Scientists hope to find life locked in the red planet’s ice

A fresh mission to Mars launches Saturday morning, pursuing a startling new question that has gone almost unnoticed by most earthlings: Can life exist on Mars today? Once, the red planet was supposed to be a dry, irradiated, lifeless rock. But each new robot probe makes the Mars story more intriguing, wrote the CanWest News Service, Aug. 3.

And tomorrow’s planned launch of the probe called Phoenix Mars Lander raises an old theory from the ashes: There could be Martians alive in that ice today. "On Earth, people have found more and more ‘extremophiles’ – you know, things that can live in extreme climates," says Peter Taylor, a professor of atmospheric science and applied mathematics in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering. York leads a Canadian consortium that designed instruments for Phoenix.

  • The Globe and Mail also mentioned York’s role in the mission, Aug. 3.

Nice guys do get ahead but nice gals finish last

Women who fail to engage in some self-promotion are far less likely to advance and receive pay raises, according to a Canadian research paper to be presented next week at the annual Academy of Management convention in Philadelphia, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 3.

Men, on the other hand, will be rewarded when they behave modestly – and can be perceived as blowhards if they promote themselves too vigorously, write business Professors Marie-Hélène Budworth of York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies, and Sara Mann of the University of Guelph.

The professors found, in a study conducted at a small manufacturing plant in Toronto, that when women generously share the credit for their accomplishments with others, the rewards for those accomplishments are also generously distributed – to others. "This demonstrates that there is some value in women self-promoting," Budworth said in an interview this week.

Are ATVs and bikes good for you?

When it comes to using recreational vehicles such as ATVs or dirt bikes, some people may first and foremost think of outdoor fun and family trips. Others might have the image of noise and pollution and ask for strict regulations, wrote Cranbrook, BC’s Kootenay News Advertiser Aug. 1.

Not many will likely think about their health and consider how they can increase their fitness level by using off-road vehicles. This is, however a topic that is seriously considered by a team of researchers at York University. Last fall, the York research team did a pilot study for the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders, collecting field data from 12 riders. They found evidence to suggest that participation in off-road motorcycling requires physical exertion that would generally be considered hard to vigorous exercise.

The study concluded that there was "encouraging evidence that off-road motorcycling is a physically active sport, which has the potential to result in improvements in physical fitness."

Jamie Burr is a researcher on the York University team. He says the national study will be taking a lot more in-depth look at the situation. The goal will be, Burr adds, to relate the findings to chronic disease and general health and wellness.

On air

  • York student Steven Broadley was interviewed about tuition fees on CBC Newsworld Aug. 2.
  • Alan Young, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about a recent article in Maclean’s about unethical lawyers, on CTV’s “The Verdict”, Aug. 2.