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Faculty of Science blog news

New McGill degree program in Sustainability, Science, and Society

(Guest blog post by Prof. Navin Ramankutty, Department of Geography) Is it more sustainable to eat locally grown grain-fed meat or organic vegetables imported from far away? If all nations decide to curtail global warming by 2°C, how much would we need to cut emissions, and what are the ethically responsible ways to distribute these reduced [...]

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Published on : 07 Dec 2010

How many monkeys to type a book?

Here is an interesting old riddle.  If we set up a room full of monkeys, how long would we have to wait before they type out Hamlet?  This is sometimes called the infinite monkey problem.  It does not take a long time to figure out this will be a long time. The monkeys can’t read, [...]

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Published on : 26 Nov 2010

The nation’s timekeeper: McGill and the Dominion Observatory

The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences marks its 50th anniversary this year, but meteorological work at McGill began about 150 years ago inside a stone tower built by the Dominion of Canada to track the north star and keep time for the freight trains. Known locally as the McGill Observatory, this tower enclosed a [...]

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Published on : 28 Oct 2010

Toppermost of the poppermost

McGill aspires to be one of the worlds Grande Ecoles.  How do we get there, from where we are now?  When I started as Dean of Science several years ago, this is something to which I gave a lot of thought, and I still think about it a lot. A meeting I had with a [...]

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Published on : 01 Oct 2010

The strange and unusual world of patents

Which famous inventor was furious when his father-in-law applied for a patent before the inventor thought it was ready to go? Answer below, or in this book: The Reluctant Genius by Charlotte Gray (TK6143 B4 G73 2006 in the Schulich Library). Before the answer, you should know that there are still lots to be invented. The [...]

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Published on : 12 Aug 2010

What is Science, and what’s in it for me?

To be a Dean of Science means different things, in a shallow sense, at different institutions.  At the same time it means the same thing, in a deep way, at any institution.  Some Universities have Computer Science in their business schools, some have Biology and Chemistry in their medical schools, some have Mathematics, Psychology, and [...]

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Published on : 15 Jul 2010

Mini-Science Q & A – Are cell phones and WiFi harmful to your health?

At the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evenings presenter, who answers as many as possible on the spot. Three of the unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Lorne Trottiers lecture Are cell phones and WiFi harmful [...]

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Published on : 29 Jun 2010

Mini-Science Q & A – Homeopathy: dilution or delusion?

At the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evenings presenter, who answers as many as possible on the spot. Three of the unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Ariel Fensters lecture Homeopathy: dilution or delusion? (May 12, [...]

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Published on : 02 Jun 2010

Life in Hong Kong

By Edmund Lam One of the primary reasons for choosing Hong Kong as an exchange locale was because most of my extended family lives in Hong Kong. In addition, my parents, who usually live in Montreal, are here in Hong Kong for a few months. As such, I have had, in the last month here in [...]

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Published on : 27 May 2010

Mini-Science Q & A – Creationism, evolution, and God

At the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evenings presenter, who answers as many as possible on the spot. Three of the unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Brian Alters lecture Creationism, evolution, and God (May 5, [...]

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Published on : 12 May 2010

Chile Travels

By Alex Timofeev One of the most exciting parts of my first year as a McGill undergraduate was a unique trip held every year by the Earth & Planetary Sciences department at McGill, the Willy Trip. We choose a country each year to visit in order to appreciate its geology, along with its culture and natural [...]

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Published on : 11 May 2010

Mini-Science Q & A – Vaccines: panaceas or poisons?

At the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evenings presenter, who answers as many as possible on the spot. Three of the unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Brian Wards lecture Vaccines: panaceas or poisons? (April 28, 2010). [...]

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Published on : 06 May 2010

Trees of McGill, and Carrie Derick

By Ingrid Birker “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree”: US poet Joyce Kilmers words have become somewhat of a cliché, but this is only because they are true. Few things are more beautiful than the urban forest of McGill in springtime when the buds and blossoms burst forth. If [...]

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Published on : 03 May 2010

Mini-Science Q & A – The science and fad of hypnosis and other psychological phenomena

At the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evenings presenter, who answers as many as possible on the spot. Three of the unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Amir Razs lecture The science and fad of hypnosis [...]

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Published on : 28 Apr 2010

Mini-Science Q & A – What is the role of climate scientists in the climate change debate?

At the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evenings presenter, who answers as many as possible on the spot. Three of the unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Bruno Tremblays lecture What is the role of [...]

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Published on : 21 Apr 2010