PRO/UAW, the union that tried and failed in 2006 to organize the postdocs on the 10 University of California (UC) campuses, has received official notification that it succeeded on its second try. On 19 August, the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) faxed a letter to the organizers stating that the union, known formally as Postdoctoral Researchers Organize/International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, had submitted valid signatures from a majority of the approximately 5000 UC postdocs eligible to petition for union representation. Under state law, unionization is therefore automatic. The move brings an estimated 10% of U.S. postdocs into UAW, an AFL-CIO-affiliated national union that represents more than a million other members, including UC academic employees, such as graders, teaching assistants, and lecturers.

Read the full article at here

Submitted by kevin lindstrom Science and Engineering Liaison Librarian

water purification, sewage, sewage treatment, England, UK, Europe

Here is the NYT article from August 10, 2008 that discusses water-recycling plants. An interesting lunch-time read.

We have hundreds of books on the topic, not to mention ebooks or electronic databases… Check out the following two links:

1. Water–Purification (almost 200 books)

2. Sewage–Purification. (almost 200 books)

Moreover, we have a couple of online books about the topic, for instance – “Handbook of water and wastewater treatment technologies” from Knovel. Check those out!

** Photo by elbisreverri


On August 22, 2008 the Greenheart Canopy Walkway officially opened.

The 308-metre walkway reaches heights in excess of 17.5 metres. Visitors and researchers can experience the unique biodiversity of a Pacific Coastal Rainforest canopy, which includes treetop mosses, lichens, birds, insects and other invertebrates. It also offers “bird’s eye” views of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser River.

Sustainable construction technology has been used to secure the walkway’s eight platforms and nine bridges to trees in the UBC Botanical Garden’s 15-hectare David C. Lam Asian Garden. The walkway is secured by a patented “Tree Hugger” system of interlaced steel cables, provided by Greenheart Conservation Company, a private eco-attraction company from Vancouver. The cable system is designed to expand allowing for normal tree growth.

For more information on Greenheart Canopy Walkway, including hours of operation, fees and group rates, visit

** Photo by Daniel Mosquin

Carbon nanotube research is going on at a number of UBC departments including Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics and Astronomy.

Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mirfakhrai, Tissaphern; Kozlov, Mikhail; Fang, Shaoli; Zhang, Mei; Baughman, Ray H.; Madden, John D. Carbon nanotube yarns: sensors, actuators, and current carriers. Proceedings of SPIE (2008), 6927.
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted extensive attention in the past few years because of their appealing mechanical and electronic properties. Yarns made through spinning multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) have been reported. Here we report the application of these yarns as electrochemical actuators, force sensors and microwires. When extra charge is stored in the yarns, change in length. This actuation is thought to be because of electrostatic as well as quantum chemical effects in the nanotube backbones. We report strains up to 0.7 %. At the same time, the charged yarns can respond to a change in the applied tension by generating a current or a potential difference that is related to the applied tension force. As current carriers, the yarns offer a conductivity of [similar to] 300 S/cm, which increases linearly with temperature. We report a current capacity of more than 108 A/m2, which is comparable to those of macroscopic metal wires. However, these nanotube yarns have a density (0.8 g/cm3) that is an order of magnitude lower than metallic wires. The MWNT yarns are mechanically strong with tensile strengths reaching 700 MPa. These properties together make them a candidate material for use in many applications including sensors, actuators and light-weight current carriers.

Adsorption of small gas molecules onto Pt-doped single-walled carbon nanotubes
Author(s): Yeung CS (Yeung, Charles See), Liu LV (Liu, Lei Vincent), Wang YA (Wang, Yan Alexander)
Source: JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C Volume: 112 Issue: 19 Pages: 7401-7411 Published: MAY 15 2008
Abstract: The adsorption of small gaseous molecules to the metal center in Pt-doped (5,5) single-walled carbon nanotubes has been explored within density functional theory. A model system consisting of a single Pt atom residing in the middle of a carbon nanotube with capping H atoms is used for our investigation. For all gases studied, the overall process of adsorption was found to be exothermic, where the affinity strongly depended on the orientation of the molecule. By examining the density of states and molecular orbitals of these nanotube-adsorbate complexes in comparison to the bare Pt-doped nanotube, we show that the electronic structure of these materials is strongly influenced by the presence of gases. Hence, we propose an application of Pt-doped single-walled carbon nanotubes as gas sensors and hope to motivate experimental work in this field.

