Wednesday, May 27, 2009

  • UW cardio research blasts off today
  • Speaker probes supermassive black holes
  • Keeping the university humming
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

UW cardio research blasts off today

UW Media Relations

Richard Hughson of UW Kinesiology prepares astronaut Robert Thirsk for space launch May 27 2009.

University of Waterloo scientist Richard Hughson (above right), a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology, will head a study exploring the effects of weightlessness on Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk when Thirsk joins five colleagues aboard the International Space Station.

In the photo above, Hughson and senior research associate Danielle Greaves are collecting preflight baseline data on Thirsk. The photo was taken by UW graduate student Kathryn Zuj in Russia where the research team will reconvene to repeat the tests when Thirsk returns to Earth this fall.

Thirsk is a member of Expedition 20/21, which blasts off today on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. He will spend up to six months with the five other crew members on the ISS, with duties that include conducting scientific experiments on behalf of Canadian and international researchers.

They will live and work together as the first crew of six in the world's largest orbiting microgravity scientific laboratory. As a result, they will have more time than any astronaut in the past to conduct scientific experiments in the unique environment of weightlessness.

"Our experiment is the first one to try to look fully at how astronauts' cardiovascular systems cope with microgravity over many months on the International Space Station," said Hughson, an internationally recognized cardiovascular physiologist who is one of the most cited scientists in his field. "The science performed on Expedition 20/21 will provide valuable information to scientists around the world, benefiting both the Canadian and international community."

Hughson, who has a lengthy interest in the challenges of living in outer space, leads the project called Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Control on Return from the International Space Station (CCISS), one of several experiments sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency in this the latest expedition.

The ongoing CCISS study investigates the effects of weightlessness on the human body. In examining changes in blood flow, the experiment will require Thirsk to monitor his blood pressure, heart rate and physical activity levels while in orbit.

"The results could be applied to elderly people suffering from dizziness and fainting spells, or those afflicted with heart disease caused by a sedentary lifestyle," said Hughson, a one-time marathon runner who placed third in the 1979 Pan-Am Games. He supervises UW's cardiorespiratory and vascular dynamics laboratory and is a member of the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging.

Over the last few years, his research group has been studying astronauts returning from the ISS in an effort to reduce the risk of fainting when they re-enter earth's gravity. They investigate how long periods in space affect the human body and offer approaches that will better protect space travellers in the future.

During Expedition 20/21, Thirsk and his crewmates will collect data for CCISS while they live and work on the ISS. By donning devices and monitors as they perform their activities, they will give researchers information about their blood pressure, heart rate, and other key information about their cardiovascular systems. The data will then be compared with more complex investigations performed on Earth before launch and less than 24 hours after landing.

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Speaker probes supermassive black holes

from an article by IYA Canada

Of all the legacies of Einstein's general theory of relativity, none is more fascinating than black holes — space-time singularities, whose gravitational fields are strong enough to distort space, alter the apparent flow of time, and even prevent light from escaping.

Laura FerrareseThese lead actors in the cosmic spectacle are the subject of a talk by Professor Laura Ferrarese (left), Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in CEIT room 1015. Entitled Black Holes: A Ninety-Year Journey, the talk is part of the International Year of Astronomy lecture series.

For much of the 20th century, black holes were viewed as mathematical curiosities with no counterparts in nature. Einstein himself wrote two papers in which he argued against their existence. But in the mid 1990s, 80 years after the publication of Einstein's theory, the existence of black holes was proven beyond any reasonable doubt, and on a scale far larger than anyone had anticipated.

Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, hosts at its center a "supermassive" black hole, four million times more massive than the sun. The Andromeda galaxy, our local companion, has a black hole at its centre which is 10 times more massive still. Within distances of 150 million light-years we find central black holes of galaxies as massive as 3 billion times the mass of our sun.

Black hole illustration from NASAAt the beginning of this century a remarkable correlation was discovered between supermassive black holes (like the one on the right, in this illustration from NASA) and the large-scale properties of their host galaxies.

This lecture will take the audience on a fascinating journey, from the formulation of the theory of black holes in 1916 to the most recent observational and theoretical efforts — which include an unprecedented view of the Virgo cluster and its galaxies — and into the future, when it will be technologically possible to detect the ripples in spacetime produced by the coalescence of supermassive black holes — short of the Big Bang itself, the most energetic event in the universe.

Prof. Ferrarese's astronomical journey took her from Padova, Italy, all the way to Victoria, British Columbia, where in 2004 she joined the staff at the National Research Council of Canada Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics.

She is a world leader in the field of supermassive black hole research, and is a regularly invited speaker at international conferences and universities across Europe and North America. She remains firmly committed to the promotion of science and astronomy to the general public; in this role, she has published several articles in popular science magazines and has given frequent public talks.

Friday's talk is free and open to everyone. RSVP to or phone 519-888-4567, ext. 38804.

