Science of NHL Hockey

Hockey is back at long last so I thought I’d post a little hockey science.

The U.S. National Science Foundation has a series of videos in their multimedia gallery called the Science of NHL Hockey. For example, learn about Goals Against Average and other goaltending Statistics and Averages, or goalie Reflexes & Reaction Time, or watch one of the other videos:

Go Habs Go!

Watch the growth of Walmart and Sam’s Club, 1962-2010

Sometimes you just have to “see” the numbers to believe them. Walmart has to be one of the most ubiquitous big-box stores in North America. When it comes to how many retail outlets there are, there’s really no number that would surprise me. But if you translate that statistic into a cool data visualization map, I’m blown away. Check out this video from FlowingData where you can watch Walmart “spread like wild fire” across the US.

Image from

Transparent soils

Researchers from the James Hutton Institute and the University of Abertay Dundee have created a transparent soil which allows the roots to grow “as exactly as they would in normal soil.” The advantage of this new soil is that observers are able to study roots in detail through this “see-through” soil. It was anticipated by the researchers that this soil would have an impact on many disciplines that are associated with interactions of plant roots and soils.

Read more at As clear as mud: Researchers unveil transparent soil that really could change the way we look at plants

Image from Microsoft Images

Twittering from outer space

Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, has been tweeting about his experience living and working on the International Space Station, which orbits the Earth 16 times per day.  He flew to space on December 19th and will be returning to Earth in May.  To follow Chris Hadfield in space, visit:

For information about his mission, read the Canadian Space Agency Mission Blog

Photograph of Europe’s Alps from Chis Hadfield, which was taken on New Year’s Eve from the International Space Station

A look at 2012’s scientific achievements

In the latest issue of the New Scientist magazine, there is an article that briefly summarizes last year’s discoveries and debates in the physical sciences.  These were:

1- “Beyond Higgs: Deviant decays hint at exotic physics” [read more]

2- “Neutrino speed errors dash exotic physics dreams” [read more]

3- “If you want to be president, hire geeks not pundits” [read more]

4- “Why physicists can’t avoid a creation event” [read more]

5- “Fiendish ‘ABC proof’ heralds new mathematical universe” [read more]

6- “Death-defying time crystal could outlast the universe” [read more]

7- “Truth of the matter: The Majorana particle mystery” [read more]

8- “Quantum measurements leave Schrödinger’s cat alive” [read more]

9- “US judge rules that you can’t copyright pi” [read more]

10- “Move over graphene, silicene is the new star material” [read more]

Image from Microsoft Office Clipart

Modernist Cuisine at Home

I hope that everyone enjoyed the holidays. Classes do not start until next week but for those of you with some time on your hands we do have Orientation sessions going on at Schulich Library, along with workshops on EndNote or Refworks citation management software. They are really worth your while (just saying).

I outdid myself this year on the sheer number of resolutions but I did get one gift, Modernist Cuisine at Home, that may get me motivated to start cooking. The book is a follow-up to Modernist Cuisine: the Art and Science of Cooking, a whopping six-volume set with 2,400 pages, with a team of scientist and chef authors led by Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, the first chief tech­nol­ogy offi­cer at Microsoft and all-around genius. Co-author Maxime Bilet was at the Food Science 25th Anniversary Symposium at McGill in 2012.

I was drawn to Modernist Cuisine for the science and technology side to cooking but I fell in love with the images and the challenge of the recipes. The full set is not only hefty but it comes with quite a price tag so I was excited to see that they made an addition to the Modernist Cuisine family with a reasonably priced, although still quite weighty, volume. To decrease the number of takeout meals I eat in a week I hope to spend more time in the kitchen, exploring the gadgets I have collected over the years, with my new book in hand.  Wish me luck.

If you’d like to take a look at the full Modernist Cuisine: the Art and Science of Cooking there is a copy at the Macdonald Campus Library. Request pickup at the McGill Library of your choice.

Happy New Year!

Image from Modernist Cuisine