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Historians reject depression fears

Canadians are feeling the effects of the global economic downturn, but the current woes are nothing like what was experienced in the '30s, historians say. In fact, despite the economic malaise, optimism remains high that the country will emerge stronger. We are "light years" from the Great Depression, says McGill University economist William Watson.

Published: 6 Apr 2009

Has 'Breast is best' gone too far?

In the April issue of The Atlantic, Hanna Rosin weighs the arguments on breastfeeding over bottle-feeding and in so doing creates a ripple of controversy: "So overall, yes, breast is probably best," Rosin decides. "But not so much better that formula deserves the label of 'public health menace,' alongside smoking..." Rosin looks at research from McGill's Dr. Michael Kramer for her article.

Published: 3 Apr 2009

McGill Conference: Muslim students weigh in on evolution

The Can$250,000 Islam and Evolution research project is the first large study of evolution in countries with significant Muslim populations. Results from the three-year project were presented at a symposium at McGill University in Montreal. The data could help teachers and students from diverse backgrounds work together better.

Published: 3 Apr 2009

Toxins in your fries?

Lab studies on animals have proven the carcinogenic properties of acrymalide, but McGill's Dr. Ariel Fenster explains that the animals used in the lab tests were exposed to high doses of acrymalide not comparable to typical amounts ingested by humans.

Published: 4 Mar 2009

Do antioxydants really help us live longer?

In the journal PLoS Genetics, biologist Siegfried Hekimi demonstrates that worms that have been genetically modified to be less effective at antioxydation -- the elimination of free radicals -- live just as long as regular worms. One of the modified worms actually lived longer than normal.

Published: 3 Mar 2009

Jurassic cluck

Jack Horner, the paleontologist whose career inspired the film Jurassic Park, is funding scientists on a quest he hopes will culminate in a fowl whose DNA has been "reverse-engineered" to make the bird more similar to its dinosaur ancestors. The work is carried out by Hans Larsson, a biologist at McGill University in Montreal, and Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist at North Carolina University.

Published: 2 Mar 2009

Child abuse alters stress-fighting gene, study says

In a study published in the Journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers report that people who were abused or neglected as children showed genetic alterations that likely made them more biologically sensitive to stress. The findings help clarify the biology behind the wounds of a difficult childhood and hint at what constitutes resilience in those able to shake off such wounds.

Published: 24 Feb 2009

Guillaume Gervais, physicist

If you imagine a grain of sand and then divide that by a million, you'll have an idea of the size of a nanometer, a measurement of the infinitely small which excites the passions of physicist Guillaume Gervais. In his laboratory at McGill, the researcher opens his door to the cameras of "Québec scientifique".

Published: 17 Feb 2009

Cutting-edge optical laser technique promises to eliminate the need for slides, staining and microscopes

Paul Wiseman and his research team have developed a radically new technique that uses lasers and non-linear optical effects to detect malaria infection in human blood. The new technique promises simpler, faster and far less labour-intensive detection of the malaria parasite in blood samples.

Published: 17 Feb 2009

Effects of rural depopulation

When communities are broken apart by migration towards towns and cities, rural life suffers. But now, researchers have revealed that biodiversity can also be affected when humans move away. Aerin Jacob, a biologist at McGill University, and her team discovered that as people leave an area, one dominant habitat comes to take over from the diverse mosaic of human-maintained landscapes.

Published: 23 Jan 2009

Debunking myths doesn't zap sci-fi's fun

McGill University's Freaky Fridays program, a series of science lectures followed by film screenings, is here to demystify science, dispel some of its more pervasive myths, and keep us terrified of an approaching scientific apocalypse. Started in 2006, the now-monthly series is organized by Ingrid Birker, McGill's science outreach co-ordinator.

Published: 13 Jan 2009

Change in FDA's ethical guidelines for clinical trials troubling

In a commentary published in the Jan. 3 issue of the Lancet, medical research expert Jonathan Kimmelman of McGill University, along with colleagues from the University of Western Ontario and University of Indiana call the FDA's move away from the Declaration of Helsinki as an ethical foundation for international clinical trials "troubling."

Published: 5 Jan 2009

Don't fix the economy. Change it

An opinion piece by Peter G. Brown of McGill and Geoffrey Garver: "Sticking with the economic model that is driving us toward ecological catastrophe will eventually kill us."

Published: 5 Jan 2009

Automated Anesthesia

In May, researchers at the McGill University Health Centre announced the creation of what they call the world's first fully automated anesthesia system, which has been used in 40 operations so far. In its 8th annual Year in Ideas, New York Times Magazine looks at the McGill innovation known as 'McSleepy'.

Published: 13 Dec 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Holiday music is inescapable. McGill professor Daniel J. Levitin in the Wall St. Journal explains the ancient drive to listen to familiar songs, the psychological effects of music and why 'Little Drummer Boy' is so annoying.

Published: 13 Dec 2008