SMCC Heads Up May 15 - Soaring eagles, tricking guppies, transit of Venus, air pollution and Olympic athletes PDF Print E-mail

Flight responses by a migratory soaring raptor to changing meteorological conditions Biology Letters
Using high-resolution telemetry on Golden Eagles researchers report insights on the minute by minute flight mechanisms the birds use in response to changing wind and weather. Greater understanding of the flight patterns of raptors could lead to safer design and siting of wind farms.


Guppies’ orange spots: a dangerous fashion?
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Trinidadian guppies,  especially females, have a preference for the colour orange. The University of Toronto's Helen Rodd wondered whether the orange spots on predatory prawns, a species that sometimes coexists with and eats guppies, could be taking advantage of this bias for orange, using it as a lure for their lunch.  

Wildlife disease elimination: when 1+1 doesn’t = 2

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Methods for wildlife disease control require an understanding of how a given disease is spread. It is not known how to control chronic wasting disease, a prion disease in deer, but culling or vaccination are possible strategies. New mathematical models suggest that either of these strategies, alone, may be effective, but that combining the two can be less effective.  

Ancient marine reptile had arthritic jaw
Paleontology
A degenerative condition similar to human arthritis has been discovered in the jaw of a pliosaur, a reptile that roamed ancient seas during the Jurassic. What may have been a painful jaw in this ancient female is the first find of its type in fossilized Jurassic reptiles.

Even short term reduction in air pollution is detectable in athletes
JAMA
The Beijing Olympics in 2008 provided a unique opportunity to study the impacts of pollution on cardiovascular health in athletes. Since a short-term reduction in air pollution -- in a city which normally has some of the most polluted air in the world --  was followed by an increase to normal levels, it gave scientists an opportunity to monitor indicators of cardiovascular health in athletes, such as blood pressure and heart rate. The study suggests that even short-term reduction in air pollution may have immediate benefits to cardiovascular health. Video available.

Transit of Venus

Nature (comment)

On the nights of the fifth and sixth of June, if skies are clear, you might see a rare astronomical event called the transit of Venus. For only the second time in the 21st century, and the eighth time since the invention of the telescope, Venus will cross in front of the sun, creating a rare silhouette. The unusual event, which won’t happen again until 2117, provides the opportunity to calibrate and perhaps improve methods for finding and studying far-off planets, says this Comment article.
Need Canadian experts to discuss the transit of Venus? Call us at 604-248-4209 / 438-288-3909

Distracting pain

Current Biology Ever notice that mental distractions appear to ease pain? Turns out those pain-relieving effects are not just imagined. Using high resolution spinal fRMI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), an experiment in which human subjects were exposed to painful levels of heat indicated that mental distractions actually inhibit the response to pain signals. Download PDF |See Press Release | See Image

It's not just what you eat: it's when you eat it Cell Metabolism Disturbance to circadian rhythms has been linked to obesity and diabetes, however it is unclear to what extent the excess weight results from the content of the diet versus the timing of eating. Mice allowed continuous access to a high-fat diet were compared with mice with access to food only eight hours per day. Despite consuming the same number of calories, time restricted feeding provided some protection against obesity and related metabolic disorders.


In case you missed it...

Amber encases ancient pollen
PNAS
Insects encased in amber have provided the first ever record of insect pollination. Fossilized specimens of female thrips, a family of small winged insects, were revealed to have pollen grains over much of their body. Using synchrotron X-ray tomography to examine the pollen grains, they are suspected to be from a cycad or ginkgo tree, a tree with only one living relative that exists today (Ginkgo biloba).

Restoring hand function after spinal cord injury
Journal of Neurosurgery
A plastic surgeon and neurosurgeon successfully restored partial function in both hands in a 71-year-old man who had suffered a cervical spinal cord injury. It’s a sample size of one, but a proof of concept that nerve transfers in future may reduce the severity of nerve injuries and improve quality of life for a subset of those affected by spinal cord injury.

Moving back the timeline on European rock art
PNAS
A 1.5 metric ton chunk of limestone appears to provide the earliest European evidence of wall art, dated at 37,000 years old, and indicating the role of art in the lives of the Aurignacian culture, which existed in the Upper Paleolithic in Europe and Southwest Asia. The researchers interpret some of the figures as representing female genitalia. Need another Canadian expert in ancient rock art? Call us.

Events
In Toronto:
Canadian Journalist’s Forum, Thursday, May 17, 2012
‘THE FIRST CASUALTY’ IN THE AGE OF HIGH-TECH WARFARE featuring MURRAY BREWSTER, Parliamentary defence reporter and senior war correspondent for The Canadian Press; DR. ANTHONY FEINSTEIN, professor of psychiatry, University of Toronto; MATTHEW FISHER, foreign affairs columnist, Postmedia News; LISA LAFLAMME, chief anchor and senior editor, CTV National News; moderated by Toronto Star foreign affairs columnist and former head of Al Jazeera English, TONY BURMAN. Under Fire: Journalists in Combat is a new Canadian documentary that explores post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse among war correspondents. This CJF Forum examines the changing nature of covering war, the psychological costs of war reporting, and the need for change in newsroom culture to help detect and address the problems correspondents face. Discussion and cocktail reception with guests and speakers.  Registration 6:30 p.m. Presentation 7:00 p.m. Reception 8:30 p.m. TMX Broadcast Centre - Gallery, The Exchange Tower, 130 King St. West, Toronto. Limited seating. Tickets are available at http://cjffirstcasualty.eventbrite.com

In Montreal:
Conference on Degrowth
Up for discussion: does the linkage of sustainable development to economic growth require a rethink? In advance of Rio plus 20, and drawing from previous degrowth conferences in Paris and Barcelona in 2008 and 2010, the Montreal conference will focus on the Americas. Speakers: David Suzuki, is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation; John Grim is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University, where he has appointments in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Joan Martinez-Alier is Professor of Economic History and Institutions at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona; Holly Dressel, a best-selling author and researcher and professor at McGill's School of the Environment, is one of Canada's most recognized names in teaching, environmental studies, health care, economic concerns and aboriginal issues. Peter Victor, author of Managing without Growth. Slower by Design, not Disaster, is a Professor in Environmental Studies at York University

Mini Med-School 2012 at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital
Celebrating 10 years of public education about health care, a series of innovative public conferences will debut on May 16th at 7:30pm with “Lots About Clots,” about blood clots and pulmonary embolism, and delivered by Dr. Vikcy Tagalakis. Other topics follow each Wednesday evening from May 16 - June 6, 2012. Presentations in English only. Register Now! May 23 - Dr Matthew Oughton, Bugs and the Gut; May 30 - Dr  Tsafrir  Vanounou,  When  Cancer  Travels:  How Colorectal Cancer Attacks the Liver; 6 June - Dr  Gershon  Frisch,  Kidney Disease and Anemia: A Cautionary Tale of Blood Doping and Leeches. Venue: Jewish General Hospital, Amphithéâtre Block (B-106), 3755, ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine, Montréal, QC.

Upcoming Science Conferences include: