World’s oldest water bubbling into Northern Ontario mine

Ancient gas and water that flows out of boreholes and rock fractures 2.4 km underground in a copper-zinc mine near Timmins mine. ~ photo by B. Sherwood Lollar

Ancient gas and water that flows out of boreholes and rock fractures 2.4 km underground in a copper-zinc mine near Timmins mine. ~ photo by B. Sherwood Lollar

May 14, 2013 _  Miners drilling deep underground in northern Ontario have long known about the sparkling salty water.

It’s been bubbling out of the rocks beneath their feet since the 1880s, but no one really appreciated the significance — until now.

An international research team reported Wednesday that miners near Timmins are tapping into an ancient underground oasis that may harbour prehistoric microbes. The water flowing out of fractures and bore holes in one mine near Timmins dates back  more than a billion years,  perhaps 2.6 billion, making it the oldest water known to exist on Earth, says the team that details the discovery in the journal Nature.

“This is the oldest (water) anybody has been able to pull out, and quite frankly, it changes the playing field,” says geologist Barbara Sherwood Lollar, at the University of Toronto, who co-led the team. Continue reading →

When it comes to survival, being a bit squirrely can be good

Red squirrel, sporting ear tag,  emitting a territorial "rattle" ~ photo Ryan W. Taylor

Red squirrel, sporting ear tag, emitting a territorial “rattle”
~ photo Ryan W. Taylor

Published April 18, 2013

The wilds of the Yukon may seem like a strange place to study stress.

But a long-running project in a spruce forest near Kluane National Park has found that when it comes to survival of the fittest, stress can be a good thing.

Females squirrels, when stressed by life in the woods, improve their pup’s odds of survival by making them grow faster, according to the latest study from the Yukon “squirrel camp” published in the journal Science on Thursday. Continue reading →

University of Toronto researcher censured for ‘self-plagiarism’

Published October 23, 2012

By Margaret Munro

Postmedia News

A leading University of Toronto researcher has been censured for self-plagiarism – and “severe abuse of the scientific publishing system” – after a software program revealed his group had been recycling text from previous studies.

Stephen Matthews and two colleagues in the university’s faculty of medicine “self-plagiarized” text from five other reports in a 2005 paper in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, says a retraction notice published by the journal this month.

“This article represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system,” says the notice.

Matthews was not responding to interview requests Tuesday.

“He’s busy,” said Lloyd Rang, executive director of communications at University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine, who depicted the case as a copyright squabble over a paper that was always intended as a “review.”

“Under the strictest definition of copyright it had to be original, but there are only so many ways to describe the research landscape,” Rang said of Matthews’ report that now has “retracted” stamped across it in bold red letters. Continue reading →