Issue 1 — August 2012
Student Discovers a Galaxy. It’s the thesis you wish you had.
UVA dangers, and why you think you’re protected.
Engineers teach a boat to sail by
itself. Now it will tackle crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
SEARCHING FOR LIFE ON MARS
Curiosity Roams Free page 24
E d i to r ’ s
N ot e
what a professor’s opening words are on the first day of class. I’m entering my fourth year at Queen’s University now… but I can’t imagine what they say when facing hundreds of students sitting there ready to learn. This statement isn’t to the likeness of a professor’s lecture, but this is the first of many introductions to an issue filled with interesting science, technology and engineering knowledge (much like a good lecture). This issue has been a personal learning experience, mostly through trial-and-error, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue doing this throughout the upcoming year. My ultimate goal is to learn a bit about science writing/publishing and provide you with thought-provoking news features. Maybe you will find something in here that inspires you to pursue your own imagination and dreams, whatever they may be. And with that, I say welcome to the first issue of Nerve Magazine.
Catherine Owsik Editor in Chief - Volume 1
C o n t e n t s Breaking Revolutionary Research page 4 Four Queen’s professors receive significant the Bubble
national funding in honour of their ground-breaking research.
PhD student Karen Lee-Waddell is making national headlines for her thesis project.
She Discovered a Galaxy
Science Confirming the God Particle
The Higgs Boson was finally discovered, confirmed and confirmed again.
UVA rays are a dangerous part of our environment, find out how to best protect yourself — becasue our government standards aren’t up to date with this danger.
Nutrition facts and comparison to the ‘real deal’ ice cream.
A Sinister Summer Sun
The Facts about FroYo
The newest Mars rover, Curiosity, safely landed on the martian surface with a new paramount mission.
Engineering Robots take to the Sea
(Cover) A 3D image taken by Curiosity at her landing site.
Curiosity compared to a 5’8” tall man. (Source: NASA)
Queen’s students team up to design a fully autonomous sailboat.
Breaking the Bubble
Featuring Queen’s students, faculty and alumni that are making a difference outside of our University.
Revolutionary e s e a r c h
Queen’s is one of Canada’s leading institutions for completing important scientific findings — when research is funded, at least. In early June it was announced that four Queen’s professors stood out above the rest and have been selected to receive significant funding for their research. If you are a student interested in high-risk research, these may be your new idols. Collectively, the four professors opportunities for students to work or will receive almost half a million volunteer in their labs. dollars over the next three years. The funding comes from the National Science and Engineering ean Hutchinson Geology and Research Council (NSERC) Geological Engineering through the Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program. Hutchinson focuses much of her research on assessing the risks NSERC regularly grants research and hazards of physical geological funds, however the Discovery features. For example, her topics of Accelerator Supplements Program research include landslide stability specifically targets research assessment, rock support design, that NSERC considers high-risk and cablebolt design and verification. or potentially groundbreaking. Essentially, these grants are larger, ella Olmstead timelier and more limited than Psychology other grants — only 125 Canadian Olmstead studies the interactions researchers are awarded this grant between motivation and cognition each year. (the mental process of learning). It is ultimately up to the professors She is investigating the process of to allocate their funds, but it may be goal-based learning and a majority assumed that with fresh resources of her research focuses on how these professors may have new drug addictions affect this balance.
She is currently set to teach PSYC freezing temperatures). She will teach 205 (Introduction to Comparative BIOL 441 (Molecular Genetics) and Cognition) in the fall term. half of BIOL 103 (Introductory Biology of Organisms) in the upcoming school . Kerry Rowe year. Civil Engineering and GeoEngineering
Rowe studies a range of topics but a fair amount of his research pertains to ‘green’ engineering that may ultimately benefit the environment. Some of his research topics include landfill design, geosynthetics, containment of toxic sites and reinforcing embankments.
