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UBC Reports | Vol. 54 | No. 8 | Aug. 7, 2008

In the News

Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in July 2008

Compiled by Randy Schmidt

2010 Olympic Hockey Arena Opens Ahead of Schedule

UBC’s new hockey arena, a venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games, opened on July 7. Premier Gordon Campbell joined President Stephen Toope and federal, provincial and First Nations leaders, along with Canadian Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser and Paralympian Todd Nicholson, to celebrate the completion of the first new indoor venue in Vancouver.

The news story was carried on Canadian Press and Reuters and covered by The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun and Global TV and CBC TV.

Mining template not ideal for Mongolia, investors
In a story carried on Reuters and covered by Forbes, The Guardian and The International Herald Tribune, the Institute for Asian Research’s Julian Dierkes commented on mining approaches for Mongolia.

The new government in Mongolia could finally pass deals to tap the coal, copper and uranium the country sits on. The idea of ownership stakes has symbolic importance among Mongolians wary of foreign investors on the make and mindful that Mongolia’s mineral wealth was used to feed Russian industry when the country was a Soviet satellite.

“I don’t think ownership stakes are a good idea,” said Julian Dierkes, a specialist in resources and public policy at UBC.

“There is a deficit in terms of communication. Ignorance makes the discussion difficult and it prepares the ground for some of the populist claims,” said Dierkes.

Mapping the Spinal Cord

Scientists who study spinal cords often come across cells they can’t identify, so when UBC scientist Jane Roskams heard that a Seattle neuroscience lab was casting around for its next project, she suggested: Create a detailed map of the spinal cord. Last month the Allen Institute for Brain Science released the first data from what will become a spinal-cord atlas, expected to be finished by early next year.

In a story reported in the Seattle Times, Global National TV and the Toronto Star, Roskams, who works at UBC’s Brain Research Centre, said the atlas will boost research on Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), multiple sclerosis and other disorders that attack the nervous system. It also will help efforts to treat spinal-cord injuries.

“I don’t think there will be a lab in the world working on spinal-cord injuries that does not access this as soon as it goes online,” Roskams said.

Magic Tricks Reveal Inner Workings of the Brain

As told in Wired, The Daily Telegraph, and on CTV’s Canada AM, magic tricks may look simple, but they exploit cognitive patterns that psychologists say may advance our understanding of the brain.

In a paper published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, UBC and Durham University researchers argue many of the techniques used in advertising and political propaganda resemble the methods of the magician.

“Although a few attempts have been made in the past to draw links between magic and human cognition, the knowledge obtained by magicians has been largely ignored by modern psychology,” said UBC Professor Ronald Rensink.

Study co-authors are Gustav Kuhn from Durham University’s Psychology Department and Alym Amlani, a recent BSc graduate of UBC’s Cognitive Systems Program, which integrates computer science, psychology, philosophy and linguistics. Both Kuhn and Amlani are practising magicians who argue that conjurers are “miles ahead” of scientists.

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Last reviewed 07-Aug-2008

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