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Volume 2 - Frosh Issue

The SSC’s Science Newspaper

uwoscience.ca/thecurrent

FEATURED

FROMTHE PRESIDENT’S DESK

Shirley Poon

If there is a future in this world, one of innovation, health and peace, I wouldn’t expect anyone but you, student leaders and scientists, to be the catalyst for this change.

SSC President

On behalf of the Science Students’ Council, it is my pleasure to welcome you to Western’s Faculty of Science. We are the second largest faculty, boasting over 4000 of some of the university’s brightest students. We place strong emphasis on offering a wide-range of degree programs and modules. Not only are we home to a faculty dedicated to providing quality in education, teaching, and research, but we also have student leaders that actively work with administration and charities to promote student voice and advocacy. Clearly, Western Science is committed to excellence in all facets of student life—giving you the best student experience. The mandate of the Science Students’ Council (SSC) is to support social and academic programming in order to maintain and enhance the integrity of the undergraduate experience for all Science and Basic Medical Sciences students. We serve as your voice within the

- Shirley Poon

faculty and act as a liaison between the University Students’ Council, the University Senate and the various departments within the Faculty of Science and the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. Furthermore, we work to keep students informed about upto-date news within the university and scientific communities via our faculty’s student-run newspaper The Current. I hope you enjoy this frosh issue as a glimpse of what is to come in Septem-

ber.

Finally, I thought I would end this message by sharing a bit of my own first-year experience with you. During my O-Week, I was completely blown away the by the constant high-energy events running throughout the day and into the night. I can remember the palpable air full of excitement and sitting on the hill of Talbot Bowl, listening to the unmatchable cheer of my Science sophs.

The friends I made that week are some of my closest friends today and are the most supportive study partners when exam time comes around. I encourage you to meet new people and get involved in the Western community. My only advice to you is to make your experience your own experiment. Form your own hypothesis. Test it out. Find out what works and what doesn’t. I expect you will learn from your courses; I also suspect you will take something away from what you learn to make a positive difference. If there is a future in this world, one of innovation, health and peace, I wouldn’t expect anyone but you, student leaders and scientists, to be the catalyst for this change. Thank you for bringing your own blend of insights, ideas and innovative directions to Western Science. I can’t wait to see what you do next. Enjoy every moment of your time here and I hope to meet with you all soon! All the best,

Shirley Poon

BRIEF

News briefs: Bats napping in plants, easy way to beat Freshman15, and why you shouldn’t get the H1N1 vaccine Nadine Abdulkarim Current Contributor

The pitcher plant and the bat– an unusual pair In probably one of the most cringeinducing examples of symbiosis ever; scientists in Brunei discovered a very close relationship between the carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes rafflesiana and Hardwicke’s Woolly bat. Despite its larger size, the pitcher plant lives high up in trees, giving it a disadvantage in trapping insects compared to its competitors that live closer to the ground. The bat, however, takes advantage

of this slim-shaped pitcher plant, and fits snuggly inside. It resists falling into the plants’ digestive fluids by a girdle within the plant. What does this relationship depend on, you ask? Why, feces, of course! Lots and lots of feces. The pitcher plant derives approximately 34% of its nutritional needs from bats’ feces. In return for providing precious nutrients to the plant, the bat receives protection and a nice little nook to nap in. Pretty fair deal, I’d say.

in the 2011 Obesity Review presents the link between elevated indoor heating and increased obesity populations. The studies show that the warmer your home is, the less your body needs to metabolize calories to generate heat by physiological thermogenesis. Simply put, it’s a less of a work out. So the next time your roommate complains that your dorm is freezing, point out as kindly as possible that the lack of heat is helping to get rid of their Freshman15.

Canadian weather combats obesity

H1N1–we saw it coming

Another reason to embrace our cold, Canadian weather. A study published

The World Health Organization is launching a safety review

into Pandemrix, a H1N1 flu vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline. This warning was triggered after a Finnish study found that children who received the shot were nine times more likely to develop narcolepsy. In 2010, 62 new narcolepsy cases were recorded in children aged 4-19 in Finland, compared to the average 5-14 new cases from 2006-2009. Close to 90% of the 2010 cases were recipients of the H1N1 shot up to 8 months prior to the apparition of the disorder. In other news, cases of narcolepsy shot up by 80% in first year Science students after exposure to just one week of Chemistry lectures.

The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. Its contents do not reflect the opinion of the University Students’ Council of the University of Western Ontario (“USC”). The USC assumes no responsibility or liability for any error, inaccuracy, omission or comment contained in this publication or for any use that may be made of such information by the reader.


