An active Science Literacy Week

This year, Science Literacy Week will keep you moving. Beginning September 16, there are tours lined up, a game-based session around data management, a hands-on Excel workshop, interactive sound demonstrations, and exhibits to explore.

Here is the daily rundown of downtown activities organized by the Library:

Monday, (Sept 16): Montreal’s Urban Heat Island: Tour of temperature sensors on campus

Tuesday, (Sept 17): Tour of the Maude Abbott Medical Museum

Wednesday, (Sept 18): Sounds in the City + Treasures from the History of Science in Rare Books and Special Collections

Thursday, (Sept 19): Tour of the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning + Discover the cure! An introduction to the fundamentals of data management

Friday, (Sept 20): Chart Making in Excel: Going Further by Telling a Story with your Data

Register for an event today!

We also have exhibits going on so don’t miss out on those. You will get the opportunity to test out your map literacy in the Redpath Library Building, and check out a science book in person or online.

The Ethics of Colonization on Mars

Image from Wikipedia

Welcome back to Aleiah who posted for the Turret while she was a student in Communication in Engineering (CCOM 206). Here is a post she wrote with her fellow student, Kevin Xie, for a class assignment for Engineering Professional Practice (FACC 400).


The Ethics of Colonization on Mars

Humanity is on the verge of technological advancement which will make possible the colonization of Mars, the red planet. According to SpaceX the first human is planned to land on Mars by the year 20241. However, this calls into question: Should humanity colonize Mars?

The colonization of Mars is a complex issue with many underlying aspects. There are also many technical challenges such as, overcoming cosmic radiation, bone demineralization and the psychological stress of a journey to Mars.  For Mars to be habitable by humans, it must first be terraformed. Terraforming is a process in which the environment of a planet is modified to emulate the earth. It involves the modification of the atmosphere, topography, temperature and ecology. Doing this will help scientists on Earth understand Earth’s own environment as well as facilitate human life on mars. Any technological advancements made will help all of humanity. An example of this is climate change on Earth. Understanding how to control the temperature of a planet can help solve climate change on Earth.

Whether or not the Mars colonization project is a success, humanity can benefit from this project as the technology required to successfully colonize Mars can be useful on Earth as well. For example, here are three industries that would be greatly advanced thanks to the Mars project, to the benefit of humans on Earth:

  1. Agriculture:

The World Bank reported in 20152 that approximately 11% of Earth is arable, meaning capable of being ploughed and used for crops. As human population grows and food security becomes a greater issue, the agricultural industry would benefit from technology that allowed them to farm on unforgiving land. The Mars project faces this exact design problem as humans would need to start growing their own food on Mars in order to successfully colonize there.

  1. Medical:

Astronauts face a number of health issues in space, such as loss of bone density and muscular atrophy due to the lower gravity. In particular, Mars only has 38% of Earth’s gravity. Under prolonged circumstances, astronauts could find themselves facing skeletal damage. Although the circumstances are unique to the astronauts, these health concerns are not. Osteoporosis is a common public health problem whose patients tend to neglect their medication as they don’t believe in the effectiveness of the treatment. Solving this problem for astronauts will also help these patients.

  1. Nuclear Power:

Mars offers very little radiation protection and shielding compared to Earth, due to having no magnetosphere and a very thin atmosphere. Whereas humans on Earth are naturally protected from solar radiation and galactic cosmic rays, as Earth explores more sources of energy including nuclear power, it will soon become increasingly important to create technology that would protect humans from radiation.

Additionally, it is important to think of the colonization of Mars not as a transfer, but an expansion. Creating a colony on Mars does not mean that the earth will be abandoned. It can be compared to the first European settlers arriving in America. America was simply an expansion. In order for humanity to continue to progress, Mars must be colonized.

The colonization of Mars is also a stepping stone for humans to move beyond the solar system. The knowledge gained from colonizing mars will not only pave the way to going to other planets, but also building permanently habitable space stations in which humans can live.

Citations

Arable land (% of land area). (n.d.). Retrieved November 09, 2018, from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.ARBL.ZS?end=2015&start=2015&view=bar

This is how SpaceX will get humans to Mars by 2024 | CBC News. (2017, September 29). Retrieved November 09, 2018, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/spacex-mars-rocket-elon-musk-1.4312878

Doctors’ Cell Phones Are Contaminating Hospitals by Annie Charron

Today we have another guest undergraduate student post, originally submitted as a class assignment for Communicating Science (CCOM 314).

With support from Diane Dechief, Faculty Lecturer at the McGill Writing Centre, we will be sharing more noteworthy student writing right here on The Turret.

Annie chose to write a Trilobite article that provides knowledge on the health consequences of the use of cell phones by doctors.


Doctors’ Cell Phones Are Contaminating Hospitals

Your mobile phone carries the dirty fragments of germs. Thousands of microscopic bacteria bugs are crawling on it. The residue of greasy food is smudged on the screen. The remnants touched on public door handles have engulfed the surface of the phone.

