National Science and Technology Week Sets Guinness World Record

OTTAWA, January 28, 2013 – National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) 2012 saw a lot of science being done across Canada. A record amount of science, as it turns out.

Guinness World Records has confirmed that Canada has set the world record for the largest practical science lesson at multiple venues. On October 12, 2012, at 1:00 p.m. EST, two experiments demonstrating the Bernoulli principle were performed simultaneously at 88 different locations such as classrooms, science centres and museums across Canada. The experiments involved a total of 13,701 participants.

“Congratulations to all of the participants and organizers for setting this new world record,” said the Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “Making science interesting for people of all ages – especially young Canadians – is key to fostering innovative thinking and creating Canada’s future science leaders.”

“Canada’s enthusiasm for science and learning is being recognized on a world scale and Natural Resources Canada is proud to have played an important role in this remarkable achievement,” said Geoff Munro, Chief Scientist, Natural Resources Canada. ”Every opportunity to promote the value and excitement of science is a worthwhile endeavour and should be celebrated.”

“We are extremely proud that public participation in National Science and Technology Week 2012 was so high as to set a new Guinness World Record,” said Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC) CEO Denise Amyot. “All National Science and Technology Week partner organisations, as well as the various schools and venues who took part in the experiments, deserve well-earned congratulations for their tireless efforts to awaken Canadians of all ages to the wonders of science. Gathering close to 14,000 Canadians doing science at the same time across the country is a worthy challenge, but it illustrates how much Canadians are fascinated by science, and that is wonderful news.”

The Guinness World Record-setting practical science lesson was coordinated across Canada by Science.gc.ca, the Government of Canada’s official science portal, and one of numerous partners of NSTW, for which the CSTMC is the national coordinator. The CSTMC hosted a group participating in the record-setting science lesson at the Canada Science and Technology Museum (CSTM), and Natural Resources Canada also hosted a participating group as well.

NSTW raises awareness about the importance of science and technology in today’s world, celebrating Canada’s historic and ongoing role as a leader in innovation.

To find out more about the NSTW record attempt, visit : http://www.science.gc.ca/newrecord

To find out more about the Guinness world Records certification, visit :
http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/2000/largest-practical-science-lesson-%28multiple-venues%29

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INFORMATION:
Olivier Bouffard
Media relations
Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation
613-949-5732
obouffard@technomuses.ca

David Provencher
Press Secretary
Office of Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources
613-996-2007

National Science and Technology Week Sets Guinness World Record

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Ask a Scientist: Venus

Question: Why does Venus rotate backwards?

Short answer: No one really knows.

Longer answer: There are a couple of leading theories on this issue:

(1) One might expect that a planet will spin in the same direction as it travels because it formed from a disk of material that was rotating in that direction early in the Solar System. However, in the late stages of planet formation, the planets experience impacts with fairly large bodies called ‘planetesimals’, and if one of these planetesimals hits the planet at a glancing angle, it can knock it over (technical term: apply a torque) thereby changing its spin axis. If this is the case, then the final spin direction of a planet will be related to the way it was knocked about in the last stages of planet formation. This theory is also used to explain why Uranus’ spin axis is tilted perpendicular to most of the other planets (its spin axis is in the plane of the solar system) and why the other planets in the solar system have a variety of different spin axis angles (for example, Earth’s spin axis is tilted about 23 degrees from the plane of the solar system).

(2) A planet has to conserve its total angular momentum, which is directly related to its net spin axis. The net spin axis is made up of the spin axis of its core (the iron part of the planet) plus its mantle (the rocky part of the planet) plus its atmosphere. Because Venus is believed to have a liquid core (like the Earth does) and it has a thick atmosphere, its possible for friction forces to exchange angular momentum between the core and the mantle or between the atmosphere and the mantle. This can result in changing the spin axis of the mantle by changing the spin axes of the core and/or atmosphere. So it might be that interactions between the different layers of Venus have resulted in tilting the planet’s mantle so that the mantle is spinning retrograde. Its the mantle spin axis that we equate with the planet’s spin axis since that is the part that we see rotating. In order for this theory to work, it helps that Venus is a slow rotator (a day on Venus is 117 Earth days!).

-Sabine Stanley

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Ask a Scientist: Birds

If gravity pulls things down, how do birds fly?

Birds can overcome gravity because they have several body features that enable flight. Wings are essential to being able to fly, and an important aspect of the bird wing is its shape – the top is curved while the bottom is flat. Because of this, an air molecule needs to travel a greater distance as it passes over top of the wing than it does passing under it. This means that the air density above the wing is lower – the same number of air molecules is spread out over a larger distance. As a result, the bird is ‘sucked up’ by the vacuum above the wing. Feathers help to fine-tune the movement of air around the wings.

That explains how birds can fly up, but how do they move forward? They do so by flapping their wings. To move their wings, birds contract the breast muscles, which are very large, and which are attached to their breastbone.

