Genomics Blog

November 24, 2015 8:57 AM
Alberta research promoted by Social Media fundraising
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Last year, the Ice Bucket challenge became a viral fundraising bonanza for ALS, and that money is now being put to use. Several of my friends got involved and posted elaborate videos of the rush of cold water coming down on their heads. I was anxious at the time that the vast sums of money coming in might not be used appropriately or even accounted for. My fears were put to rest with the recent announcement from the ALS Society of Alberta. They explain that “Albertans raised a remarkable $2.8 million for the ALS Society of Alberta during this social media campaign”. Brain Canada matched funds raised across the country so that a total $21.5 million will be invested in research across Canada.
November 15, 2015 8:12 AM
They said, some say
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This is not a rant; it is more observation and inference. Blogging and tweeting on science topics, especially genomics, evolution or the environment, seems to inspire reader comments and questions. Some of these might subjectively be called ‘trolling’. In this blog I intend to critically examine a couple of the common phrases which trolls exploit to feed public uncertainty: I am looking at variations of ‘they said’ and ‘some say’.
October 28, 2015 7:31 AM
Seeking Science in Bologna – Part 2
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In my previous blog, I was thrilled to be seeking science at the University of Bologna, the world’s oldest and longest continuously operating university. In part 2, I moved on to some institutions that are not a part of the university system.

The Museo Civico Medievale provides a window on medieval life in Bologna. Since 1985 it has been housed in the Palazzo Ghisilardi Fava, a building dating to the mid-1400s. The collection is filled with Bolognese artifacts from medieval times amassed by private collectors in the 1700s. While most of the displays showcase art objects, there was one fascinating display of early scientific instruments that caught my attention.
October 25, 2015 8:02 AM
Seeking Science in Bologna – Part 1
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Bologna is a city known for its food. Because of the cuisine, one of its nicknames is ‘the fat one’. Bologna is also known as ‘the learned one’ since it was the first European centre in medieval times to have a university. The University of Bologna boasts that it is the western world’s oldest continuously operating university. The fundamental event in the formation of the first university was the declaration that it be a place where research could develop independently from any other power. In addition, there was a pledge to protect scholars travelling for the purpose of study from the intrusion of all political authorities. With such a history, of course I was eager to visit the University of Bologna, established in the year 1088.

October 12, 2015 2:43 PM
Seeking Science in Verona
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O, look! methinks I see my cousin's ghost. Seeking out Romeo.” William Shakespeare

I stepped into a candy shop not far from Piazza Brà, the historic centre of Verona. With a big smile on his face, the shopkeeper bragged that “Venice has a lot of water, Verona has a lot of wine. Which would you rather drink?” He then immediately offered me a couple of ‘pebbles’ from the Adige River. They looked just like the pebbles that assemble at a bend in the meander of the river just a block or two from the candy shop. Then the shopkeeper chuckled and showed me a whole bin full of ‘pebbles’. They were chocolate covered and delicious. Verona seems to be like that. This historic city has a lot going for it, but around 10:00 AM when all the cruise ship tourist groups arrive, they head straight for Juliet’s balcony to relive the romance. Little does it matter to them that the balcony was added to this thirteenth century house in the mid-twentieth century.

If you have an interest in science, it is possible to escape the zombie tourist hordes. The guided tour groups don’t seem as interested as I am in STEM.