Bagels in space

FairmountBagels

I have the pleasure of living right between Fairmount and St-Viateur Bagel and I refuse to pick a side, but here is one cool thing that I noticed on my bag of bagels from Fairmount: 1st bagel in space!

There has been some attention on Fairmount Bagel lately, since they were thought to have joined the world of Twitter but then the account turned out to be a fake.

The NASA mission to the International Space Station was STS 124 when Montreal-born astronaut, Greg Chamitoff, brought 18 sesame bagels with him. I don’t know how I missed this but you can read more about it in this 2008 article in The Gazette.

Recommend a graphic novel

IMG_Book_coverI checked this book out of the library to get myself thinking about graphic novels for the Schulich collection. Feynman, from our Education Curriculum Resources Centre, is juvenile literature and worth a read but there are other great ones out there written for adults.

I have been talking with librarians from other university science and engineering libraries that have been purchasing books in this format but I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any graphic novels to recommend that touch on science and technology?

A Course Showcase: Design and Analysis of Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods for Energy, Water and Food Independence

Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design (TISED) is inviting you to register to attend the event below, taking place on December 16th, 2014 at the Faculty Club.

A Course Showcase: Design and Analysis of Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods for Energy, Water and Food Independence

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” – Buckminster Fuller. This advice has been the guiding light during this Fall TISED course: “Design and Analysis of Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods for Energy, Water and Food Independence”.  Supported through a gift from Fondation 3E, this interdisciplinary class brought together students from Architecture, Urban Planning and Engineering to design this new model, i.e. this new paradigm for a living arrangement that would contribute towards rendering the many destructive aspects of today’s reality simply obsolete. While two groups explored the possibility of retrofitting an existing, conventional suburb on the Island of Montreal (in Dollard-des-Ormeaux) to make it autonomous in operational needs for energy, water and food, a third group explored the possibility of designing a brand new autonomous neighbourhood on a vacant, greenfield site (in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue). Professor Sevag Pogharian (Founder and President of MontrealZero) will provide us with his course’s context and student learning opportunities.
December 16th, 2014
5:30 pm – 7:15 pm (
cocktail reception to follow)
McGill University’s Faculty Club, 3450 McTavish Street

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED – PLEASE SIGN UP NOW

McGill researchers make another highly cited list

The first edition of the list of 382 Highly Cited Researchers (h>100) according to Google Scholar Citations includes two McGill scientists: Alan Evans has an h-index of 152, putting him at #34 in the list, and Andreas Warburton is #99 with an h-index of 128. Alan Evans is no stranger to citation fame, as he was also included in the 2014 Highly Cited Researchers list from Thomson Reuters, along with Chemistry professor, Chao-Jun Li (read more on this from McGill News and Events).

The h-index marks the place where the number of citations a researcher receives meets the number of papers they have published (see the graph below). Read more about the h-index from Hirsch’s article in arXiv.

h-index

You can create your own citations page in Google Scholar by looking for the “My Citations” option.

Image is in the public domain.

The 10th Annual Undergraduate Research Conference at McGill

2014-09-26_1409Once again this year on October 2nd in the lobby of McGill’s Arts building, students from the Faculty of Science will present their research projects at the tenth annual Undergraduate Research Conference (URC). All the projects will be entered into a poster competition judged by a panel of distinguished McGill researchers. Keynote address and reception will come after the prize ceremony. This all day event is open to everyone. See details here.

Undergraduate Research Commons –A Portal for Undergraduate Research Publications

I recently came across the Undergraduate Research Commons and thought I should share it with 2014-09-09_1446you. It is a portal where you will have access to hundreds of full-text undergraduate research papers from a large number of participating educational institutions worldwide. These include engineering capstone projects, faculty-supervised research, award-winning papers, peer-reviewed journal publications and so on.

You may browse by participating institution or type of documents, and find out the popular papers in each subject area. Of course, it also allows users to search by keywords. If you are interested in exploring the content, simply click on the info graphic at the left-bottom corner of the homepage to regroup the content by different criteria.

MOOCs and OERs

Welcome / welcome back! I wanted to bring your attention to some free resources, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), that may help support your studies. I know, classes have just begun so the last thing that you are thinking about is enrolling in another course but there is some great material out there to help reinforce or expand your learning.

We have a new guide to MOOCs and open education resources (OERs for short) on our Schulich Library site. These include places where you can go to register for courses, but also options for viewing course materials, such as MIT’s OpenCourseWare, or for taking advantage of openly available textbooks in science and engineering.

I’m currently following (when I can) a Linux MOOC and waiting on Writing in the Sciences from Stanford.

