Brian Owens http://www.scibri.com Freelance writer and editor Fri, 11 Aug 2017 20:39:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Ivy Asks… Are there other planets like Earth? http://www.scibri.com/2017/08/11/ivy-asks-are-there-other-planets-like-earth/ Fri, 11 Aug 2017 20:39:16 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=685

Ivy wanted to know if there were other planets like Earth out there, so she asked an expert from the University of New Brunswick…and took a look at Jupiter while she was there!

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CMA adopts patient focus http://www.scibri.com/2017/08/03/cma-adopts-patient-focus/ Thu, 03 Aug 2017 17:29:56 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=682 Continue Reading ]]> The Canadian Medical Association’s new three-year strategy, CMA 2020, aims to make the organization more outward-facing and patient-focused.

The changes came after a period of soul-searching on what the purpose of the CMA was, and how it could best serve its members and the public, said Dr. Brian Brodie, chairman of the board of directors. “We recognize that there are a lot of associations doctors belong to, and why would they pay to belong to different ones that do the same thing?” he said. “So it was important to look for opportunities for us to do something different.” Read more in CMAJ.

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Cybersecurity for the travelling scientist http://www.scibri.com/2017/08/02/cybersecurity-for-the-travelling-scientist/ Wed, 02 Aug 2017 11:13:38 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=680 Continue Reading ]]> Virtual private networks, tracking apps and ‘burner’ laptops: how to protect sensitive data when you take your research on the road.

Mark Gerstein has had his fair share of scares when it comes to losing track of his electronic devices — and, along with them, access to his private information and research data.

“I’m very security conscious, but also a bit of an absent-minded professor,” says Gerstein, a bioinformatician at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Read more in Nature.

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Free certification for US cannabis labs to help fight opioid epidemic http://www.scibri.com/2017/07/27/free-certification-for-us-cannabis-labs-to-help-fight-opioid-epidemic/ Thu, 27 Jul 2017 12:36:00 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=678 Continue Reading ]]> Ensuring that America’s medical marijuana is reliable and of high quality will help patients and drive down opioid use in the country, according to Americans for Safe Access.

A group dedicated to improving access to and the safety of medicinal cannabis in the US is offering its certification programme free of charge to cannabis testing labs to help fight the country’s opioid epidemic.

The Americans for Safe Access (ASA)’s Patient Focused Certification (PFC) programme is intended to be a mark of quality for cannabis testing labs, and to help them prepare for ISO 17025 accreditation – the main international standard for demonstrating the technical competence and accuracy of testing and calibration labs, says Jahan Marcu, director of the certification programme. Read more in Chemistry World.

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The Climate Bomb Lurking Under Arctic Permafrost http://www.scibri.com/2017/07/25/the-climate-bomb-lurking-under-arctic-permafrost/ Tue, 25 Jul 2017 13:07:49 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=675 Continue Reading ]]> New research aims to better understand how much methane – a potent greenhouse gas – is burbling to the surface of the Mackenzie Valley in Canada’s Northwest Territories as the permafrost melts.

Hidden beneath the frozen ground of the Arctic could be a ticking time bomb. Vast reservoirs of methane – a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide – lie beneath the permafrost, and as global temperatures rise and the permafrost thaws, it could leak out and speed up the pace of climate change in an ever-faster vicious circle.

A team of researchers from Germany spent two years measuring the release of methane from the Mackenzie River Delta in northern Canada. They were trying to figure out how much of the gas was the normal “biogenic” emissions produced each summer by decomposing organic matter in Arctic wetlands, and how much is coming from ancient underground “geologic” sources leaking through gaps in the permafrost year-round. Read more in Arctic Deeply.

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Cyclists’ Pacing Strategies Should Consider the Wind http://www.scibri.com/2017/07/20/cyclists-pacing-strategies-should-consider-the-wind/ Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:54:34 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=673 Continue Reading ]]> Both Tour de France racers and recreational cyclists can improve performance by riding hardest into the wind.

As the elite riders of the Tour de France race towards the finish line of the grueling, 21-stage race this weekend, they are looking for any little tactical advantage they can gain over their rivals. New research from a team of sports scientists in Sweden could help them find that edge.

Road cyclists need to adapt their speed and energy expenditure during a race to account for changing conditions such as wind. Previous studies have shown that a cyclist who maintains an even power output, slowing down into a headwind and speeding up with a tailwind while working at the same effort throughout, will lose more time in the headwind segments than they will gain back in the tailwind segments. So the best strategy is to go a bit harder into the wind and then recover at an easier pace when riding with the wind. Read more in Inside Science.

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Faster, deeper, smaller—the rise of antibody-like scaffolds http://www.scibri.com/2017/07/12/faster-deeper-smaller-the-rise-of-antibody-like-scaffolds/ Wed, 12 Jul 2017 18:26:26 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=671 Continue Reading ]]> In early May the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca completed a deal with Boston-based Pieris Pharmaceuticals worth up to $2.1 billion to bring Pieris’ anticalin asthma drug PRS-060, an engineered protein that mimics antibodies, to the clinic. And on June 1, Bicycle Therapeutics in Cambridge, UK, pulled in $52 million in a series B funding round with several high-profile investors to continue developing its bicycle peptides for a variety of cancer types.

Those are just two of the wide variety of protein scaffold drugs currently in development. “There’s a whole zoo of non-antibody scaffolds out there,” says Daniel Christ, an immunologist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. Read more in Nature Biotechnology.

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Looking at Future Stormwater Solutions http://www.scibri.com/2017/06/26/looking-at-future-stormwater-solutions/ Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:50:12 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=668 Continue Reading ]]> Onto each city, some rain must fall. But we can be smarter about how we deal with it. Most of the time rainwater is treated as a nuisance or a threat, something to be quickly swept away and dumped into rivers or lakes so that it doesn’t end up in our basements. But what if, instead, that water was treated as a resource, to be captured and put to use along that path to the lake?

That’s going to require a major change in attitudes, said Kevin Mercer, founder of the RainGrid smart rain barrel company. The cheapest and cleanest way of dealing with rainwater is to capture it at the source, but “engineers are completely obsessed with the end of the pipe,” he said. Read more in Water Canada.

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Quiet Please, the Fish Are Flirting http://www.scibri.com/2017/06/21/quiet-please-the-fish-are-flirting/ Wed, 21 Jun 2017 11:46:46 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=666 Continue Reading ]]> Fish that fart together stay together.

In an ocean full of clicking shrimp and singing whales, fish are often imagined as the silent actors. Fish use motion, color, and chemicals to communicate, but they lack the iconic mewl of a cat or trill of a bird. Yet in reality, many fish chat constantly to mark their territories or find mates. And all of our noise—from seismic surveys to boat motors—is making it much more difficult for fish to hear one another. Read more in Hakai Magazine.

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Wise elk learn to outsmart hunters and tell apart their weapons http://www.scibri.com/2017/06/15/wise-elk-learn-to-outsmart-hunters-and-tell-apart-their-weapons/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 18:09:24 +0000 http://www.scibri.com/?p=663 Continue Reading ]]> As female elk get older, they also get wiser: they learn how to avoid getting shot by hunters, and appear to adapt their behaviour to the types of weapon the hunters carry.

Hunting by humans is known to affect how elk behave, selecting for more cautious behaviours by killing more of the bolder animals. But ecologist Henrik Thurfjell at the University of Alberta, Canada, wondered whether the animals might also learn how to stay safe as they age. Read more in New Scientist.

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