Category Archives: Science Communicators

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.

YouTube Preview Image

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.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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


The bugs in your guts are making you fat.

Generally when we think “bacteria” and “guts”, we think of nasty things like food poisoning or the stomach flu. But in reality, there are large amount of bacteria living in our lower digestive system – what scientists call the Gut Microflora. In fact, some recent research has shown that the bacteria living in our guts aren’t simply enjoying a tenant-landlord relationship; in fact, they may actively contribute to our overall health. A good example of this is the much-hyped “probiotics” recently being promoted as the new “superfood” essential to successful diets. As Yogurt companies have been advertising left and right,   “an exclusive probiotic culture … has been shown to survive passage through the digestive tract in sufficient amounts for Activia to help regulate the digestive system”. But is there any truth to this?

Some research has indicated that certain species of bacteria may contribute to the overall efficiency of energy extraction and affect overall levels of host obesity;  and in fact, studies in mice have shown that mice with differing levels of obesity has different compositions in their gut microflora, showing quite the correlation between bacterial colonies in the gut and obesity. This begs the question, Would changing the bacteria help make you skinnier?

 Scientific American-Volume 310, Issue 6. "How Gut Bacteria Help Make Us Fat and Thin"

Scientific American-Volume 310, Issue 6.
“How Gut Bacteria Help Make Us Fat and Thin”










To make a long and complicated answer short, We don’t know.  Though there has been trials done confirming the short-term effects on things related to obesity, so far no study has proven effective, as the gut microflora is a complicated subject with many facets to watch.  That being said, There are current studies in the works, so keep an (critical) eye on your news feed, and feel free to eat all the yogurt you’d like.

– James L.




Collagen cannot be absorbed through skin!

The desire to stay youthful for many women has been consistent; hence keeping a youthful skin has also been a consistent concern. Thus it really disturbs me that the beauty market nowadays targets and takes advantage of these worries to sell skin products with false advertisements at shockingly expensive prices. FALSE advertisement, that’s right. Many different brands flaunt their new line of creams with this magical molecule “collagen,” which can apparently make skin plumped-up, smoother, and younger.

YouTube Preview Image

This is complete nonsense. It is a cold hard fact that collagen molecules are just too large to be absorbed through tiny pores of skin. It will have no benefits to skin when it is being applied in such way. Let’s take a closer look at collagen.




Collagen itself is a protein present in all body’s organs and connective tissues and mainly functions to sustain tendons, cartilage, and skin. It provides firmness and elasticity to skin and thus making it true that increasing collagen levels in body will increase the chance of skin staying more youthful. This is the scientific reasoning behind those false advertisements.

However, it is critical to note that this is only true when we increase level of collagen by eating the right, healthy food or by taking collagen supplements, but not by applying those collagen-containing creams on our faces. Like I said before, collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed through the pores of our skin, and even if the skin could absorb them, we have to remember that collagens are proteins naturally made inside our body. They would be completely “dead” and inactive by the time we rub them onto the skin. The only reason why your expensive collagen cream feels nice is because it gives cream its consistency.

Let us not forget that including collagen in skin care products is just another way of marketing. This had been proven quite a while ago, but many still seem to be unaware of this. So remember this and do not waste your time and money on collagen-containing creams, everyone! Why don’t we all try eating more soy products, vegetables, and fruits instead?


By Sunny Sohn

Images/Video Sources:

Collagen image:

Fruits and Vegetables image: