All Posts Tagged With: "University of Western Ontario"
Ships vanished in the Arctic in 1845
A long-standing Arctic mystery has become even more baffling with research that appears to debunk a common theory about the demise of the Franklin expedition.
Chemists at the University of Western Ontario used an array of the latest analytic techniques to conclude that poorly made cans of food were probably not responsible for the lead that poisoned the officers and crew of the doomed 19th-century voyage to explore the Arctic.
“We’ll probably never know what happened to the crew of the Franklin (expedition), so it will remain one of the great mysteries of Canadian history,” said Prof. Ron Martin.
“Our resources fail to support the hypothesis that the lead in the bones came from tins, and I certainly believe it didn’t.”
The Franklin expedition headed north, never to return, in 1845. Although some remains of the 129 crew have been discovered, along with ghastly evidence of cannibalism, the two ships Erebus and Terror have never been found despite a century and a half of searching.
Their mystery and legend remain to this day.
Three graves of Franklin crew members discovered on Beechey Island were exhumed in 1984 and their corpses analyzed in an attempt to shed light on the disaster.
While diseases, including pneumonia and tuberculosis, are believed to have been the immediate causes of death, high levels of lead found in the sailors’ bones are thought to have weakened the men and clouded their judgment. Looking for a source of the lead, scientists concluded it probably came from the solder used to seal the cans of food in the ships’ stores.
Martin’s work, published in February in Applied Physics A, re-examined some of the bones using techniques developed since the original analysis. Martin and his colleagues concluded there was so much lead in the bones, and it was distributed so widely, that it couldn’t have accumulated during the few months the men were at sea before they died.
Nor did he find areas where lead was concentrated, as there would be if the potent toxin had only recently been ingested.
“The wide distribution and high concentrations of lead in the measured bones is indicative of long-term exposure before the start of the expedition,” says the paper.
“The lead distribution is essentially uniform as might be expected from lifetime lead ingestion. There is no evidence for a sudden massive increase in lead during the latter part of any individual’s life.”
Martin points out the sailors buried on Beechey Island had died only three months into the voyage. At that point in the expedition, the crew is unlikely to have even dug into the cans.
“They ate everything that was fresh first,” he said. “They wouldn’t have started on the tins yet.”
Martin said evidence — including early results from tests on bones from a pioneer cemetery outside London — suggests that high lead levels were common in those times.
“All the bones we looked at there, the lead levels would have been pretty much the same,” he said.
“In that time period, there was lead everywhere. They had lead coming out their ears.”
Martin’s work would also appear to exonerate other sources of lead that some researchers have proposed as a source, including the ship’s water system. Water pipes on Franklin’s vessels were made of lead.
Lead is toxic to the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys and reproductive and nervous systems. Symptoms of lead poisoning include confusion, which makes it an attractive explanation for some of the decisions made by Franklin and his crew after their ships were stuck in the ice, such as dragging heavy lifeboats over the tundra laden with non-essentials such as silverware.
Martin’s team concludes that if Franklin and his men were poisoned by lead, it probably began long before they set sail for what is now the Canadian Arctic.
The mystery, which has inspired Canadian artists from folksinger Stan Rogers to novelist Mordecai Richler, persists.
— By Bob Weber in Edmonton
The truth is more complicated than the stereotype
She’s the picture of privilege, the epitome of entitlement. She’s the girl you love to hate. She’s the “typical Western girl,” or TWG for short.
When I asked friends and fellow Twitter users to describe her, it seemed that everyone knew what I was talking about. They rattled off physical descriptions: blonde, pretty, and fond of Ugg boots, Lululemon yoga pants or Ray Bans.
Aside from the look, they told me what makes a TWG is her personality, behaviour and, most importantly, her financial background. She’s well-off to the point of being spoiled. She doesn’t care much about school. Primping and partying are her priorities. She’s everything a good teen movie villainess should be. She’s Regina George, the Queen Bee from Tina Fey’s flick Mean Girls and living in London, Ontario.
Scientists also reveal insights on brain training and aging
Today there’s fascinating news from Western University, where some of the world’s leading brain researchers say the largest-ever study of its kind has discredited the idea of measuring intelligence by standardized IQ tests. From the release:
The findings from the landmark study, which included more than 100,000 participants, were published today in the journal Neuron. The article, “Fractionating human intelligence,” was written by Adrian M. Owen and Adam Hampshire from Western’s Brain and Mind Institute (London, Canada) and Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs, Science Museum Group (London, U.K).
