University Briefs

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By Kristina Charania

Spray-on lens technology may revolutionize optical lens fabrication

UBC engineer Kenneth Chau worked with a team of researchers to create a spray-on substance for flat lenses which may radically change the way we manufacture and use optical equipment.

Currently, the majority of modern lenses in cameras, glasses, and microscopes are curved, obstructing the amount of light that can enter through these devices. The new adhesive will bind to flat glass surfaces and transform them into lenses for use in several capacities like the ultraviolet light imaging of small biological organisms.

“Curved lenses always have a limited aperture,” says Chau. “With a flat lens, suddenly you can make lenses with an arbitrary aperture size — perhaps as big as a football field.”

With files from The University of British Columbia Public Affairs

Hands-free devices will increase dangerous driving: study

Yagesh Bhambhani, a professor in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta, has conducted a pilot study indicating that drivers using hands-free accessories drove more dangerously than control groups not using telecommunication devices. The driving errors observed include crossing center lines, switching lanes without signalling, and speeding.

A significant jump in heart rate and brain activity was also found in those using the devices — this compensates for the extra oxygen needed by distracted parts of the brain.

“[These findings are] commonplace knowledge, but for some reason it is not getting into the public conscience that the safest thing to do while driving is to focus on the road,” said Mayank Rehani, a graduate student working on the study.

With files from The University of Alberta News & Events

Understanding of magnetic fields in space enhanced knowledge of star behaviour

Aided by American and German scientists, the University of Saskatchewan has made surprising discoveries about the “flux freezing” of magnetic fields which will ultimately provide a better grasp on star formation and activity in space.

Astrophysicist Ethan Vishniac described flux freezing as magnetic field lines passing through gas and subsequently becoming bound to it and unable to move. When turbulence is considered, this definition changes: in turbulent liquids, magnetic fields move very quickly.

“It’s analogous to the way turbulence helps you mix cream in your coffee or the way the smell of perfume permeates a room,” says Vishniac. He notes that the team’s model is applicable anywhere else in the universe but on Earth because water and air are poor conductors.

With files from University of Saskatchewan News Releases

York University student trio draw comic challenging sexual violence

As part of a design class, three York University students have created a popular single-panel comic addressing sexual assault and slut shaming. “In a Tight Situation” features a distressed Superman saying, “I shouldn’t have worn such tight clothing! I was asking for it . . . It’s all my fault.” Batman sits beside him with a comforting hand on his shoulder and an empathetic expression.

York’s Centre for Human Rights hopes to release the comic as a t-shirt print and will distribute the print comic to students in future semesters. “We cannot expect police to change the social norms. We need to change the social norms,” says Noa Ashkenazi, York’s advisor on sexual harassment prevention and education.

With files from The Star