News and Events

Pushing the limits of chemistry with iridium

Posted:October 22, 2014

Canadian scientists working with the element iridium in Gary Schrobilgen's lab at McMaster university set a new record for the highest formal oxidation state in the periodic table of the elements. Oxidation state describes the number of electrons an atom loses or gains when it joins with other atoms in chemical compounds; the higher the oxidation state, the more electrons, critical in many applications, especially batteries. Previously the highest number was 8. Working with Chinese and German colleagues, the scientists created a gaseous form of iridium tetroxide reaching an oxidation state of 9. More at the Science Media Centre...


Take two parasites and call me in the morning

Posted:July 26, 2014

Two recent papers suggest that some parasites may be good for us. UBC botanist Laura Wegener-Parfrey and Julius Lukeš of the Canadian Centre for Advanced Research question our traditional perception of intestinal parasites. The papers offer a systematic review of cases where humans have deliberately ingested parasites for research and suggest that certain parasites could have beneficial effects on conditions such as Crohn's disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. More at Science Media Centre of Canada.


Unlocking the secrets of amber’s toughness

Posted:July 12, 2014

Amber is fossilized tree sap, an organic polymer that lasts millions of years, far longer than any plastic. A new analysis technique delveloped by scientists at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa explains how amber achieves its strength and durability, and could help humans mimic it in their own materials.  Scientists have been able to isolate the building blocks – including communol, ozol and succinic acid. Now we are beginning to understand how exactly how they fit together. More at the Science Media Centre of Canada.


How salmon evolve to beat the heat

Posted:July 8, 2014

Researchers have discovered a link between egg size of chinook salmon and their ability to deal with warmer temperatures. The team captured spawning salmon and measured examined the genetic and maternal effects acting on the ability of offspring to tolerate heat; they found that mothers with larger eggs have more thermally tolerant offspring. As egg […]


A breakthrough for organic reactions in water

Posted:June 26, 2014

Green-chemistry researchers at McGill University have discovered a way to use water as a solvent in one of the reactions most widely used to synthesize chemical products and pharmaceuticals.

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New horned dinosaur reveals unique wing-shaped headgear

Posted:June 18, 2014

Scientists have named a new species of horned dinosaur (ceratopsian) based on fossils collected from Montana in the United States and Alberta, Canada. Mercuriceratops (mer-cure-E-sare-ah-tops) gemini was approximately 6 meters (20 feet) long and weighed more than 2 tons. It lived about 77 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period. Research describing the new species is published online in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

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International team maps nearly 200,000 global glaciers in quest for sea rise answers

Posted:May 11, 2014

An international team led by glaciologists from the University of Colorado Boulder and Trent University in Ontario, Canada has completed the first mapping of virtually all of the world's glaciers -- including their locations and sizes -- allowing for calculations of their volumes and ongoing contributions to global sea rise as the world warms.

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Ancient Virus DNA behind Stem Cell Power

Posted:March 31, 2014

A virus that invaded the genomes of humanity's ancestors millions of years ago now plays a critical role in the embryonic stem cells from which all cells in the human body derive, Canadian research shows. Computational biologist Guillaume Bourque at McGill University in Montreal, co-authored the study published online March 30 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. Read more about this at National Geographic.


New fossil field discovered in British Columbia Rocky Mountains

Posted:February 11, 2014

Expected to rival the Burgess Shale, a new fossil bed in the Kootenays should shed more light on the great Cambian explosion of diversity of living creatures that happened about 550 million years ago. Many fosilized creatures found at the new site have never been seen before. The team leader Jean-Bernard Caron is a paleontologist with the Royal Ontario Museum. Read more...


Quality control of mitochondria as a defense against disease

Posted:January 21, 2014

Scientists from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital in Canada have discovered that two genes linked to hereditary Parkinson's disease are involved in the early-stage quality control of mitochondria. The protective mechanism, which is reported in The EMBO Journal, removes damaged proteins that arise from oxidative stress from mitochondria.


Stats Canada study verifies difference in male/female interest in science

Posted:December 18, 2013

A study released today demonstrates how Canadian women prefer to choose non-science and non-mathematics related university courses even if they have a propensity for math in high-school. The study was based on the 2011 National Household Survey as well as a long-term Youth in Transition study that followed students from 2000 - 2010. Even if women have high mathematics aptitute they are twice as likely to choose to study the social sciences rather than engineering and computer science. Read the full study at the Statistics Canada Website. The data supports the findings of Canadian neuroscientist Doreen Kimura who has studied sex differences in human brains all her life.


Twitter not a good indicator of scientific impact

Posted:December 9, 2013

Trends related to the most-tweeted peer-reviewed scientific papers published between 2010 and 2012, and their social media success, have been identified by Stefanie Haustein at the University of Montreal's School of Library and Information Science. Based on 1.4 million documents from PubMed and Web of Science, it is the largest Twitter study of scholarly articles so far. Consider that a paper about an altered gene during radiation exposure was tweeted 963 times but only received 9 academic citations. "When we look at the most tweeted articles, many have a surprising or humourous character. Articles are often tweeted anecdotally," says her supervisor Vincent Larivière.

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Improved colon cancer treatment by targeting cancer stem cells

Posted:December 4, 2013

Scientists and surgeons at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto have discovered a promising new approach to treating colorectal cancer by disarming the gene that drives self-renewal in stem cells that are the root cause of disease, resistance to treatment and relapse. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world.

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Quantum memory advance

Posted:November 15, 2013

An international team of scientists led by physicist Mike Thewalt of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada have created stable "Qubits" of information encoded in a room temperature silicon system lasting 100 times longer than ever before. Such memory systems are essential for future quantum computers. More from the BBC.


Fecal transplant pill knocks out recurrent C. diff infection, study shows

Posted:October 4, 2013

Swallowing pills containing a concentrate of fecal bacteria successfully stops recurrent bouts of debilitating Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection by rebalancing the bacteria in the gut, according to Dr. Tom Louie at the University of Calgary.


University of Calgary researchers enhance quantum-based secure communication

Posted:September 21, 2013

University of Calgary scientists have overcome an "Achilles' heel" of quantum-based secure communication systems by using a new approach that works in the real world to safeguard secrets.

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What scientists can see in your pee

Posted:September 6, 2013

Researchers at the University of Alberta announced today that they have determined the chemical composition of human urine. The study, headed by David Wishart took more than seven years and involved a team of nearly 20 researchers. It found that more than 3,000 chemicals or "metabolites" can be detected in urine. The results are expected to have significant implications for medical, nutritional, drug and environmental testing. read more


People recycle more when stuff looks good

Posted:August 27, 2013

University of Alberta marketing researcher Jennifer Argo found that people don't recycle products that look like garbage. If a can is dented or a paper package is torn people are more likely to throw it out. The research has implications for policy makers as well as manufacturers of products.

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Boning up: McMaster researchers find home of best stem cells for bone marrow transplants

Posted:August 1, 2013

McMaster University researchers have revealed the location of human blood stem cells that may improve bone marrow transplants. The best stem cells are at the ends of the bone.

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BigBrain: An ultra-high resolution 3-D roadmap of the human brain

Posted:June 20, 2013

Canadian neuroscientists in Montreal contributed to a landmark three-dimensional (3D) digital reconstruction of a complete human brain, called the BigBrain. You can fly through brain anatomy at a spatial resolution of 20 microns, smaller than a human hair --and it's in the public domain. Lead author is Alan Evans at the Montreal Neurological Institute.

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Potentially 'catastrophic' changes underway in Canada's northern Mackenzie River Basin: report

Posted:June 10, 2013

Canada's Mackenzie River basin -- among the world's most important major ecosystems -- is poorly studied, inadequately monitored, and at serious risk due to climate change and resource exploitation, a panel of international scientists warn today.