Mobile phones are your hands’ partner in crime: you can wash your hands to eradicate germs and prevent the spread of germs, but you can’t wash the cell phone – at least not with soap. Without proper cleaning, germs are like glitter, they will never go away. Healthcare workers who bring mobile phones to work interfere with infection controls in hospitals.

Healthcare workers cell phones are a magnet for bacteria and harmful chemicals, which could decrease patients’ recovery. Hospitals should be the most sterile places in the world. But our tiny gadgets may ruin this. At any rate, there should be major shame towards the television series Grey’s Anatomy, where the characters are constantly using their mobile devices during patient care without washing their hands.

In a study published by Excellent Publishers in 2017, Ganapathy Shakthivel and his colleagues, working in the department of microbiology at Tirunelveli Medical College in India, examined 50 randomly selected healthcare workers at a specialized care hospital. They investigated how the bacterial contamination of cell phones poses a threat to infections. They then assessed whether contamination could be cleaned simply with 70% rubbing alcohol.

The study lasted for two months and included mobile phones belonging to doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, nursing assistants and hospital workers. Each worker first filled out a questionnaire that asked questions about the prevalence of phone usage between patient consultations and if workers washed their hands in between use or followed a strict sterile routine. Following this, each mobile phone was swabbed twice. The first swab took place before the decontamination procedure, the second swab occurred after the phone was thoroughly cleaned with the rubbing alcohol for 5 to 7 minutes.

The study revealed that of the 50 mobile phones in the study, 90% were found to be carrying multiple microorganism bacteria such as E. coli, which is very likely to cause infections. The decontamination results revealed that rubbing alcohol proves effective. The majority of the phones (78%) showed no bacterial growth after decontamination and 12% showed decreased bacterial growth. Another study led by Usha Arora (2009), showed a higher decontamination efficacy of approximately 98% with the 70% rubbing alcohol, compared to Ganapathy Shakthivel’s (2017) results of 86.6%.

Ganapathy Shakthivel (2017) states that the use of cell phones in India accounts for more than 88% of all users in Intensive Care Units and Operation theaters. And if a cell phone is not routinely cleaned in hospitals it becomes “a reservoir of infection.” Phones are a vehicle for the transmission of infection, to both patients and the community. The questionnaire revealed that only 12% of the healthcare workers made a habit of washing their hands before attending to a patient. That being said, “nearly 52% of the workers agreed that mobile phones may act a vector for spread of nosocomial (a disease originating in a hospital) infections.”

Preventative methods for eliminating the spread of infection via cell phones, include training other individuals (children, colleagues) not to touch phones other than their own. Some hospitals have banned or eliminated the use of cell phones during working hours. This may be hard to accomplish, considering you touch your phone on average 2,617 times a day. The most important strategy is simply to clean the device with rubbing alcohol before, during and after work – this regular routine will significantly reduce infections in hospitals.

References

Ganapathy Shakthivel, P.C., G. Velvzhi, G. Sucilathangam, Revathy, C. (2017). Mobile phones in healthcare setting: Potential threat in infection control. Int. J.Curr. Microbio  App. Sci. 6(3): 706-711. doi: https://doi.org/10.20546/ijcmas.2017.603.081

Usha, A., P. Devi, A, Chadga, S. Malhotra. (2009). Cell phones A modern slayhouse for bacteria pathogens. Jk Science. 11(3). Retrieved from http://www.jkscience.org/archive/vol113/6-Original%20Article%20-%20cell%20phones.pdf

Exploring McGill on a rainy day

I’m taking advantage of this rainy day to tune in to the Mini-Science 2018 episodes: Women in Science at McGill (and beyond). This seven-part series was recorded and made available on the McGill YouTube channel.

YouTube is the place to go If you have ever wondered if you could watch lectures and events that have taken place on campus. Videos include public forums, competitions, and conference presentations.

Apart from the main channel, there are additional options on YouTube for webcasts related to science at McGill: AstroMcGill, Separating Sense From Nonsense (McGill Office for Science and Society), Montreal Neuro, and McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

If you have time, I highly recommend the first episode of this year’s Mini-Science – History of Women in Science (below). In it, Principal Suzanne Fortier tells an engaging story about her experience growing up in a small town in Quebec and her unique path to science. There were a total of three books in her home, but to find out which three you will have to watch.

Enjoy the rain!

Communicating Science: Profile of Sierra Clark by Audrey Carleton

Today we have a guest student post, originally submitted as a class assignment for Communicating Science (CCOM 314). With support from Diane Dechief, Faculty Lecturer at the McGill Writing Centre, we will be sharing more noteworthy student writing right here on The Turret.

Audrey Carleton chose to write a profile on Sierra Clark, a graduate student supervised by Dr. Jill Baumgartner in the Institute for Health and Social Policy.