There is also Comic Books and Graphic Novels starting in a few weeks on Coursera, but that is neither here nor there…

Yet Another Engineering Marvel

I am late on the bandwagon, but I recently read in greater detail about the new Maglev train technology, and I can safely say that I am simply marvelled.

Maglev (short for magnetic levitation) trains could truly revolutionise transportation of the 21st century, using the basic principles of magnets and electromagnetic propulsion. There are three components to the system: a large electrical power source, metal coils lining a track/guideway, and large guidance magnets attached to the underside of the train. The magnetic field created by the electrified coils in the walls and the track combine to propel the train. (Side note: Japanese engineers are actually developing a technology called an electrodynamic suspension system, which is based on the repelling force of superconducting magnets, therefore eliminating the need for a power supply. It remains expensive as of now, but looks promising.)

A huge advantage of these trains (apart from higher speeds and low maintenance costs)? The positive environmental impact. Indeed, they lack engines, thus eliminate the need/use of fossil fuels.

The first commercial maglev train made its test debut in Shanghai, China, in 2002. The Shanghai Transrapid line currently runs to and from the Longyang Road station at the city’s center and the Pudong airport. Traveling at an average speed of 430 km per hour, the 30 km journey takes less than 10 minutes on the train (as opposed to an hour-long taxi ride!).

Right now, the best maglev train reaches speeds exceeding 400 kilometres per hour. But Deng Zigang, a professor at Southwest Jiaotong University in China believes that these trains can go even faster (as if that wasn’t fast enough already!). Indeed, much of the energy used to propel the train is wasted battling air resistance. Thus, by placing a maglev train inside a vacuum tube, we could virtually eliminate speed’s worst enemy and allow the train to rocket along guideways at 3,000 km per hour.

Just when we feel like we’ve seen/invented it all, new engineering marvels arise. I am exited to see what the future holds for this train technology.

(Source: IEEE Spectrum July 2014 issue)

“Natural Disasters – Live from the MOOC’s Epicentre” Event Rocks Schulich Library!

Natural disasters display

Despite a risk of severe thunderstorms (very fitting for the evening’s theme!), about 50 participants braved their way to Schulich Library of Science and Engineering on Tuesday night for “Natural Disasters – Live from the MOOC’s Epicentre!” to hear all about Montreal-area natural disasters. A big thanks to everyone who joined us, and an even bigger thanks to Professors John Stix and John Gyakum for presenting loads of information on different types of natural disasters and their likelihood of taking place in Montreal. Their presentation was delivered in a conversational, fact-filled and thought-provoking style that inspired the audience.

So what natural disasters could happen here? Earthquakes, ice storms (of course!), and even hurricanes are all possibilities. Even though Professor Stix confirmed that Mount Royal isn’t a volcano, he did recount a dream he once had that Mount Royal erupted and lava came flowing down the middle of campus! (This just goes to show you the kind of things geologists dream about!) The professors also talked about increased risk of natural disasters due to human activities (such as the increased chances of extreme weather events due to rising CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and the increased likelihood of earthquakes from fracking to obtain natural gas). Professor Gyakum showed a video that gives the analogy of steroid use by baseball players to explain how climate change works (available here). He also explained that increased water vapor in the atmosphere caused by increased CO2 emissions ups the chances of more extreme weather, such as ice storms in Montreal. We are, after all, in one of North America’s freezing rain capitals. So make sure to keep those candles and bottled water handy this winter!

Their talk generated a lot of questions such as: Is there a risk of Yellowstone erupting anytime soon? Professor Stix says it is a very active geologic area, which may explain this recent news story . However, he also said “I don’t lose sleep over it.” Another participant asked: Generally, how prepared are Montreal’s buildings for an earthquake? Members of the audience concluded that we are not so prepared, especially considering the number of old buildings we have here.

In case you missed the event, you can always come check out the Natural Disasters display with information, photos and specimens related to ice storms, volcanoes and earthquakes. It is located on the main floor of the Schulich Library and will be up until, at least, the end of summer.

Finally, a special thank you to Teaching and Learning Services and Ingrid Birker from the Redpath Museum’s Science Outreach and Public Program for helping to make the evening a success.

Natural Disasters: Live from the MOOC’s Epicentre!

350-public-mooc-natural-disasterAs you may have already heard, there is a MOOC currently being offered on Natural Disasters, which is taught by Professor John Gyakum and Professor John Stix. Related to this, the professors will be giving a talk about natural disasters in the Montreal area. This will include why certain disasters would not happen here and how we can mitigate the impact of natural disasters on our daily lives. They will also be answering your questions about natural disasters.

This event will be held on Tuesday, July 15th from 6:30-8:30pm in the Schulich Library of Science and Engineering. Refreshments will be served.

All are welcome to attend. Registration is required. Please visit http://bit.ly/montrealepicentre to register. I hope to see you there!