Infrastructure100 Global Projects Report

“Presenting the Infrastructure 100 – report on the most exciting infrastructure projects from around the world, as selected by independent judging panels due to their scale, complexity, innovation and impact on society.”

“KPMG’s Global Infrastructure practice, in conjunction with Infrastructure Journal, is pleased to present the Infrastructure 100 – a showcase of the most interesting infrastructure projects from around the world.

Of those 100 projects – all shortlisted for their scale, complexity, innovation and impact on society – 10 have been highlighted by the independent judging panels as notable projects in different infrastructure sectors.”

Download the report.

Image from the Infrastructure100 Global Projects Report.

Center for Global Geography Education – A Collaborative Learning Resource for Undergraduate Studies in Geography

If you are a geography undergraduate student or an instructor teaching undergraduate courses in geography and related social and environmental sciences, you might find Association of American Geographers’ Center for Global Geography Education (CGGE) useful. There are a collection of six modules online: Global Climate ChangeGlobal EconomyNational Identity, Population and Natural Resources, Migration, and Water Resources.

Each module consists of a conceptual framework, regional case studies, and collaborative projects. The conceptual framework introduces students to the relevant concepts, theories, and analytical approaches in geography; case studies illustrate how geographic concepts, methods, and technologies can be used to investigate and solve problems in different regions; collaborative projects connect classes worldwide for online learning and discussions. Researchers (Baiio & Ray, 2011) found that the CGGE project had gained students “content knowledge” and “the enthusiasm for international cooperation”.

Baiio, W., & Ray, W. C. (2011). The challenges and rewards of an international undergraduate student learning interaction in geography. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 20(4), 287-296. doi:10.1080/10382046.2011.619806

Image from AAG center for global geography education, retrieved July 9, 2012.

A war hero in our midst: The story of George Irvine Baillie

Have you ever noticed any of the 7 portraits hanging on the inside walls of the Schulich Library?  Each portrait has captured a moment in that person’s life and invites us to find out the story behind the face.

The portrait of the young soldier on the library’s 4th floor recounts the story of George Irvine Baillie, a chemical engineering student from McGill University who enlisted in the First World War.  George started his studies at McGill in 1912 and served one year in McGill’s Officer Training Corps before applying to be a member of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in June 1915 at the age of 21.  A copy of his military attestation papers can still be viewed on the Library and Archives Canada website.  He was appointed Lieutenant of the 60th Battalion and died on August 8th, 1918, on the first day of the Battle of Amiens.

His father, John Baillie, who was managing director of the Dominion Oil Cloth Company (the first Canadian company to make oil cloths and linoleums), made a financial endowment to McGill University to open the Baillie Library of Chemistry in memory of his son.  At the library’s opening ceremony on Tuesday, December 11th, 1923, Professor Ruttan, who was the Director of McGill’s Department of Chemistry at the time, said that “the Baillie Library will stand as a constant reminder to future generations of Mr. John Baillie’s deep interest in the University, and of the heroism of his son, who gave his life in the great fight for humanity” (The Montreal Gazette, Dec. 12, 1923).

The library continues to receive support, to this day, from the “Lieutenant George Irvine Baillie Chemistry Collections Fund.”  A list of books purchased with this fund in recent years can be found at

The Baillie Library of Chemistry is now part of the Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, & Engineering and George Baillie’s portrait serves to remind us of the courage of all those from the McGill community who valiantly fought in the first and second world wars.

 Photo of Baillie’s portrait in the Schulich Library

Social networking for everyone

Genevieve Bell is an Intel researcher who “found that women are the heaviest users of today’s most widespread and vital technologies: the Internet, mobile phones (voice and text), Skype, e-readers, other e-devices, GPS, and all social networking sites except LinkedIn” (Slate Magazine, 6/19/2012, Waldman).  However, I think that this news should not discourage men from using any type of current technology when needed.

There are social networking sites for both sexes in the physical sciences and engineering.  One example is ResearchGate.

I think of ResearchGate as a sort of Facebook account for professionals.  It allows you to connect with people that have similar research interests.  When you register for an account, you will be prompted to put in educational and professional information about yourself.  You can enter in as little or as much information as you like.  Based on the information you enter in your profile, ResearchGate will suggest conferences, papers, researchers, and jobs, etc. that you might be interested in.