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Billion-year-old water could hold clues to life on Earth and Mars

Posted:May 15, 2013

 

A team of researchers including McMaster’s Greg Slater discovered what may be some of the oldest pockets of water on the planet pouring out of boreholes in a mine nearly 2.5 km below the ground in Timmins, located in northern Ontario, Canada – and they may contain life. read more

 


Canadian scientists figure out what makes us buy music

Posted:April 16, 2013

 Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University scanned participants’ brains as they heard particular patterns of sounds for the very first time. They found that neural activity in a part of the ‘pleasure center’ of the brain reacts differently for different individuals depending on the kind of music they have listened to throughout their lives. Activity in this region also predicted how much people were willing to pay for music. Learn more...


Discovery opens door to efficiently storing and reusing renewable energy

Posted:March 31, 2013

Two University of Calgary researchers have developed a ground-breaking way to make new affordable and efficient catalysts for converting electricity into chemical energy.

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German scientists abort tar sands research

Posted:March 19, 2013

Germany’s largest and most prestigious research institute has pulled out of a Canadian government-funded $25 million research project into sustainable solutions to tar sands pollution, citing fears for its environmental reputation. As many as 20 scientists at the world-famous Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres have ceased involvement in the Helmholtz Alberta Initiative (HAI), after a moratorium on contacts was declared last month. Read more...


Remains of extinct giant camel discovered in High Arctic by Canadian Museum of Nature

Posted:March 5, 2013

A research team led by the Canadian Museum of Nature has identified the first evidence for an extinct giant camel in Canada's High Arctic. The discovery is based on 30 fossil fragments of a leg bone found on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut and represents the most northerly record for early camels, whose ancestors are known to have originated in North America some 45 million years ago.

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Canadian adult obesity at historic high

Posted:February 27, 2013

Obesity rates across Canada are reaching alarming levels and continue to climb, according to a new University of British Columbia study.

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New radio telescope near Penticton, BC to probe secret of dark energy

Posted:January 28, 2013

Construction has begun on a new radio telescope in British Columbia’s south Okanagan that will act like a type of time machine and help astrophysicists travel back to better understand the composition of our expanding universe.
 
The $11-million project is being built at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory southwest of Penticton, B.C., and will use components from the cellphone industry to capture and turn radio waves emitted six to 11 billion years ago into a three-dimensional map.
 

It’s the first research telescope built in Canada in more than three decades and includes scientists from the observatory, the University of British Columbia, McGill University and the University of Toronto. Read more at Macleans.


Waterloo scientists win race to create first truly thinking model human brain

Posted:November 30, 2012

 A group of Canadian scientists at Waterloo University led by engineer philosopher Chris Eliasmith have developed Spaun— the Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network— which is capable of complex behaviours such as seeing and recognizing, remembering, thinking about, and writing numbers. It draws numbers "by hand" based on what it learned.  The group published a paper recently in Science entitled 'A Large-Scale Model of the Functioning Brain' with details about this state-of-the-art brain model that has redefined the race for a synthetic animal-like brain. Another story appears in Nature.


Eminent Canadian scientist critical of tar sands development

Posted:November 23, 2012

One of Canada's greatest scientists, David Schindler says the rapid expansion of the tar sands is not based on valid science: "Both background studies and environmental impact assessments have been shoddy, and could not really even be called science. This must change." As reported by Desmogblog.


Improving our understanding of volcanic eruptions

Posted:October 19, 2012

An international research team led by Prof. Don Baker of McGill University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences has published a new study in Nature Communications that suggests the difference between a small or large eruption depends on the first 10 seconds of bubble growth in molten rocks. The findings suggest ideas for improved volcano monitoring systems. Read more...


Honey bees fight back

Posted:September 27, 2012

The parasitic mite Varroa destructor is a major contributor to the recent mysterious death of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies. New Canadian research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Genome Biology finds that specific proteins, released by damaged larvae and in the antennae of adult honey bees, can drive behavior that promotes improved hive hygiene. Dr Leonard Foster at the University of British Columbia, who led this research says, "Bee keepers have previously focused on selecting bees with traits such as enhanced honey production, gentleness and winter survival. We have found a set of proteins which could be used to select colonies on their ability to resist Varroa mite infestation and can be used to find individuals with increased hygienic behavior. Given the increasing resistance of Varroa to available drugs this would provide a natural way of ensuring honey farming and potentially survival of the species."

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Canadian science advocacy group takes on homeopathy

Posted:August 2, 2012

The new Canadian science advocacy group Bad Science Watch plans to convince Health Canada to de-register homeopathic health products that are offered as unproven replacements for childhood vaccinations.  This project will combat anti-vaccine groups within homeopathy that offer so-called “nosodes”--ultra dilute remedies made from diseased tissue, the sale of which directly contradicts Health Canada’s own efforts to promote childhood vaccinations.


Three Canadian scientists criticize new fisheries legislation

Posted:June 22, 2012

The research journal Science (with more than a million readers worldwide) published a letter from SFU scientists criticizing the federal government for closing labs and planning to weaken the protection of fish habitat. In their letter, doctoral student Brett Favaro and profs John Reynolds and Isabelle Côté of SFU Biological Sciences say in part: “The Fisheries Minister argued that current polices go ‘well beyond what is necessary to protect fish’. The continued decline of Canadian fish and other aquatic species due to habitat loss and degradation suggests otherwise." More at SFU News.


Canadian Science Writers Association gets Press Freedom Award

Posted:May 5, 2012

The Canadian Science Writers Association (CSWA) and the Association des communicateurs scientifiques (ACS) are winners of the 14th annual Press Freedom Award for their work in exposing government restrictions on federal scientists that prevent or delay the free communication of public science through the media. The award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and a certificate from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO whose Secretary-General, David A. Walden, presented it at a noon luncheon in Ottawa on May 3rd  at the National Arts Centre.


Canadian scientist creates first open source Star Trek tricorder

Posted:March 29, 2012

Peter Jansen, a recent PhD graduate from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario has openly released the designs for a series of Science Tricorders that he developed while a graduate student. The Science Tricorders are capable of sensing a variety of atmospheric, electromagnetic, and spatial phenomena and can be built by anyone. Learn more at his Science Tricorder website.


Anti-matter measured for first time by Canadian researchers

Posted:March 7, 2012

An antimatter atom has been measured and manipulated for the first time ever, by a Canadian-led team of physicists.

"This is the first time that anyone has ever interacted with an antimatter atom," said Mike Hayden, a physics professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., describing the results published in the journal Nature Wednesday. More at the CBC or at the link above at SFU. 


UBC researchers discover key to immune cell's 'internal guidance' system

Posted:February 5, 2012

University of British Columbia researchers have discovered the molecular pathway that enables receptors inside immune cells to find, and flag, fragments of pathogens trying to invade a host.

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First HIV/AIDS vaccine from Canadian labs

Posted:December 20, 2011

The first and only preventative HIV vaccine based on a genetically modified killed whole virus has received approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start human clinical trials. Developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang and his team at The University of Western Ontario, with the support of Sumagen Canada, the vaccine (SAV001) holds tremendous promise.


Canadians discover how cancer spreads

Posted:October 31, 2011

A team of scientists led by David Waisman at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia have identified a key mechanism of metastasis that could lead to blocking tumor growth if their findings are confirmed.
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Science Olympics in Ontario schools

Posted:October 3, 2011

Youth Science Ontario will be supporting Science Olympics in various Ontario communities in the months of October and November, check the Youth Science Ontario website for details.


Expert calls for change in trans fat labelling

Posted:September 7, 2011

Not all trans fats are created equal and it's time for nutritional labels to reflect that reality, says Spencer Proctor University of Alberta nutrition expert. About half the people who get heart attacks have normal levels of fat, and some people with higher levels of cholesterol do not get heart attacks. Proctor's research shows that maybe only synthetic trans-fats are bad and naturally occuring ones in cheese and meat are OK.

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Cell receptor could allow measles virus to target tumours

Posted:August 25, 2011

Canadian researchers have discovered that a tumour cell marker is a receptor for measles virus, suggesting the possible use of measles virus to help fight cancer.

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U of T researchers build an antenna for light

Posted:July 10, 2011

University of Toronto researchers have derived inspiration from the photosynthetic apparatus in plants to engineer a new generation of nanomaterials that control and direct the energy absorbed from light. Learn more at the UofT faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.