Utilizing an online study open to anyone, anywhere in the world, the researchers asked respondents to complete 12 cognitive tests tapping memory, reasoning, attention and planning abilities, as well as a survey about their background and lifestyle habits.
Writer Roy MacGregor on his days at Laurentian U.
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here, writer Roy MacGregor shares his antics and wisdom.
I attended Laurentian University in Sudbury, leaving a four-year honours program in political science after three years with a general B.A. I chose Laurentian because it would take me—a six-year high-school grad with a 66 per cent average. Also, a friend was going and he had a car. I honestly never expected to last beyond Christmas, let alone end up with a degree—failing Grade 12 with 33 per cent doesn’t instill a lot of confidence—but I can honestly say I found university far easier than high school. Soon enough I was in love with both Laurentian and the city of Sudbury. The North of this country is indeed magical, but the near North has its own magic as well.
It was 1967, a time of huge student unrest. In the U.S. they were marching against the Vietnam War. We held a massive student protest march in Sudbury. There were riot police out but we showed stunning solidarity, walking around the streets near city hall chanting “WE WANT A PUB! WE WANT A PUB!” as if it were the most important thing in the world. The ’60s didn’t reach Laurentian until the ’70s. But we loved our time there. Classes were small. The residences were like family. Professors were approachable.
A photographic tour of the campus in London, Ont.
This fall, Maclean’s photographed 24 of the 49 institutions featured in the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings. Below, Jessica Darmanin shows you around Western University. Click on each photo to make it larger. Then check out the other 23 galleries by clicking here.
Campus fashion from Western University
Western University students know how to accessorize. Some keep it subtle—a scarf here, a crown of flowers there. Others aren’t afraid to wear Mustang purple from head-to-toe. Jessica Darmanin went to London, Ont. on homecoming weekend to snap these stylish students. To see what students are wearing at other universities, click here. Since she can’t make it to every campus, why not show us your fall fashion? Tweet your photo to @maconcampus or post it on our Facebook wall.
A beginner’s guide to master-level sustainability programs
Many will tell you that they have their M.E.S., but pay close attention because those three letters can mean master of environment and sustainability or master of environmental studies, by which they likely don’t mean master of environmental science, which tends to be denoted by the letters M.Sc. Adding to the confusion are programs with a special focus, such as business, IT or energy. Even degrees with the same name can be very different, so it’s best to research each one. Here’s a sampling to get you started:
Master of Environment and Sustainability (M.E.S.)
University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.
This is a one-year interdisciplinary program that is course-based. Students get an overview of management, ecosystems and engineering before doing co-op terms at government agencies, consulting firms and at companies like Magna and Bank of Nova Scotia. Most graduates go straight to industry.
They should never have signed the agreements
Luke Simcoe is a guest blogger. He will be contributing the occasional post on web culture, the various kooks and cranks who inhabit the Internet, as well as copyright matters.
Between them, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario possess a sizeable portion of Canada’s brain trust. Yet somehow, the two institutions recently agreed to a copyright deal so dumb that one observer accused them of a “complete capitulation to an important battle over the costs and parameters of access to knowledge in Canadian post-secondary institutions.”
Research shows links to mental illness, lung capacity
When sociologist and drug-policy expert Andy Hathaway surveyed one of his first-year classes at the University of Guelph last fall, 80 per cent of students reported experience with cannabis.
Hathaway cautions that it was only a small pilot study (around 100 responses), and it took place at Guelph, which is, let’s face it, “a bit granola.”
Still, that 80 per cent figure isn’t surprising.
When twelfth graders are asked if they’ve tried marijuana, roughly half say yes.
Provincial rates of lifetime usage now range from a low of 40 per cent of Albertan twelfth-graders to a high of 63 per cent of those in Nova Scotia, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. And that’s before university.
Why they got rid of the University of Western Ontario
There ‘s much fuss among alumni over the news that Western is changing its name, for most day-to-day purposes, to Western. Or Western University. Or Western University Canada.
What it won’t call itself, in colloquial use, is the University of Western Ontario. That remains the place’s legal name, but it won’t be the name Western travels with.