Don’t hesitate to give it a try!  You may find pleasant surprises in the suggestions that ResearchGate brings to your attention.

Image from Microsoft Office Clipart

Sequoia – The Fastest Supercomputer

The IBM team behind the world’s fastest computer.

IBM Sequoia, is now the fastest computer in the world. The computers were ranked by a test, the Linpack Benchmark, which gives each computer a petaflop/s score (quadrillion floating-point operations per second). Sequoia tested at 16.32 petaflop/s, compared to the previous top one – Japan’s K Computer’s 10.51 petaflop/s, which made K fall to the second place. Wonder how fast it works? IBM said, “Sequoia is capable of calculating in one hour what otherwise would have taken 6.7 billion people using hand calculators 320 years to complete if they had worked non-stop.” Also, Sequoia consumes less energy than the K computer, 7.9 megawatts compared to 12.6 megawatts. Professor Dongarra told the BBC “it was unlikely that another manufacturer would overtake IBM in the next year”.

Adapted from


Putting Scientific Information to Work in 1972

I love this cartoon about the exchange of information between scientists, from word of mouth and written letters, to the first scientific journals and, some time later, information overload. Forty years after this was created we are still plagued with a growing number of science and technology journals and are challenged with making full use of the literature.

One of the strategies in the 1960s from the mind of Eugene Garfield and the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) was to cover a selective but important portion of the world’s journals.

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Technology review – Google glasses

If you too dream of Google glasses – check out the latest issue of Technology review, published by MIT, and the “You Will Want Google Goggles” article. Farhad Manjoo interviews Thad Starner about Google’s Project Glass:

“One of the key points here,” Starner says, “is that we’re trying to make mobile systems that help the user pay more attention to the real world as opposed to retreating from it.”

Image from: Google mobile

Why Citation Management Software Matters

Why does the library invest in citation management software? Why do so many librarians spend time promoting, teaching, and supporting citation management software to students and faculty? Are we wasting time and effort?

Books with notesAs a student or scholar, we have all had some unforgettable moments when we had to look for a reference in a pile of articles at the last minute, because we lost the notes where we had recorded that piece of reference. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have something that could keep our notes well stored and easily accessible?

Citation management software is a kind of computer program that can serve this purpose. It catches references and stores them in a local or web-based space and automatically produces the bibliography as well as in-text citations for a word processing document, such as Microsoft Word, according to your choice of citation style. The special coding added into the Word document allows you to edit your work any time by adding, moving, and deleting citations as well as switching to another citation style if needed.

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“Gen Y” Doctoral students

The UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the British Library have just released a major (17,000 students) study of the behaviors and beliefs of “Generation Y” (i.e.born 1983-1992) doctoral students involving social media, information access, and related matters. The students were surveyed over a three year period to set a benchmark for the research behavior of that generation.

Here are some of the results from the report:

  • “For example, 23% of all the students have made passive use of online forums, but only 13% have taken an active part in any discussions: 23% followed blogs, but only 9% maintained a blog themselves. Active take-up of institutionally-provided open web resources is also low, with students requesting more information about technologies and applications such as Google Scholar, cloud computing, EndNote and Mendeley.”
  • “Other findings from the report include a continuing lack of understanding about the nature of open access.”
  • “The study also highlighted a marked dependency on published secondary sources rather than primary sources, such as archival materials and data sets, as the basis of students’ own original research, regardless of discipline.”

To get more information you can download the report from:

Image from:Journal de Montréal/Québec édition du mardi 22 janvier 2008.

Google joins the tablet race

Shortly after Microsoft announced its plans for Surface, Google also unveiled its new 7-inch Nexus tablet at its annual developers’ conference last week.  Nexus will initially be sold on the Google Play online store for $199.00 USD.  Unlike its main competition, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the Nexus has a front-facing camera and a 1280 x 800 resolution screen.

Related to the Kindle Fire, I want to remind you that you can borrow e-readers for 2 weeks at the library.

Let the tablet wars begin!

Image from Microsoft Office Clipart