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Making the most of a shitty situation

The distinctive “fecal prints” of microbes potentially provide a record of how Earth and life have co-evolved over the past 3.5 billion years as the planet’s temperature, oxygen levels, and greenhouse gases have changed. But, despite more than 60 years of study, it has proved difficult, until now, to “read” much of the information contained in this record. Research from McGill University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), sheds light on the mysterious digestive processes of microbes, opening the way towards a better understanding of how life and the planet have changed over time.

Published: 23Dec2014

Prof. Victoria Kaspi, Fellow of the American Physical Society

Congratulations to Professor Victoria Kaspi in the Department of Physics! She has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society for advancing our understanding of the astrophysics of neutron stars by elucidating the relationship between anomalous X-ray pulsars, soft gamma-ray repeaters, and magnetars.

Published: 16Dec2014

Prof. Charles Gale, Humboldt Research Award

Congratulations to Dr. Charles Gale, James McGill Professor in the Department of Physics, for winning a Humboldt Research Award!

Valued at 60,000 EUR, this award is granted by Germany's Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung/Foundation in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date. The award recognizes scholars whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.

Published: 16Dec2014

TV Broadcasts: Trottier Symposium and Mini-Science

Got an itch for knowledge? The Canal Savoir network will be broadcasting features from several McGill outreach and public lecture series, including the 2014 Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium: Are we alone? Searching for life out there and Mini-Science 2014: The Science of Music. Refer to those schedules to find out when to tune in, and to find out more about each episode.

Published: 9Dec2014

Parasites and the evolution of primate culture

Learning from others and innovation have undoubtedly helped advance civilization. But these behaviours can carry costs as well as benefits. And a new study by an international team of evolutionary biologists sheds light on how one particular cost – increased exposure to parasites – may affect cultural evolution in non-human primates.

Published: 3Dec2014

Social media data pose pitfalls for studying behaviour

A growing number of academic researchers are mining social media data to learn about both online and offline human behaviour. In recent years, studies have claimed the ability to predict everything from summer blockbusters to fluctuations in the stock market.

Published: 27Nov2014

Mars, too, has macroweather

Weather, which changes day-to-day due to constant fluctuations in the atmosphere, and climate, which varies over decades, are familiar. More recently, a third regime, called “macroweather,” has been used to describe the relatively stable regime between weather and climate.

Published: 13Nov2014

So, you think you can clap to the beat?

 Bobbing your head, tapping your heel, or clapping along with the music is a natural response for most people, but what about those who can’t keep a beat?

Published: 10Nov2014

McGill's Lasko, Meaney among Prix du Québec winners

Two renowned McGill University researchers are among the 14 winners of the 2014 Prix du Québec. Professor Michael Meaney, acclaimed for his achievements in the biology of child development, will be awarded the Wilder-Penfield prize. Professor Paul Lasko, a celebrated developmental biologist, will receive the Armand-Frappier award. The Prix du Québec is considered the most prestigious award attributed by the Government of Québec in cultural and scientific fields.

Published: 4Nov2014

Watching the hidden life of materials

Researchers at McGill University have succeeded in simultaneously observing the reorganizations of atomic positions and electron distribution during the transformation of the “smart material” vanadium dioxide (VO2) from a semiconductor into a metal – in a timeframe a trillion times faster than the blink of an eye.

Published: 27Oct2014

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