Examining the brain as a neural information super-highway

Posted:June 2, 2011

Neuroscientists at Toronto's Rotman Research Institute showed how tools for modeling traffic on the Internet and telephone systems can be used to study information flow in brain networks. Their work is published in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology on 2nd June 2011: Extracting Message Inter-Departure Time Distributions from the Human Electroencephalogram.

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Canadian teen discovers treatment for cystic fibrosis

Posted:May 13, 2011

Marshall Zhang, a 16-year-old high-school student in a Toronto suburb won first prize in the 2011 Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge ($5000) for using a supercomputer to predict that two separate drugs could be used simultaneously to correct a flaw in the protein that causes Cystic Fibrosis. He worked with Dr. Christine Bear of Sick Children's Hospital Research Institute


CMAJ calls on federal government to protect Canadians from unsafe drugs

Posted:April 18, 2011

Canadians are poorly protected from potential side effects of new drugs and food additives due to our ancient federal Food and Drugs Act that has changed little since 1953. Repeated attempts since 1995 to effect change have been thwarted. An editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) explains.


Saskatoon scientist achieves malaria cure breakthrough

Posted:March 24, 2011

Today's best anti-malaria drug is artemisinin, a compound derived from the sweet wormwood plant (Artemisia annua) from Asia and Africa. But extracting artemisinin directly from the plant is difficult and only small quantities are obtainable.  Patrick Covello, a senior researcher at the National Research Council in Saskatoon has found a number of genes in the sweet wormwood plant that code for the enzymes involved in the most difficult part of the synthesis of the rather complicated artemisinin molecule. Those genes have now been incorporated into a yeast by a Berkeley, California drug company so that the drug can be produced inexpensively and in quantity by the yeast. This could lead to a cheap and easily available cure for malaria, a disease which kills millions of people every year. Visit Dr. Covello's lab website to learn more.


Experts feel Japanese nuclear reactor fallout will not reach Canada

Posted:March 17, 2011

One of the most reliable websites for updates about conditions at Japan's damaged Fukushima nuclear reactor is the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. Their website with current status and news is continually being updated. Canadian nuclear engineering experts such as Greg Evans, a professor in the department of chemical engineering and applied chemistry at the University of Toronto, do not think that Canada is in any danger. Most of the lethal radioactive materials ought to be contained by systems on the reactor site, even if there is a meltdown, and anything that escapes would dissipate over the vast area of the Pacific ocean before reaching Canada. However, for those concerned, there are a number of online resources. Radiolab in Arizona provides a constantly updated map of background radiation levels from online geiger counters in cities around North America including Vancouver, Canada. Blackcat systems in Westminster, Maryland provides a similar Online Geiger Counter Nuclear Radiation Detector Map with a station in the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia.


E-health must be a priority, researchers say

Posted:March 8, 2011

The Canada Health Infoway project was implemented by the federal government in 2001 with the goal of accelerating e-health implementation and creating a national system of interoperable electronic health records. After 10 years and $1.6 billion of investment in 280 health information technology projects, Canada still lags behind countries such as Denmark, the UK, and New Zealand. These are the findings of a new study assessing the effectiveness Canada Health Infoway's e-health plan conducted by scientists at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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Crocodile tears don't fool us all

Posted:February 9, 2011

How easy is it to fake remorse? Not so easy if your audience knows what to look for. In the first investigation of the nature of true and false remorse, Leanne Brinke and colleagues from the Centre for the Advancement of Psychology and Law (CAPSL), University of British Columbia (in the Okanagan) and Memorial University of Newfoundland, show that those who fake remorse demonstrate a greater range of emotional expressions and swing from one emotion to another very quickly - a phenomenon referred to as emotional turbulence - as well as speak with more hesitation. These findings have important implications for judges and parole board members, who look for genuine remorse when they make their sentencing and release decisions.  Brinke's work is published in Springer's journal Law and Human Behavior.

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Canadian researchers link music to dopamine release in brain

Posted:January 18, 2011

Using PET brain scanning techniques, scientists at McGill University's Neurological Institute in Montreal have shown that listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain important for more tangible pleasures associated with rewards such as food, drugs and sex. The results were published in Nature Neuroscience on Jan 9, 2011. More at the Neurological Institute's website.


Climate change to continue to year 3000 in best case scenarios

Posted:January 9, 2011

Research at Canada's Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis indicates the impact of rising CO2 levels in the Earth's atmosphere will cause unstoppable effects to the climate for at least the next 1000 years, causing researchers to estimate a collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet by the year 3000, and an eventual rise in the global sea level of at least four metres.

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Canadians image new planet in planetary system very similar to our own

Posted:December 8, 2010

A Canadian led team of astronomers has discovered and imaged a fourth giant planet outside our solar system, a discovery that further strengthens the remarkable resemblances between a distant planetary system and our own. Learn more at Canada's National Research Council website.


Researchers discover a way to delay Christmas tree needle loss

Posted:December 6, 2010

Canadian scientists at Université Laval, in collaboration with Nova Scotia Agricultural College, have discovered what causes Christmas tree needles to drop off, and how to double the lifespan of Christmas trees in homes. The authors presented their findings in a recent issue of the scientific journal Trees.

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'No fish left behind' approach leaves Earth with nowhere left to fish: UBC researchers

Posted:December 2, 2010

A University of British Columbia study says the Earth has run out of room to expand fisheries. We need to change our fishing practices now.

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Researchers trap antimatter atoms

Posted:November 17, 2010

A team of researchers from many universities across Canada and around the world have discovered how to trap atomic antimatter and the results of their discovery are published in the journal Nature.

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Special skin keeps fish species alive on land

Posted:November 8, 2010

Canadian study shows how an amphibious fish stays alive for up to two months on land. It's all in the skin.

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What did T. rex eat? Each other

Posted:October 15, 2010

It turns out that the undisputed king of the dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex, didn't just eat other dinosaurs but also each other. Paleontologists from the United States and Canada (Philip J. Currie at the University of Alberta) have found bite marks on the giants' bones that were made by other T. rex, according to a new study published online Oct. 15 in the journal PLoS ONEread more


Genomic 'haircut' makes world's tiniest genome even smaller: UBC research

Posted:September 21, 2010

The world's tiniest nuclear genome appears to have "snipped off the ends" of its chromosomes and evolved into a lean, mean, genome machine that infects human cells, according to research published today by University of British Columbia scientists. read more


Link to autism in boys found in missing DNA

Posted:September 15, 2010

New research from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), both in Toronto, Canada provides further clues as to why Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects four times more males than females. The scientists discovered that males who carry specific alterations of DNA on the sole X-chromosome they carry are at high risk of developing ASD. The research is published in the September 15 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

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A discovery by Dr. Andre Veillette's team could impact the treatment of autoimmune diseases

Posted:August 19, 2010

Dr. André Veillette, Director of the Molecular Oncology research unit at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM) and his team published a scientific breakthrough which could have an impact on the treatment of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases affecting tens of thousands of Canadians. Dr. Veillette's team discovered the function of a protein located in T cells, which are immune cells known as lymphocytes that play a central role in the protection against viruses and other microbial agents. They also take part in the development of certain diseases, including diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The protein in question is the "phosphatase" PTP-PEST, an enzyme that removes phosphates from other proteins in the cell.

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First results from Large Hadron Collider announced

Posted:July 26, 2010

A group of University of Toronto high-energy physicists, along with their 3,000 ATLAS colleagues, announced they have broken world records in the search for new particles as the first findings from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) were presented this morning in Paris, France.

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Canadian research reveals how monarchs fly away home

Posted:July 26, 2010

Monarch butterflies — renowned for their lengthy annual migration to and from Mexico — complete an even more spectacular journey home than previously thought.

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Canadian study warns that many psychological studies rely on WEIRD sample populations

Posted:June 30, 2010

A new University of British Columbia study by psychologist Joseph Henrich says that an overreliance on research subjects from the U.S. and other Western nations can produce false claims about human psychology and behavior because their psychological tendencies are highly unusual compared to the global population.

