Young scientists || South Asian pop culture || Visual arts exibition
Amazon gold mining || Gypsy moth

Young scientists take spotlight

A dog door that automatically wipes a dog's paws is one of dozens of innovative projects to be showcased when 160 elementary and high school students descend on UVic this weekend for the annual Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair. Other projects at the fair include a new theory of magnetism formulated by a 17-year-old student. Other students have conducted DNA sequencing for antibiotics developed from lichen. The list of 130 projects "kind of blows you away," says science fair chair Karen Drysdale, a senior lab instructor with the UVic school of earth and ocean sciences. Entries will be judged by UVic faculty and graduate students, with the top five students advancing to the national science fair in Edmonton in May. The projects will be publicly displayed in the Elliott Building on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. and on Monday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Award presentations are Monday at 1:30 p.m. in room A-144 of the MacLaurin Building.

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Conference illuminates South Asian popular culture

Bridal bodies on display, Hindi films and pop music, religion and politics in Indian circus performances -- these South Asian cultural expressions seldom grace mass-market travel posters, yet all are part of South Asian popular culture and will be the focus of attention at the South Asia Pop Culture Conference, April 22-24 at the Cadboro Commons Conference Centre. The third instalment in UVic's annual Asia Pop Culture Conference series, the conference brings together more than 60 scholars and practitioners from around the world to make presentations on manifestations of popular culture in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the diaspora. Registration is required. For further information, call conference coordinator Heather MacDonald at local 7022 or visit <http://web.uvic.ca/hrd/capipopcult>.

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Visual arts class '99 presents exibition

Graduating painters, sculptors, photographers and printmakers culminate four years of visual arts study with a public exhibition of their work, continuing through April 26 at the UVic Visual Arts building. The show is free and open daily (except Sundays) from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a special opening night celebration with artists in attendance April 17 at 8 p.m. Students in the department's honours degree program stage the exhibition and they've been required to spend a minimum of 24 hours per week in the studio developing their work.

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New video chronicles impact of Amazon gold mining

Toxic mercury pollution and increased siltation -- the results of gold mining on a major tributary of the world's largest, most biodiverse river -- are documented in a new video produced by Dr. Kevin Telmer (earth and ocean sciences). Gold Mining in the Amazon: Investigating the Mercury Problem was taped in the Tapajós River basin where 200,000 independent "garimpeiro" miners are employed. Telmer was part of an environmental technology transfer program run by the Canadian International Development Agency, the Geological Survey of Canada and Brazilian counterparts. The 30-minute tape shows massive erosion caused by the dredging process used to collect gold from river beds and banks. Methyl mercury levels have risen dramatically, with uncertain consequences for the fish-eating villagers along the Tapajós. Rising mercury levels seem to be resulting from sediment erosion and not the miners' use of mercury in the gold extraction process, as first thought. The video reveals sediment-laden water that "flows like milk...and chokes life" out of the river, limiting plankton, fish and wildlife abundance.

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Gypsy moth is "here to stay"

The B.C. government's planned aerial spray program against the gypsy moth is based more on threats of U.S. trade embargoes than science, says Dr. Richard Ring, a UVic entomologist. Under the controversial program, 13,400 hectares of southern Vancouver Island -- mostly in Greater Victoria -- will be sprayed with the biological insecticide Btk between April 1 and June 30. The plan is opposed by several municipalities and community groups who are concerned about possible health and environmental risks. Ring says that the B.C. Ministry of Forests seems unwilling to admit that the gypsy moth is "here to stay" because it's almost impossible to eradicate an insect pest once it has become established over such a wide area. He adds that the $2.5 million cost of the spray program would be better spent on long-term pest management measures on the ground, such as pheromone traps and collecting egg masses, augmented as needed by spot spraying.

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