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The Current—Frosh Issue 2011

FEATURED

Head Soph shares words of wisdom

Vice Chancellor Brown Head Soph

Hello and welcome to the Faculty of Science at UWO. You might expect me to begin with explaining how awesome this university experience is going to be and how much fun you are going to have, yadeeyadeeya. While this is completely true (it will be awesome and I hope you come to believe this by the end of O-Week), it is simply not as easy as stepping through the front gates and expecting everybody else to make it awesome for you. Truthfully, how amazing your university experience turns out will ultimately come down to what YOU do and how much you appreciate the new level of control you now have. Beyond simply getting involved and having an outgoing attitude, what I hope to pass on through this article

and through Science’s orientation program is the notion of taking control of your time and actions here at Western. It’s a very powerful feeling to know that nobody but yourself can dictate what you do on a daily basis. In high school, there were teachers there to ensure that you were spending your time in class and you may have had parents who would schedule extracurricular activities to keep you busy. However, now that you’re here, you’re absolutely free to do what you choose with your time. Of course there are mandatory labs and classes to attend, but nobody is here to make you get up for morning class, nag you to do your readings or get you to practice on time. You have that power to do what you choose. Isn’t that awesome? As the classic videogame inspired Science’s O-Week theme suggests, there are a variety of methods; some

wiser than others, to exercise your new control and lifestyle. For instance, if you spend your time going after all of the coins and power-ups (the fun stuff) and lack interest to progress to the end of the level, time runs out and

“ ” It’s up to you to take control, press those buttons, and beat the game.

- Vice Chancellor Brown

Mario loses a life. If you sprint through the level and do the bare minimum to get to the next level, you miss out on all of the extra points even though you will eventually beat the game. In both situations, there is an obvious lack of balance between working to complete the level and sacrificing that work for the thrill of getting every last coin. Unfortunately, balance at university

is not just coins and levels; it boils down to a balance between school and life. Too much focus in one area leads to deficiencies in the other…which I’m sure you already knew. What I have come to learn and what I hope to pass onto you is the notion of individual control. Nobody but you can force yourself to study for that extra few hours a week and nobody but you can force yourself to go out and meet that whole campus full of new people. It’s up to you to take control, press those buttons, and beat the game. My hope is that through the course of your time here in the Western Dimension, you will take advantage of the atmosphere with all the people around you who can’t wait to share the game manual with you. Can’t wait to meet you,

Vice Chancellor Brown

Meet the Team that put it all together

Head Soph: vice chancellor brown

Assistant Head Soph: six foot seven

Assistant Head Soph: first choice

Assistant Head Soph: dripp

Hey Sci, welcome to the best years of your life. I’m in my 4th one here in Physiology and can’t wait to kick it off with the best O-Week UWO’s ever seen. DON’T GET ELIMINATED!!!

Study hard, live it up, and always remember: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Welcome home Science! Well it may not feel like home quite yet, trust me, it will. I’m back home for my fourth year of PHYS at Western!

Yo and hello to all of yee, I’m T-Tripp in 4th year chemistry. Here’s one thing that you must understand; UWO Science puts YOU in command. CHUCH.


SECRET PASSAGEWAYS

The Current—Frosh Issue 2011

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It’s like your very own Marauder’s Map. Sorta.

Don’t forget to solemnly swear you are up to no goodhaving before using it. an engineer, or maybe a cartogLakshman Vasanthamohan

rapher to guide you through the engineering buildings. The path can start as early as the door to Thompson (TEB) directly facing the Rec Centre, and progresses Northwards. The connections between TEB to Spencer (SEB) are somewhat difficult, but you are home free once you hit the tunnel to Alumni or Thames Hall. From Thames, you can proceed via covered path to Somerville and exit out at the far end, steps away from both UC and UCC.

Current contributor

Let’s face it, there’s a reason that you chose to study science at the best university in the country. You’re smart, inquisitive and driven, but whether or not you like it, you will soon become lazy. What they don’t tell you in high school is that one of the hardest parts of university is actually going to class. But fear not young frosh, I come bearing a guide to make the discomforts of travel disappear. Henceforth are three routes into the centre of campus from the East, West and South. No matter where your residence, feel free to try out and master all these routes because that cutie you’ve been eyeing at lab all term will be more than appreciative when you can get them to class without getting covered in snow. 1. The Road Less Travelled: Natural Science from the East Difficulty: The route starts just across Delaware Hall, up the staircase and through the trees. At this point, you will prob-

Drawing by Jesse Tahirali

ably be able to see Nat Sci and wonder, where the difficulty in this route lies. The key is to enter Middlesex College and proceed via tunnel to Western Science. Then, you have the three choices: tunnelling to Physics-Astronomy then pop up right at Nat Sci 1, tunnelling to Bio-Geo then to Nat Sci, or taking the

WANTED

Literate science people to do literate science things, and comicical people to draw geeky comics. Join the most awesome editorial team in the world. We are the best thing since sliced bread.

more adventurous sky-bridge to BioGeo and onwards. 2. An Engineer’s Guide to Galaxy: University College from the South Difficulty: with engineer without Simply put, this path hinges on

find us.

