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The Wall Street Journal

February 11, 2012

Anatomy of a tear-jerker

“An appoggiatura is a type of ornamental note that clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound. ‘This generates tension in the listener,’ said Martin Guhn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia who co-wrote a 2007 study on the subject. ‘When the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves, and it feels good.'”

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Prof. Martin Guhn – photo courtesy of Martin Guhn

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Fox News

February 21, 2012 (part of media coverage of AAAS conference UBC experts)

Mom’s mental health affects baby’s language development

“Study results reveal that a crucial language development period, during which infants learn to tune in to the sounds of their native language, is sped up when women take antidepressants, and prolonged when a woman has depression.

“However, the researchers are not sure whether such speeding up or slowing down is beneficial or harmful in the long run, and it may not have any effect on a baby’s ultimate ability to acquire language, said Janet Werker, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

“Werker discussed her findings here at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting.”

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Prof. Janet Werker – photo by Martin Dee

The Wall Street Journal

February 22, 2012

Singapore: the world’s “unhealthiest” country?

“The Eco2 Index, crafted by researchers at the University of British Columbia, looks at both the economic and ecological security of a country and how fast countries are using up resources at their disposal – an initiative they say was promoted by the threat of climate change, a growing world population and mounting financial problems.

“‘We hear that countries are suffering financially every day in the news, but that only tells half the story,’ said Rashid Sumaila, director of the university’s Fisheries Centre, in a statement. ‘Piling up ecological deficits is just as concerning as piling up financial deficits.’

“Singapore was joined by other high-income countries at the bottom of the list, with many sharing similar land and resource scarcity problems.”

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Prof. Rashid Sumaila – photo by Martin Dee

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Huffington Post

March 30, 2012

The happiest countries are in Northern Europe

Blog by authors of UN’s World Happiness Report, including UBC Prof. John Helliwell

“Over the last 40 years, sadly, measured happiness has not increased in the United States despite sharply rising incomes. The problems of poverty, insecurity, corruption, loss of social trust, and other factors are weighing heavily on America’s sense of well-being. But there are also many countries where happiness has increased markedly. If the world applies the growing body of knowledge on happiness and well-being, we can surely help to build a world with much more happiness and a lot less misery.”

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Prof. John Helliwell – photo by Darin Dueck

The New York Times

April 10, 2012

For six decades, the sound of good news in Haiti

“Since the founding of the Orchestre Septentrional in 1948, the band’s homeland, Haiti, has endured the nearly three-decade Duvalier family dictatorship, 26 other governments, a foreign intervention, a devastating earthquake and, most recently, a cholera epidemic….

“‘They’ve created a community institution that is really unlike anything else in Haiti,’ says Gage Averill, author of A Day for the Hunter. A Day for the Prey: Popular Music and Power in Haiti and an ethnomusicologist at the University of British Columbia. ‘It’s amazing. Few countries can speak of the political swings and economic challenges that Haiti can, but here’s this orchestra that even as it changes with the times, has carved out a distinct sound and approach to music making.’

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UBC Dean of Arts Gage Averill – photo by Martin Dee

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The Scientist

May 14, 2012

Can fish eco-labeling be trusted?

“This is not the first time someone has raised concerns about the legitimacy of the sustainable labels on seafood. Two years ago, conservation scientist Jennifer Jacquet of the University of British Columbia and colleagues published an opinion in Nature arguing that the MSC was failing to protect the environment and [needed] radical reform.”

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Post-doctoral fellow Jennifer Jacquet, UBC Fisheries Centre

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The New York Times

June 13, 2012

Canada seeks alternatives to transport oil reserves

“Under Canadian law, aboriginal groups must be consulted about pipeline projects that cross their lands. Enbridge has offered many tribes a 10 percent stake in its westward pipeline project; Graham White, an Enbridge spokesman, said about half have accepted….

“Simon Donner, a scientist at the University of British Columbia, sees the pipeline as symptomatic of the weakness of Canada’s climate policy, and said he thinks the Canadian government is underestimating the opposition. ‘People won’t roll over on this issue,’ he said.”

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Assistant Prof. Simon Donner and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore


July 1, 2012

Bar-headed geese in high-flying wind tunnel test

“Video footage of bar-headed geese in high-altitude wind tunnel experiments has been released by researchers. The flights were captured in super slow-motion by the University of British Columbia….

“Dr [Jessica] Meir explained that a great deal of research into the ‘remarkable geese’ revealed how the birds are specially adapted to fly at extremely high altitude.”

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Video: Dr. Jessica Meir and bar-headed geese in a high-altitude wind tunnel experiment

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The New York Times

July 9, 2012

Studies Rebut Finding That Arsenic May Support Life

“One team, led by Rosemary Redfield of the University of British Columbia, reports that arsenic does not contribute to the growth of the bacteria. They suggest that the original results may have been skewed by an undetected contaminant in the arsenic the researchers used.”

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Prof. Rosie Redfield – photo by Martin Dee


August 22, 2012 (part of 2012 Games coverage of UBC experts and athletes)

Paralympic athletes who harm themselves to perform better

“It’s cheating, but a scientist who will be monitoring athletes at the Paralympic Games says a third of competitors with spinal injuries may be harming themselves to boost their performance….

“A survey carried out by the IPC during the Beijing Paralympics indicated that around 17% of those who responded had used boosting. Some experts believe the real figure could be higher. Could it be as high as 30%, I asked Dr Andrei Krassioukov, a professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and an experienced researcher into spinal injuries?

“‘Correct. It is possible,’ he replied…. ‘As a physician I totally understand why these Olympians are doing this, but as a scientist I am horrified with these events.'”

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Dr. Andrei Krassioukov – photo by Martin Dee

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