STM starts testing 100% electric bus

Writing about one or more aspects of electric vehicles is a popular term paper topic.  Beginning this week, the STM is testing an all-electric bus on select routes in Montreal as a possible option to help decrease its greenhouse emissions.  I was pleasantly surprised to read in the Montreal Gazette telectric bushat the STM already owns hybrid buses (part diesel and electric).  An electric bus, depending on the model, costs 7-14% more than a hybrid bus, and 50-70% more than a diesel bus.  The STM aims to purchase only electric buses when it starts replacing its existing fleet in 2025.  I look forward to riding on one!

Image from STM

Seeds and Patents

Seeds_220“Who owns life?”  This is the tag line of the play, Seeds, which I saw last weekend at the Centaur.  It is documentary theatre that tells the real story of the patent infringement law suit that Monsanto, a chemical and agricultural corporation, brought against Percy Schmeiser, a farmer from Saskatchewan.  Monsanto accused Mr. Schmeiser of  illegally growing its genetically engineered canola seeds on his farm, while Mr. Schmeiser maintained that the wind blew these seeds from neighbouring farms onto his land.

One of the scenes of the play that I found most interesting is when the farmer’s lawyer argues in court that you cannot patent a plant in Canada, while the company’s lawyer counter-argues that Monsanto only patented the genetically modified canola seed that produced the plant.

In Canada, you can apply for a patent (i.e., a legal right that the government gives you “to stop others from making, using, or selling your invention from the day the patent is granted to a maximum of 20 years after the day on which you filed your patent application”) on the following inventions:

–       “a product (for example, a door lock),
–       a composition (for example, a chemical composition used in lubricants for door locks),
–       an apparatus (for example, a machine for making door locks),
–       a process (for example, a method for making door locks),
–       or an improvement on any of these” (from A Guide to Patents by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office).

In order to be patented, your invention must demonstrate novelty (be unique in the world), utility (be in working condition and serve a useful purpose), and inventive ingenuity (not be apparent).

A reminder that the library subscribes to Derwent Innovations Index, a primary resource in searching for patents on a topic.  You may want to check whether anyone has already patented a specific invention that is of interest to you.

Image from the Centaur Theatre Company

Mining at the Deutsches Museum

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Germany and visited the Deutsches museum in Munich.  The Deutsches museum has exhibitions on science and technology.  One of my favourites is the Mining exhibit.  It contains life-size models of miners in different situations, such as manually drilling blast holes, transporting ore by barges, surveying, hole mining, etc.  One interesting fact I learned is that horses, called “pit ponies,” were lowered underground and used in coal mines to haul materials in the past.  Below are some of my photos from my visit to the “mines.”Mining exhibit

Life Sciences collection moving into Schulich

You may have seen boxes on multiple floors in the Schulich Library of Science & Engineering.  The reason behind this is that the books and journals from the Life Sciences Library are moving into Schulich.

To make space for this collection, extremely low use materials in the physical sciences and engineering are being shipped to the library’s storage facility at the Currie Gym.  It will be possible to retrieve these items on an “on demand” basis later on in the semester.

Books and journals from the Life Sciences Library are arriving on a daily basis, and are being unpacked and shelved as soon as possible.  To check whether a book or journal from the Life Sciences Library is available on the shelf to be borrowed, please visit our “Collections: Relocation Update.”  This page is also accessible under the “Happening now!” heading on the right-hand side of the library’s homepage.  Please note that Life Sciences course reserve materials are available at the Life Sciences Library to borrow.

Calendar of Science

Would you like a scientific blast from the past?  The Pacific Science Center in Seattle posts a monthly list of scientific facts for each day of the month called the Calendar of Science.  On this day, 124 years ago, Vladimir Zworykin was born.  He was the engineer “who invented the type of cathode-ray picture tube used in TV sets [and] computer monitors.” Check out the Calendar of Science to find out what happened on tomorrow’s date.