Killifish (Credit: HelixPermit)
In scientific news that’s fishy yet factual, biologists from the University of Guelph have found that certain tiny fish in the Caribbean are actually able to survive out of water for extended periods of time because of the unique properties of their skin.
In order to stay alive, animals must maintain a balance of ions and water at the cellular level. Most fish accomplish this balance through their gills; however, gills need to be filled with water to function in this way.
According to researchers, led by Patricia Wright, killifish are able to bypass this constant need for water because of unique skins that allow them to adapt and thrive in extreme conditions. Wright’s research found that killifish have special skin cells called ionocytes that function to exchange salt and water—essentially facilitating respiration through the skin.
. . . → Read More: No More Need to be Under the Sea? New Study Shows Some Fish Can Survive on Land
Most people know that they’ll be ingesting caloric health risks when they chomp down on some junk food, but a recent Canadian study suggests that they could be swallowing even more than they bargained for in their burgers.
According to scientists at the University of Toronto, certain chemicals added to fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags are transferred into food and ingested by unsuspecting consumers, eventually ending up in peoples’ bloodstreams.
Polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs) are used in paper food contact packaging—like junk food wrappers and the bags containing microwave popcorn—to help prevent leakage of oils from traditionally greasy foods. As these PAPs break down, they create chemicals called perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs).
The study, published in Environmental Health Perspective, shows how these chemicals can transfer from wrappers into food; that is, when people eat foods from these packages, they can be unknowingly exposed to PFCAs.
Credit: . . . → Read More: If You Are What You Eat, You Might Be a Dangerous Chemical
Drop in on any sandbox or teddy bear tea party—it’s no secret that kids have pretty big imaginations. But, according to new research conducted at the University of Waterloo, youngsters’ mental representations may be even more vibrant than were previously understood.
In a series of studies published in Cognition, led by psychology scholar Agnieszka Fecica, researchers have discovered that preschool-aged children mentally simulate character experiences when listening to stories being read out loud.
Lead author Agnieszka Fecica (University of Waterloo)
The researchers asked four- and five-year-olds to listen to a story, one sentence at a time, on a computer; using this method, the researchers found that the children took varying amounts of time to process each sentence depending on what the character in the story was doing. That is, the children altered the time it takes them to process parts of a story based on their perceived ideas . . . → Read More: Imagination as Creation: Narrative Comprehension in Preschoolers
No, it’s not time to start reading Keats to your MacBook. Poetry is, however, making an impact on the world of computers.
Although computer voices are currently able to pronounce words, the voices of computers often come across as stilted and unnatural. As such, researchers are now using poetry to investigate how and where people place emphasis in words; using poetry, researchers aim to aid computer programmers in developing more realistic speech programs.
According to work published by McGill University linguist Dr. Michael Wagner, by studying how both English and French speakers read poetry — in terms of rhythm, stress and intonation — researchers can gain a better understanding of where speakers place emphasis in everyday speech. In this way, Wagner’s research could help programmers create computer speech programs with natural-sounding voices.
What is we used poetry to teach computers to speak better? [McGill . . . → Read More: Power Poetics: Using Poetry to Improve the Speaking Skills of Computers
With their massive bodies, tiny arms and penchant for meat, the Tyrannosaurus rex has long been recognized as one of the most ferocious species of dinosaurs. Now, thanks to new research into the musculoskeletal structure of the T. rex, it’s even more apparent how the dinosaur managed to be such a successful hunter.
According to University of Alberta researcher Scott Persons, who utilized detailed measurements of T. rex bones and computer modeling programs, the key to the T. rex’s power and speed is in its distinctly designed tail.
In reptiles like the T. rex, as well as modern animals like crocodiles, tail muscles are attached to upper leg bones—giving the reptile tail a powerful stroke and aiding forward movement. In his research, however, Persons found that the tail of the T. rex has a unique characteristic: while modern reptile tails are limited by rib bones attached to the vertebral . . . → Read More: Just Another Reason to Avoid Jurassic Park: Rethinking the Tail of the T. Rex
In news that sounds like it could double as the beginning of the diabolical plot from a sci-fi super-villain, a group of international scientists has captured antimatter atoms for the first time in history.