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Could life survive on Mars? Canadian scientists say yes

Posted:June 4, 2010

Researchers at McGill's department of natural resources, the National Research Council of Canada, the University of Toronto and the SETI Institute have discovered that methane-eating bacteria survive in a highly unique spring located on Axel Heiberg Island in Canada's extreme North. Dr. Lyle Whyte, McGill University microbiologist explains that the Lost Hammer spring supports microbial life, that the spring is similar to possible past or present springs on Mars, and that therefore they too could support life.

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Astronomers confirm Einstein's theory of relativity and accelerating cosmic expansion

Posted:March 25, 2010

University of British Columbia astronomer Ludovic Van Waerbeke with an international team has confirmed that the expansion of the universe is accelerating after looking at data from the largest-ever survey conducted by the Hubble Space Telescope. The astronomers studied more than 446,000 galaxies to map the matter distribution and the expansion history of the universe. This study enabled them to observe precisely how dark matter evolved in the universe and to reconstruct a three-dimensional map of the dark matter and use this to test Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.

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Unlocking the opium poppy's biggest secret

Posted:March 14, 2010

Researchers at the University of Calgary, Peter Facchini and Jillian Hagel, have discovered the unique genes that allow the opium poppy to make codeine and morphine, thus opening doors to alternate methods of producing these effective painkillers either by manufacturing them in a lab or controlling the production of these compounds in the plant. More at University of Calgary News.

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Mescal 'worm' test shows DNA leaks into preservatives

Posted:February 9, 2010

Just because you don't swallow the worm at the bottom of a bottle of mescal doesn't mean you have avoided the essential worminess of the potent Mexican liquor, according to Mehrdad Hajibabaei at the University of Guelph. The study is part of the technology development phase of the International Barcode of Life Project. Based in Canada at the University of Guelph, it's the largest biodiversity genomics project ever undertaken. More than 200 scientists from 25 countries are creating a DNA barcode reference library for all life on Earth.

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Méthode découverte pour réparer les nerfs adultes endommagés

Posted:December 11, 2009

Le scientifique canadien Patrice Smith à l'Université Carleton à Ottawa a trouvé un moyen d'obtenir des cellules nerveuses adultes à se développer chez les souris. Son article dans la revue Neuron cette semaine avec les  co-auteurs Sun Fang et Zhigang de L'université de Harvard, il décrit la découverte d'une molécule spécifique dans le système nerveux central qui supprime notre capacité à réparer les neurones blessés. En bloquant cette molécule, Smith a réussi à encourager le repoussement du nerf optique chez des souris adultes aveugles. Il reste à voir si la repoussement du nerf optique va restaurer la vue, mais ces repousses restaurer la vue dans les aveugles bébés souris. Smith est né en Jamaïque et est arrivé au Canada à titre d'immigrant pauvre. Dans un article du Globe and Mail dit-elle, "je ne suis pas issu d'un milieu de privilège. Mais si vous voulez faire quelque chose, vous pouvez le faire." Plus d'information sur Smith et sa découverte est disponible au service de nouvelles de l'Université Carleton.


Super fast X-ray laser to start up in Ottawa

Posted:November 27, 2009

Dr. Paul Corkum, this year's winner of Canada's most prestigious science prize, the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, will be joined by representatives from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the University of Ottawa on Monday November 30 to officially open the Joint Laboratory for Attosecond Science in Ottawa. The laboratory is home to Canada's fastest X-ray laser. Dr. Corkum and his team will use this one-of-a-kind facility to take pictures of molecules during chemical reactions to study the motion of electrons. This is the first step to unpacking the molecules that make up all the matter of our universe. The laboratory is a collaboration between NRC and the University of Ottawa.


Nova Scotia scientist wins 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics

Posted:October 6, 2009

The 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics was shared today between Charles Kao (1/2) the discoverer of fibre optics, George Smith(1/4) and Willard Boyle (1/4) who invented the CCD, or Charge Coupled Device, the imaging chip used in many cameras, camcorders, telescopes and other devices. Boyle was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, and grew up in Quebec but made his discovery at Bell Labs in New Jersey in 1969. He never gave up his Canadian citizenship and moved back to Nova Scotia, Canada in the 1980s.


New study shows those blinded by brain injury may still 'see'

Posted:September 2, 2009

Except in clumsy moments, we rarely knock over the box of cereal or glass of orange juice as we reach for our morning cup of coffee. New research at The University of Western Ontario has helped unlock the mystery of how our brain allows us to avoid these undesired objects.

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Canadians make a major breakthrough in lithium batteries

Posted:May 21, 2009

A research team at the University of Waterloo led by professor Linda Nazar has employed nanoscale mesoporous carbon in the cathodes of lithium-sulphur batteries to store and deliver more than three times the power of conventional lithium ion batteries. More at the NSERC website.


Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood

Posted:April 1, 2009

A team at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, has created tiny microbial fuel cells by encapsulating yeast cells in a flexible capsule. The fuel cells can generate power from a drop of human blood plasma. The team is led by Mu Chiao professor of mechanical engineering. The yeast-based fuel cell produces around 40 nanowatts of power, compared to the microwatt a typical wristwatch battery might produce, Chaio says. That might be enough power for some devices if it were coupled with a capacitor to allow energy to be stored. The yeast could also be genetically engineered to boost its power output.


Spiders, frogs and gecko among exciting discoveries found in Papua New Guinea

Posted:March 25, 2009

UBC scientist Wayne Maddison, jumping spider expert and Director of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver was part of a team that found dozens of new species. Jumping spiders, a tiny chirping frog and an elegant striped gecko are among 56 species believed new to science discovered during a Conservation International (CI) Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition to Papua New Guinea's highlands wilderness.

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Canadian makes stem cells from skin

Posted:March 1, 2009

Toronto researcher Dr. Andras Nagy discovered a new method of creating stem cells that could lead to possible cures for devastating diseases including spinal cord injury, macular degeneration, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. The study, published by Nature online, accelerates stem cell technology and provides a road map for new clinical approaches to regenerative medicine.

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University of Alberta scientists make solar energy breakthrough

Posted:February 25, 2009

University of Alberta and the National Research Council's National Institute for Nanotechnology have improved the performance of plastic solar cells called hybrid organic cells. According to lead investigator Jillian Buriak, inexpensive, mass-produced plastic solar panels are now a step closer.

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Quantum dot breakthrough could revolutionize computers

Posted:February 4, 2009

Dr. Robert Wolkow at Edmonton's National Institute for Nanotechnology have achieved a milestone in nanotechnology that could help pave the way for new generations of smaller, more energy-efficient computers. They created the world's smallest quantum dots, using silicon atoms, which can control electrons with a fraction of the power of conventional computer systems. Wolkow predicts a 1,000 fold reduction in power usage and computer size if future computers are based on the new technology. More at Robert Wolkow's website.


Queen's chemist sheds light on health benefits of garlic

Posted:January 30, 2009

A team of scientists at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario led by Dr. Derek Pratt has discovered the reason why garlic is so good for us. It has to do with a decomposition product of allicin, the main medicinal ingredient of garlic. When allicin is metabolized by the body sulfenic acid is produced, a powerful antioxidant that rapidly reacts with free radicals. Find out more at the Queens News Centre.


Canada has world's most advanced microscope

Posted:October 20, 2008

The most advanced and powerful electron microscope on the planet—capable of unprecedented resolution—has been installed in the new Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy at McMaster University. The lead researcher, Gianluigi Botton says it's like having a Hubble telescope for looking at things at the atomic level.


Canadian instrument detects falling snow on Mars

Posted:September 29, 2008

A Canadian-designed and manufactured laser instrument aboard the Mars lander has detected snow from clouds about 4 kilometers above the surface. Data show the snow vaporizing before reaching the ground. Canada's York University professor Jim Whiteway, the lead scientist for the Meteorological Station onboard the Phoenix Mars lander says, "Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars. We'll be looking for signs that the snow may even reach the ground." Read an interview with Jim Whiteway at the Canadian Space Agency website.


