The jewel at McGill is the new music building, a 7-floor glass and concrete building connected to old Strathcona Hall, kick-started by a $20 million gift from real estate magnate and alumnus Seymour Schulich, inspired when fellow developer and Toronto Symphony director Joe Sorbora told him: "Music is what makes us human." The worlds of neuroscience, law, digital technology, psychology, acoustics and physical fitness are mingling with musical theory and performance, making it a global leader in conservatory research.
The Washington Post caught up with the author of "This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession," Daniel Levitin, whose rocking out is now confined to a sax and guitar gig with McGill's "Diminished Faculties."
Need musical accompaniment for the day's dusting? Crank up AC/DC's Back in Black. The advice emerges from a study done by McGill music and psychology professor Daniel Levitin that looks inside the brain to understand not only our emotional responses to music but also explores the physiological reasons for why different types of music suit different activities.
There was an astonishing revelation at McGill's recent conference on pulsars. The pulsar was first observed in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell Burnell, and the Nobel Prize in Physics for its discovery went to her supervisor, Professor Antony Hewish. In fact, pulsars had previously been noticed by a U.S. army sergeant. Some 40 years later, Charles Schisler revealed his secret to a Montreal audience of scientists and researchers.
Why does a sweet guitar lick give us goose bumps? The CBC interviews musician, sound engineer, record producer and McGill neuroscientist Daniel Levitin. His bestselling book, This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, comes out in paperback on Aug. 28.
There is less sea ice in the Arctic than ever before recorded, thanks in part to a warm, sunny summer, and the melting season isn't even over. Bruno Tremblay, assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at McGill, is planning a research cruise to the Russian Arctic in September. He has been observing updated maps of the sea ice extent, which show the quickly melting ice. "I never thought it would go that low that fast," Tremblay said. "There's still a month of melting in front of us, and we're already past the record of 2005."
A conference co-organized by Vicky Kaspi and Andrew Cumming, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the discovery of the first radio pulsar in the summer of 1967, will be hosted by the pulsar group at McGill, August 12-17, 2007. Important discoveries of the last 40 years will be highlighted, addressing the most interesting and topical areas of neutron star astrophysics today. Some 200 astrophysicists from around the world will be assembled for the conference.
Umpires may be playing favourites on the field, according to a new study co-authored by McGill researchers. Their research shows umpires monitoring Major League Baseball games are more likely to make calls in favour of the pitcher if they share the same race or ethnic background. More than two million pitches over three seasons of MLB games were analyzed during the study by Christopher Parsons, an assistant professor of finance at McGill's Desautels Faculty of Management. His colleagues at the University of Texas and Auburn University co-authored the study.
An experimental DNA vaccine to fight multiple sclerosis is safe and may also be effective, results of a small McGill trial suggest. The vaccine, called BHT-3009, works by preventing the immune system from attacking the myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. "This was an early trial of a new class of drugs for autoimmune disease in general and for MS in particular," said lead researcher Dr. Amit Bar-Or, of McGill's Montreal Neurological Institute. The findings were published online Monday in Archives of Neurology and are expected to be published in the October print issue of the journal.
A team from McGill, York and Dalhousie universities is hard at work refining AQUA, the world's first amphibious robot. AQUA is a mechanized marine biologist capable of walking on land and swimming underwater -- and it doesn't run out of air, disturb organisms during surveys or suffer decompression sickness at depths below 30 metres. "Like many robots before, AQUA is bio-inspired," says McGill's Chris Prahacs, one of the robot's original designers. "Visually and in the way it moves, AQUA could best be described as a turtle -- though it has six flippers instead of four."