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  • Western: Black widow spiders rely on posture and body dynamics for survival and sex

    A new study led by Western University’s Natasha Mhatre (Assistant Professor, Department of Biology) shows that body dynamics and posture are crucial to how black widow spiders decode the important vibrations that travel through their webs and up their legs. Black widows rely on these vibrations for sexual signals, capturing prey and evading predators. For the study, Mhatre investigated how female black widow spiders use their sensory organs, which are called slit sensilla. (These are distributed all over their bodies and resemble tiny cracks in their exoskeletons). Mhatre focused particularly on the slit sensilla found at their leg joints, which sense web vibrations.

  • Western: Western planetary scientists assist in capturing first full-colour image of NASA InSight using HiRISE space camera

    Houston, there is no problem here. Eric Pilles assisted in capturing – for the first-time ever – extraordinary and highly significant scientific images of the NASA InSight robotic lander using HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), the camera currently monitoring the Red Planet aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. A rising star at Western University’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX), Pilles started his academic career in economic geology but has since transitioned into planetary sciences now as a postdoctoral associate under the supervision of Livio Tornabene and CPSX Director Gordon Osinski.

  • The Globe and Mail: Will Canada boldly join the next-generation space station project?

    An opinion piece by Amit Chakma. Members of Canada’s space community including academic and business leaders are currently engaged in an urgent dialogue that’s highlighting how the window may be closing on Canada’s opportunity to play a leadership role in the development of the global space economy, as well as the next steps in the exploration of space. There are positive signs that our government leaders see Canada’s potential in space. But we need to take a few bold steps requiring major investments by the government. The stakes are too high and time is too short if we’re serious about enabling the next generation of Canadian explorers and entrepreneurs to secure this country’s place in the burgeoning space economy. Canada can and should be an important player in the Lunar Gateway Project.

  • CBC: Is AI that screens potential babysitters a good idea?

    Our own Dan Lizotte (Department of Computer Science) weighs in on AI-hiring startup Predictim. The startup claims it can parse through a potential caregiver's social media profiles — Facebook, Instagram and Twitter specifically — to generate a four-part risk assessment report. According to the company's website, the platform uses "advanced artificial intelligence" to grade caregivers on their "propensity towards Bullying/Harassment, Disrespectfulness/Bad Attitude, Explicit Content, and Drug Abuse." But is it a good idea?