Science

Image: Environment Canada
Environment News Science

Ontario, Quebec Experiencing Heat Wave

It’s hot outside. But just how hot? It’s “heat-wave” hot.

That’s according to Environment Canada, the official source for weather information in Canada, particularly for severe weather watches and warnings.

A heat wave is when the temperature outside reaches 32-degrees Celsius or higher for three or more days in a row.

Southern Ontario and Quebec are experiencing temperatures in the mid-30s. With the high humidity the provinces are also experiencing, the temperature outside feels more like 42 degrees.

I'll Have Another and Lava Man at the 2012 Preakness Stakes
Animals News Sports

Canadian-Owned “I’ll Have Another” Retires

Canadian-owned I’ll Have Another was a favourite to win the Belmont Stakes horse race this year.

The race was held last Saturday.

If he’d won, he would also have won all three of the major horse races and become the U.S. Triple Crown winner, every horse-owner’s dream.

However, it wasn’t to be.

Just before the big race, his trainer announced that the horse had tendonitis in his left front leg and would not be able to race. The owner decided to retire the colt from racing.

The good news is that I’ll Have Another will recover from his injury and will be fine. It’s likely that the horse will become a stud, which means that he will father other colts which may go on to become excellent race horses themselves. In that way, I’ll Have Another’s legacy will live on.

Image: Bruno Sanchez-Andrade Nuño
Science Technology

World’s First Private Spacecraft Makes Successful Trip To International Space Station

Governments from just a handful of countries have flown into space.

But never has a private company successfully sent a spacecraft into space.

Not only is it extremely expensive, but it’s incredibly risky. There are a million things that can go wrong.

Last month an American company called Space Exploration Technologies – better known as SpaceX – made history by sending its unmanned Dragon spacecraft into space.

Red Admiral Butterfly
Animals News Science

Millions Of Butterflies In Ontario And Eastern Canada

If you were sitting outside on April 16 in Eastern North America, you may have seen a wondrous site. That day, millions of Red Admiral butterflies flew in – or perhaps “blew in” – from the southern United States.

Drew Monkman is a local natualist (“nature watcher”) and writer, living in Peterborough, Ont. He tracks the habits of animals including butterflies.

He told TKN that the April 16 migration was “completely unprecedented. (The Red Admiral has) never been seen in these kinds of numbers.”

He said on that day there were probably several million butterflies, most of them Red Admiral, but there were other species as well.

Drew Monkman is a naturalist and butterfly expert living in Peterborough, Ont.
Why did this happen? This year in the southern United States like Texas, where the butterflies began their journey, the winter was “amazingly mild,” said Monkman. This allowed more butterflies to survive the winter and reproduce.

An aerial view of the tsunami damage in Sendai, Japan
Environment News

Japan’s 2011 Tsunami Sends Balls 8,000 Kilometres To Alaska

In March 2011, Japan was hit by the largest earthquake ever recorded.

It caused a tsunami–a huge wave that started out in the ocean. The tsunami swept onto the north-east coast of Japan and back into the sea, carrying away everything in its path.

Now, after travelling across the Pacific Ocean for more than a year, a soccer ball and a volleyball have washed up onto Middleton Island, off the coast of Alaska.

The man who found them plans to send them back to the two Japanese teenagers who lost them during the tsunami.

The balls were found two weeks apart and both balls had names on them. The soccer ball also had a school name and several messages.

Amorphophallus-Apr282012 worlds tallest flower
Environment Lighter News Science

World’s Largest (And Stinkiest) Plant About To Bloom Near Niagara Falls

It’s stinky and it’s huge—and it’s about to bloom.

The world’s tallest flower is set to bloom this week.

Its scientific name is The Amorphophallus titanium (Titan Arum for short).

The extremely rare flower is at the Niagara Parks’ Floral Showhouse, near the Canadian Horseshoe Falls in Ontario. When it blooms, it will be the 22nd of its kind to bloom in a botanical garden.

Titan Arum is also known as the corpse flower. That’s because of the stinky odour it gives off. It smells like rotting meat.

Its horrible smell helps the flower attract insects that it needs for pollination. (Lots of insects are attracted to rotting meat.)

Titan arum normally grows in the rainforests of Sumatra.

However, this one—and another one that is also growing and will bloom after the first one—was donated by a man who lives in New Hampshire, U.S.

An illustration of the space station
News Science Technology

Students’ Experiments To Be Conducted In Space

Three students have won the chance to have science experiments they created carried out by astronauts in space.

The students won an international competition called the YouTube Space Lab Contest. Last October, students around the world aged 14 to 18 were invited to come up with ideas for experiments that could be performed on the International Space Station.

The space station is a satellite that orbits the Earth. It includes a research laboratory where astronauts from the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada conduct experiments. Because there is no gravity on the space station, they are able to do experiments they could not do on Earth.

For the contest, students had to make a video explaining their hypothesis – the idea they wanted to test – and the method for doing the experiment. Then they posted the videos on YouTube.

Winners were chosen by people voting on YouTube, and by a panel of judges that included scientists, teachers, astronauts and journalists.

The gnome in Japan
News Science Technology

Nomadic Gnome Puts Gravity To The Test

A plastic garden gnome is travelling around the world to help demonstrate how the pull of gravity changes in different locations.

Gravity is the force that attracts a person or an object to the centre of the Earth. It keeps us on the ground, and it also determines how much we weigh.

Gravity may be slightly stronger or weaker depending on where you are, which means things weigh different amounts in different places on Earth.

The difference is so small – 0.5 per cent or less – that most people using ordinary scales wouldn’t even notice it.

For example, if you weigh 40 kilograms, the difference would be no more than 200 grams higher or lower, depending on where you were.

But even such a small difference would matter to scientists who need to be very accurate when measuring amounts of chemicals for an experiment or comparing weights of different objects.

The Gairdner Award
Health News Science

Canadian Awards Predict Nobel Prize Winners

The Gairdner Foundation recently announced the winners of its 2012 awards.

The Canada Gairdner Awards are given to people who have made a new scientific discovery to combat disease or ease human suffering. It is one of the most important medical awards in the world.

As the Gairdner website puts it, “we’re dedicated to recognizing the world’s most creative and accomplished biomedical scientists.” Biomedical scientists work in medicine and biology (the study of living organisms).

The late James A. Gairdner established the Gairdner Foundation in 1957. Since then, 300 awards have been given. Seventy-three of those award winners have gone on to win a Nobel Prize in either medicine or chemistry.

The awards are selected by Canadians, but they are given to scientists throughout the world.

This year’s seven award winners include three people who broke through mysteries of the human circadian clock, the internal mechanism that controls our sleep and wakefulness, body temperature, and many other functions.

Lake_Vostok_drill_2011
Environment News Science

Does Ancient Antarctic Lake Hold Secrets To Life In Outer Space?

A team of Russian scientists in Antarctica has found an ancient lake buried under more than three kilometres of ice.

The lake – Lake Vostok – has been sealed off from the rest of the world for at least 15 million years.

Scientists think the lake may contain tiny organisms, like bacteria, which are not found anywhere else on earth.

If the organisms exist in the lake, it would be because they have been able to adapt to living in the darkness, saltiness and extreme cold of the hidden lake. In that case, they would likely have developed special features that no other organisms on earth have.