2012 Visualization Challenge Winners Announced
Feb06

2012 Visualization Challenge Winners Announced

It only takes some YouTubers being in the right place at the right time to prove how ridiculously far owls can rotate their heads -- up to 270 degrees in either direction, in fact. But it took a team of neurological imaging experts and medical illustrators to figure out both how this flexibility feat is anatomically possible and how to effectively illustrate it. The Johns Hopkins University team took first place in the poster and graphics portion of the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge competition, which was sponsored by Science magazine and the National Science Foundation. Led by medical illustrator Fabian de Kok-Mercado, now at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the team used angiography, X-ray imaging, and CT scans to study the bone structure and vasculature of the heads and necks of snowy, barred, and great-horned owls.                             Their study shows that owls' transverse foramina--the holes in the vertebrae that allow arteries to line the spine--are much larger than the blood vessels, allowing more wiggle room for twisting and turning. And they found blood-pooling mechanisms and backup arteries that help direct blood to the brain when the main arteries are pinched in the turning process. The People's Choice award in the same posters and graphics portion of the competition goes to designers who are likely SimCity fans. Or perhaps it was the voters who are fans of the city-building video game series? We digress. A team from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School and Plymouth University designed an entire town to represent possible routes to sustainable pharmaceutical use:                                  The focal point is the river, with the city's pharmaceutical companies, health providers, and residents all part of the twisted network where pharmaceuticals enter and end up. The poster is meant as a tool for policymakers to develop means of making the cycle more sustainable. And it's already being used as such, according to team member and graphic designer Will Stahl-Timmins, who told Science magazine that the poster was covered in sticky notes by the end of a recent meeting with scientists and legislators. But these are just a few of the awardees that stood out to Newscripts. Check out all the winners of the visualization challenge--including those for illustrations, games and apps, and video categories--here....

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Science In Halifax
Feb10

Science In Halifax

I recently went to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for a vacation to visit my old haunts and get reacquainted with friends. When I think of Halifax, I think of scarves and hats, the Titanic, the Halifax Explosion (the largest recorded explosion prior to the atomic bomb), Alexander Keith’s brewery, and nice, friendly Canadians. A culture of science doesn’t even register as a blip on my radar. But while walking down Lower Water St. to get a latte near the Halifax Harbour, I passed a building called the BioScience Enterprise Centre. It’s right next to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the bear claw booth (open only in the summer, unfortunately). Assuming the place was a museum or a tourist destination, I decided to go in and ended up speaking with an administrative assistant, Moscoula Mallis. As it turns out, the center is an incubator for Nova Scotia start-up companies doing R&D and commercialization of their products and services, which range from DNA-based tracking technology to alternative energy consultation to stackable buoys to pharmaceuticals. The center is managed by InNOVAcorp, which works with the start-ups and provides some funding, mentoring, and an infrastructure (lab/office space) to help the firms through whatever stage of research, development, or commercialization they are in. InNOVAcorp, a provincial corporation under the Nova Scotia Economic Development department, has a mission to promote Nova Scotia as a hub of technology research to engender a culture of science, discovery, and product innovation in the province, Mallis says. Some companies have been pretty successful, according to Mallis. Ocean Nutrition Canada is now a full-fledged marine nutrition company, providing omega-3s as food additives and nutritional supplements. Even Wyeth (soon to be Pfizer) did some vaccine work at BioScience Enterprise Centre earlier this millenium, Mallis says, although I can’t find any reliable information about this. It might not be science in my own backyard (not anymore at least), but it just goes to show that science, and chemistry, is...

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