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- November 14, 2016
Roll call for animals more accurate with statistics
Whale sharks carry an identifier as unique as your fingerprint: a pattern of spots behind the gills on the left or right side. In theory, this makes visually identifying and counting the world’s largest fish simple.
- October 12, 2016
High Performance Memory
What’s remarkable about the ultrathin flash memory device Dr. Giovanni Fanchini holds in his hand isn’t the size but its composition.
- October 06, 2016
FASD, methylation and miRNA: changing the “volume” on gene expression
It’s a terrible and yet all too frequent thing when a child is born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). While each child can have a different collection of physical and cognitive symptoms, they will suffer with them for their entire lives. There is no definitive test for FASD and there is no cure, only treatments for individual symptoms. And since indicators like memory difficulties and impulse control aren’t obvious at birth, they can be caught too late or misdiagnosed when the child starts school.
- July 14, 2016
Nature and nurture: identical twins and schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a terrifying mental illness characterized by delusions and hallucinations. While it occurs in only one percent of the population, a much larger proportion of patients belong to families where someone else has had it. Yet even within those families, most people don’t develop the disease, and the identical twin of an affected person only has a 50 percent chance of affliction – not 100 percent.
- June 07, 2016
Consciousness and phantoms: how our brains compensate for an unexpected data gap
Imagine your brain as an airport.
In the airport, predictable networks get a passenger’s luggage checked in, get them through security, get them on the plane and coordinate the plane’s takeoff from a clear runway. Similarly, your brain’s networks communicate with each other so that you can simultaneously walk, talk and think about lunch.
But what happens when expected information isn’t there?
- April 11, 2016
Molecular Motors Similar To Macro Engines
Think of individual proteins as strings of spaghetti. When they fold and combine with other proteins, they create tools that do important work inside a body. These tools are known as molecular machines.
- March 17, 2016
Defusing the retirement bombshell
The 2007-08 worldwide financial crisis forced numerous companies to take drastic steps just to survive. For instance, General Motors got rid of a pension plan that, in its then-underfunded state, could have hampered its recovery.
- March 10, 2016
Computational Brain Science: the networked language of the mind
A “circle” of friends is more like a web, with people networked to each other and collaborating in different ways, for different reasons at different times. For example, you may talk to one friend about your career and a second friend about your family – while they talk to each other about politics. Or you may call on a cousin you don’t see often because they’re knowledgeable about something you want to learn more about.
- February 22, 2016
Urban Noise: The Not-So-Silent Danger to Songbirds
Could human noise be hurting songbirds? We know our consumption habits are changing the climate, and we’re seeing the results in drought and higher food prices. But it looks like our noise is triggering change, too, though we don’t know exactly how.
- February 02, 2016
Mini-moons and shooting stars: how lethal are our skies?
One day about 66 million years ago, life thrived on earth and all was fine.
And then a ten-kilometre wide asteroid hit what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, triggering the rapid, planet-wide extinction of most of the world’s plants and animals.
And it could happen again.
- January 25, 2016
Fracking and Earthquakes: Western’s seismicity research seeks to minimize risks
When a 4.2 magnitude earthquake hit Fox Creek, Alberta in early January, it got a lot of media attention. That’s because the quake was caused by hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – the controversial practice of injecting fluids into deep shale to release oil and gas from the rock’s pores.