Pereira RG , Laflorencie N, Affleck I, Halperin BI. PHYSICAL REVIEW B 77 12 125327 2008
Abstract: We propose that the finite size of the Kondo screening cloud, xi(K), can be probed by measuring the charge quantization in a one-dimensional system coupled to a small quantum dot. When the chemical potential mu in the system is varied at zero temperature, one should observe charge steps whose locations are at values of mu that are controlled by the Kondo effect when the system size L is comparable to xi(K). We show that, if the standard Kondo model is used, the ratio between the widths of the Coulomb blockade valleys with odd or even number of electrons is a universal scaling function of xi(K)/L. If we take into account electron-electron interactions in a single-channel wire, this ratio also depends on the parameters of the effective Luttinger model; in addition, the scaling is weakly violated by a marginal bulk interaction. For the geometry of a quantum dot embedded in a ring, we show that the dependence of the charge steps on a magnetic flux through the ring is controlled by the size of the Kondo screening cloud.

Submitted by kevin.lindstrom Liaison Librarian for the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics.

Here is the handout for the session presented for the UBC JumpStart folks today – August 20th, 2008:

Here is the PDF copy (100KB)

Here is online copy embedded below:

vancouver, Lower Mainland, forest, douglas fir

A recent BBC article from last week reports that:

A team of US researchers found that there was a limit on how high the giant trees were able to pull water up their trunks to supply upper branches.

The results are coming from this article –

Domec, J.-C. B. Lachenbruch, F. C. Meinzer, D. R. Woodruff, J. M. Warren, and K. A. McCulloh. 2008. Maximum height in a conifer is associated with conflicting requirements for xylem design. Proc. National Academy of Sciences.

Enjoy your Monday reading!

** Photo by Rob

New CMA Report Warns Poor Air Quality Killing Canadians

OTTAWA, August 13, 2008 – The Canadian Medical Association released staggering new data today showing that this year alone as many as 21,000 Canadians will die prematurely from the effects of air pollution. While most of those deaths will be due to chronic exposure over a number of years, almost 3,000 will be the result of acute, short-term exposure.

The CMA’s report entitled No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution, shows the effects of poor air quality based on the concentrations of two highly predictive pollutants – ozone and particulate matter – on four distinct age groups of Canadians.

“With the start of the Olympics in Beijing, much has been made about the poor air quality in China and the effect it is having on our athletes,” said CMA President Dr. Brian Day. “But we have a serious home-grown pollution problem right here and Canadians, ranging from the very young to the very old, are paying the price.”

Specific findings of the No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution report include:

* By 2031, almost 90,000 Canadians will have died from the acute short-term effects of air pollution. The number of deaths, due to long-term exposure, will be over 700,000 – the population of Quebec City.
* In 2008, 80% of those who die due to air pollution will be over age 65.
* In 2008, 25 Canadians under age 19 will die of the effects of short-term exposure to air pollution.
* Ontario and Quebec residents are the worst hit Canadians, with 70% of the premature deaths occurring in Central Canada, even though these two provinces comprise only 62% of Canada’s population.
* In 2008 there will be over 9,000 hospital visits, 30,000 emergency department visits and 620,000 doctor’s office visits due to air pollution.
* The economic costs of air pollution in 2008 will top $8 billion. By 2031, they will have accumulated to over $250 billion.

“This report shows for the first time the tragic effects of the toxic air that we breathe, whether it is in my hometown of Vancouver, or across the country in St. John’s,” added Dr. Day.

No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution used a software model first developed by the Ontario Medical Association and provides detailed health and economic data relating to changes in air quality. The study uses the best available knowledge and data on air quality, human health and economics to produce accurate forecasts of health impacts and expected costs related to changes in air quality. The tool has also been validated by a panel of international experts on health and the environment.

The full report, including provincial data and tables, is available at

Posted by Kevin Lindstrom Liaison Librarian for Earth and Ocean Sciences

Here is the handout we are going to use for our “Mastering Google for Science and Engineering” workshops this week on August 12th and 13th, 2008

Here is the PDF copy. You can also see the embedded copy below. Please let us know if you have any questions!

Read this document on Scribd: Mastering Google for Science and Engineering

By Katherine McAlpine and a few more folks @ CERN.

They do a very nice and concise Rap explanation what LHC does – I loved it…Please see it below 🙂

CERN Rap from Will Barras on Vimeo.

In addition to the pure and applied research published in scientific journals and conferences, UBC researchers also produce a large number of patents.

Dr. Tom Troczynski’s Biomaterials Group is involved with calcium phosphate / hydroxyapatite coatings, composites and cements.

This research is of major importance for bone implants and hip replacement surgery.

Two recent patents from the Espacenet database:

Bioceramic composite coatings and process

Calcium phosphate coated implantable medical devices

Posted by Liaison Librarian for Materials Engineering

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