Sierra Clark

Headline: Sierra Clark on indoor air pollution and academic uncertainty

Subhead: McGill Master’s student tests lifesaving interventions for Tibetan Plateau residents

By: Audrey Carleton

Date: December 1, 2017

Sierra Clark has been reading National Geographic for as long as she can remember. Even before she learned to read, she would eagerly flip through the magazine’s glossy pages to admire its photos. From this young age, she had her sights set on someday working for the publication as an archaeologist.

In the twenty years that followed, Clark had a few changes of heart. When she began her undergraduate degree at McGill University in 2011, she was enrolled with a major in Anthropology. But after sitting through a few convoluted lectures in an introductory anthropology course, she realized the program wasn’t the right fit for her. One meeting with an academic advisor later, she settled on a major in Geography, and swiftly fell in love with it. Upon graduating in 2015, she swiftly enrolled in a Master’s Program in Epidemiology at McGill, which she is completing now. All the while, Clark continued to read National Geographic religiously. Continue reading

Science cinema with Kanopy

Science CinemaIt’s Science Literacy Week and this year we’ve added movies to the calendar, selected from the Kanopy streaming video service.

We will also have popcorn, so be sure to join us at 5:30pm in the Redpath Library Building, Research Commons Room A, where the visualization wall is perfect for screenings.

Here is what’s on:

  • Monday: Google and the World Brain

  • Tuesday: I Dream of Wires: The Machine that Shaped Electronic Music

  • Wednesday: Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?

  • Thursday: Top Secret Rosies

  • Friday: GTFO: Get the F**k Out – Women in Gaming

Read descriptions here.

With Kanopy in the Library collection, every day can be movie day. Whether you love classic films or documentaries, there is plenty to explore.

Happy viewing!

Thinking Outside the Brain

Innovation Week MCIN posterNext week is innovation week at McGill!

I want to bring your attention to an event that is geared towards undergraduate students of all backgrounds. The MCIN is hosting an interactive talk (with breakfast) highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience research. 

It is happening at the Montreal Neurological Institute (de Grandpré Communications Centre), Thursday, November 17th, 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Registration is required so sign up today to reserve your spot.

We are entering a new era in our understanding of both healthy and pathological brain function, which underpins all human behaviour.  It is only through interdisciplinary convergence, pooling the expertise of individuals with extraordinarily varied backgrounds of study and experience, that we can continue to advance our understanding of the ultimate puzzle that is the mind.  In this event, we will present ways in which “thinking outside the brain” has proven beneficial to brain research within our centre, along with small-group workshops to foster collaborative learning and encourage synergies.

From Star Trek to honeybees

United States design patent 307,923This year’s Science Literacy Week really does have it all, starting with two amazing library exhibits:

  1. The Science of Star Trek at Schulich Library
  2. Knowing Blood, Medical Observations, Fluid Meanings at Osler Library of the History of Medicine.

If you can’t make it up to Osler Library, we have a touch table coming to Schulich Library tomorrow that will allow you to explore the Knowing Blood exhibit from Tuesday to Friday.

The fun with technology does not stop there, however, because we have 3D printing and learn to code workshops. You can also explore virtual reality technologies with the Oculus Rift. I will definitely be there for that.

I haven’t forgotten about the bees…we have hives on the roof of Schulich Library and they make the best honey. Take a visit up there with an experienced beekeeper.

There is more happening than I can mention here but I don’t want to leave out Wednesday’s Wikipedia edit-a-thon on women in science, or the talk from Dr. Joe Schwarcz on the facts and myths of eating right on Thursday afternoon.

I will leave you with the calendar of events to explore. Now if only we had transporter rooms… Well, there is always next year!

Science Literacy Week: Register today

At Schulich Library we ♥ science and we have created an amazing lineup of events to share our love of science with you. This year we are participating in Science Literacy Week and it is only one week away: September 21st – 27th.

I invite you to visit our guide to Science Literacy Week @ McGill, where you will find info on exhibits and events organized by the Library and the Redpath Museum.

There are so many events scheduled that I will let the list speak for itself:

Register today!

Bill Nye Inspires and Educates Rutgers’ Class of 2015

rutgersbill nye

I recently had the pleasure of traveling down to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ to watch my brother’s graduation.

While I am extremely proud of all his accomplishments another draw was that Bill Nye was slated to be the 2015 commencement speaker. As a childhood fan I certainly wasn’t going to miss this opportunity!

Nye imparted some excellent words of wisdom on the audience, while also tying in his views on climate change and racism. He urged the graduates to take climate change seriously, and expressed his hope that they would rise to the challenge of solving this crucial issue. Along with this wish, Nye also pointed out that in order to solve the problem of climate change the class of 2015 would have to put aside preconceived notions of race. We are all members of the human species, worthy of respect, and capable of making world changing discoveries said Nye.

Nye’s speech was inspiring as well as educational, and an excellent reminder that we are all responsible for building one another up for the good of the world.

To read Nye’s remarks in full click on the link below!

http://time.com/3882613/bill-nye-graduation-speech-rutgers-university/