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McGill's new music lab

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.

Published: 22 Mar 2008

Rock producer turned gonzo academic

Sandy Pearlman was known for producing records by Blue Oyster Cult and The Clash before he became the Schulich Music School's distinguished visiting scholar. But he's a gonzo academic at heart: At the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1966, he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in the History of Ideas. He completed graduate work at Brandeis and was a New School Fellow in Sociology and Anthropology. He now finds himself in his element at McGill.

Published: 22 Mar 2008

The book that began invasion ecology

Anthony Ricciardi, an associate professor at the Redpath Museum, co-authors a review in Nature of Charles Elton's 50-year-old text "The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants" which founded a field and is now cited more than ever.

Published: 20 Mar 2008

Estrogen and memory

Research by Dr. Barbara Sherwin of the department of psychology at McGill is cited in an article on a connection between estrogen levels and memory loss in older women. Professor Sherwin also comments for the story.

Published: 18 Mar 2008

Dollar Bears

"How can $20 billion in Bear Stearns market value evaporate overnight? Though many are asking this question today, few are noticing the fact that, since 2002, trillions of dollars worth of business and U.S.-government debt value has evaporated. This happened because the Federal Reserve has neglected the dollar." McGill economist Reuven Brenner writes an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on the US financial crisis.

Published: 18 Mar 2008

Re-thinking our "dollar store" tuition policy

"In a globalized world, where we compete not just with the city or province next door but with institutions, cities and nations on the other side of the planet, we not only face immense challenges, but are offered significant opportunities." Heather Munroe-Blum, principal and vice-chancellor of McGill has an op-ed in the online version of The Gazette, adapted from an address given to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations Monday, March 10.

Published: 17 Mar 2008

Leaky black holes

A new study hints that black holes might not be as good at keeping secrets as researchers have long thought. A pair of physicists, including McGill's Patrick Hayden, has reexamined the time it would take for information to potentially escape from inside a black hole.

Published: 17 Mar 2008

Exchange program on climate change

Five students at Holy Trinity school in St. John's are hoping their environmental projects will land them a place on an Arctic tour as part of an international exchange program about climate change. One student from Holy Trinity will join other youth from schools in Britain, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Ireland in a Russian research vessel, leaving Reykjavik on Sept. 7 with the 28 final students and spend 13 days cruising around Greenland and Baffin island, and docking in Iqualit. Two Canadian researchers will accompany the students, including Bruno Tremblay, an assistant professor in the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at McGill and Christopher Burn, from Carleton. Both scientists specialize in northern environments.

Published: 17 Mar 2008

Disease diagnostics: Third-harmonic generation reveals malarial infection

Canadian researchers have developed a technique that relies on nonlinear optical effects to detect the existence and extent of the malaria parasite in human blood. The advance offers the promise of low-cost, self-contained, field-portable kits to diagnose the disease effectively in regions where it is endemic and qualified technicians are rare. A team led by Paul Wiseman, associate professor of chemistry and physics at McGill University has proposed a far less labour-intensive method to achieve the same result. It relies on the nonlinear optical effect known as third-harmonic generation.

Published: 14 Mar 2008

Language experts disagree

McGill researcher Fred Genesee, one of the country's leading language experts, says the research is indisputable - the earlier a child begins studying French, the more likely it is to sink in. Genesee's advice, and that of other experts in the field, harshly contradicts recommendations in the highly controversial French second-language report released last week in New Brunswick by the Department of Education.

Published: 8 Mar 2008

Enough! (For most of us)

While we shovel it, Ron Stewart studies it. Stewart is the director of McGill's Extreme Weather study group, and for him and his colleagues, our snowbound city is one big lab. "I enjoy a storm," Stewart enthused yesterday. "Looking at ice pellets on my sleeves on Wednesday, looking at the kind of crystals coming down - it's like a laboratory for me."

Published: 7 Mar 2008

Shaping the future

Plastic Knowledge, a McGill spin-off company, has made the first flexible plastic display with the circuitry embedded in the screen itself. That means the computer and the screen are one and the same. And it's fully flexible. "We like to say we're breaking the glass ceiling on displays," said Mark Andrews, the firm's chief technology officer and a McGill scientist.

Published: 26 Feb 2008

Some good ideas for fixing medicare

Antonia Maioni, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, writes in an op-ed in the Gazette: "The report of Claude Castonguay's working group on health-care financing was released last week to a great hue and cry across Quebec. In the rush to sink the report like a stone, we might be overlooking the fact that a good portion of it actually addresses the organizational aspects of the health-care system. Regardless of where they stand on the issue of health-care privatization, most Quebecers would agree that organizational reform is very much needed."


Published: 26 Feb 2008

The music illusion

As part of a special issue on music for New Scientist magazine, McGill neuroscientist Daniel Levitin pens "The Music Illusion," which looks at auditory illusions and how they can help us understand the workings of the human brain.

Published: 24 Feb 2008

Powerful explosions suggest neutron star is missing link

Observations from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) have revealed that the youngest known pulsing neutron star has thrown a temper tantrum. The collapsed star occasionally unleashes powerful bursts of X-rays, which are forcing astronomers to rethink the life cycle of neutron stars. "We are watching one type of neutron star literally change into another right before our very eyes. This is a long-sought missing link between different types of pulsars," says Fotis Gavriil of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Gavriil is lead author of a paper in the February 21 issue of Sciencexpress. McGill's Vicky Kaspi is a co-author of the paper, as well as Marjorie Gonzalez, who worked on the paper at McGill but is now based at the University of British Columbia.

Published: 21 Feb 2008