Barrier Lake Field Station opens it doors to the public
Published Sunday, July 15, 2012 5:39PM MDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 15, 2012 6:58PM MDT
Science often happens out of the spotlight, behind closed doors, in quiet university buildings or in remote field stations. Sunday, the University of Calgary opened its doors on one of the Barrier Lake Field Station to let the public see what kind of work is being done.
University of Calgary masters student, Mathias Kaiser has an interest in the mountain pine beetle, a tiny bug that has infested hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest in Western Canada. Kaiser claims the beetles can send and receive ultrasonic sounds, but there is a second, more surprising discovery at the heart of his work. He says that trees actually make sounds. So he listens to them with a specialized microphone to hear the sound of trees stressed by drought. What's more, Mathias suspects the beetles may be listening.
Other work on Kananaskis Glaciers shows that answers to some of the biggest questions in the universe may be right under our noses. Researchers are trying to find out where methane released from glacier sediment comes from. So far it seems the methane is produced by tiny microbes and that work has the attention of NASA. The search for life on the red planet could hinge on work being conducted here at home.
Petra McDougall is studying vigilance behaviour in bighorn sheep, how they watch and how they learn. She hopes that open houses like the one held today at the Barrier Lake Field Station will capture young imaginations and lead more people into a life of science