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  • Are We Alone?

    How did life originate and are we alone? Perhaps the two most intriguing questions that have puzzled mankind since the dawn of civilization.

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  • Paraben phobia is unjustified

    Stories about recalls of various consumer products are all too common these days, but one about contaminated children’s sunscreen lotion caught my attention.

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  • Green tea extracts and liver disease

    I think we are safe in saying that green tea doesn’t make taste buds frolic. So why do people drink it?

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  • The Problem of Herbicide Resistance

    Farmers who are growing herbicide resistant crops such as corn or soy may start to identify with Audrey Jr. in Little Shop of Horrors.

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  • Fenugreek and Sotalone

    If you have eaten curry, you have probably tasted fenugreek. The seeds of this plant as well as its fresh leaves are commonly used as ingredients in curries.

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  • Gelotophobia

    Gelotophobia can best be defined as the “potentially debilitating fear of being laughed at.” A person suffering from gelotophobia may hear a stranger’s laugh and believe it is aimed at him or her.

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Latest OSS Blog Articles: 

Tempest in a cup
A question came up about the risks of chemicals leaching out of those convenient coffee K cups. Yes, chemicals do leach out. That of course is the idea, you want to leach out the hundreds of compounds that contribute to coffee flavour and aroma and you also want a good shot of the stimulant caffeine. Read More.

But it comes from the Earth!

You may have heard of propylene glycol in several contexts. It is used as a safer alternative to ethylene glycol in antifreeze, as a preservative in foods and cosmetics, as a solvent in some pharmaceuticals and as a carrier of nicotine and flavours in electronic cigarettes. Read More.

Joe Schwarcz’s The Right Chemistry: Paraben phobia is unjustified

Stories about recalls of various consumer products are all too common these days, but one about contaminated children’s sunscreen lotion caught my attention. Read More.

Green tea extracts and liver disease

I think we are safe in saying that green tea doesn’t make taste buds frolic. So why do people drink it? The same reason for which the Chinese have been consuming it for millennia. Its supposed health benefits. Green tea doesn’t contain the flavourful compounds that form when tea leaves are allowed to ferment. Read More.



Did You Know?

In 1858 in Bradford, England, 200 people became ill from eating peppermint lozenges.  Unfortunately, 18 of them died within a week.  The cause?  Arsenic poisoning!  At the time calcium sulfate (Plaster of Paris) was commonly added to peppermint lozenges as a whitening agent.  One day, a druggist’s assistant was making up a batch of the candies and tragically added the wrong powder.  Arsenic oxide, which was sold as a rat poison ended up in the lozenges!  Partly as a result of this episode, the British government passed the Food and Drug Adulteration Act of 1860 which was designed to regulate food safety.  One of the first additives that was approved was calcium sulfate!

For more interesting facts, please make sure to check out our "Did You Know?" section.


Most Recent Science Links:

Light-Activated Memory Switch

Researchers have made mice enjoy spending time in a place they once feared using light-dependent manipulations of the animals’ neurons, according to a study published today (August 27) in Nature. Read More.



Do Antidepressants Work?

Antidepressants have been hailed as miracle drug rock stars and vilified as brain-changing happy pills.  All promotion aside—good or bad—are they effective?  The Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen digs though the data. Read More.



Grossed out by fecal transplants? Now there's a pill instead
Fecal microbiota transplants (FMTs) are exactly what they sound like. They involve taking feces from a healthy person and putting them into the body of a sick patient to strengthen the community of bacteria that live in the patient's gut. Read More.


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