This is all causing a certain amount of consternation among people with a link to Western and, I think it’s fair to say, to people who follow branding exercises with a certain healthy amount of skepticism. Objections I heard this morning include:
1. This is dumb. Everyone calls it Western already.
2. This is dumb. It’s in Eastern Canada.
3. This is dumb. It’s in Southern Ontario.
To me, it’s not as dumb, but its cleverness takes a bit of explaining. Continue reading That’s Western University to you
The naming of sports teams is now fraught with peril
One of the best running gags in the TV show Community is that Greendale College’s teams are called “The Human Beings”—an absurdly bland moniker designed to insulate the school from complaints and controversy—the sort of complaints levied periodically against the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins.
The fictional school’s feckless Dean might have a point, though, because naming sports teams, at schools especially, is now fraught with peril.
This danger was underscored last week when Utah’s Corner Canyon High School had to do away with its team name “Cougars.” The term, which, in some circles has come to mean an older woman sexually interested in younger men, was the subject of complaints. Canyon teams will now be “The Chargers.”
Student filmmaker questioned by police for online teaser
A University of Western Ontario student and his filmmaker friend have created a raunchy comedy series—and university officials aren’t amused.
It’s easy to see why. The trailer for 3 Audrey features multiple references to Western interspersed with jokes about a mother’s vagina, breast implants and excessive amounts of liquor.
3 Audrey is a six-part scripted series named for the house where a group of fictional Western students welcome a Carleton transfer student, Tommy Noble, into their oft-partying family.
It was co-written by Western media student Dave Provost and his 21-year-old director friend Miguel Barbosa, who is not a student at the school. Barbosa is part of YEAH! Films, a collective that plans to sell product placements in YouTube based viral videos. Provost took part in order to launch his acting and writing career, he says.
Researchers say meteorites fell over Selwyn, Ont.
Astronomers from the University of Western Ontario released a rare video Wednesday of a meteor falling from the sky just east of Toronto.
The footage was captured just after 6 p.m. on Monday evening by six video surveillance cameras belonging to Western’s Southern Ontario Meteor Network. The basketball-sized meteor was first spotted over Lake Erie and moved toward the north-northeast ending just south of the town of Selwyn, Ont., according to a news released from the university. Researchers say it likely sprinkled small meteorites over the area east of Selwyn near the eastern side of Upper Stony Lake.
Peter Brown, the director of Western’s Centre for Planetary and Space Exploration, says the occurrence is rare—only about a dozen meteorite falls have had their orbits measured by cameras. That’s why researchers at Western and the Royal Ontario Museum are interested in hearing from anyone who may witnessed or recorded the event or has found fallen meteorite fragments.
“Finding a meteorite from a fireball captured by video is equivalent to a planetary sample return mission,” Brown said in the news release. “We know where the object comes from in our solar system and can study it in the lab.”
Did you see the meteor? Contact Kimberly Tait at email@example.com
Follows accidental death of Calgary teen who took pills
A 23-year-old University of Western Ontario student who attended a concert in Guelph on Nov. 23 died of an apparent reaction to ecstasy pills, reports the Guelph Mercury. The Sarnia, Ont. native was taken to a Guelph hospital at 2:30 a.m. and died of organ failure on Nov. 26 in Kitchener.
Last week, a 16-year-old in Calgary died after taking what appears to have been ecstasy.
The drug most commonly sold as ecstacy is MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), which floods users with euphoria and a sense of empathy. MDMA itself rarely causes sudden death. However, the brightly-coloured pills sold as ecstasy come from drug labs where they’re sometimes laced with more deadly drugs. U.K. Professor David Nutt published a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2009 that suggested the risk of death from ecstasy use is similar to the risk of death from horseback riding.
Students currently need to meet with the VP Finance to see details
The University of Prince Edward Island Student Union says it will continue to keep the details of its budgets “for members only.” In other words, these pie charts with no figures attached are all that will remain posted on their website—the place where the public would normally expect to find details.
This comes after students demanded at a meeting last week that the union make their plans for spending easier to find, reports The Cadre.
That meeting resulted from a Facebook post that made the rounds. It said: “$700 of your dollars will go to the UPEISU over four years. Do you think that the SU budget should be accessible to the students and be able to see how they’re spending your money? Post this if you are concerned…”
Film compares abortion to holocaust
Students at the University of Western Ontario are upset that they were handed DVDs in the University Community Centre on Wednesday. The film, by Living Waters Ministry, “uses a discussion of the holocaust as a segue to promote a pro-life agenda” reports The Gazette.
