• Raymond Wang shows his model for better airplane air filtration at the world's largest high school science fair. Raymond Wang shows his model for better airplane air filtration at the world's largest high school science fair.

    When Ebola broke out in West Africa last year, one of the biggest concerns was how to keep the virulent, deadly virus from being spread by international air travel.

    Most of us felt helpless. Raymond Wang got to work.

    The 17-year-old science-whiz student at St. George’s School in Vancouver fired up his computer and set out to model the way air circulates in the passenger cabins of commercial aircraft.

    What he came up with won the $75,000 (USD) first prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh in May.

    And that was just the beginning.

    “I started looking into epidemics, and I came across these pretty scary statistics.” Wang tells Yahoo Canada. “For example, the CDC has found that when an infected passenger walks onto a plane, he can actually infect up to 17 other passengers per flight. It’s clearly a huge issue.

    “My goal was to generate the first high-resolution simulation of cabin airflow in the entire industry. And what you’re actually getting is three

    Read More »from B.C. teen's award-winning invention set to help travellers breathe better on airplanes
  • Younger generations are snacking more – and better – according to an intriguing new survey.

    Numbers compiled by the global research company NPD Group suggests Millennials (ages 24-37) and the 23-and-under Generation Z are not only making healthier choices; their buying power is nudging the snack-food industry to adjust.

    “When look at the three mega-categories of snacking – sweet, savory and better-for-you – what we’re finding is that there’s a slow shift away from some of the sweetened snack foods,” NPD Group analyst Darren Seifer tells Yahoo Canada.

    “Better-for-you is actually the fastest-growing segment of the three,” Seifer said. He expects “better-for-you” snack foods to surpass snack foods by 2018.

    Seifer says younger people are consistently making greater use of fresh foods and beverages – vegetables and dairy, for example.

    “They’re not becoming home chefs by any stretch of the imagination,he noted, “but they’re spending a little bit more time in their kitchens so they can

    Read More »from The younger you are, the better you eat
  • A new study from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore puts frightening numbers to the amount of food we waste and throw away – up to 40 per cent.

    “That is basically everything: all the food that comes off the farm,” Johns Hopkins associate professor Roni Neff, co-author of the study, told Yahoo Canada.

    “Processing, distribution, retail, restaurants, consumer – the whole thing.”

    Neff said the causes of this are complex.

    “It’s for different reasons at different stages of the food-supply chain,” she noted.

    “You could say there’s maybe an under-valuation of food, and sometimes it’s cheaper to do other things than to save it.”

    So now you’re looking at the food in the fridge, assessing what’s still good and what isn’t. How to be sure? How to know what has to go?

    Neff suggested there’s a different question – one that could have been asked way back at the food store.

    “We’re not trying to tell people to eat something that could become unsafe. But what could we have done – by all of us –

    Read More »from Why are we wasting 40 per cent of our food?
  • Ouija Board (Thinkstock)Ouija Board (Thinkstock)

    The recent #CharlieCharlieChallenge phenomenon – in which young people are scaring themselves silly asking questions of an apparently self-moving pencil – has raised significant curiosity about all such tempting, enticing, hard-to-figure-out phenomena.

    Predictably, this has led to a spike in Internet enquiries about the inner workings of that timeless, baffling pop-culture standby, the Ouija board.

     You know the drill.  You sit at the board, place your fingers on the heart-shaped, beautifully named planchette, and ask a question.  Almost immediately, your hands begin to move, over the alphabet, over the numbers, towards an apparent answer.  The effect is powerful.  A lot of the answers make deep, personal sense.  Many have ascribed this to spirits, demons – even gods.

     “The illusion is actually very strong,” Prof. Chris French, of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths College, University of London, tells Yahoo News.  “It does feel like something – not you personally –

    Read More »from How does a Ouija board really work?
  • NASA astronaut Barry 'Butch' Wilmore, Commander  on the International Space Station. (Reuters/NASA)NASA astronaut Barry 'Butch' Wilmore, Commander on the International Space Station. (Reuters/NASA)

    Look up on the next clear night and you have great chance to catch sight of the International Space Station (ISS) make not just one, but a series of bright flybys above your doorstep.

    The next few weeks offers an amazing opportunity for space fans to glimpse the football field-sized orbiting laboratory glide across the starry skies as many as four times in one night.

    These nightly multiple flybys are an annual attraction for sky-watchers around the world, as the ISS is bathed in nearly continuous sunlight this time of the year, as it orbits the Earth. Every year around mid-June, its 90-minute long loop around the planet closely traces the day-night border of Earth, allowing it to be seen from dusk til dawn.

