In The News

CBC: Could the city of Guelph run solely on renewable energy?

March 6, 2017

A city run entirely on renewable energy. It might seem like a pipe dream, but it's a goal some communities around the globe are setting. Residents in Guelph are being asked to start a conversation on the topic by Emerge Guelph, an organization that offers advice to residents on how to save money on energy and how they can help the environment. "We know that, in theory, it's possible. It is absolutely possible to be a 100 percent renewable energy city," said University of Guelph assistant professor and energy expert Kirby Calvert, who will be part of an event later this month. "The question is what we're willing to do to achieve that." It could mean solar panels. It could mean wind turbines. It could mean harnessing geothermal energy. Or it could mean buying energy from another entity that produces the renewable energy. Read the full article here.

CTV News: ‘Oldest record of life on Earth’ found in Quebec

March 6, 2017

The oldest known signs of life on Earth have been found in northern Quebec, buried in a sheet of potentially 4.3 billion-year-old bedrock that once formed the bottom of the planet's first ocean. An international team of scientists found fossilized traces of bacteria in iron ore samples taken from the Nuvvuagittuq Greenstone Belt, a rare surviving chunk of the planet's early crust now situated at the northern tip of Quebec. The discovery pushes the scientific timeline for life on Earth back by 100-600 million years, to an era when the no longer molten-hot planet was covered by shallow oceans and dotted by volcanic islands. Study co-author Jonathan O'Neil, of the University of Ottawa, says the fossilized remains are the "oldest record of life on Earth," and could offer clues about the emergence of life on our planet and others. The fossilized remains were found near what's thought to have once been a hydrothermal vent, where swirling heat, chemicals and minerals may have given rise to the first single-celled organisms. "We're not talking about these complex forms of life on the early Earth, but this is where we think it actually happened," O'Neil told by phone on Wednesday. He added that the discovery may make it easier to find life on other planets, because it demonstrates that ancient sea floors are prime spots for finding the early signs of life. Read the full article here.

CBC: What’s in your chicken sandwich?

March 2, 2017

If you're one of many Canadians who opt for chicken sandwiches at your favourite fast food restaurant, you may find the results of a CBC Marketplace investigation into what's in the meat a little hard to swallow. A DNA analysis of the poultry in several popular grilled chicken sandwiches and wraps found at least one fast food restaurant isn't serving up nearly as much of the key ingredient as people may think. In the case of two popular Subway sandwiches, the chicken was found to contain only about half chicken DNA. Will Mahood, a loyal customer who considered Subway chicken sandwiches a lunchtime staple, was alarmed by the findings. To Mahood, messages from fast food companies can make it sound like "you're taking it straight from a farm and it's just a fresh piece of meat." DNA researcher Matt Harnden at Trent University's Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory tested the poultry in six popular chicken sandwiches. Read the full article here.

CBC: University of Windsor lab uses compound inspired by flower to kill cancer cells

February 24, 2017

A University of Windsor lab has successfully used a compound inspired by a flower to target and kill cancer. A team led by chemistry professor Siyaram Pandey has discovered a lab-synthesized drug compound based on extract from the common spider lily plant to kill 20 varieties of cancer cells. "This drug is very selective and targets the mitochondria of various cancer cells to induce apoptosis, which means the cancer cells commit suicide and the normal cells continue to thrive," explained Pandey. "We are talking about a drug that could be 10 times more effective that the very toxic chemotherapy drug Taxol." Originally, it took one kilogram of spider lily buds to make one milligram of the compound, but by teaming up with other Ontario universities a non-toxic, synthetic compound called pancratistatin was created. Read full article here.

YFile: Researchers develop math models to address antibiotic resistance in healthcare facilities

February 23, 2017

Scientists at York University and a national team of collaborators have developed new mathematical models that will help researchers, doctors and policymakers address the challenging public health issue of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The research, co-led by postdoctoral fellows Josie Hughes and Xi Huo, was published in the journal PLOS ONE. Drug-resistant bacteria, commonly called superbugs, are a really big issue in healthcare facilities because they can spread easily and cause an outbreak,” says a co-author Jianhong Wu, Canada Research Chair and University Distinguished Research Professor at the Faculty of Science at York University. “As you might imagine, it’s hard to contain these infections when treatments are ineffective. And experts worry that it’s only a matter of time before we run out of effective options to treat most infections.” The team developed math models that focus on a strategy called “antimicrobial de-escalation,” which is widely used in hospitals but poorly understood in terms of its effects. Read the full article here.  

Globe and Mail: How a ‘fart pill’ could potentially do wonders for human health

February 8, 2017

There is no dog to blame here.

There is, however, a small black box on the wall of each room in this little research laboratory toward the rear of the Laurentian University campus. Each box has special sensors that can, if necessary, sound an alarm.

“Fart detectors,” Dr. Rui Wang calls them.

He is laughing but not joking. The sensors are not there to catch squeakers but to protect lives. Dr. Wang and his associates deal with H2S, hydrogen sulfide, a gas that is stinky but harmless in small doses and deadly in large releases. It is the No. 1 occupational hazard for those who work in oil and natural gas.

“Protection, not detection,” he says, warmly tapping on the little black box.

While mass quantities of the gas can be a danger to human life in the energy industry, Dr. Wang believes the gas, moderated in extremely small quantities, can be harnessed to do wonders for people’s health.

Read the full article here.