Each of these professors will receive $120,000 over three years to put towards their research. But they are not the only labs receiving NSERC funds — 627 grants and scholarships were awarded to Queen’s researchers (both professors and students) for the 2012-13 academic year. So, if there is a topic you are passionate about irginia Walker that these fantastic four don’t touch, Biology then do a quick Google search and talk to the professor that shares Walker is investigating the your interest. proteins and genes involved with environmental stress resistance, or — Catherine Owsik the ability for organisms to survive under extreme conditions (such as
Breaking the Bubble
She discovered a
galaxy Queen’s Karen a
project — it includes her very
he saying ‘reach for the stars’ has a non-cliché meaning for student Karen Lee-Waddell, because her thesis has led to actually reaching a new galaxy. The Queen’s astronomy and physics PhD student recently discovered a new rare type of galaxy and has received national media coverage because of it. Lee-Waddell and her team discovered what they believe to be a new tidal dwarf galaxy. These galaxies are rare because they form from two larger “parent” galaxies. “Normally when galaxies form they collapse from giant gas clouds, and for a long time this is the way people thought all galaxies were formed,” Lee-Waddell said. “We’re used to studying galaxies that merge and get bigger and now we’re seeing smaller ones.” The theory is that the smaller tidal dwarf galaxies, such as the one that Lee-Waddell discovered, are created when material branches out of two proximate galaxies and spirals together without the presence of dark matter gravity. It is difficult to confirm when a galaxy is in fact a tidal dwarf galaxy. Lee-Waddell said that since they were discovered in the 70’s there have only been two or three galaxies that have been definitively confirmed. “The next step is to get more data, metallicity data,” LeeWaddell said with a sigh.If the metallicity, or composition of the material in the galaxy, matches the two neighbouring parent galaxies then it is more likely to be a tidal dwarf galaxy. The finalization will come in due time — LeeWaddell said it would take about two years to gather the metallicity data, accounting for booking telescope time and proper weather conditions. Since the discovery, Lee-Waddell has been interviewed by national news outlets and has attended conferences 7
Breaking the Bubble
I grabbed [the telescope] and went on the roof, and I never finished that law assignment. From there on it was always astronomy and physics.
around the continent. She was still excited to speak about her galaxy, named AGC208457, and the future implications of this discovery.
Catherine Owsik: If the metallicity data shows that AGC208457 isn’t made up of the proper parent materials to make it a tidal dwarf galaxy, what could it be? Karen Lee-Waddell: We wouldn’t know. It’s so unusual … if this galaxy formed with no dark matter we assume it pulled its stuff from its parents and it didn’t need extra gravity — but if it didn’t, and it has no dark matter [which would create gravity], then it’s really weird — and that kind of supports other theories of modified gravity and other hypotheses of what is up there. If it turns out to not be a tidal dwarf galaxy, would you continue to investigate its origins? Yes, it would be really interesting. That would be a big support to the theory that all our
science and physics is wrong. How did you study astronomy?
When I was about six years old I was coming home in my sister’s car and she had a sunroof … it was night and she started telling me all these constellations, and by the time I was 10 I had telescopes … but I grew out of it and eventually wanted to become a lawyer. Then in high school I was doing a law assignment, the most dull, boring law assignment, and I looked up and I saw my telescope. I grabbed it and went on the roof, and I never finished that law assignment. From there on it was always astronomy and physics. Did you ever dream you would discover a galaxy? No, I didn’t even think being an astronomer was plausible. I kind of wanted to be an astronaut and go into space, but observing is quite cool too because you actually see farther, and it’s a lot less rigorous. I’m surprised, so even with military training [from previously studying at the Royal Military
College] you don’t want to be an astronaut? I might, that’s one of the reasons I joined the military. You know, to keep me in shape, the security clearances, and all that stuff. It’s always there. Most astronauts are like 40 years old anyways; it’s always there. I know the galaxy is named following a standard naming system – but if you could have named the galaxy anything, what would it be?
Everything is just really compact. So it would be like our galaxy but smaller and more dynamic. Do you believe in alien life? I believe that life can exist outside of Earth. Intelligent life, I hope there is, because that would be pretty cool. But I wouldn’t be afraid of them … if they’re smarter than us they’ll just drive by, but if they’re around the same level maybe they’ll come and talk. By Catherine Owsik
In my thesis it was named LW1 – or Lee-Waddell 1. So it incorporates Lee, because that’s my family’s name, and then my husband’s name Waddell. So the “1” means it’s the first of many galaxies you will discover? (Laughing) Well, yea. What do you imagine the galaxy to be like? It would be interesting because it’s a smaller galaxy which has really old and new stars …
Twenty-eight year old Karen Lee-Waddell’s future is looking bright — she says this is just the first of many galaxies she will discover. (Source: Lee-Waddell)
Confirming th Pa
e article The event was so momentous that upon its official announcement scientists were brought to cheers and tears of joy. Unfortunately, the rest of the world didn’t know the Higgs Boson, also known as the “God particle,” was missing in the first place.