Oldest known rock on Earth discovered

Posted:September 26, 2008

Canadian bedrock more than 4 billion years old may be the oldest known section of the Earth's early crust.

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NASA data show Arctic saw fastest August sea ice retreat on record

Posted:September 26, 2008

Following a record-breaking season of arctic sea ice decline in 2007, NASA scientists have kept a close watch on the 2008 melt season. Although the melt season did not break the record for ice loss, NASA data are showing that for a four-week period in August 2008, sea ice melted faster during that period than ever before.

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When healing turns to scarring: Research reveals why it happens and how to stop it

Posted:September 18, 2008

For the first time, research from The University of Western Ontario has revealed the mechanisms involved in the origin of scarring or fibrotic diseases, as well as a way to control it. The study, led by Andrew Leask of the CIHR Group in Skeletal Development and Remodeling, is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Canadian Scientists find first pregnant turtle fossil and eggs

Posted:August 27, 2008

A 75-million-year-old fossil of a pregnant turtle and a nest of fossilized eggs that were discovered in the badlands of southeastern Alberta by scientists and staff from the University of Calgary and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology are yielding new ideas on the evolution of egg-laying and reproduction in turtles and tortoises. It is the first time the fossil of a pregnant turtle has been found and the description of this discovery was published today in the British journal Biology Letters. The mother carrying the eggs was found near Medicine Hat in 1999 by Tyrrell staff while the nest of eggs was discovered in 2005 by U of Calgary scientist Darla Zelenitsky.

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Mucous breakthrough in mice holds promise for cystic fibrosis

Posted:July 29, 2008

A London, Canada scientist studying cystic fibrosis (CF) has successfully corrected the defect which causes the overproduction of intestinal mucous in mice. This discovery by Dr. Richard Rozmahel, a scientist with the Lawson Health Research Institute, affiliated with The University of Western Ontario, has clear implications to understanding and treating this facet of the disease in humans. CF is a fatal, genetic disease characterized by an overproduction of mucous in the lungs and digestive system. More about CF on our page about Lap Chee Tsui.

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Researchers find key to saving the world's lakes

Posted:July 21, 2008

After completing one of the longest running experiments ever done on a lake, researchers from the University of Alberta, University of Minnesota and the Freshwater Institute, contend that nitrogen control, in which the European Union and many other jurisdictions around the world are investing millions of dollars, is not effective and in fact, may actually increase the problem of cultural eutrophication. It turns out that phosphate may be more likely to cause the problem. Visit the Experimental Lakes Area website, where the research took place.

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In unique stellar laboratory, Einstein's theory passes strict, new test

Posted:July 3, 2008

Taking advantage of a unique cosmic configuration, astronomers have measured an effect predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity in the extremely strong gravity of a pair of superdense neutron stars. Essentially, the famed physicist's 93-year-old theory passed yet another test.

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Asteroid-hunting satellite a world first

Posted:June 26, 2008

Canada is building the world's first space telescope designed to detect and track asteroids as well as satellites. Called NEOSSat (Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite), this spacecraft will provide a significant improvement in surveillance of asteroids that pose a collision hazard with Earth and innovative technologies for tracking satellites in orbit high above our planet.

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UBC physicists develop 'impossible' technique to study and develop superconductors

Posted:June 23, 2008

A team of University of British Columbia researchers has developed a technique that controls the number of electrons on the surface of high-temperature superconductors, a procedure considered impossible for the past two decades.

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New discovery proves 'selfish gene' exists

Posted:June 20, 2008

A new discovery by a scientist from The University of Western Ontario provides conclusive evidence which supports decades-old evolutionary doctrines long accepted as fact.

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Identifying Canadian freshwater fish through DNA barcodes

Posted:June 18, 2008

New research by Canadian scientists, led by Nicolas Hubert at the Université Laval in Québec and published in this week's PLoS ONE brings some good news for those interested in the conservation of a number of highly-endangered species of Canadian fish.

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Aging brains do become wiser

Posted:June 12, 2008

A University of Alberta researcher in collaboration with researchers from Duke University has proven that wisdom really does come with age, at least when it comes to your emotions.

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Save $1 billion and 800 lives

Posted:June 11, 2008

The economic burden of alcohol abuse costs each Canadian $463 per year. In fact, the direct health care costs for alcohol abuse in Canada exceed those of cancer. Released today by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the Avoidable Cost of Alcohol Abuse in Canada 2002 report estimates that, even under very conservative assumptions, implementing six reviewed interventions would result in cost savings of about $1 billion per year and a savings of about 800 lives, close to 26,000 years of life lost to premature death and more than 88,000 acute care hospital days in Canada per year. This pioneering study is Canada's first systematic estimate of the avoidable costs of alcohol abuse, and the first study of its kind worldwide.

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Siminovitch and Taylor inducted into hall of fame

Posted:April 21, 2008

Louis Siminovitch and Richard Taylor are inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame on April 24, 2008. Siminovitch is a Canadian research pioneer in human genetics of muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis. Taylor won the Nobel prize in 1990 for verifying the quark theory.


Vogt Day 2008 at UBC

Posted:March 28, 2008

On Sunday, May 4, 2008, a symposium will be held to honour Erich Vogt at UBC's Hebb Theatre, featuring talks by Physics Nobel Laureates and leaders in Canadian science & technology, with a reception to follow. Vogt is one of the giants of Canadian science, having served as (among other things) a founder and later Director of the TRIUMF accelerator laboratory, as UBC's Vice President for Faculty and Student Affairs and as the first chair of the Science Council of B.C. Vogt played a leading role in the development of Science World BC, the Vancouver Institute and the B.C. Cancer Foundation. However, perhaps his greatest contribution was four decades of teaching first year Physics to enthralled students at UBC.  For more information about Erich Vogt and his achievements, visit the TRIUMF website.


New Canadian robot arm added to space station

Posted:March 18, 2008

Astronauts on the space shuttle Endeavor have completed the assembly of a giant Canadian robot arm called Dextre outside the International Space Station. They attached a 1.5 m metal boom to its front for holding equipment and tools. The robot’s 3 m arms will be used for experiments and for maintenance of the space station. The astronauts added a holder for three tools under the 3,400-pound robot’s right arm and a pan-and-tilt color camera on its body so operators can observe its work. The $209 million robot, which has passed initial operating tests, will be attached to the station’s Destiny laboratory module. More at the Wikipedia entry on Dextre.


Canada criticized internationally for disregarding science

Posted:February 22, 2008

A February 2008 edition of the journal Nature has criticized Canada's Conservative government's "manifest disregard for science". They cite the government's recent closure of the office of national science adviser. The office used to offer advice on global science and technology issues and how government can better fund and support Canadian science. In addition, the Conservative government recently decreed that Environment Canada scientists must route all media enquiries through Ottawa for an "approved" response so the government could control the position of Canadian science of global climate change. Finally, the Conservative government cabinet failed to attend a reception for Nobel Prize winning Canadian scientists last week in Ottawa. If you want to express your concern for our country's poor international image regarding Canadian science, and the way this has come about due to Conservative government actions and policies, please write your MP by looking up the address on the government's contact page, or write the Prime Minister directly, or Jim Prentice the minister of Industry who is now responsible for science research funding.


Stats Canada points to benefits of science PhDs

Posted:November 23, 2007

According to Macleans Magazine, Science and engineering PhDs were, in 2001, nearly twice as likely to work in the private sector as PhD holders from other disciplines, and only 38 per cent of them worked in educational services, compared to 60 per cent of PhD holders in other fields. The Statistics Canada report also looked at location. Ninety per cent of scientists and engineers live in urban areas. The highest concentration is in Kingston, dubbed the “science and engineering capital of Canada,” with its two universities, a college, and teaching hospital. The concentration of scientists and engineers employed by the federal government also played a role as Ottawa-Hull came in second. Scientists and engineers living in Vancouver earned the highest average salary in Canada at $89,179, while the lowest was found in Edmonton at $73,527. Men with science PhDs outnumber women four to one.


