A Sleighful of Science About Reindeer

No matter which winter holiday you celebrate, I wish you the very best of the season. For those raised in the Santa Claus tradition, here are some festive facts about reindeer! 1) Reindeer and caribou are the same species, Rangifer tarandus. Some people use the common name “reindeer” for the European subspecies, and “caribou” for the North American subspecies. Others prefer to use “reindeer” for domestic herds, saving “caribou” for wild herds. For our holiday purposes, I will stick with reindeer! 2) Yes, there ARE domestic herds! Reindeer herding has been practiced by Indigenous peoples across Europe and Asia for...

Earl Bakken: The Man Who Changed Our Hearts

Earl Bakken passed away last week at the age of 94. Not many people have heard of Bakken, but he saved millions of lives all around the world. In 1949, Bakken founded Medtronic, a garage-based medical equipment repair shop that made $8 in its first month of operation. In 1957, an infant with a heart condition died after a blackout disabled her plug-in pacemaker. At her surgeon’s request, Bakken invented the world’s first portable model, powered by an external battery taped to the chest. A few years later, he and his partners licensed designs for the first implantable pacemaker....

Today I Am Thankful for Science

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Canadians! You know that thing on sitcoms where everyone sits in a circle and awkwardly says what they are thankful for? Let’s do that thing. Today I am thankful for science: for Banting and Best, Canadian researchers who discovered the insulin that allows my Grandpa, and millions of other people with diabetes, to enjoy a little pumpkin pie today. for the portable oxygen tanks that let my Grandma leave her nursing home long enough to enjoy picnics in the Rocky Mountains. for joint replacement technology, without which my Dad would be in a wheelchair. (And for...