By Catherine Owsik
The official announcement that the Higgs Boson had been discovered was attended by all the big names in physics. The event was even broadcast around the world via a live telecast. (Source: CERN)
for the Higgs Boson
particle has been ongoing for the past 10 years — it is one of the longest and most expensive physics investigations to date. Its existence is so meaningful and impossible to prove that for years the Higgs Boson was nicknamed “the God particle.” On July 4, the research centre CERN (translated to the European Organization for Nuclear Research), announced at a press conference in Geneva that they had finally found the elusive particle. It was an announcement met with tears of joy, cheers and sighs of relief.
Boson. And finally, after countless experiments they announced they had found their God particle. On August 1, CERN released yet another exciting announcement — representatives said they could now confirm its existence with ultimate accuracy. The chance that they have made an error? One in The Higgs Boson is theorized to be a 550 million. subatomic particle, like electrons, that causes other particles to have mass. With this discovery confirmed (you Our current Standard Model for Particle have better odds of winning the lottery Physics includes 12 subatomic particles, than arguing against the Higgs Boson’s organized into Quarks and Leptons, and existence), we are a step closer to fully four boson particles. The boson particles understanding our world. But be warned give a characteristic “force” to the physics students — you may have to buy other particles. updated textbooks this upcoming year. The Higgs Boson is essentially the missing piece of the standard model — it is the only particle that had yet to be observed. However, for years physicists agreed that it must exist because without it there would be no way to explain for the mass of the W and Z bosons. In 2011, data from CERN’s atom collider started to build up that was consistent with the theorized creation of a Higgs 12
How the Higgs boson works
The current theory states that Higgs Boson particles are present throughout the universe in a continual lattice field. Only certain subatomic particles, like the Z boson, interact with the Higgs Boson web. This interaction is what gives them mass. Online Discussion: Now that the Higgs boson has been discovered, should it still be called ‘the God Particle?’
Peter Higgs, the man to theorize the Higgs Boson, explores CERN. The confirmation of the Higgs Boson prompted fellow physicist Stephen Hawking to publicly announce that Higgs deserved a Nobel Prize. (Source: CERN)
A Sinister Summ 14
UVA radiation poor marketing skin cancer
mer Sun By Catherine Owsik 15
A sunscreen’s SPF does not indicate its ability to block UVA radiation; and as of right now, there is no universally accepted method to measure UVA protection.
ou walk around with that distinct redness, the bubbling skin and dropping flakes. It physically hurts, and everyone knows that it was caused by the sun. You think to yourself, ‘Next time, I will wear sunscreen.’ But what you may not realize is that many sunscreens, even those with a high SPF, may not protect you as much as they advertise … and a sunburn isn’t the worst that the sun can do to you. There are two types of ultraviolet solar rays that reach the earth, UVA and UVB. UVB radiation has a shorter wavelength and doesn’t penetrate skin very deeply — they cause UV erythema, more commonly known as a sunburn. Up until recently, little has been known about UVA rays. We always knew that they constituted over 95% of the solar radiation hitting us, but we didn’t know how they really affected our bodies. Up until recently, that is.
