Regular readers of this blog (I flatter myself that such people exist) will know I’m keen on slime moulds, a form of life that defies easy description. So the publication this week of a paper that show how a particular type of slime mould can model transportation networks in Canada was simply too good to ignore. Not only does the research explore important questions about how nature performs computations, there’s also a cool YouTube video showing a time-lapse of the cool/gross slime in action. What could be better?
I know I’ve been writing a lot about climate change lately, and I promise that after this post I’ll try to switch it up a bit. But in my defence, for a blog about Canadian science, it doesn’t get any more relevant than this: a group of researchers from Concordia University and McGill University have published the first evidence that climate change is having a measurable impact on our treasured national pastime of outdoor hockey.
Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria is one of Canada’s more outspoken scientists, and in the past two weeks he’s done even more speaking out than usual. First, it was the federal government’s alleged muzzling of scientists. Then on Sunday Weaver, along with PhD candidate Neil Swart, published a commentary in Nature Climate Change which showed that the potential global warming from Alberta’s oil sands is actually quite small compared to that from other fossil fuel sources, such as coal and natural gas. That may sound surprising, but it shouldn’t. The numbers weren’t exactly new; it’s the way Weaver
Besides the rare and welcome chance to reference Peter Gabriel in a blog post title, today’s topic allows me to address an important issue that had been bugging me and all members of the Canadian science journalism community for quite a while: why is it so hard to talk to federal government scientists about their research? The problem is not new. One of the first to sound the alarm was Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoria and, as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. As early as