Scientific news in small doses - The Canadian
Monday, November 30

Scientific news in small doses

A few milligrams of all the scientific news of the week

Eric-Pierre Champagne
Eric-Pierre Champagne

Spiderman unemployed?

A team of researchers from Montreal has developed a web similar to a spider’s web capable of absorbing 96% of the energy of a shock without giving way. The results were published in Cell Reports Physical Science. Professors in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Frédérick Gosselin and Daniel Therriault collaborated with a doctoral student, Shibou Zou, on this project. With heated polycarbonate, they formed a canvas with fibers less than 2 mm thick. According to the researchers, this innovation could be used in the manufacture of bullet-proof windows or even new protective screens for smartphones.

Science quiz: how many deaths did measles kill in 2019?


A child is vaccinated against measles and rubella in Yangon, Burma.

207,500 dead. Deaths caused by measles have been on the rise in recent years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they increased by 50% from 2016 to 2019. There were 869,770 cases last year. Immunization rates have leveled off in recent years, which explains the increase, especially among children. Two doses of vaccine are needed. According to the WHO, the vaccination rate for the first dose reached 85% worldwide, and rose to 71% for the second dose. In many countries, measles vaccination campaigns have been suspended due to the fight against COVID-19.



In 2018 in the United States, firearms were responsible for 40,000 deaths; 61% of them were suicides.

After each massacre in the United States, the media report that access to firearms is not really regulated there. However, if access to weapons partly explains the numerous shootings in public places, it is first and foremost responsible for an even greater number of suicides. The New York Times points out that in 2018, firearms were responsible for 40,000 deaths and that 61% of them were suicides. Experts also fear an increase in the number of suicides, as more and more Americans are purchasing a weapon or adding one to their arsenal.

Yogurt for fractures


Chinese researchers have found that the healing process of a fracture is improved when coated with bacteria Lactobacillus casei the metal rod inserted along the bone.

Fractures sometimes require an operation in which metal rods are inserted to fix the broken bone. In the healing process that follows, bone and metal somehow merge. However, Chinese researchers have discovered that by covering the piece of metal with Lactobacillus casei, found in yogurt, the healing process is enhanced. Tests were carried out on rats to repair a broken tibia. The team at Hubei University in Wuhan, China, found a 27% increase in bone tissue in animals that received a titanium implant coated with the bacteria. Those with a normal implant saw bone tissue increase by 16%. The bacteria L. casei helps to control immunity, which in particular allows tissue regeneration. The results of this experiment, published in Science Advances, also discovered that this technique significantly reduced the risk of infection.

Homo sapiens and distancing


Our need for physical contact is not just a social matter. It is also the fruit of a long evolution responding to the imperatives of survival.

The consequences of the pandemic are numerous. Physical distancing affects more and more people the more time passes. It is that humans are also … animals, recalls the New Scientist. A dog, for example, will smell another dog’s bottom to get to know each other. In monkeys, there are also many physical interactions between individuals, in order to gain the trust of the other. Human is not that different. Our need for physical contact is not just a social matter. It is also the fruit of a long evolution. This need responds to various imperatives necessary for our survival. At least that was true at one time. Physical distancing is therefore unnatural in a way. However, from there to feeling your neighbor’s butt …

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