n the past, scientists believed that UVA radiation was a harmless part of our environment. However, with advances in technology scientists have been able to study the long wavelengths and throughout the past two decades they have discovered that UVA is in fact very harmful to our body. Ongoing studies are using artificial UVA sources and different conditions to 16
The sun emits three types of ultraviolet radiation, but only UVA and UVB rays penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere to reach us. It was previously thought that UVA rays were harmless to humans. (Source: NASA)
determine the deep biological effects of of skin cancer. UVA rays. It has been found that UVA radiation magnifies the damaging effects of he discovery that 95% of the sunâ€™s rays UVB radiation (like a sunburn), while also are in fact dangerous caused a stir in causing wrinkles, discoloured sun spots and a loss of skin elasticity. All together these society. Suddenly there was a new thing to fear, and product marketing responded effects cause prematurely aged skin. accordingly. More alarming though is that the deep Sunscreen has been commercially cellular penetration of UVA radiation is now considered to be a direct cause produced since the 1970â€™s and the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) has created restrictions on the products accordingly. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) was created to measure a sunscreen’s ability to block out UVB rays that caused burns. The higher the SPF, the more protection it offered from sunburns. However, a sunscreen’s SPF does not indicate its ability to block UVA radiation; and as of right now, there is no universally accepted method to measure UVA protection. 18
Unfortunately, once UVA was widely known to be dangerous, sunscreens popped up on shelves claiming to be “broadspectrum” and the FDA allowed this, ruling that the term could be applied if even the slightest UVA protection was offered. This led to an abuse of the term and ultimately many North American sunscreens were falsely branding themselves as protecting against skin cancer and premature aging, without actually having the ingredients
Mexoryl One of the only known photostable elements that protects against UVA. Look for it in your susnscreen’s ingredient list.
to properly do so. Surprisingly, many of these sunscreens, that are labeled with a high “broad-spectrum” SPF, are still on our shelves at local pharmacies. The European Union, on the other hand, has been a leader in ensuring their sunscreens offer significant UVA protection. European sunscreen brands follow a standardizing rule that mandates a high SPF value to indicate both strong UVB and UVA protection. Likewise, a lower SPF value would also have lower UVA protection.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.
Today’s sunscreens come in a variety of options. But be careful which you choose, because some brands are very outdated. New FDA policy will have to force some of these bottles to be relabeled for 2013.
he FDA has been feebly trying to change their ways though. In 2007, they proposed to test all sunscreens for their ability to block UVA rays, and also to publicize this through a star-rating system on each bottle (one star would indicate low levels of protection and four stars would indicate the highest UVA protection). This testing and consumerfriendly scale was met with a tantrum of responses, and after 2,900 submissions were sent to the FDA the proposal was dropped and altered. This past June (five years after the initial proposal) the FDA released their final ruling. Ultimately, they will enforce that “broad spectrum” sunscreens do offer high UVA protection through standardized testing. This will be similar to what they currently do to measure UVB protection. But, they will not indicate how much UVA protection each sunscreen offers. 19
Science Sun protection has been promoted by the government for decades. Unfortunately, it feels as if regulation hasn’t been updated accordingly.
Because this rule is being announced mid-Summer, when sunscreen sales are the highest, the FDA is allowing companies until December 17, 2012 to comply with this new guide. This means that the companies with virtually no UVA protection will remain labeled as “broad spectrum” for the rest of the summer. The FDA said that if they had made this rule immediately mandatory, then half of our product shelves would be empty and there may be a shortage of sunscreen products. The most significant difference in the new FDA regulation is that they eliminated the idea of a starrating system, which could have provided much needed comfort to consumers. However, they will implement a “Skin Cancer/ Skin Aging Alert” label on those products that don’t offer UVA protection.
or the remainder of the summer be careful which sunscreen you use. Mexoryl and Tinosorb are two photostable elements that offer strong UVA protection; 20
if you can find these in your sunscreen’s list of ingredients then you are most likely protected from UVA rays. But if you can’t remember those two names while shopping for sun protection, it may be worth it to switch to European brands for now.
THink You’ve got Nerve? We’re looking for students to become a part of the Nerve team! No experience is neccessary and we will provide help (if needed) to anyone along the way. All you need to do is decide what aspect you’re interested in. We have positions for writers,
photographers, visual editors, and business representatives. Contributors are always welcome. If you’re unsure of what position you’re most suited for, just answer this:
Which one of these problems are you more inclined to fix? 1
“Hey, where did the dog go?” “Its over their.” Looks like your grammar skills would be great as a Nerve writer.
Your visual senses are strong — why don’t you try your hand at photography or layout (as a visual editor)?
$ Well, that’s a great mentality. We could always use more business reps like you.