This of course only works if the bird is not too heavy, and birds have indeed evolved some characteristics that make them much lighter than – say – a dog of similar size. For example, their bones are hollow, and they do not have teeth, and as you will know, feathers are very light, too. What’s interesting is that some birds that migrate over long-distances can shrink the size of their stomach before they depart on their journey – this way, they don’t have to carry so much weight. When they arrive and start to eat again, they just grow the stomach back to normal size. Neat, hey?

Why do birds feed their young insects and worms?

In order to grow, you need a lot of protein (meat, eggs, beans and such). This is also the case for young birds, and insects and worms contain a lot of protein, so that’s why the parent birds feed it to their young.

-Silke Nebel

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Government of Canada Highlights IDRC’s Efforts in Fighting Hunger in Guatemala

A Canadian project designed to supply the science needed to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition in Guatemala was launched in that country by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (the Americas), the Honourable Diane Albonczy, in early December. The 3-year, $450,000 project is supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Crown corporation which supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development.

Geoff Regan (MP), Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, Minister Ablonczy

Geoff Regan (MP), Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, Minister Ablonczy

Minister Ablonczy announced the project while speaking at a round table on food security in Guatemala City accompanied by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. IDRC Senior Program Specialist, Renaud De Plaen, was among the experts invited to participate. In his presentation, De Plaen spoke about how food security indicators in Guatemala have not improved in twenty years, in part because national and international investments too often ignored the importance of small scale agriculture and research in informing food security policies ─ something the IDRC project seeks to change.

Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, David Johnston

Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, David Johnston

The project brings leading researchers from Canada’s McGill University together with those of Guatemala’s Rafael Landívar University’s Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture to address food insecurity in a country where 25% of the population is malnourished and one-in-every-two children don’t have enough nutritious food to eat.

The researchers will focus on four test areas in Guatemala to identify, measure, and compare the impact of particular policies and practices on food security and nutrition to determine which have proven most effective, especially in the area of small-scale agriculture. The results will be used to help guide future investment decisions by the Guatemalan government, national and international donors, and the private sector.

The project ─ one of several food security initiatives funded by IDRC in the Americas – is helping to meet the Government of Canada’s Food Security Strategy as well as make good on its commitment to strengthening ties in the hemisphere as best expressed in Canada’s Americas Strategy.

Geoff Regan, Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, Minister Ablonczy

Geoff Regan, Renaud De Plaen, Ottoniel Montorosso, Minister Ablonczy

Read the government’s news release

Learn more about the project in English, French, or Spanish.

Learn more about IDRC.

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Grand Challenges Canada: Stars in Global Health

 The Stars in Global Health program enables innovators in low- and lower-middle-income countries and the Canadian International Development Agencies (CIDA) ‘Countries of Focus’ as well as in Canada, to develop their bold ideas with big impact to improve global health conditions.

The program was developed to tap into innovative ideas from leaders in global health and consists of proof-of-concept awards of $100,000 CAD as Phase I grants, and Phase II Transition to Scale funding to successful applicants for up to $1,000,000 CAD.

Since July 2011, Grand Challenges Canada has approved over 100 Phase I proof-of-concept grants, each at $100,000 CAD. These projects run across the whole spectrum of global health, from drug discovery, vaccine development, health and medical education, maternal and child health, non-communicable diseases (including cancer), health-related water and agriculture, information communication technologies and behavioural change.

Phase I grantees who have completed a minimum of nine months of their Grand Challenges Canada grant, completed their proof-of-concept projects and will have solutions that are ready to transition to scale are invited to submit Phase II Transition to Scale proposals. Phase II Transition to Scale grants will require 50% matching through partnerships to be eligible for Grand Challenges Canada funding.

Round 5 Phase I – Proposal Deadline is February 6, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET

For more information about the Stars in Global Health Request for Proposals and eligibility criteria, please click here.

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Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield Lifts Off For Expedition 34/35

Today, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Chris Hadfield launched on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:12 a.m. EST.

The crew comprised of Hadfield, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, will rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday. They will spend 147 days in orbit before their scheduled landing on the 14th of May, 2013.

“Canada has a proud legacy in space and the International Space Station is a global showcase for our world renowned robotics technology and expertise,” said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the CSA. “In March, we will mark another important milestone, as astronaut Hadfield becomes the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station.”

Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield Lifts Off For Expedition 34/35

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CLS du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

Students from CLS du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean joined thousands of other Canadians from 135 locations in attempting to set the World Record for the Largest Practical Science Lesson on October 12th 2012.

Science.gc.ca/newrecord

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St. Mary’s Garden

People from St. Mary’s Garden joined thousands of other Canadians from 135 locations in attempting to set the World Record for the Largest Practical Science Lesson on October 12th 2012.

Science.gc.ca/newrecord

Posted in Images |

Sacred Heart School

Students from Sacred Heart School joined thousands of other Canadians from 135 locations in attempting to set the World Record for the Largest Practical Science Lesson on October 12th 2012.

Science.gc.ca/newrecord

Posted in Images |

Hampton High School

Students from Hampton High School joined thousands of other Canadians from 135 locations in attempting to set the World Record for the Largest Practical Science Lesson on October 12th 2012.

Science.gc.ca/newrecord

Posted in Images |