Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS June 3 1996

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS June 3 1996

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS

Garneau's second flight into history

It has been nearly 12 years since he last orbited Earth, but Canadian astronaut Marc

Garneau showed last week he has not lost his feel for space. While aboard the shuttle Endeavour, Garneau, 47, skilfully operated the Canadian-built Canadarm remote manipulator to deploy and retrieve an American satellite with an inflatable antenna. “It is almost an ex-

tension of your body,” said the Quebec City native of the Canadarm. “It’s a real pleasure to use.” It was one of dozens of experiments the six-man crew was to perform before touching down this week in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Along with crystal growth, bioengineering and navigation experiments, there were two designed by young Canadians. One, proposed by students at Saskatoon’s College Park Elementary School, looked at the diffusion of liquids in weightlessness, while students at Toronto’s Marc Garneau Collegiate had the astronauts testing how the near-absence of gravity affects throwing aim. But a

commercial experiment nearly fizzled. A $1.5-million soft-drink machine— funded by Coca-Cola but referred to by NASA as a “fluid generic bioprocessing apparatus”— originally dispensed only small, foamy servings of Coke. Garneau and fellow astronaut Dan Bursch eventually fixed the dispenser, and the space-based taste test got the thumbs-up, whichever way “up” is in space.

Putting a sting into spring

Attention cottagers and campers: the mosquitoes are coming, and plenty of them. About 40 per cent more than usual, according to University of Guelph entomologist Gord Surgeoner. A combination of spring rain and slow-melting snow in many parts of the country has created ideal conditions for the little bloodsuckers: snowmelt pools, a stagnant haven where they can breed and mature for as long as they need. There are two different seasons of cottage-variety mosquitoes, says Surgeoner, who has studied the insects for 20 years. One is the June bug blitz, when they descend for a month of fierce feeding and then die off. The second occurs during rainy summers—a barrage of biting that can last until autumn. While it is too early for Surgeoner to say which kind of mosquito season will prevail this summer, he is certain the mosquitoes will be out in itch-inducing numbers in June. Says Surgeoner: “Don’t be foolish and go in the woods wearing shorts.”

Honorary~ degrees I of distinction

A continuing series of samples of this year's recipients. 4

Alex Baumann, Sudbury, Ont., swimmer who broke five world records and won two gold medals at the 1984 Olympics. (Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ont.)

Bob Gainey, National Hockey League veteran and Peterborough native who skated to five Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens. (Trent University, Peterborough, Ont.)

G. Scott McIntyre, president and publisher of Vancouver-based publishing firm Douglas &

McIntyre. (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.)

Angus Reid, founder of the Winnipeg-based Angus Reid Group Inc., a prominent polling firm. (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg)

Dr. Michael Smith, a University of British Columbia biochemist and recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize in chemistry, for developing the ability to alter genetic information in living organisms. (University of Alberta, Edmonton)

Home on the mall

It was a daunting task for an architect: design a building for the last available site on Washington’s prestigious National Mall, a parade of art galleries and Smithsonian Institution museums. Not only that, but the building, the National Museum of the American Indian, must fit in with the stern formality of the mall while conveying native American culture’s difference from the rest of Western civilization. On May 18, the U.S. capital’s Commission of Fine Arts decided that Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal’s proposal met such criteria and unanimously selected his concept for the structure. Ottawa-based Cardinal— who consulted with tribal elders from across North America—is best known for his design for Canada’s National Museum of Civilization beside the Ottawa River in Hull, Que.

The $ 145-million museum is scheduled

to open in 2002—the year designated for balancing the U.S. federal budget. And that coincidently may present some problems. Congress, then controlled by Democrats, voted financing authority for the museum in 1989. But since then, a Republican majority has been inclined to pinch the public purse for the arts. Still, Cardinal is accustomed to overcoming budget difficulties. His Hull museum, originally allotted $80 million by Parliament, cost $250 million to complete in 1989.

Feuds to remember

In 1920, the Senate Protective Services took over security for the Senate side of the Parliament Buildings. At that time, there were only three guards, each working eight hours a day, seven days a week. Now, there are 78 personnel who, although remaining unarmed, rely heavily on modern technology. To commemorate its first 75 years, the Services is releasing a 160-page history in which the author, retired sergeant Frank Foran, shows how the Services’ duties have changed. Until 1968, divorce cases from Newfoundland and Quebec were scheduled to be heard in Senate committee rooms, and sometimes they got out of hand. “If there was a shmozzle in the divorce court,” says Foran, “a constable would have to go in and try to break things up.” Maybe things haven’t changed that much—intervening between feuding (political) parties is still part of the job.