To get involved, send us an email at: email@example.com 21
here’s a new food trend in Kingston. We had a wave of new burger joints, followed by poutine palaces, and now it’s time for frozen yogurt (or froyo, for you hipsters) to hit the stage. Menchie’s is one of the newest frozen yogurt shops to hit the Kingston scene. It’s a chain frozen yogurt shop that allows you to pick your flavor (or multiple flavours if you’re feeling adventurous), pour however much you want, and put on as many toppings as you like from a buffet of options. The key is, you pay by weight — 55 cents per ounce. After multiple Menchie’s trips this summer, each costing anywhere from $2 to $6, we started to wonder if a Menchie’s treat really is as healthy as “frozen yogurt” tries to pass off as. The results were not extremely surprising, I mean we did know frozen yogurt was a treat and not a nutritional meal — more interesting was how it compared to the real deal, ice cream.
has the same concept – your own Menchie’s trip, you pick an ice cream flavor you should note that 200 and custom mix-ins. grams of froyo is just over a measuring cup’s worth After many conversions (about the size of a fist) and and number crunching we will cost $3.88. found that frozen yogurt had a lower caloric content Again though, this is than ice cream — but, this without the toppings. Add didn’t include the many in 50 cents of peanuts and toppings that are usually add 210 calories to your haphazardly put on while total, add in 50 cents of at Menchie’s. Marble Slab chocolate chips and add limits the amounts of in 130 calories — it’s really toppings they mix in, so never ending at Menchie’s. it may be assumed that However, fruits are a the toppings in your ice refreshing healthier option... cream would have a lower and really, strawberries mix calorie punch. brilliantly with any flavour. But, it was the fat and sugar that really differentiated the two. Ice cream heavily outweighs frozen yogurt with a high fat content, while frozen yogurt is packed full of sugar.
Hopefully this information is useful the next time you want to cool down with a summer treat. If you are really trying to eat healthy and your friend pulls the “It’s just frozen yogurt — it’s healthy!” line... just say no, The closest ice cream If you are trying to to froyo. comparison to Menchie’s calculate the nutrition of would be Marble Slab. It 22
n u t
al si lorie n 35Cg a C
Calories i n
of Straw be
Nutrition of Menchie’s frozen yogurt and Marble Slab’s ice cream flavours.
of Straw be
($0.87) es s ($0.87) rri rie
*per 200 g serving. Menchie’s
Calories i n
se’s Pie Ree ce of
Calories f Calories fo or r
ories in 35 g
mp of Cara pu m
se’s Pie Ree ce f o
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udge S or F a u el r Fudge Sa lo u
mp of Cara pu m
g of Strawb e 45
($0.87) es rri
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t u n er udge a tt S or F aue P u b
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ay r d te th at ir B B ke a c
se’s Pie Ree ce f o
Note that 200 grams is equal to about 1.25 measuring cups (for Menchie’s) and is the medium serving size at Marble Slab.
(Previous page) A 3D im age taken by Curiosity at her landing location. (Left) The first image Curiosity sent back to Earth was proof that her wheels had touched alien soil. (Right) The landscape of Mars is framed with Curiosityâ€™s next target â€” she will drive up the mountainous ridge of Gale Crater. (Sources: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
At 1:30 a.m. on a crisp August morning, a rover named Curiosity
successfully landed 567 million kilometers away from Earth on our red neighbour Mars. The feat was impressive, during the live telecast of the landing scientists were quoting that statistically she had a one-in-three chance of making it in one piece. But she did it, and it only took her eight and a half months to get there. The vast amount of technology crammed into Curiosity’s one-ton frame is quite impressive — in total she costs about $2.5 billion. This makes her one of the most well equipped rovers to date. Once everything is set into action, Curiosity will collect and analyze samples of Mars’ surface to determine if organisms could ever survive on the hostile planet. Specifically, NASA will be looking for water. All the while Curiosity will take detailed photos and traverse a land we know little about. The project was a collaboration between countries, much like many other NASA projects (remember the Canadarm on the Space Shuttle?), and Canada’s contribution was quite significant to the mission. Ralf Gellert, a professor at the University of Guelph, designed Curiosity’s Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer that sits on her arm. This spectrometer, which was also built by a Canadian company, will analyze the chemical makeup of each soil sample that Curiosity picks up. This is a vital step in determining the history and hospitability of the land. The official mission will last 23 months, which is the maximum time that the rover’s power supply will last. During this time we hope that Curiosity may capture more stunning photos and report back with some interesting news. Let’s satisfy some curiosity shall we? 28
(Top) Curiosity takes a self-portrait on Mars. (Bottom) The carsized six-wheel rover, equipped with 17 cameras and an entire laboratoryâ€™s worth of equipment. Curiosity carries tools to analyze rocks, measure radiation levels and detect water in minerals, among other things. (Sources: NASA/JPLCaltech)
Robots take to the seas by andre sousa The boat can even tweet and post Facebook updates independently â€“ who wouldnâ€™t want to be friends with a self-sailing boat?
