Canadian Science News

Canada should aim for gold in digital competitiveness
IT World Canada has said, “Canada ranks 9th in the world in digital competitiveness. At least that’s the conclusion of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre at the influential Swiss-based business school of the same name.”

Canada is viewed as having a silver, but not a gold, prize. The country is working hard to become part of the frontier of the digital economy. The top performers in this new frontier are “Singapore, Sweden, U.S., Finland and Denmark.” Newer competitors, such as China, Mexico, and India are seen as still needing to go a long way to catch up.

Canada’s 2017 federal budget includes various plans for significant investment in artificial intelligence, smart cities, and the delivery of high-speed internet, along with many, many others.

Malfunction at U of A kills more than 9,000 fish
According to CBC News: Edmonton, the University of Alberta had an accident that resulted in the deaths of over 9,000 fish. Research will be delayed for up to half of a year as a result of the accident. The accident was caused by the malfunctioning of two dechlorination pumps.

The freshwater fish tanks in the Biological aquatics facility became flooded with the chlorinated municipal tap water. There were significant deaths of fish as well as frogs. Corrosion of an electrical wire caused the failure of the pumps.

The vice president of research of the University of Alberta, Lorne Babiuk, said, “We are very unlucky this time?We are quite confident that it will not happen again.” Tally of deaths: 75 frogs (with 15 survivors), 1,093 adult trout, about 6,000 fingerlings, 96 carp (64 survivors), 2,073 goldfish (163 survivors), and 6 graylings.

“Superclusters” to be funded with several hundreds of millions of dollars
“The Liberals have announced the criteria for the “superclusters” they say will help get Canada’s research ideas into the global marketplace and combat the country’s weak international innovation and competitiveness standings,” The Globe and Mail said.

The federal Canadian government is allocating $950 million to the funding of the superclusters. The superclusters will be comprised of businesses, research institutions, and other partners. They will compete for funds based on the best ideas for commercialization and business-formation.

Paul Preston, director of science, technology and innovation policy with the Conference Board of Canada, said, “The challenge we have in Canada, as we move from discovery research to developing those ideas, [is] to try and align them with the market needs and grow and scale up a company.”

Acne medication unexpectedly helps with multiple sclerosis
ScienceDaily reported on the clinical trial coming from University of Calgary researchers from the university’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). Apparently, a common acne medication slows multiple sclerosis (MS).

The medication, minocycline, appears to slow the progression of relapsing-remitting MS “in people who have recently experienced their first symptoms. “?the discovery is significant as it offers a safe and affordable treatment option for those with early onset MS,” ScienceDaily said.

The lead author of the study and HBI member, and professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Dr. Luanne Metz, said, “Based on these findings, neurologists will be able to prescribe minocycline for people experiencing their first symptoms of demyelination if an MRI suggests the cause will likely prove to be MS.”

Science World in Vancouver Hosting and Innovation Festival for Canada’s 150th Birthday
The Straight stated that Vancouver took the top spots for livability. The city has been upgrading to improve the experiences of living in the city, especially in the hotspots. One of them is Science World in Downtown Vancouver.

For the Canada 150, Science World will be implementing the Innovation Festival. One of its feature presentations is Made in Canada, which is a “venue is set to examine the the country’s best (and weirdest) inventions.”

The communication coordinator for Science World, Jason Bosher, said, “It’s about teaching people how to be innovative and use that part of their brain, rather than just being a history lesson on why Canada is great.”

Relocating Giant Telescope has Challenges
Nature reported that Canadian astronomers are analyzing the possible relocation of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The study was presented at the May 31 Canadian Astronomical Society of Edmonton.

TMT was to be built on Mauna Kea, which is a Hawaiian mountain. There have been legal challenges to this idea though, so they are looking at a back-up site of Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma, the Canary Islands. While they will be able to do most of what they would like to do with regards to the telescope at the new site, the observational conditions will be less than optimal for looking at exoplanet atmospheres.

Michael Balogh, University of Waterloo astronomer, said, “a critical component of the Canadian astronomical landscape?If we have to move, it’s effectively a de-scope in the project.”

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the AUSU VPFA. He works with various organizations, and runs In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, and In-Sight Publishing.

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