Author Archives: linoue

Ionic Liquids: The Future of Electronics

Salt is a popular resource with many forms and uses. It helps keep ice off the roads, flavours our foods, and replaces hard metals in our water. In their liquid form, these salts have properties that make them excellent electrolytes (carriers of electric charge), but melting them takes a lot of heat. Table salt, for example, takes about 800 °C to melt, enough to incinerate most of the electronic devices we use. However, the recent discovery of a new class of compounds called ionic liquids may provide a way to use liquid salts as electrolytes in our much cooler environment.

Picture of Table Salt and its melting point Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Picture of Table Salt and its melting point
Source: Flickr Creative Commons <>

Ionic Liquid and its melting point Source: Snapshot of video from University of Leichester

Ionic Liquid and its melting point
Source: Snapshot of video from University of Leichester

Erin Lindenberg

Erin Lindenberg

We had the opportunity to meet with Erin Lindenberg, a PhD candidate in the Chemistry Department at the University of British Columbia. The following video demonstrates and describes what Ionic Liquids are, and how our researcher carried out her experiment.

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Video Music: “The Jazz Piano” –

Now, the video showed possibilities in improving the effectiveness of electrolytes, which in the future, may have an impact to the general public through improvements in everyday necessities. However, before anything can be created, scientists must experiment with new concepts and/or theories. In our podcast below, we had a conversation with our researcher on how her study can possibly provide a solution or give ideas to other researchers also studying about Ionic Liquids, along with several challenges faced over the course of her research.

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Podcast Music: “Funky Element” –

Modern technology depends on electricity as a source of energy, and portable electronics like cell phones, laptop computers and portable music devices are popular in modern society. Their batteries are essentially packages of electrical energy that can go wherever the device goes, but some of them are big and hazardous with many safety precautions. Erin’s research may lead to the production of smaller and more efficient batteries, possibly making popular electronic devices safer, more portable, and capable of operating longer without charging the batteries.

-Group 2: Lilly Inoue, Michelle Bak, Jared Martin, Sung Hoo Jegal


Your Eyes Can Taste Everything for You

To begin, take a look at the two images below:

Blue Penne

Blue Penne. Source: Flickr Creative Commons, user Ronan.


Penne. Source: Flickr Creative Commons, user Jennifer.







Which one looks more appetizing? Which one will you reach for when you are hungry? I would –without a doubt– choose the one on the bottom. Why? Because blue penne is not visually appealing to me, and even if it tasted just as good as the normal one, I would probably feel gross due to the perception that I consumed something blue.

 Now, some of you may think that this is just a personal opinion however, the research done by Jeannine F. Delwiche state that “visual cues… modify the way taste, odour, and flavour are perceived”. She explains her hypothesis through the explanation of the emergent phenomenon. The emergent phenomenon is a phenomenon of how one’s understanding of a whole does not necessarily reflect the physical reality of its parts. Delwiche provides three examples, which are the following:

  • Rabbit-Duck Illusion: This is the ambiguous image where both a rabbit or a duck can be seen, depending on one’s interpretation


    Rabbit-Duck Illusion. Source: Wikipedia

  • Müller-Lyer illusion: This is the optical illusion where one arrow seems to be longer than the other, when in fact, they are the same length

    Müller-Lyer illusion. Source: Wikipedia


  • Kanizsa Triangle: Shows the visual illusion, where the top triangle seems to be brighter than the bottom. This illustrates that perception does not always accurately represent physical reality

    Kanizsa Traingle. Source: Wikipedia


From these three examples, Delwiche explains that sensory input from the visual system can alter taste and flavour of foods and drinks.

A relatively famous experiment was done by Stefan Gates and Alice Pegg where white wine was coloured using red food colouring to make the physical appearance like a red wine. This so-called “red wine” was served in a wine club, where tasters were asked to describe the wine. Surprisingly, the wine drinkers described the taste/flavour in terms that reference and describe a red wine. From this, we can see that the red colour of the wine caused the alteration of the flavour perception. A video showing the experiment can be accessed through BBC News Magazine, or from youtube like the one below:

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Credit goes to user Spab Fi

The next time you encounter a piece of food that seems unappetizing for some reason, take a minute to process the visual image of the food and ask yourself: Is this food actually bad or is it just my eyes tasting it through visual perception?

-Lilly Inoue







Contact Lenses. Bye-bye Eye Sight

Do you wear contact lenses? I don’t. I don’t know how to order them, how to put them on, or how to clean them. But even though I have little to no knowledge on contact lenses, I do know this: Don’t sleep with them on!

About half of my friends wear contact lenses and at some point, I hear them say “I slept with my contact lenses on last night”. Guaranteed.

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The application of a contact lens. Source: Flickr Commons user suanie

At this point, some of you are probably thinking:

“Why do we say this?”

“What’s the reason for taking out contact lenses before bed?”

“What are the proper steps to cleaning them?”

Well, I am here to help answer these questions.

In a recent article published by CBC, ophthalmologist Tim Hillson addresses the fact that contact lenses prevent oxygen flow to the cornea, causing nutrient-providing blood vessels in the eye to expand. This makes the eye prone to infection. Leaving the contact lenses on over night allows bacteria build up that can penetrate the cornea.

There are 3 types of infection to the cornea:

Acanthamoeba keratitis: A rare infection caused by amoeba, often found in swimming pools, tap water, and hot tubs. May result in blindness.

Bacterial keratitis: An infection that proceeds rapidly. Caused by common bacteria like staphylococcuss aureus.

Fungal keratitis: An infection caused by a fungal organism. Usually involves pain in the eye.

Recently, Lian Kao, 23 year-old Taiwanese student became blind due to prolonged application of contact lenses. When I say prolonged – I mean 6 months! Kao did not remove her disposable contact lenses for 6 months straight, and even went swimming with them on. The cause of her blindness is said to be from Acanthamoeba (as described above), where amoeba ate her cornea during the course of 6 months.

An illustration of Amoeba proteus, by Joseph Leidy, 1879 − The organism that caused Lian Kao’s blindness. Rare but dangerous when infected. Source: Wikipedia

An illustration of Amoeba proteus, by Joseph Leidy, 1879 − The organism that caused Lian Kao’s blindness. Rare but dangerous when infected. Source: Wikipedia

Specialists say that the blindness caused by acanthamoeba is an extreme case, but they want the public to “realize the importance of using contact lenses as prescribed”. Well, I guess it is fair to say that Lian Kao learned it the hard way.

So how preventable are these infections? Easy. Just follow these 8 steps regularly.

  1. Wash and rinse hands with a mild non-cosmetic soap before handling contact lenses.
  2. Dry hands with a clean towel.
  3. It is a good idea to keep fingernails short and apply hair spray before you put in your contacts.
  4. Put on makeup after the contact lenses are in your eyes, and remove them before you remove your makeup.
  5. Always use disinfecting solutions that your eye care professional has recommended. Be aware that some eye products or eye drops are not safe for contact lens users.
  6. Never use tap water directly on the contact lenses, or put them in your mouth.
  7. Clean each contact by rubbing it gently with your index finger in the palm of your other hand.
  8. Clean contact lens case after every use, with either sterile solution or hot tap water and let it air dry. These cases should be replaced every three months.

Here is a video showing the steps, created by

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Aside from these steps, I also recommend getting eye exams or check ups regularly. Although you are not guaranteed protection from those nasty infections, just remember, doing something is better than doing nothing.

And again, don’t forget to take them out before going to bed.

-Lilly Inoue