    Because its in near perpetual sunshine now, observers get a veritable station spotting marathon, where anyone with clear skies gets a chance to observe it three (sometimes even five) times in a single night. This makes for quite a sky show, especially compared to other times of

    Read More »from Look up: Perfect time for skywatchers to spot the ISS in the skies above
  • A full 95 per cent of people were sick in 2013, and most people have multiple ailments at the same time.

    These are the latest findings of the ongoing Global Burden of Disease Study, published last weekend in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.

    “We make estimates of what kills people and what makes people sick, in all countries in the world,” study lead author Theo Vos, professor of global health at the University of Washington, told Yahoo Canada.

    The study began in 1990. A quarter century later, some intriguing numbers have emerged. Among them? Fully one third of us (2.3 billion people) are enduring five or more ailments simultaneously.

    “One of the major findings is that the main causes of disability don’t change that much,” Vos explained. “There are exceptions, but what we’ve seen since 1990 is that death rates have dropped quite dramatically, almost anywhere we look. But the rate of change in the aggregate of all disabling conditions has been very slow.”

    Proportionally, on

    Read More »from People who say they don't get sick are probably lying
  • Clouds in the sky (Thinkstock)Clouds in the sky (Thinkstock)

    From unusually warm and dry in the west to a very frigid and snowy east, folks across entire North America have experienced some downright weird weather this past year. 

    That blob off the west coast is an unusually large and persistent area of above-normal sea surface temperatures.that has been averaging anywhere from 2 to 4 degrees Celsius above normal over the past 1.5 years or so,said Brett Anderson, chief meteorologist with accuweather.com.

    Scientists actually began noticing something strange was brewing back in Autumn 2013 when a circular mass of water, that was about 1,000 miles across and 300 feet deep, simply wouldnt go away as it had been expected. Now it stretches from Mexico all the way up to Alaska.  And it sure has made its presence felt across the country, especially this past winter.

    Recent studies indicate that this "blob" has been caused by a persistent area of strong high pressure over the northeast Pacific and along the West Coast.,said Anderson.

    The impact

    Read More »from 'Blob' in Canadian west will continue to shape weather for coming seasons
  • The conventional wisdom regarding memory-loss diseases such as amnesia and Alzheimer’s has long been that all affected memories are erased or destroyed.

    But a new study from MIT is suggesting a possible alternative: that while the ability to access memories may vanish, the memories themselves may still be fully intact and encoded within the brain.

    “If you ask a neuroscientist what we know about memory, most people will say we have these pathways, or traces, that are formed in the brain, and these are somehow required for us to recall information accurately,” MIT researcher and study co-author Dheeray Roy told Yahoo Canada.

    “In cases of amnesia, a lot of people would believe these traces actually are non-existent, and that’s the underlying cause of the disease. Our study came in, I think, to ask whether amnesia truly is a storage-type issue, or whether some memories do persist and there is just no way to access them – and can we do something about it?”

    A technology called optogenetics

    Read More »from Scientists shine a new light on memory loss
  • Three months after social media went crazy about #TheDress and the mystery of why people see it in different colours, folks are still trying to figure out what the science behind this optical illusion is.

    As many as 10 million tweets went out about the image of the horizontally-striped dress in just the first week of it appearing online. Was it black and blue or white and gold?

    One particular explanation put forth by self-described neuromarketer and researcher Diana Derval that has making the rounds involves the number of classes photoreceptors or cones in the retina of the human eye - which can range from two to four. The more types of cones, the more of the colour spectrum that can be seen.

    In this article Professor Derval showcases a spectrum of colours and asks readers to take an online test to see how many variations or shades of colour they can distinguish. 

    Try it: How many colours do you see?

    How many colours do you see? (Courtesy of Prof. Diana Derval, Expert in Neuromarketing)How many colours do you see? (Courtesy of Prof. Diana Derval, Expert in Neuromarketing)

     According to the author,  about 25% of the population should be able see all the

    Read More »from How many colours do you see? Popular vision test debunked
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos samples cooked cockroach at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner. (Reuters)Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos samples cooked cockroach at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner. (Reuters)

    What would you say to a moist mealworm muffin or some salted, crunchy grasshoppers? Chances are good that most folks in North America and Europe would probably turn their noses up to these novel food items.

    Entomophagy has remained more of a novelty here and has not been able to catch on despite the grand idea of it being a sustainable source of food for an ever growing world population.

    This is despite a 2010 UN report stating that insects offer fewer negative environmental impacts than most mainstream foods. Even former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan chimed in saying in a recent interview with The Guardian that eating insects is good for the environment and balanced diets.

    So while insects have been a viable and favourite protein source in many cultures around the world, can perceptions and acceptance in western society ever change?

    It is estimated that as many as 2 billion people from South and East Asia as well as many African and South American countries all have

    Read More »from Insects under-appreciated for their taste, nutritional value in North America: researcher

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