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UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 4 | Apr. 6, 2006

In the News

Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in March 2006

Compiled by Basil Waugh

Everything but the Kitchen Sink: UBC Geologists Experiment with Household Items

The New York Times reports on UBC geologists Alison Rust and Mark Jellinek, who use everyday items such as chocolate fudge and liqueurs to demonstrate geological concepts.

“Lava would be pretty impractical to take into the classroom,” said Rust, a postdoctoral fellow. “These household items are cheap, non-toxic and I don’t have to worry about spills.”

In an experiment called, ‘The Earth: Kinda Like a Mai Tai?’ Jellinek pours various liqueurs into plastic cups to demonstrate how the composition of different geological affects their motions.

The Human Genome Project, Hollywood-Style

If you’re trying to impress the nuances of genetics research upon an unknowing public, featuring half-naked, singing deliverymen who shimmy their way up DNA-shaped ‘ladders of love’ might not be the most obvious way to go, reports the U.K.’s The Scientist. But that’s what you get in The Score, a stylized laboratory drama that switches at will between goofiness and artful poignancy.

The play-turned-film was the brainchild of UBC medical geneticist Michael Hayden, who commissioned the work, based loosely on his own lab, after the near completion of the Human Genome Project motivated him to communicate with the public about the project’s implications.

“The creative process in its purest form is exactly the same in great art and great science,” says Hayden. In its attempt to prove this, the film pieces together a caricatured portrait of a lab and its tangled web while managing to check off a number of major themes: big versus small science, science versus religion, the lure of selling out.

UN Peacekeeping Mission in Sudan ‘Near the Point of Overstretch’

The Economist cites UBC Prof. Andrew Mack’s Human Security Report, which estimated that while the number of armed conflicts around the world had dipped sharply since the early 1990s due to UN peacekeeping efforts, more people are being killed in African wars than in all the rest of the world.

The article reports that as the insurgency in Sudan’s Darfur region spills over into Chad, efforts to strengthen the beleaguered African Union force in the region, by turning it into a 14,000-person fully-fledged UN blue-helmet mission with a robust mandate, take on new urgency.

The editor of a review of global peacekeeping by New York University’s Centre on International Co-operation (CIC) argues that without more support for the UN, a new mission in Darfur could push peacekeeping efforts “past the point of overstretch,” and calls for “strategic reserves” to be developed, so that troops can be sent more quickly to trouble spots and missions under strain can be reinforced faster.

Online Black Market: Human Eggs for Sale

A Canadian Press story, picked up by several Canadian dailies, including the Montreal Gazette, Hamilton Spectator, and the Halifax Daily News, looks at how almost two years after the federal government passed a law banning the sale of human eggs, women are still advertising their ova for sale on the Internet -- and Health Canada has no problem with it.

“I’m very surprised,” said UBC geneticist Patricia Baird, who headed the 1993 Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies. “Clearly, if it’s illegal to sell eggs, it should be illegal to advertise selling them. The potential for exploitation of women who need money to sell their eggs is enormous.”

Egg harvesting is an invasive, medically risky procedure that requires donor women to take powerful hormones, usually by injections that first stimulate, then suppress, the ovaries.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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