3. The Path of Enlightenment: Nat Sci from the West Difficulty: (the gates may be obstructed …) This path starts from Saugeen and enters the enigma that is the SiebensDrake building. From here, there is the most beautiful sky bridge to Dental Sci, with one caveat– the path is only open at typical working hours and not on weekends. As well, a bunch of first-years shuffling through a secured research building, is simply frowned upon. If you can reach Dental Sci, cross over to the Health Sci. Addition and follow the sky bridge homebound again to Nat Sci.

Questions about your

academic career?

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INSECTS

Introducing the smallest masters of destruction

Contrary to popular belief, size doesn’t matter. Kevin Chen

Current contributor Throughout history, humanity has used its intelligence to achieve great works of science and art. Yet on the flip side, it has also been blamed for horrible events such as war and slavery. Sometimes it’s just easier to look at Mother Nature and the circle of life to learn from the noble and fair kingdom of animals. Unfortunately, that’s all lies, as animals are just as cruel and deceiving as we are. For instance, ants are often held to the paragon of unity and teamwork. Through nonstop hard work and cooperation, groups of small ants achieve amazing feats. The old fable about the ants and the grasshopper is often used to show off the industrious ants in contrast to the lazy grasshopper to teach the lessons of hard work. In fact, ants also

provide some of the best examples of cruelty and malice. Army ants are actually a broad classification of hundreds of ant species from different lineages. Their unifying trait is that they form large foraging groups and perform raids. During these raids, a large number of ants attack a group of prey over a large area killing anything that stands in their way. Due to their nature, no permanent nests are constructed, thus a constantly moving colony travels through the land eating everything from worms to young vertebrates. Some colonies even resort to stealing and devouring the offspring of other insects such as other species of ants as well as wasps. Some ants are also known to enslave other colonies. such as the species Myrmoxenus ravouxi, better known as Ravoux’s slave maker ant. Found in Europe, this particular species must oppress other species of ants to ensure the survival of their colony. A common

strategy is that the queen will pretend to be dead to allow other ants to drag her to their colony. Once there, she will awaken and kill the original queen in order to utilize her pheromones to produce her own eggs. Eventually, the slave maker ant eggs will hatch and overrun the original colony.

There is a common misconception that animals possessing less intelligence than humans must also possess some kind of naivety and purity. However, nature is a cruel race for survival and ants as well as other animals will do anything it takes to survive, producing brutal yet effective behaviours.


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The Current—Frosh Issue 2011

FEATURED

Science Games:

Let the legendary contest begin!

Jenna Silverstein Current contributor

SCIENCE: systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. GAME: a competitive activity involving skill, chance or endurance. SCIENCE GAMES: the most entertaining athletic, social and academic competition you will EVER participate in with science students of all years.

Science Games has evolved into a FULL-day competition for all UWO Science students to participate in. This year, the athletic and academic portions are occurring concurrently, as to induce synergistic levels of awesomeness and entertainment. There is food to be eaten, games to be played, teams www.uwoscience.ca/thecurrent to be beaten and great prizes to be won. As a team of 8-10 members, you

Volume 1—Issue 1

can collect points throughout the day by beating the competing teams and impressing your judges in events such as Dodge Ball, Pipette Pictionary and Test-Tube Relay Races, just to name a few. There will also be points awarded for the best team spirit, deafening cheers, as well as mindblowing creativity in uniforms and overall wickedness. Your SOPHS will be there, as will your FRIENDS , and YOU will be there. Sign up with your friends and come out to show us your crazy science spirit! Keep a lookout around science buildings (North Campus Building, Natural Science, and Western Science Centre) for posters with information pertaining dates for team signups and the Early Bird Special. Don’t forget to ask your science soph about their experiences with Science Games throughout the past couple years to get a feel September 2010 for what is coming to rock your world.

LIFE AS WE KNOW ON NOT NEWSSTANDS NOW; IT HYPEROTRETI GLASSWING GETBUTTERFLY YOUR COPY TODAY!

Welcome back to school! A message from your Science Students’ Council president

Alcohol, magnified See what your drink looks like under the microscope

Calculus used in real life it’s possible, we swear!

Science comics Featuring humour only a true nerd can appreciate

Our planet is home to many awe-inspiring organisms. If you’re fascinated with life on Earth, but don’t want to get out of your chair to explore the world, here is a glimpse of a few bizarre, exotic, or unconventional creatures your lazy eyes might have otherwise never seen.

