Tag Archives: université de montréal

New Theory May Lead to More Efficient Solar Cells

A new theoretical model developed by professors at the University of Houston (UH) and Université de Montréal may hold the key to methods for developing better materials for solar cells. Eric Bittner, a John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Chemistry and Physics in UH’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Carlos Silva, an associate professor at the Université de Montréal and Canada Research Chair in Organic Semiconductor Materials, say the model could lead to new solar cell materials made from improved blends of semiconducting polymers and fullerenes.

The researchers describe their findings in a paper titled “Noise-Induced Quantum Coherence Drives Photo-Carrier Generation Dynamics at Polymeric Semiconductor Heterojunctions,” appearing January 29  in Nature Communications, a multidisciplinary journal dedicated to publishing research in the biological, physical and chemical sciences. (more…)

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An old mathematical puzzle soon to be unraveled?

It is one the oldest mathematical problems in the world. Several centuries ago, the twin primes conjecture was formulated. As its name indicates, this hypothesis, which many science historians have attributed to the Greek mathematician Euclid, deals with prime numbers, those divisible only by themselves and by one (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc.). Under this assumption, there exists an infinite number of pairs of prime numbers whose difference is two, called twin primes (e.g., 3 and 5), but nobody has been able to confirm this so far.

In April 2013, the University of New Hampshire mathematician Yitang Zhang presented a “weak version” of this conjecture by showing that you will never stop finding pairs of primes separated by at most 70 million. (more…)

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Derek Nowrouzezahrai’s CGI Research Used in Walt Disney productions

In 1985, a computer science team at Université de Montréal made animated film history by creating one of the first ever digital characters, named Tony de Peltrie. Their six-minute film, which received a standing ovation by computer graphics designers at a festival in San Francisco, marked a turning point in computer-generated imagery (CGI). The film’s creators were able to produce a human face that, although rudimentary, was able to communicate emotions to the audience in a convincing manner.

In retrospect, Tony seems rather crude. Today, CGI can result in images with startling reality, which is precisely were Derek Nowrouzezahrai steps in. “My work focuses on creating the most realistic computer-generated images possible, specifically in the simulation of how light reflects and diffuses in a scene, how fluids realistically interact with their environment, and how shadows are formed,” he said. Nowrouzezahrai joined Université de Montréal’s Department of Computer Science and Operations Research as an assistant professor in January 2012. His work is an equal mix of computer programming, mathematics, physics and art. (more…)

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Television: Chronicle of a Death Foretold?

Not only is TV not endangered, but it also has a unifying social impact on the nuclear family across the country. This is the main conclusion of a cross-Canada study—Are the Kids All Right?on the television viewing habits of families with at least one child aged between 9 and 12 years. The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by André H. Caron, professor of communications at the Université de Montréal and Director of the Centre for Youth and Media Studies (CYMS).

“Young Canadians today live in a different world than that experienced by previous generations. In this context, many well-placed observers have predicted the impending death of television,” says Dr. Caron. “We wanted to test the veracity of this statement, so we set out to meet 80 different families (over 200 participants) to determine the current place of the small screen that has shaped so many childhoods since its creation.” (more…)

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Crisis in Academic Publishing

“In almost every country in the world, research is supported by public funds. When researchers publish their results in academic journals, they do so for free. The results are also reviewed by peers for free. And journals often require researchers to give up their rights to these articles. Then, major publishers or learned societies sell their journals at exorbitant prices to libraries… which are also financed by public funds! It’s a vicious circle in which taxpayers pay for the production and access to researchers while publishers and societies make profits of 30-45% before taxes. It’s outrageous!” exclaimed Jean-Claude Guédon. This professor of comparative literature at the Université de Montréal is far from being the only one to protest. In recent months, more than 11,000 researchers worldwide have expressed their dissatisfaction through a petition calling for a boycott of Elsevier. This academic publishing giant earned profits of more than US $1.1 billion in 2011.

This movement, which many observers have called the “Academic Spring,” was born as a result of Elsevier’s support of the Research Work Act. This U.S. bill would ban open access to academic publications subsidized by the state. “It’s all anecdotal but at least has the benefit of reminding people about the importance of open access,” Guédon said. (more…)

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Solving The Mystery of An Old Drug That May Reduce Cancer Risk

In 2005, news first broke that researchers in Scotland found unexpectedly low rates of cancer among diabetics taking metformin, a drug commonly prescribed to patients with Type II diabetes. Many follow-up studies reported similar findings, some suggesting as much as a 50-per-cent reduction in risk. How could this anti-diabetic drug reduce the risk of developing cancer and what were the mechanisms involved?

In a paper published today in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, researchers from McGill University and the University of Montreal reported an unexpected finding: they learned that exposure to metformin reduces the cellular mutation rate and the accumulation of DNA damage. It is well known that such mutations are directly involved in carcinogenesis, but lowering cancer risk by inhibiting the mutation rate has never been shown to be feasible. (more…)

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Mount Royal Reveals Its Archeological Secrets

History tells us that Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve erected a cross atop Mount Royal in 1643 to thank God for sparing the city from flooding. However, according to 18th century archival documents, the cross was planted two kilometers away from where it is today.

“I discovered a document reporting the trial of a man accused of murder and living near the cross in 1750,” says Theresa Gabos. “When going through the aveux et dénombrements (the land and assets belonging to an individual) of the time, we learn that this man lived near the current intersection of Sherbrooke Street and chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges. This wasn’t the De Maisonneuve cross, but rather a replica of the original that had rotted. Nonetheless, this probably reveals the original location of the cross and highlights the fact that perception of the mountain and its summit has evolved with time.” (more…)

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Africa’s Female Students Are Fighters and Survivors

The education of girls in developing countries is lagging by at least 30 years in comparison to the education of girls in developed countries. This is particularly true in sub-Saharan Africa, where only a minority of women get a university education. Why does this disparity still exist today?

Valèse Mapto Kengne obtained her diploma last spring from the Université de Montréal Faculty of Education where she devoted her thesis to answering that very question. “I wanted to know the truth behind the numbers. Why do some girls drop out? And contrarily, what drives the others to persevere? (more…)

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