No matter what method of transportation you take, travelling in the summer can be particularly stressful. Traffic
slows you down, gas prices break the bank and figuring out your GPS is hardly ever worth it. However, a Queen’s design team is dreaming of a way to eliminate these summer travel worries – all in the luxury of a sailboat. The Queen’s Mostly Autonomous Sailboat Team (QMAST) designs, constructs and races sailboats capable of navigating without human interaction. Cue your dream come true of lounging on a boat to cross Lake Ontario without worrying about navigation or even looking at a map. QMAST is a student-run engineering design team based in Beamish-Munro Hall. The team is made up of undergraduate students from all departments within Queen’s Engineering, as well as other faculties. Since they were formed in December 2004 31
they have built over five sailboats that can Green, Sci ’12, said he is confident that automatically navigate themselves. QMAST will be able to accomplish this feat in the upcoming year. According to QMAST Captain Cory Green the team’s designs provide undergraduate The team is currently testing their students with a unique engineering newest yacht designed specifically for this learning experience by providing them transatlantic challenge. “I believe that our with tangible goals to achieve. Currently, MicroTransat attempt is pretty amazing and the team is working towards competing in unique,” Green said. “Our yacht is the first the daunting 2013 MicroTransat Challenge, to be designed and built specifically for the which involves sending a sailboat to MicroTransat challenge.” He said previous autonomously sail across the Atlantic teams have modified production boats for Ocean. their attempts, and that by building their yacht from the ground up they are ensuring Although there have been numerous reliability and simplicity. attempts from teams across the globe to complete the transatlantic MicroTransat The unnamed yacht uses GPS to race, it has never been finished. Last year determine its location and heading and only one team was able to launch from the an ultrasonic wind sensor is used to judge start line and the boat sailed for eight days the speed and direction of the wind. The until a sail was damaged and it stopped onboard Arduino microcontroller acts as making progress. the brain of the system and controls a 32
steering system and sail winch based on sailing code written by the team. Green said writing the code was difficult because sailing involves many changing factors – such as water and wind conditions – that need to be considered to complete maneuvers as needed.
friends with a self-sailing boat?
“The team has worked very hard and we’re confident we can go the distance,” Green said. “The project has received a lot of interest from the student body at Queen’s and if we’re successful in crossing the Atlantic Ocean, that will be something The boat doesn’t have a generator and that Queen’s can be really excited about.” it collects energy with a wind turbine Green encouraged students from all and solar panels. The power is stored in 12 Volt deep-cycle marine batteries in faculties to come out to QMAST events order to power the on-board electronics and consider joining the team. and motors. Overall, QMAST’s goals may currently To keep track of the yacht during the seem like fun and games, but the future crossing the team has outfitted the boat applications of autonomous sailboats are with cellular and satellite modems, so that quite impressive. Imagine the day when the boat can send updates back to the you can simply hop on the 4:00 sailboat team in Kingston. In fact, the boat can back to Toronto. even tweet and post Facebook updates independently – who wouldn’t want to be
Coming Up for Issue 2: — A review of the Queen’s School of English iPhone application
— Morbid secrets from the Life Sci’s
— Frosh guide to campus (or a refresher for upper-years)
— Science comics, puzzles and fun ... in this space
— And more, which we won’t divulge See you then! — Nerve Magazine
COntact us with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nerve Magazine — Issue 1
Nerve Magazine is a student-run science, technology and engineering magazine based out of Queen's University.