Canadian study finds weight-loss pills not worth the risk

Posted:November 21, 2007

University of Alberta medical researchers reviewed 30 studies of weight loss pills such as orlistat, sibutramine and rimonabant and found that on average they help users shed only 3-5Kg. What's more the side effects are not worth the risk. The research was led by Dr. Rajdeep Padwal in the Department of Medicine at the U of Alberta.


Try the science.ca SMS poll

Posted:November 3, 2007

One of the most popular questions on science.ca is about eye colour. People want to know why their eyes are the colour they are. They also want to predict the colour of their children's eyes, and they also frequently ask why their eyes are changing colour.


Canadian Team First in Space Elevator Contest

Posted:October 21, 2007

A team of students and alumni from the University of Saskatchewan have again provided the winning robotic climber for this year's Elevator:2010 Competition in Utah (October 19 and 20, 2007). This is the second consecutive year the team's climber outperformed all others. The Space Elevator is a system based on a super-strong ribbon going from the surface of the Earth to a point beyond geosynchronous orbit. The tether is held in place by a counterweight in orbit. And so, as the Earth rotates, the tether is held taut. Vehicles would then climb the ribbon powered by a beam of energy projected from the surface of the Earth. Such a space elevator is not possible today, but researchers around the world are working on the technologies that will be required. The Canadian contribution from USask is a method of powering the elevator with a beam of light projected by lasers on the ground. Visit www.usst.ca for more information including a video.


Canadian science has tremendous world impact

Posted:August 14, 2007

In a May 2007 report, Thompson Scientific, a company that tracks refereed scientific publications and the citations they contain, gave Canada a glowing report. With little more than 0.5% of the world’s population Canada produces 4.65% of the world's scientific publications.

Citations are references in formal scientific research papers that refer to previously published research. If such research is cited frequently by other scientists it generally means it contained a valuable discovery that was influential. Based on citations collected between 2002 and 2006, on average Canadian research is cited 7% more than research from the rest of the world. In 21 of the 22 scientific fields tracked (excepting economics & business), the impact of Canadian research met or exceeded the world average, with particularly strong performance in space science (57% above the world average), clinical medicine (34% above), and physics (+31%). These  findings are reported on Thompson's inCites website.

In another 2005 review, Thompson shows that among the 145 top-performing countries in all fields, Canada ranked #6 for citations, #6 for papers, and #16 for citations per paper. Canada leads the world in the following fields in terms of volume published as well as impact based on citation indexes: Psychology, Geosciences, Ecology/Environment, Economics, Education, Space Science, Clinical medicine, and Physics.


Canadian computer scientist "solves" checkers game

Posted:July 29, 2007

Professor Jonathan Schaeffer at the University of Alberta in Edmonton has led a team that computed every possible outcome of the 500 billion billion possible positions in the game of checkers or draughts. His program, Chinook, can now play a perfect game from any position. The team proved that the best outcome of any starting point is a draw. The results were published in a paper in the July 19, 2007 journal Science.


Genetic Disease Map Hosted in Canada

Posted:July 12, 2007

Dr. Stephen Scherer, Senior Scientist and Director of The Centre for Applied Genomics at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto will lead a consortium of scientists from Canada, England and USA in the mapping of copy number variants (CNVs)-- the amount of copies of a particular gene in the genotype of an individual. Evidence shows that in some cases gene copy number can be elevated in people predisposed to various diseases. The goal is to create a detailed map of CNVs in the human genome. The map will be located and made available to the world's researchers at Database of Genomic Variants hosted by SickKids.


New Science, Technology and Innovation Council

Posted:June 15, 2007

Howard Alper will chair Canada's new Science, Technology and Innovation Council. The council will report to the Minister of Industry. It will be a non-governmental advisory body that provides evidence-based policy advice on science and technology issues and produces regular national reports that measure Canada's Science and Technology performance against international standards of excellence.


Canadian scientist wins the Benjamin Franklin Medal for physics

Posted:April 23, 2007

Physicist Art McDonald, director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), will share the Benjamin Franklin Medal for physics with Yoji Totsuka of the University of Tokyo. The prize is awarded in recognition of their discovery in 2001 that neutrinos have mass and can change from one type to another.


Canadian Wins 2007 King Faisal Prize for Medicine

Posted:February 21, 2007

Fernand Labrie of Laval University in Quebec city shared the US$200,000 King Faisal International prize for medicine with Patrick Walsh of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The prize is awarded by the King Faisal Foundation of Saudi Arabia. Labrie won for his work developing a hormone-based therapy to manage prostate cancer.


Journal of Irreproducible Results Printed in Canada

Posted:February 19, 2007

The science humour magazine, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, though it is published bimonthly from San Mateo, California, is actually printed in Lachine, Quebec at Transcontinental O'Keefe. The editor Norman Sperling says cost saving is not the main reason the JIR is printed in Canada. He gets better service from the Canadian printers and the paper is better. Check out the website and consider subscribing.


Canadian Science Reveals Pregnant Mona Lisa

Posted:January 15, 2007

A group of scientists from Canada's National Research Council's Institute for Information Technology in Ottawa used an advanced high resolution colour 3D laser scanner to record the Mona Lisa at the invitation of the Louvre. An article in the January 2007 issue of Art News magazine describes how the Canadian imagery shows that the woman was wearing a previously invisible gauze veil only worn by pregnant women in the Renaissance period. You can check out the data yourself at the NRC Giaconda website.


U of Toronto Scientists Reverse Diabetes in Mice

Posted:December 15, 2006

An auto-immune researcher together with a pain researcher at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children (U. of Toronot) as well as one in Calgary have found a link between diabetes and the nervous system. Hans-Michael Dosch led a team that was able to inject pain receptor neuropeptides into diabetes-prone mice to reverse established diabetes with no bad side effects.


Canadian Geologists May Solve Bangladesh Arsenic Poisoning with Lentils

Posted:November 29, 2006

Up to 80 million people in Bangladesh and India suffer from arsenic poisoning as a result of the water supply. Two Canadian researchers at the University of Saskatchewan Canadian Light Source Synchrotron are using X-ray absorption spectroscopy to analyse blood and tissues collected from people in Bangladesh. Graham George and Ingrid Pickering think selenium in lentils could counteract the poisonous effects of arsenic.


New way to find ice-loving bacteria

Posted:October 13, 2006

A Canadian scientist at Queens University has developed a way to isolate bacteria that survive in extreme cold. Virginia Walker, a professor of biology and President of the Genetics Society of Canada uses microscopic "ice fingers" to isolate bacteria which have properties to interact with, and modify, ice. The bacteria have many potential applications from improving the consistency of ice-cream to the creation of better snow making machines. Read more at the Queens News Centre.


Canadian Software Proves What Neil Armstrong Said

Posted:September 30, 2006

Peter Shann Ford, a Sydney, Australia-based computer programmer used Canadian sound editing software called GoldWave (from St. John's, Newfoundland) to analyse the first words of Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong when he set foot on the moon. According to the research, he said, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Not "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. NOTE: The science of this news story has since come under heavy criticism. Hence the result may not be true.


Canadian Astronaut to Work on Space Station

Posted:September 10, 2006

Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean is set to make a spacewalk after he successfully rocketed to orbit aboard space shuttle Atlantis Sept. 9, 2006. MacLean, on his second spaceflight, joins five other astronauts on the first construction mission to the International Space Station since the Columbia disaster of 2003. The Nepean, ON native will play a crucial role in increasing the station's power. Using the robotic Canadarm, he will manoeuvre a set of solar panels from the shuttle to the station. He will then perform a spacewalk on Sept. 13 to release locks on the panels, allowing them to track the sun. (Elizabeth Howell reporting)


Faintest Stars Detected by Canadian Led Team

Posted:August 18, 2006

Astronomer Harvey Richer at the University of British Columbia used the Hubble telescope to study white dwarfs in star cluster NGC 6397, which is 8500 light years away. The light detected is the equivalent of a birthday candle on the moon.