The team—which includes Canadian physicists from Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, York University and TRIUMF—has developed an innovative technique to trap atoms of antimatter long enough to be studied.
Antimatter is the opposite of matter, which is the substance that makes up our universe. Scientists believe that at the time of the Big Bang, when the universe was created, there was an equal amount of antimatter to match the amount of matter in the universe.
Up until now, it has been impossible to trap, and thus study, antimatter because antimatter is instantly annihilated when it comes into contact with matter. As matter is the substance that makes up . . . → Read More: From Science Fiction to Science: Researchers Capture Atomic Antimatter
Virtual reality is more than just video games and entertainment.
BKIN Technologies co-founders Ian Brown (seated) and Stephen Scott with the KINARM Assessment System (Credit: Queen's University)
Case in point: a new Canadian invention is taking virtual reality and using it to understand, assess and heal brain injuries.
Dr. Stephen Scott, professor of neuroscience at Queen’s University, has developed a new technology that will aid healthcare workers in evaluating brain injuries and disease.
The KINARM Assessment Station (Kinesiological Instrument for Normal and Altered Reaching Movements) uses a chair with robotic arms and a virtual reality system in order to test brain function. Patients using the KINARM system are led through a series of virtual exercises and tests like hitting balls with virtual paddles.
When complete, the system generates a report comparing the patient’s brain behaviors to normal brain behaviors—allowing healthcare workers to identify variations and assess brain injuries . . . → Read More: Robotic Arms Lend a Virtual Hand to Brain Science
(Credit: Dr. Richard Lester, University of British Columbia)
Text messaging, which often gets a bad rap for its addictive, misanthropic properties, might just be a valuable tool for health management. As reported by a study headed by University of British Columbia researcher Dr. Richard Lester, text messaging is the centre of a support system that improves the chances of staying healthy for Kenyans with HIV.
According to Lester’s study, patients who received a once weekly check-in delivered through a cell phone SMS text message—simple messages like “how are you”—were 12 per cent more likely to report a low, undetectable level of the HIV virus after a year of antiretroviral (ART) treatment.
How can texting lead to moderated levels of HIV?
When used properly, ART medication can help the HIV virus to remain dormant within patients, thus lowering the risk of transmission to others, reducing the spread of . . . → Read More: Texting Treatment: SMS Messaging Helps Kenyans with HIV Stay Healthy for Longer
For a group of Canadian archaelogists in Belize, the writing really is on the wall—and it’s significant to the study of Mayan history. Trent University archaeologists have found what the name of a once unknown Mayan ruler in North-Central Belize.
The archaeology team, led by Trent professor Dr. Helen R. Haines, discovered markings painted on 5th Century A.D. tomb walls at a Ka’Kabish site. The markings, or hieroglyphs, are believed to indicate the name of an important person or ruler from ancient Mayan times.
If the tomb proves to be that of a ruler it could open up new understanding about the political structure of the area. Prior to the Trent archaeologists’ findings, it was believed that smaller sites like Ka’Kabish were secondary and of little political importance during Mayan times. If a ruler was entombed in Ka’Kabish, it could indicate different power alliances in the . . . → Read More: The Writing’s On the Wall: Trent Team Discovers Previously Unknown Mayan Ruler
Credit: Thyrza Segal
A lot of costumers that I have worked with have gone to Dalhousie for their costume program. Dalhousie’s costume program is the most well known and provides an excellent basic knowledge of cutting and construction for its grads. I understand that Patrick Clark is teaching there now and he is a very fine designer as well as a great expert on the history of costume. He is also personable and a good teacher which is an invaluable trait that some professors lack.
The school is in Nova Scotia so I did not even hear of it until I was a wardrobe intern at the Banff Festival for the Arts. I might have gone had I known about it sooner. I am glad that I went to fashion school though as opposed to costume studies because I have a more diverse education. It did mean that . . . → Read More: Theatre Costume Schools in Canada