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The chemistry behind your caffeine addiction Invisibility cloak? That is totally unnecessary, according to the Glasswing Butterfly. Not many organisms can boast invisibility in their resumes; the Glasswing Butterfly is one of them. It uses translucent wings to hide away from predators rather than to warn them off with brightly colored scales like most other butterfly species. Were it not for its deeply colored borders, these insects would be virtually undetectable. Found mostly in Central and

South America, these butterflies are toxic to many animals due to a diet high in plant alkaloids. It is these same alkaloids that give rise to phermones that the males emit in order to attract females during mating season. Its scientific name, Greta oto, sounds more like a famous German black-and-white film star than a butterfly, but like the former, the Glasswing Butterfly is as mysterious as it is beautiful. —Nadine Abdulkarim

water. As a defence mechanism, they This creature, also known as the Hagtie themselves into a knot and wiggle fish–with ancestors dating back to around to escape captors, distract an 550 million years ago–is deemed one of the most disgusting sea creatures. enemy, or capture prey. Even their wonder about the scientific facets eggs are sticky! Besides that, it eats Looking like a harmless eel, it somecoffee? deadof animals, starting their feast from times ends up on the dinner plates in Current Editor the insideCoffee of the body and eats its way Korea. is produced from the out. This hermaphroditic creature, on seeds of trees and shrubs of the geOh yeah and did I mention that an average of half a meter in length, Coffea. these Something simple as a light, cup ofsomenus people use Since its slime as seeds egg- bear has eyespotsas (can only detect a striking resemblance to beans, coffee is often theimages), only thing thatwhites? A picture cannot do it justice, but cannot resolve a single worth nostril,the andmany no fins.students It has glands they something are known as searching “coffee beans.” keeps at that West-definitely for on Youtube. produce mucus which turns into These beans easily make up one ern awake and strong. —Cecilia Kwok thick slime when combined with

We are the official newspaper of Kevin the Chen Science Students’ Council. Last year, we were known as “Absolute Zero”, but after a little remodeling we are now printing under a new name.

of the most valuable commodity Whether it is the crunch of last A name with several different scientific meanings: crops in the world. minute assignments or the presOriginating in tropical Africa sure of cramming for final exams, It could mean the movement of electric charge. and Southern Asia, coffee plants coffee is by far the world’s most It could mean the flow of water or popular air. stimulant. As one of the of various species are now found growing around the world, the most consumed beverages in the It also sounds like those little black raisin fruit things, which – is produced in majority of which world, coffee has had an impresSouth American countries like Braimpact on everything from the depending on how you use them –sive could also be pretty scientific. zil and Columbia. Facing relatively culture to the environment of each nation. However, as interesting as that may be, what kind of science students would we be if we didn’t ever

few regulations and laws—and often grown with other crops that

We’re devoted to delivering you as much science-related stuff as Jesse Tahirali Contiued on page 4 Current Editors Current Contributors you can handle, and delivering it in the most interesting way Shirley Poon, Nadine Abdulkarim, Vice Chancellor Brown, Lakshman VasanCecilia Kwok — Editor-in-Chief thamohan, Kevin Chen, and Jenna Silverstein possible.

A pharmaceutical researcher’s historic bicycle trip Want your name in this box? Join our editorial team. gic acid diethylamide-25—what is thecurrent@uwoscience.ca

Zahra Sakkejha Current Editor

“Turn on, Tune in, Drop out” – the words of Dr. Timothy Leary, LSD’s most prominent enthusiast. A Harvard professor of psychology in the 1970s, he believed that LSD could have profound benefits for many— everyone from criminal offenders to mental patients to regular citi-

O-Week Photographs: Corey Stanford

genic bicycle ride home from the Hoffman took his day-long acid trip Do what Einstein failed to do—contribute toan theindicator Current. of the drug’s potenlab. He later wrote in his journal as now commonly known as LSD. Hofthecurrent@uwoscience.ca that he felt completely stationtial clinical effectiveness. He was mann discovered its effects in an ary while riding his bike, and that convinced that nobody would want unusual way. When he accidentally the images of the world around to use it for recreational purposes, absorbed some of the compound Science Students’ Council | The Current him were curved, as if seen in a but that psychologists would be through the tips of his fingers, he began seeing Faculty a funhouse mirvery interested to use it as a treatof Science • The University of Western Ontario Natural Sciences Centre, Room 108 London, ON, CANADA N6A 5B6 kaleidoscope of “[he] woke up feeling ror. Once he ar- ment. colours in Email: his thecurrent@uwoscience.ca • Web: www.uwoscience.ca As you might have guessed, healthier, even noting that rived home, he mind. Confused began accusing these predictions have yet to be his breakfast tasted ‘unusuand curious, he his neighbour realized and mainstream psychoally delicious’ . ” decided to give of being a witch, logical treatment using LSD is still


Frosh Issue 2011