Astronomers have used white dwarfs in globular clusters as a measure of the universe's age. The universe must be at least as old as the oldest stars. White dwarfs cool down at a predictable rate. The older the dwarf, the cooler it is, making it a perfect "clock" that has been ticking for almost as long as the universe has existed. Richer and his team are using the same age-dating technique to calculate the cluster's age. NGC 6397 is estimated to be nearly 12 billion years old.


Canadian Scientists Discover Gene for Depression

Posted:July 28, 2006

Canadian scientists have identified a gene that makes some people susceptible to major depressive disorders. Speaking at the Forum of European Neuroscience earlier this month, Professor Nicholas Barden of Centre Hospitalier de l'Université Laval in Quebec explained, “This is a major breakthrough in the realm of psychiatry and will have groundbreaking implications for diagnosis and the development of new anti-depressant treatment.”


Canadian Scientists Develop Drug to Stop Alzheimer's

Posted:June 14, 2006

University of Toronto researchers led by Joanne McLaurin at the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases have found a small sugar molecule called scyllo-cyclohexanehexol (AZD-103) associated with Alzheimer's disease. In mice with Alzheimer's disease the drug prevents the formation of amyloid plaques thereby preventing further cognitive damage and memory loss. It does not reverse existing damage. Human trials have been approved and will begin later this year.


Canadian Helps to Learn Cause of Pioneer Anomaly

Posted:June 11, 2006

Pioneer space crafts 10 and 11 were launched about 30 years ago. Now as they reach the very edge of our solar system they appear to be moving somewhat slower than expected. What is causing this Pioneer Anomaly? Nobody knows, but a Canadian freelance scientist in Ottawa, Viktor Toth, has written software to analyse vast amounts of telemetry archived over the years, to make it available to the public. It is hoped that the availability of the data will help solve the mystery.


Sensational Scientists wins national book award

Posted:May 1, 2006

The book based on this website, SENSATIONAL SCIENTISTS by Barry Shell, published by Raincoast Books, won the 2005 Canadian Science in Society Youth Book award.


New Book: Sensational Scientists

Posted:February 2, 2006

Tired of reading this website on your computer? The 24 major profiles on science.ca are collected in a new book. SENSATIONAL SCIENTISTS by Barry Shell, published by Raincoast Books is available now in most bookstores across Canada. Soon to be released in the USA. Read the review at CM Magazine.


Common antidepressents may affect the immune system

Posted:January 27, 2006

A team of Canadian and US researchers co-lead by Dr. Peta O'Connell at the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario have found that SSRI drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil that treat depression may also affect the user’s immune system.

It appears that serotonin is passed between key cells in the immune system, and that the chemical is specifically used to activate an immune response. Researchers do not know yet if the effect will be beneficial or a damaging to the human immune system.  Read more about this research from an article on the Robarts website.


Canadian Team Tops Space Elevator Contest

Posted:October 24, 2005

A team from the University of Saskatchewan managed to get their robot the highest up a tether "to space" as a first step in a NASA initiative to build a space elevator. The idea is to use a thin but unimaginably strong ribbon tethered to an orbiting satellite. People and cargo would travel up the ribbon to space. This is the first year of the contest, and though nobody won the $50,000 prize, the Canadian team's robot reached 12 meters, higher than any of the the other six competitors. More at New Scientist.


Canadians Win Lasker Prize for Stem Cell Discovery

Posted:September 18, 2005

Ernest McCulloch and James Till of the University of Toronto won this biggest prize in medical science for ingenious experiments in 1961 that first identified a stem cell - the blood-forming stem cell - which set the stage for all current research on adult and embryonic stem cells.


Einstein Festival at University of Waterloo

Posted:August 22, 2005

EinsteinFest at the Perimeter Institute explores our rapidly changing civilization at the turn of the century and sets Einstein’s prolific contributions in context with the science, philosophy, politics, art and music of the day.


Canadian Scientists Make Photovoltaic Breakthrough

Posted:January 10, 2005

Graduate student Steve McDonald working in Ted Sargent's University of Toronto Electrical Computer Engineering group has developed a low-cost plastic-based optoelectronic material that can harvest light energy at about 5 times the efficiency of current photovoltaic cells. What's more the material can be sprayed on clothes or cellphones. The group's discovery was published in Nature Materials this week.


California Sturgeon Found in Canadian Waters

Posted:December 7, 2004

A lost tribe of green sturgeon has been found as part of the global census of marine life led by Canadian marine biologist Ron O'Dor at Dalhousie U. in Halifax. “Researchers were tagging the sturgeon in the rivers of California. We regarded them as purely river fish, but were unsure quite how far they travelled. Then we got a surprise. The tagged fish started showing up in the open ocean off Vancouver Island in Canada. That kind of thing just makes you think how little we know, even about familiar fish.”


Canadian Government Mounts Science Website

Posted:October 19, 2004

Get the latest Canadian science news at science.gc.ca a government of Canada website devoted to Canadian science and technology news, careers, and achievements. Kind of like science.ca, but better funded.


Spinal Cord Damage May be Repairable with Canadian Technique

Posted:August 23, 2004

University of Toronto researchers headed by Molly Shoichet have published a method to facilitate nerve cell repair that could ultimately lead to treating severed spinal cords. Read the full story here.


Probiotics--Good Bacteria

Posted:July 26, 2004

Canadian scientist Gregor Reid at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario studies the billions of good bacteria that live in and on our bodies. He has patents for food supplements called probiotics, mostly lactobacillus strains, that can combat intestinal and vaginal infections. "We've shown that beneficial bugs stop the expression of seriously harmful toxins from bad bacteria such as E. coli 0157:H7, hamburger disease," says Reid. Find out more at the Canadian Research and Development Centre for Probiotics.


One Million Scientists in Canada

Posted:May 6, 2004

According to the latest census data (2001) 1,003,810 out of a total national workforce of 15,872,070 Canadians chose science-related careers. That's 6.3%. Based on earlier studies this level of science participation is similar to countries such as France, USA and Germany, but lags behind England, Sweden and Japan. You can view the details at Statistics Canada's Website. NOTE: Male/Female ratio is 79% male, 21% female scientists in Canada.


Canadian Scientist Has New Earthquake Theory

Posted:March 31, 2004

Earth Sciences professor Andrew Calvert of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia has connected the occurrence of hundreds of earthquakes in the last 10 years to the grinding of overlapping rocks trapped between two of the tectonic (structural) plates that form the surface of the Earth. Read his article in Nature.


Canadian Discovers a Better Way to Fix Nitrogen

Posted:February 10, 2004

A Canadian chemist has invented a new way to turn nitrogen into ammonia, one of the most important reactions in the chemicals industry. The research, published in this week’s Nature, could lead to improvements in a 90-year-old chemical reaction that makes the fertilizer that helps feed about 40% of the world’s population. Read more at Michael Fryzuk's website at the University of British Columbia.


Canadian Nobel Prize Winner Dies

Posted:October 16, 2003

Bertram Neville Brockhouse died Monday, Oct 13 at the age of 85. Brockhouse was the only Canadian-born Nobel laureate to spend his entire life in Canada. He shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in physics for designing the Triple-Axis Neutron Spectroscope.


Alexander Graham Bell Not Canadian and Not Telephone Inventor

Posted:July 21, 2003

While many people think that Alexander Graham Bell was Canadian, he was not. He was a Scottish-born American with a summer home in Canada. Now it comes to light that he may not have been the first to invent the telephone. That distinction now goes to the Italian-American immigrant Antonio Meucci.


Canadian Geometer Coxeter Dies

Posted:April 7, 2003

H. S. M. (Donald) Coxeter died March 31, 2003 at the age of 96. Known as the "Greatest Living Classical Geometer", Coxeter was a huge contributor to the area of mathematics known as "plane geometry"--something he took to the highest levels. Learn more about Coxeter.


Canadian Gets Antibiotics From Mosquitoes

Posted:March 18, 2003

Simon Fraser University biologist Carl Lowenberger wants to know why mosquitoes don't get sick from the infectious diseases they carry. He has isolated several immune system molecules (peptides) from mosquitoes that protect them from harmful pathogens. Perhaps these molecules can become the basis for improved antibiotic drugs for humans. More at Lowenberger's homepage.


