Video: Save the Panda

For the iPad/iPod version, click here. Note: Adult language The World Wildlife Fund was created in 1961, and their first mission - find a logo.  The panda was an obvious choice - cute, cuddly, endangered and black and white (to save on printing costs).  Since then, that adorable monochromatic creature has become a friend to all endangered species on the planet - the Mother Theresa of Nature.  But, 49 years later, the Giant Panda is…

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Blog: Quirks and Quarks

This week on Quirks and Quarks on CBC Radio - guest host = ME!!!   Yes, for some crazy reason the powers that be at CBC have invited me to sit in the biggest science chair in the land, the one occupied by Bob McDonald every week on national radio.    I think I'm nervous, but it's hard to say because I really don't know what to be nervous about.  I'm not interviewing any Nobel…

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Video: GFP

  The Nobel prize in Chemistry in 2008 was awarded to 3 scientists that development green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a technique that makes organisms glow.  This is more than just some fun body paint and a rave or two, the researchers were able to splice together genes from jellyfish and a normal gene that would allow scientists to watch the behaviour of proteins in living cells. This gave rise to neon rabbits in art…

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Video: Alcohol Substitute

We humans LOVE our spirits. Since ancient times, we have used ethyl alcohol derived from potatoes, sugarcane, crabapples, rice, berries, pretty much anything with sugar - even milk and snake bile - as a social lubricant. Yet, the problem of the hangover lingers. And lingers… Vitamin drinks and pepto aside, the price to be paid for a night of indulgence is often harsh - ask almost anyone on New Year's Day! - but one bold…

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Blog: Technological Control

There are several questions about the nature of research and innovation that most scientists take as given. Research is good, because it expands our technological horizons. Science is inherently good, because it increases our knowledge about the world. Is there ever a time when innovation, in and of itself, is inherently bad?   When we debate new and emerging technologies, we have a tendency (particularly within the scientific community) to discuss new innovations primarily from…

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Blog: Addiction Awareness

Most people associate National Addictions Awareness Week with alcoholism and drug addiction but addictive behaviours go well beyond substance abuse.  It can even include addictions to sex, gambling and even hoarding.      All addictions activate the same brain reward patterns that are associated with the 'high' of a drug.  You know, that feeling of euphoria that makes you draw self-portraits of yourself that look like this.  Heroin addicts are soothed by the use of…

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Blog: Rob Ford Science

#RobFord has been trending on Twitter for an eternity and the embarrassment of Canada shows no sign of stopping.  What is it about our world that is so delighted to watch another Lindsay Lohan-esque train public meltdown?   It's science.....   The human brain actually feels more empathy when bad people suffer - like said trashy crack-addicted bully of a Toronto mayor - than good people.  We feel sorry for them when they get what…

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