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Climate Change, Extreme Heat and Health | SMCC Backgrounder

  There is no denying it and no doubt about it: our planet is warming and climate change is well underway, around the world and right here in Canada. And extreme heat events are one of the consequences. Periods of extreme heat are uncomfortable, but they can also exacerbate existing health conditions, such as asthma, and […]

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Meiofaunal trace fossils were found (et al.)

Pre-Cambrian Explosion trace fossils offer a new window into Earth’s oldest lifeforms

According to the fossil records, nearly all animal phyla appeared within a relatively short timespan, dubbed the Cambrian Explosion due to its brevity and significance. But a recent study is contributing to another narrative, one that suggests the “explosion” wasn’t as sudden as scientists first thought, and that favourable circumstances had been lining up since the preceding […]

Attacking cancer cells by cutting off their sugar supply

Cancer cells, unlike healthy ones, use a fermentation process to break down sugar to create energy. This metabolic process is much less efficient and uses a lot more sugar than the oxygen conversion of healthy cells, and it’s known to cancer researchers as the Warburg effect. A recent study describes the mechanism behind this effect, and […]

Paper-based test for tuberculosis a potential low-cost solution for developing countries

Researchers have developed a fast, cost-efficient tuberculosis test that can be read using a smartphone. The team combined gold nanoparticles with fluorescent single-stranded DNA sequences that bind to the genetic material of TB-causing bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These nanoparticles were then incorporated into a paper-based device. If the smallest amount of M. tuberculosis is detected on the device, the […]

The dynamics of food webs

New research proposes a model to explain how simple food webs are formed within a community. A food web links each species with its predators and prey, but it’s not clear how any particular association emerges from a wide range of possible webs. In the present study, researchers describe a principle of mutual replenishment, which […]

A gene that makes ants better plant bodyguards

Amazonian ants Allomerus octoarticulatus act as bodyguards, defending the Cordia nodosa plant against herbivores—such as grasshoppers—in a mutualistic relationship. A recent study pinpoints a genetic variation among A. octoarticulatus that makes some of the ants better bodyguards: a certain foraging gene makes the ants better at discovering the grasshoppers attempting to feed on the plant. Researchers studied two ant colonies, one of which […]

Harmful algae bloom on Lake Erie on Kelley's Island, Ohio. (Image by NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory via Flickr)

Understanding the role of phosphorus in Canadian freshwater algal bloom

Numerous bodies of water in Canada are affected by algal bloom, which occurs when the water is saturated with excess nutrients. New research examines the process through which one such nutrient, phosphorus, is recycled between mud on the lake bottom and water surface. Study authors reviewed data from 70 water bodies in Canada, including Lake Simcoe, […]

A school of California (northern) anchovies. (Image by Brian Gratwicke via Flickr)

Evidence of first vertebrate with polarized vision

Most invertebrates can detect polarization of light in addition to color and intensity, which helps with target detection, orientation and communication. But a recent study found evidence of the first vertebrate that possesses polarization vision: the northern anchovy. Optic nerve recordings from anchovies have shown that the fish’s eyes show retinal segregation for independent colour […]

Presence of certain bacteria in children’s throat linked to bone and joint infection

New research suggests a new method for identifying children at risk for bone and joint infection by looking for the Kingella kingae bacteria in their throats. Study authors examined 65 children admitted to hospitals in Canada and Switzerland with joint or bone infection, and found that 70% of them also carried the bacteria in their […]

Babies learn to detect fearful faces as early as 3.5 months of age

An infant can tell a fearful expression from a happy one as early as three months after being born, results of a new study suggest. Fear detection is an important evolutionary mechanism and is thus developed at a young age, but present research is the first to show a precursor to this important ability. To […]

Auroral image of Jupiter’s southern aurora, used in the subject study, obtained by the Juno Ultraviolet Spectrograph (UVS) instrument on 2 February 2017. This image overlays three different UVS wavelength ranges and color codes them such that red, green, and blue indicate high, medium and low energy electrons impinging on the atmosphere, with color mixtures indicating a mixture of energies. The streak on the upper left is the auroral tail caused by Jupiter’s moon Io.
(Credit: G. Randy Gladston)

The mechanism behind Jupiter’s colorful auroras is different from Earth’s

Auroral emissions—also known as Northern or Southern Lights on Earth—are very powerful on Jupiter, which is why scientists thought the process behind auroras on the biggest Solar System planet was similar to the one responsible for Earth’s brightest auroras. But recent research suggests this is not the case. On our planet, two processes are responsible […]

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