Canadian Space Shuttle Experiments

Posted:January 17, 2003

Two Canadian experiments are flying aboard space shuttle mission STS-107: the OSTEO-2 bone loss experiment conducted by Toronto scientists Leticia G. Rao, Tim Murray and others; and an experiment by teams in Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan on growing protein crystals that could help fight cancer and diabetes.


Canadian Research Revises Meteor Science

Posted:December 2, 2002

Earth's upper atmosphere is hit once a year by objects that release energy equivalent to a five kiloton bomb, a Canadian meteor physicist,Peter Brown, of the University of Western Ontario claimed in a recent Nature article. Brown bases his findings on data from US Department of Defense satellites scanning the Earth for evidence of nuclear explosions.


Canada Creates Large Virtual Supercomputer

Posted:November 2, 2002

A team of computer scientists at the University of Alberta have developed CISS (Canadian Internetworked Scientific Supercomputer), the software and social infrastructure for a Canada-wide metacomputer. CISS open source software will go nationwide November 4, 2002 to attack a chemistry problem involving the energies of chirality or "right or left handedness" of molecules. This problem which would normally take 3 - 6 years of computing time should complete in one day on CISS. While software is a major component, Paul Lu, a CISS researcher says, "Much more time and arm-twisting has been spent to convince people to include their systems in CISS. We accept, and are trying to work with, human nature. Technologists ignore human factors at their own peril."


Canada's Space Telescope

Posted:August 2, 2002

UBC astronomer Jaymie Matthews says Canada's first space telescope contains "the most accurate light meter in the world." The telescope should be able to "see" into distant stars and to detect the light from possible planets orbiting them. The telescope was extremely cheap to build, costing 300 times less than the Hubble telescope. It will be launched in April 2003 atop a Russian rocket. Matthews hopes the Canadian telescope will confirm or disprove the existence of other planets which so far can only be inferred from the wobble of some stars.


Canadian offers natural solution to spruce budworm problem

Posted:May 12, 2002

Carleton University researcher Dr. J. David Miller believes that a family of

needle-loving fungi holds the key to stopping the 10 to 15 year cycle of destruction wreaked by the spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana, on Canadian and American forests. Miller discovered that older, natural (not-replanted) forests harbour a "good" anti-budworm toxin-producing fungus. He has found a way to safely innoculate seedlings with it.


Canada's Sharing Attitude Attracts Top Scientists

Posted:April 10, 2002

Leading neurologist David Colman will move himself and his research team of 15 researchers from New York to Montreal where he will become the director of the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill. Colman's stated major reason for the move: "In the States, the individual scientist is stressed, and that creates a system where everyone grabs, and no one is encouraged to share. In Canada, there is a lot more collaboration and sharing."


Canada Underinvests in Science

Posted:March 12, 2002

A study by Save British Science, now known as the Campaign for Science and Engineering claims that, of the G7 nation governments, only Canada and Italy invest less in research and development per capita than the UK. Canada invests only 0.21% of its Gross Domestic Product in research. The report also claims Canadian businesses spend US$358 per worker on research and development compared to Americans who spend US$1065 per worker.


Canadian Scientists Go Faster Than the Speed of Light

Posted:February 2, 2002

Physicists, Alain Haché and Louis Poirier, at the University of Moncton, using what they call a "coaxial photonic crystal" have managed to send electromagnetic pulses a significant distance at three times the speed of light. The remarkable project breaks no laws of physics. In essence, they use cavitation at the tail of the pulse to drive the front wave forward. The result could exert a profound influence on information networking systems. PhysicsWeb has the story.


Canadians begin catalogue of human proteome

Posted:January 11, 2002

Now that scientists have worked out the human genome, the next task is to figure out the human proteome, the total set of proteins the genome encodes. Researchers at the University of Toronto are using supercomputers to do it. In this week's Nature, working with colleagues in Heidelberg, Germany, Canadian geneticists led by Mike Tyers and Michael Moran use a supercomputer to unravel the highly complex interaction of the thousands of proteins coded in the genome of yeast. Their key finding: each protein is involved in numerous interactions and therefore new designer drugs targeted to specific proteins could have serious side effects. Visit Tyer's Lab website to get an idea of the complexity involved.


Canadian Scientists Question National Security ID Schemes

Posted:December 11, 2001

Canadian computer scientists Andrew Clement (U of T) and Felix Stalder (Queens) claim on a website sponsored by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility that none of the recently proposed national identification schemes spawned by the events of Sept 11 clearly state which problem they try to solve and how exactly they would contribute to reducing the danger of terrorism. The scientists point out that such ID systems do endanger our civil liberties. Even more, by relying on the wrong approach to security, the new measures may actually create a false sense of security that leaves us more vulnerable than before.


Vancouver bio tech firm to supply US military

Posted:December 4, 2001

A Canadian biotechnology firm is working with the U.S. Army to develop a nasal spray vaccine that would protect against plague.

ID Biomedical will help ward off the threat of "Black Death" as a bioterrorist weapon.

The Vancouver company's proteosome vaccine technology causes protective immune responses at the mucosal surfaces lining the respiratory tract, including the nose, throat and lungs.


Parasite genome stripped to bare essentials

Posted:November 23, 2001

"This is an exciting time for parasitology," says Patrick J. Keeling of the University of British Columbia, in a News and Views article in this week's Nature magazine refering to the discovery by French researchers that the parasitic microsporidion Encephalitozoon cuniculi has a genome less than 0.1% the size of the human genome and is even smaller than the genomes of many bacteria. Its genes have little ‘junk’ DNA between them. This has nearly erased the genomic record of the organism's evolutionary history, making it difficult to determine how it originated. According to Keeling, other emerging genome sequences will "usher in an age of comparative parasite genomics." If E. cuniculi is an indication, he concludes, "many ‘rules’ are about to be broken." Visit Keeling's lab.


Male garter snakes mimic females to get warm

Posted:November 15, 2001

Australian scientists studying Canadian garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis) suggest in this week's Nature magazine that slow and sleepy male garter snakes might mimic females to fool other males into warming them up. These 'she-males' produce female pheromones at the end of hibernation, causing them to become engulfed in large 'mating balls' of amorous males — sometimes containing more than 100 snakes.


Canadian scientist explains source of ocean colour

Posted:November 4, 2001

"The single most important independent factor responsible for the colour of the open ocean is free-floating, microscopic phytoplankton," says Shubha Sathyendranath, an expert in underwater optics and current head of Remote Sensing and Marine Optics at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML). Sathyendranath is the first person to use satellites to map diatom distribution in the North Atlantic.


Science Teachers Association of Ontario Conference

Posted:September 9, 2001

The creator of this website, Barry Shell, spoke at the STAO Conference : A Science Odyssey Nov 1-3, 2001. The talk focused on the functions, features, and production of science.ca with free open-source Unix software and low cost computer hardware.


Canadians Solve Missing Neutrino Mystery

Posted:July 19, 2001

The 30-year-old "Missing Solar Neutrino Mystery" has been solved in Canada. The first, long-awaited, scientific results from the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory were released in early July 2001. These results offered the first direct and definitive proof that electron-neutrinos produced in the sun's core undergo transformations into muon- and tau-neutrinos en route to the earth. See the details at www.sno.phy.queensu.ca.


Global Change Conference

Posted:July 10, 2001

The Global Change Open Science Conference is being held in Amsterdam July (10-13) just prior to the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol (COP6) meeting in Bonn. This novel conference will present the latest global change research and spell out the major challenges that are facing humanity. For more information, see the International Geosphere and Biosphere Programme.


Women at the Frontier of Excellence

Posted:April 7, 2001

The late great Nobel laureate Michael Smith donated much of his prize winnings to promote Canadian Women in Science. The Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology used the money to produce Women at the Frontier of Excellence. 8AM - 6PM, April 7, 2001.