UBC Reports | Vol. 53 | No. 7 | Jul 5, 2007
In the News
Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in June 2007
Compiled by Basil Waugh
Performance Pay Drives Mergers and Income Inequality
The New York Times reported on two UBC studies in June -- one by UBC economist Thomas Lemieux on income inequality and another by Sauder School of Business Prof. Kai Li on why mergers are win-win propositions for CEOs.
Lemieux co-authored a study that found that performance-based pay accounted for 25 per cent of the growth in wage inequality among male workers from 1976 to 1993.
“All the evidence we have suggests that this trend is continuing,” said Lemieux, who noted that in 2003, 44.5 per cent of workers at Fortune 1000 companies received some form of performance-based pay, up from 34.7 percent in 1996.
Li co-authored a study published in the U.S.-based Journal of Finance that found CEOs have personal economic incentives to proceed with questionable mergers. Looking at 370 mergers of U.S. companies, Li found that CEO compensation was “completely insensitive” to poor post-merger performance.
What Are Dogs Thinking? More Than We Knew
UBC canine expert Stanley Coren featured prominently in international news coverage of a study that found dogs can do situation-specific imitations -- a capability previously considered unique to humans.
Coren, a professor of psychology, said the Austrian study demonstrates that dogs have a sense of awareness. “It really shows a higher level of consciousness. This takes a real degree of consciousness.”
Coren’s commentary appeared in the Washington Post, FOX News, MSNBC, Seattle Times and Australia’s The Age.
Superconductor Discovery Solves 20-Year-Old Mystery
U.S.-based science journals Nature and Science Daily, along with the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, reported that a UBC team has contributed to the greatest advancement in superconductor research in a decade by growing the purest samples of superconductors to date.
Superconductors are a class of materials that conduct electricity with no resistance. They are used in medical imaging scanners, power lines and levitating trains, but advances have been stalled for 20 years because of a lack of understanding of their fundamental properties.
“We were able to supply our Canadian collaborators with the purest superconductor samples ever developed, which led to the unequivocal discovery that they are metal,” said UBC Physics Prof. Douglas Bonn. “Up to now, it was unclear whether these materials were metals or insulators.”
The UBC team also included Prof. Emeritus Walter Hardy and Materials Scientist Ruixing Liang.
UBC Astronomer Looks for Extraterrestrial Life
USA Today, MSNBC, Space.com, CBC and Toronto Star reported that, according to UBC astronomer Jaymie Matthews, light produced by the star Gliese 581 may support habitable planets.
Using Canada Space Agency’s suitcase-sized space telescope, the Microvariability and Oscillations of STars (MOST), Matthews conducted a scientific stakeout of Gliese 581, approximately 20.5 light years from the Earth. Matthews presented his findings at the annual meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society.
“Gliese 581 seems remarkably stable over the six weeks it was monitored by MOST,” said Matthews. “The brightness of the star changed by only a few tenths of a percent over that time. This level of stability means that it provides a stable source of light -- hence heat -- to the surface of planet Gliese 581c.”