Faculty of Science news
After nearly 60,000 votes and months of sometimes furious debate, the results are in for the Greatest McGillians contest. In the end, voters gave the nod to a trio of illustrious McGillians whose achievements represent three different pillars of the university’s excellence: Thomas Chang, BSc’57, MDCM’61, PhD’65, the inventor of the artificial blood cell, poet and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, B
(Joe Schwarcz): "Do you have any liquids, gels or powdered fruit drinks?" Except for the powdered fruit drinks, such questions have become routine at airports. But back on July 10, 2006, I had no idea why I was being asked this bizarre question.
Homeowners and taxpayers are picking up most of the tab for damages caused by invasive tree-feeding insects that are inadvertently imported along with packing materials, live plants, and other goods. That’s the conclusion of a team of biologists and economists, whose research findings are reported in the journal PLoS ONE this week.
(Chemistry professor Joe Schwarcz): The world's 6,500-odd peer-reviewed scientific journals disgorge an average of four scientific papers every minute of every day. That's more than two million good, bad, and mostly mediocre papers, every year! No surprise then that a study can be found to back up virtually any point of view.
(Chemistry prof Joe Schwarcz): "I set my alarm clock for 1 a.m. so that I could wake up in total darkness. Because only with eyes accustomed to the dark would I be able to 'see genuine atoms split!'"
CFI has announced the winners of the most recent awards given out under the Leaders of Opportunity Fund. Among those who have received an award are biology professors Sarah Woolley and Jon Sakata. They are hoping to gain some insight into the neural basis of human communication disorders by studying how songbirds, such as zebra and Bengalese finches, learn how to sing.
(Chemistry prof. Joe Schwarcz): "Here's a question for you. What is the prime use for birds' nests in China? The answer? For birds to lay their eggs in! Did I get you with that one? Did you say bird's nest soup? Well, that certainly is the second most popular use of birds' nests. Believe it or not, some 200 tons of nests are consumed in the world every year, with Hong Kong diners leading the way."
Mass media have recently reported that modern science is already capable of resurrecting dinosaurs. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to resurrect the lizards that became extinct 65 million years ago. However, it is possible to create new ones.
(Chemistry professor Joe Schwarcz): "Dr. Karl Koller looked in the mirror and proceeded to poke himself in the eye with the head of a pin. He felt nothing. The cocaine solution he had dripped into his eye that day in 1884 had clearly done its job. More than that, the experiment would prove to be the springboard for a giant leap in medicine…"
(Chemistry prof Joe Schwarcz): "I must say that I have never previously heard a study described as 'majestically scientific.' But the British do have a way with words."
(Ariel Fenster, Organisation pour la science et la société de l’Université McGill): "Le fugu, ce poisson qui fait partie du patrimoine culinaire et culturel du Japon, est menacé. En fait, ce sont ses propriétés toxiques qui sont menacées."
(Chemistry prof Joe Schwarcz): And the 2011 U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award goes to (drum roll .) BioAmber Inc. for its production of biobased succinic acid.