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Scientist at work: Russian comforts on Antarctic ice

Fri, 2013-01-18 12:45

(Michael Becker, a doctoral student at McGill University, was a scientific diver on an expedition to Lake Untersee, Antarctica, this is part two in a series of blog posts for the NYT): Fieldwork in the polar latitudes is often 50 percent science and 50 percent logistics. When the weather goes bad the science drops quickly to zero. That’s the position we found ourselves in as we waited to depart our transit town of Cape Town, South Africa.

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Phosphorus footprint shifting dietary habits

Fri, 2013-01-18 12:44

Increased use of phosphorus in food products since the 1960s is now putting pressure on the sustainable supply of the essential mineral, warn researchers. Between 1961 and 2007, rising meat consumption and total calorie intake resulted in a 38 percent increase in the world's per capita "phosphorus footprint", according to a research by Canada's McGill University.

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Who needs drugs when you've got music?

Fri, 2013-01-18 12:43

It happened again last Saturday. And boy, when it hit me it felt great — though it left me a little shaken. … Time to call Daniel Levitin for some answers. He's the guy who wrote a fascinating book called This is Your Brain on Music. The McGill University professor confirmed that I'm far from alone in experiencing these very strong reactions to music. And it seems my analogy to drugs wasn't far off. "It's not surprising that we have these intense reactions to the environment and that they can be said to be similar to drug states," Levitin told me. "They are drug states.

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Blood pressure and painkiller mix cause kidney problems

Fri, 2013-01-11 09:49

People who take a combination of blood pressure drugs and certain painkillers are at increased risk for serious kidney problems that doctors should watch for, Canadian researchers say. People who are prescribed a combination of blood pressure medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are often at high risk of kidney injury, which is associated with about half of potentially preventable deaths in hospital.

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Why hackers are so much funnier than you are

Fri, 2013-01-11 09:44

The popular stereotype is that hardcore techies are, well, humor-challenged. But software hackers are another matter. Despite his inability to keep a straight face when a reporter calls asking about supreme moral vigilance in the programming world, Bob Nystrom is living proof that hackers thrive on humor in ways other techies rarely do... You’ll hear much the same thing from Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist who spent three years living with hardcore software hackers and recently documented the experience in a book called Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking.

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Muslims engage in quest to understand evolution

Fri, 2013-01-11 09:44

More than 850 delegates flocked to a seminal conference in London on Saturday about the compatibility of modern evolutionary theory and Islamic theology – despite scaremongering and the refusal of Islamic student societies to participate. Determined organisers had overcome pressure to cancel by changing the venue from Imperial College to Logan Hall at the University of London. The event was the brainchild of the Deen Institute, which runs courses to promote critical thinking among Muslim students and kindle rational dialogue within Islam.

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Accessible learning for students with disabilities

Thu, 2013-01-10 09:57

McGill University takes the lead implementing Universal Design… As a McGill University student with a learning disability, Cedric Yarish hates when professors rely on “chalk and talk.” What helps him with his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is when professors engage students in discussion, present their material in a variety of interesting ways and provide options for student evaluation, such as a choice between exams or papers or other types of multimedia projects.

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McGill study probes secrets of elderly fitness

Thu, 2013-01-10 09:55

Why do some seniors struggle to get up off the coach, whereas others hit the gym as if they were decades younger? A husband and wife research team at McGill wondered just that and embarked on a study to try to determine what makes some age better than others.
Their quest has led them to invite 14 elderly athletes to Montreal for a series of tests. “I recruited, scouted and picked out all of the winners who came in first, second and third in their events and invited them all to Montreal for the week,” explained McGill Exercise Physiologist Tanja Taivassalo.

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Canada missing out on pharmaceutical research

Thu, 2013-01-10 09:54

(John Bergeron): Canada is a strong nation economically, with a $1.7-trillion gross domestic product and spending on research and development in excess of $30 billion annually. By any measure these numbers are among the best in the world. But pharmaceutical research, once strong, is in decline in this country.

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NHL on its way back, but will hockey fans follow?

Thu, 2013-01-10 09:53

After months of waiting and hoping, hockey fans reacted with a mix of emotions Sunday to news of a tentative agreement between the NHL and its players.

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