Jan/Feb 2017 CommNatural Newsletter: Snow sketching, winter vocabulary & more

Happy not-quite-spring, dear readers! Although we’re a long way from actual spring, the weather in my neck of the woods has been decidedly warm lately. That means, I’ve been spending a lot of time outside, roving the prairie with my pup, and, to be honest, writing more than drawing. Even so, the January/February 2017 newsletter … Continue reading Jan/Feb 2017 CommNatural Newsletter: Snow sketching, winter vocabulary & more

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Fear of brave new worlds or uninspired headline writing?

Summer 2016 marked the 85th anniversary of novelist Aldous Huxley completing his manuscript for Brave New World. The widely read novel, a dystopia of happiness-led oppression (in contrast to the fear-controlled populace in Orwell’s 1984), anticipates global adoption of advances in science and technology such as subliminal learning and reproductive medicine. Published in 1932, the book is still a popular read, ranking fifth in Modern Library’s list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th…

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A new snail: Gastrocopta sharae

Credit: Dr. Rodrigo B. Salvador from publicationThe genus Gastrocopta comprises of a number of minute air-breathing land snails. These little animals usually measure less than 2 mm. They are cave-dwelling invertebrates, which in general, receive scarce attention from researchers. Given their size and the environment they live in it should come as no surprise that little is known about them. It also means that the closer researchers look the more new species they will likely find.Inspired…

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Family in the Field

Fieldwork often takes you away from home – whether it is 1 hour away for a day trip or across the country. As with your actual family, there are the good, the bad, and the ugly memories with members of your field team. Regardless of the circumstances, your field team becomes your family in the field. They keep you company Fieldwork can get pretty lonely, especially if you are in a remote location. At first…

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Living or Non-Living, There Is No Once-Living

As educators, we pay close attention to common misconceptions of our students and readers, and are prepared to correct them. Being human, we ourselves are equally susceptible to misconceptions and errors of logic. This particular one has popped up from more than one source, so I’m going to explain it here.Readability is very important to educators, and particularly to children’s writers. We try to use vocabulary that students won't get stuck on, preventing them from…

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Frightened by My Own Imagination

Writing a novel is a lot more personal than writing non-fiction. Non-fiction is external – I find and repackage information. Fiction, in contrast, comes from the inside, and sometimes what’s inside is a bit… surprising. When I first started working on my YA fantasy, I got a lot of feedback (some from professional agents and editors) to the effect that it wasn’t edgy enough. My villain, after all, is after world domination, and if he’s too cuddly,…

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Forever Young

Who among us hasn’t looked at the big round eyes of a child or a puppy gazing up at us and wished that they’d always stay young and cute like that? You might be surprised to know that this wish has already been partially granted. Both you as an adult and your full-grown dog are examples of what’s referred to in developmental biology as paedomorphosis (“pee-doh-mor-fo-sis”), or the retention of juvenile traits into adulthood. Compared…

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Invasions continue

For all groups of organisms on all continents, the number of alien species has increased continuously during the last 200 years. For most groups, even the rate of introduction is highest recently. Barring mammals and fishes, there are no signs of a slow-down and we have to expect more new invasions in the near future.Quite a sobering statement. However, it summarizes the results of a new study in which a large international group of researchers…

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Women in Science: Dawn Bazely

By Sarah Boon, Ph.D. This post in part of an ongoing series by Sarah Boon celebrating Canadian women in science. Read through the archive to learn more about the women shaping science in Canada. Dawn Bazely is a Professor of Biology at York University. It was the first tenure-track position she applied for after her postdoc in 1989, and she’s been there ever since. Her academic career, however, has been defined by positions in both Ontario…

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