientists talking about what they have done, but a collection of experts conveying their vision for science and how it's shaping our lives," Dr Pointing said.