First Year, Biology
Early Ancestor Diet
Scientists from around the world, led by a professor at Oxford University, recently discovered that the diet of our ancestors from central Africa consisted primarily of tropical plants. After examining the fossils of teeth from three Austalopithecus bahrelghazali, the research team dated their fossilized evidence to be approximately 3 million to 3.5 million years old. The fossils of these early ancestors were found at two different locations in Chad.
The research team was led by Professor Julia Lee-Thorp from Oxford University and consisted of scientists from Chad, France, and the United States of America. Professor Julia Lee-Thorp specializes in the analysis of enamel of fossilized teeth. By analyzing the carbon isotope ratios of the teeth, the scientists discovered a food trend consisting of C4 plants. C4 plants are well adapted to intense sunlight, warm day temperatures, and an atmosphere lacking in carbon dioxide or nitrogen. C4 plants evolved more recently than C3 plants, and include sugar cane, grass, and grain.
Janine Truong, 1st Year, Bio
Admit it: you have spent countless hours on the Internet. While surfing the glorious World Wide Web, you have probably stumbled across pictures of cute critters. You know the kind: pictures of kittens with ridiculous captions, puppies wearing strange costumes and pandas going down slides. We would normally call this “a waste of time”, but is it really?
Recently, on Plos One (an open access journal), a research article titled “The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus” was published. The focus of this article was a study done at Hiroshima University in 2009. In this study, subjects who performed various tasks after viewing images of cute animals showed great improvement in their concentration and accuracy.
Nicolas Bent, 3rd Year Physics
Imagine if your brain was attached to a computer. This computer stimulates your brain cells, “faking” the reality in which you live. Everything you have experienced has been a lie! Or has it? But here is where the difficulty comes in: what is real? How do we distinguish what is real from what is not? The reality that we perceive is just that; stimulations in our body that get relayed to the brain. Our brain then transforms this information to the world around us that we see. In this scenario there is no possible way you could ever know that you are hooked up to a computer. Reality is now immediately obscured. So we will have to come up with a reasonable definition of reality.
Let’s start to lay a little groundwork on what I will be using as the definition of reality. First we have to agree that the only thing that we can ever know with absolute certainty is that we are alive and conscious. This is, of course, demonstrated by the previously explained thought experiment. Next comes building our objective reality, remembering that these next parts of our reality we cannot know with 100 percent certainty. Most people would build their reality on the things they touch, see, hear, smell and taste, but your brain deceives you constantly. I am sure that just about everyone reading this has seen any one of the numerous optical illusions out there, which are only one of the many ways that your brain betrays you. In 1945 Lucas and Leuba did a study where they showed that your emotions can actually shape your perception of objects (Lucas and Leuba 517-524). This makes it hard build our reality on our senses. What else can we use then?
Pinar Özmizrak, 4th year Biomedical Science
Math is used for a slew of things—modelling, predictions, industry, inventions…the applications seem endless. But how about just for fun? I promise you don’t need to be a math major to enjoy the following tricks and games.
At one point, when calculating pi (at the 762nd decimal place, to be exact) we run into a string of six consecutive 9s. This is called the Feynman point, named after physicist Richard Feynman who declared he would like to be able to recite the digits up to that point so that he could say “3.141592…999999 and so on.” Of course, this could give one the false impression that pi is a rational number with a repeating digit, but anyone who is amused by the idea likely won’t be fooled.
Kelsey Huus, 2nd Year BIO
It’s not the sort of disease you can walk away from. It’s with you from the moment you are born until the day you die, inescapably tied into the very building blocks of your body. On the seventh chromosome of the code written in every single cell, a tiny mutation condemns you to a shortened life full of pain and discomfort.
It’s cystic fibrosis, and there is no cure.
According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, it is “the most common fatal genetic disease” among our country’s young people. Scarcely forty years ago – when many of our parents were growing up – children with cystic fibrosis were unlikely to reach kindergarten. Now, thanks to the scientists and doctors among us, half are expected to attain middle age - but it’s an uphill battle.
Aleksandra Shalakhova, 3rd Year BIM
One of the first things a beginner researcher has to be warned against before starting his career is research misconduct. Research misconduct can occur in many different situations such as fabricating results oneself under career pressures, or using faux published conclusions to compliment one’s own research. In both scenarios the responsible conduct of research (RCR), also known as research integrity, is violated regardless of whether or not it was intentional and the misconduct can constitute serious problems. Following an increase of frequency of misconduct there has been an upsurge in official global activity to address research misconduct with high-profile “serious misconduct” cases being the major driving force behind it.