Science Matters – Episode #5

June 27, 2009 § Leave a comment


Courtesy of the University of Waterloo

Even though hardcore gamers may say they attribute much of their love for the interactive pastime to thrilling visual graphics, those who have tried to play a video game in silence know that it’s just not the same game anymore.   Still, while sound is an undeniably important factor to the overall gaming experience, relatively little actual research has been done on it, said Dr. Karen Collins, Canada Research Chair in Technology and Communication at the Canadian Centre of Arts and Technology (CCAT).

Describing sound as the “underdog of the multimedia world,” Collins, who is also a professor at UW in the department of drama and speech communication, believes there is great potential in studying our interactions with sound in a variety of contexts.  One of her on-going projects explores different ways of generating real-time sound for video games and other interactive media.

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Science Matters – Episode #4

June 26, 2009 § Leave a comment


Image Courtesy of Alexei Talimonov

At a time when most industries can barely keep themselves alive, let alone drive any kind of market, Canadian aquaculture and fisheries are actually serving as very positive contributors to the nation’s economy.  Indeed, fine-finned aquatic vertebrates are the hot topic of research in a new NSERC-led $8.8 million dollar five-year initiative announced last month in Charlotte PEI as part of Canada’s Economic Action plan.

But the problem with aquaculture practice is that the fish in this industry are eating themselves: at present, fish-based feeds called “fishmeal” are used to meet the nutritional needs of fish, and the resources are limited.  Alternative feeds, such as plant-based ones, also pose their own problems at the gastrointestinal levels of fish.  To contribute to the efforts to optimize fish health and growth, Atsushi Kawano, who recently received his Masters degree from the Biology department at the University of Waterloo, studied just how the fish gut interacts with food components and other microbes.

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Science Matters – Episode #3

June 26, 2009 § Leave a comment


So, your final grades have come out at last, you check your academic transcript on Quest, and lo and behold – an 80 in Psychology! Things are going pretty swell academically, you think, right? Think again. Your score may very well have been the lowest in your class. Recent UW graduate and current sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Mathematics, Dr. Greg Mayer speaks about grade inflation at the University of Waterloo and what it means to our school, our professors, and our students.

**Note regarding 28min11sec: I have been known to interview my subjects in all sorts of “sketchy” places, true to my field journalistic roots, but after this interview, I now believe that public discourse in a library may quite possibly be a substrate for explosive social reactions. (I did, however, get a good – and relatively noise-free – recording out of it.)

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Science Matters – Episode #2

June 26, 2009 § Leave a comment


By now, we are all aware that the current economic recession has major impacts on nearly everything in our lives. From what we study to where we study, from what our job is to if what our job will be, we seem to be losing more and more control. But what is perhaps not quite as obvious is that an economic crisis can also affect an aspect of your life you thought you had complete emotional control over: yup, it’s your love life! Recently, Grace Lau, a PhD student in the department of psychology at the University of Waterloo, conducted research on the different kinds of men that women find attractive given a political, economic, or personal crisis precedence. Lau found that under “system threat”, women tended to be less attracted to the stereotypical “macho”, dominating, and ambitious men. The title of Lau’s talk at UW’s 9th annual Graduate Student Research Conference: “Why Women Find Caring, Nurturing Men More Attractive During an Economic, Political Crisis”.

**Note: At 9min49sec, a brief music clip plays instead of what is supposed to be me saying a line that segueways into Lau’s actual presentation at the GSRC last month. I am currently away from my Sennheiser MD-42 and cannot record the line. I promise to update the version once I am back home. Somehow my incredible distaste for going backwards has superseded my willingness to re-record and re-export mp3’s.  These terrible habits will change when they need to.

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