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Keeping the university humming

IST logo"It's going to be a busy spring term for IT staff on campus," says Bob Hicks, director of client services at Information Systems and Technology. He describes three initiatives:

Academic support departments will be migrating from admmail to Exchange. The plan is to terminate admmail in January 2010. As well, all UW faculty and staff are encouraged to move to Exchange. UW BlackBerry users are encouraged to register with the BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) to synchronize email and calendar functions with the Exchange Server. In spring 2010, IST plans to convert from Oracle Calendar (Bookit) to Exchange Calendar. Details here.

Secure disposal of electronic media. Units that manage computers, such as IST and faculty computing units, are responsible for ensuring that data on computing equipment is erased before repurpose or shipment to Central Stores for surplus or disposal.

To ensure data on a hard drive is not recoverable, the recommended practice for PCs is to wipe the disk using a software product that is compliant with the DoD5220.22-M standard. A university-recommended data wipe utility and instructions for use may be obtained from the CHIP (MC1052). Macintosh computers can be cleaned natively with the operating system by booting from an OS10.3 or newer CD/DVD and launching Disk Utility.

Affix a “This Hard Drive has been securely wiped” sticker (available from CHIP) to wiped computers before sending to Central Stores. Computer equipment designated for disposal, instead of the surplus sale, will be delivered by Central Stores to a government-certified secure e-waste facility where it will be destroyed. Details.

Deployment of new Symantec Endpoint Security Product. Work is being done on the two central EndPoint management servers. Once the management servers are configured, IT staff from academic support departments and the faculties will be invited to join the deployment process.

CPA staff

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Link of the day

Dashiell Hammett

When and where

International Conference on Urban Drainage and Road Salt Management in Cold Climates, hosted by UW school of planning, May 25-27, Arts Lecture Hall. Details.

Canadian Health Economics Study Group annual conference May 26-27, Arts Lecture Hall. Details.

‘Understanding the Learner’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, today, 12:30, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Smarter Health seminar: Carolyn McGregor, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, “Neonatal Health Informatics: Uncharted Discovery” today, 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

UW Retirees Association annual general meeting today, 3:30 p.m., Sunshine Centre, Luther Village.

Career workshops today: “Interview Skills, Preparing for Questions” 2:30, “Basics of Starting a Business” 4:30 p.m., both in Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Sprinkler system shut down in Biology I and II and ESC building, Thursday 8 a.m. - Friday 4 p.m.

‘Learning from Ontario’s Best Lecturers’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Relaxation sessions presented by the Employee Assistance Program. The healing light, Thursday, 12:15-12:45, Math and Computing room 5136.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment Thursday, 12:30 - 2 p.m., East Campus Hall.

International Spouses “Grow Your Own Herb Garden” presentation by Samm McKay, Thursday, May 28, 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

‘University-Industry Connection: Win-Win Strategies’ sponsored by engineering research office, Thursday, 1:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Library workshop: “Google Earth 5.0” Thursday, 2 p.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Career workshops Thursday: “Are You Thinking About an International Experience?” 3 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208; “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” 3:30, TC room 2218; “Basics of Starting a Business” 4:30, Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

Engineering Society Genius Bowl Trivia Competition, Thursday, 7 - 10 p.m. Sign up outside the EngSoc Office door (CPH room 1327) or email with your team name and members.

Health and Healing lecture series launches with talk by Pharmacy director Jake Thiessen, "Building a Healthier Future: Discovery and Innovation at the Health Sciences Campus." Thursday, 7 pm, School of Pharmacy, 10 Victoria Street South, Kitchener. Free. RSVP by email or 519-888-4499

Final day for fee arrangements for spring term, Friday, May 29.

Pension and benefits committee Friday, 8:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Transition Town Culture: lecture by Jane Buchan of Hardwick Area Transition Towns, presented by WPIRG and UW's Local Economic Development program, Friday, 3 - 4:30 p.m., Environment II, room 2002. Details.

Retirement party for Marie Schmidt of Finance, after 31 years at UW. Friday, 3 - 5 p.m., presentation at 4 p.m., Davis Centre room 1301. RSVP by May 26.

Waterloo Space Society general meeting Friday, 5 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 306. Robert McNees, department of physics and astronomy, speaks on string theory.

Bombshelter Pub concert: “Inward Eye” Friday, doors open 9 p.m., $10 at door.

Commuter Challenge 2009 encourages any mode of travel except driving a car alone to work. Register here as an individual or as part of the university. Challenge takes place May 31 - June 6.

Hildegard Marsden Nursery 2009 family fundraiser and 20th anniversary celebration. Sunday, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Fun activities, crafts, bike decorating , refreshments. All welcome. Register at 519-888-4567, ext. 35437. $25 per family of five or $5 per adult.

President’s Golf Tournament in support of athletic scholarships, Monday, June 1, Westmount Golf and Country Club. Details.

Sound in the Lands, conference exploring Mennonite music, June 4-8, Conrad Grebel University College. Details.

Matthews Golf Classic for students, staff, faculty, retirees and guests, Monday, June 15, 12:00 noon, Grand Valley Golf Course. Registration closes May 29. Details.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Parking kiosk attendant, Parking Services, USG 2
• Director, planning and communications, Office of Dean of Engineering, USG 12 (One-year internal secondment or external contract opportunity)

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