Transit of Venus – What You Need To Know

On June 5th, Canadians will experience a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event. Well, twice-in-a-lifetime if you caught the last one in 2004, and possibly three times if you’re very young and plan to live to be about 130, but it’s still very rare. The event is the transit of Venus, a conjunction of the spheres that has inspired astronomers for over 400 years and which has provided important knowledge about the dimensions of our solar system. To learn more, I sat down this week with my friend Jesse Rogerson. A dedicated astronomer – the guy has a constellation tattooed on his back
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The Secret Lives of Chloroplasts

At some point a couple of billion years ago, one cell tried to digest another and failed. The result was the first eukaryote, a complex cell type that today makes up all plants, animals and fungi: pretty much any organism you can see without a microscope. Eukaryotic cells are those that contain endosymbionts, the descendants of that original undigested cell. They are the mitochondria that power our cells, and the chloroplasts that allow plants to photosynthesize. Although they’ve been with us pretty much forever, they live separate lives, maintaining their own genomes, producing their own proteins, and exchanging them amongst
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Dispatches from the International Polar Year Conference 2012: Part 2

In my last post, I gave you an overview of the International Polar Year Conference that just wrapped up in Montreal. In this post, I thought I’d provide a flavour of the research that was presented at the conference. While I couldn’t attend in person, over the course of the week, I was lucky enough to be able to speak via Skype with two researchers presenting on two very different but equally interesting projects. Both of them have produced short summary videos called FrostBytes, which I’ve included for context.
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Dispatches from the International Polar Year Conference 2012: Part 1

It’s hard to overstate the importance of Arctic research to Canada. Of our over 250,000 kilometers of coastline, over half of it is in the Arctic. A quarter of the total Arctic territory lies within our borders. And given that the earth’s polar regions are experiencing the effects of climate change faster and more dramatically than anywhere else, it’s only right that we should be at the forefront of scientific efforts to understand what’s going on. This week, those efforts were on display in a big way, as over two thousand researchers from around the world gathered in Montreal to
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The Jellyfish Chronicles

You’ve probably read the headline hundreds of times: Human Activity Threatens Survival of Species X. Given nature’s seemingly boundless creativity, you might well start to wonder if there isn’t, somewhere on the planet, a group of creatures for which all this anthropogenic activity might actually be a blessing, rather than a curse. A new study from the University of British Columbia may just provide the answer, in the form of the humble jellyfish.
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