Devin Barnes, a fourth-year philosophy student, said he was not happy about his gift from the pro-life strangers: “the pro-life people obviously have the right to their opinion, but this was coercion.”
Eliot Hong, from the University Students’ Council, said they require that such handouts be approved ahead of time. ”This is to ensure that groups are following the Advertising Materials Policy and are in line with the University’s environment of providing a safe, supportive campus while being sensitive to the diverse student, staff, and faculty population that are a part of Western,” said Hong.
The Christian Post, a U.S. publication, reports that “a small army of one thousand workers gave away 200,000 copies of the award-winning movie “180″ at 100 top universities around the country, in one day this week. To avoid opposition, the day and the location of each of the universities were a highly-guarded secret. The controversial pro-life video shows eight people who are adamantly pro-abortion, changing their minds and becoming pro-life in a matter of seconds…”
It’s not clear whether the group at Western was part of this particular effort, but 180 does open with scenes from NAZI Germany and a man asking students whether they’ve heard of Adolf Hitler.
Police warn students
Students in London, Ont. are being warned by police to secure their doors, windows, and patio doors due to an increased number of break-and-enters near student housing. Western News reports that more than 100 have occurred near the University of Western Ontario in recent months.
London Police officer Dennis Rivest held a press conference at Fanshawe College recently to offer more information. He called the thefts “crimes of opportunity” and believes that thieves may be walking from residence to residence, looking for easy ways to break in and steal electronics. He says students should not only secure their residences better, but should record serial numbers for computers, cameras, TVs and tablets.
One woman grabbed, another kissed by strange man
Police in two Ontario cities are looking for male suspects after separate incidents involving university-aged females that occurred on or near campuses this week.
The first happened at the University of Western Ontario at 6:40 a.m. on Wednesday. After a female left her vehicle and walked to work near the TD Waterhouse Stadium, she was grabbed from behind by an unknown male who is described as white and aged 25 to 35 with a thin build and a stud or ring in his lower lip. He was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt under a black leather jacket and black jeans, reports the London Police Service.
The second incident involved a 21-year-old woman near the Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo campuses on Thursday around 3:30 p.m. A man unknown to the woman hugged and kissed her on the cheek before letting her go. Waterloo police told the Waterloo Record that the man is described as dark-skinned and short in height with a large belly and short dark hair. He was wearing a red sweater or jacket and jeans.
Why master of journalism degrees are big news in 2011
Carmen Smith used to think she didn’t need graduate school. And why would she? Even before finishing her bachelor of journalism degree at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., Smith was the publisher of a women’s magazine called Belle, which she founded.
But she changed her mind after an academic adviser told her about a new master’s in journalism program offered at King’s College in Halifax that could help her do better with her own publication. “I really thought it was interesting to see how they were developing their program around entrepreneurial journalism,” Smith recalls. “That’s why I came.”
Smith, now 22, is one of a growing number of wannabe journalists heading to master’s programs in Canada. Before 2000, there were only two degrees available in the country, at Carleton University and the University of Western Ontario. Today, there are six, with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University both gearing up their own programs.
Finish in four years or pay for it yourself: Ontario government
Six international doctorate students at the University of Western Ontario are fighting a new rule that forces them to pay up if they take more than four years to complete their degrees. They say that if they get sent home, their education — subsidized so far by Canadian taxpayers — will be wasted.
Saad Anis of Pakistan is one of those students. He told Inside Higher Ed that he may never finish his Ph.D. in philosophy, because he can’t afford to pay the international tuition of $16,000 plus living costs to take a fifth year. Although Ph.D. Humanities students at Western take an average of nearly six years to graduate, international students are funded only for four.
“Transfer is one option,” Anis said. “But I think most likely what is going to happen is I will not be able to finish and I’ll just go back home [to Pakistan] and teach at a high school or something.”
Russell Poole, the associate dean of research and graduate studies for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities said: “I feel very sorry for them that the rules have changed and those rules have changed while they’ve been here.” But, he added that Western doesn’t owe them more funding. “It would be simply wrong to say that any time a student is not completing in four years the university has the obligation to provide funding for the fifth or sixth year,” he said.
Henrik Lagerlund, the philosophy department chair feels that it would be a waste for the students not to finish, but added, “I think I can say with confidence that this program is doable in four years.”