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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 8 | Sep. 2, 2004

In the News

Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in August 2004

Compiled by Brian Lin

Virtual Ocean

UBC researchers have developed a “new locomotion interface for swimming and floating in a virtual reality ocean,” reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Showcased at a recent computer graphics conference in Los Angeles, the innovation involves suspending a “swimmer” and tracking his movements. A computer-generated animation of the swimmer is then projected on a screen.

The swimmer wears a virtual reality display over his head and sees a simulation of the ocean -- with waves reacting to the movement and refracted sunlight. He can even hear the sounds of water slashing and sea birds calling.

UBC Second Most Cited

UBC researchers are the second most cited scholars in Canada, according to a ranking of citations in scholarly scientific and technical journals.

UBC came in behind the University of Toronto with 17 investigators identified as highly cited in leading journals such as Nature and Science.

UBC placed 19th among North American public universities in the rankings.

“This is a remarkable achievement, and illustrates how UBC research is contributing to discovery everywhere,” said UBC VP research Indira Samarasekera told the Vancouver Sun.

Balancing Business and Family

More and more couples are opting for the flexibility of getting into business together because of the financial and family benefits, according to David Bentall, chairman of the Business Families Centre at UBC.

“The norm of someone working for a company for their lifetime is disappearing,” Bentall told The Globe and Mail. “From both the male and female side, there’s a tremendous drive to have more flexibility in their careers.

“Those two forces are causing more and more people to say ‘Hey, let’s start something on our own.’ ”

Thunderbird Grounded for Now

After six years of planning, design and construction on its human-powered helicopter, a team of faculty and students at UBC couldn’t get the machine off the ground at a recent attempt to break the current world record.

“It was a no-go,” UBC engineering department spokesperson Sherry Green told The Globe and Mail. “They had technical difficulties.”

More than 160 students at UBC’s mechanical engineering department have worked on the Thunderbird Project since its inception in 1998, but only six to 12 people, headed by team leader Mike Georgallis, work on it at any one time.

Rescue Bots Save the Day

A robot armed with toilet-bowl brushes recently won the UBC engineering department’s annual robotics contest.

The robots, designed as “rescue-bots,” had to rescue a stranded doll at the bottom of a pretend cliff.

The contest is the students’ final exam for the course.

“It counts for marks and bragging rights for several years,” physics professor Andre Marziali told The Vancouver Sun.

The robots use sensors and special filters to recognize parts of the course and computer programs written by the students to tell them what to do. No remote controls allowed.

Jeff Young, head of UBC’s physics and astronomy department and one of the judges said he hopes the contest lets people know that physics can be fun. “It’s not just drudgery and hard work.”

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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