Arts & Science

Reginald Buller (1874-1944) was a scientist and professor at the University of Manitoba. He is well-known in the science community–there’s a building in his name at the U of M.

Buller was a mycologist, a fungi scientist. He also wrote poetry, crossing the divide between science and art people sometimes imagine.

Dr. Gordon Goldsborough wrote a biography on Buller for the Manitoba Historical Society. He writes about when Buller spoke up at a Scientific Club of Winnipeg meeting in 1923.

The club was made up of a group of scientists who met to discuss current scientific questions and discoveries. During a meeting, there was an intense discussion about the theory of relativity, and Buller wanted to settle things down.

How would you settle arguing scientists? With a limerick, of course!

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Falling for fall

With cooler days come warmer colours.

In fall, leaves fall.

But why?

Leaves have pigments. Pigments give plants colour. Chlorophyll is one of these pigments. Chlorophyll reflects green light, meaning you see green.

Plants produce energy through photosynthesis, a process that happens in leaves. The chlorophyll in leaves absorbs sunlight. Sunlight is used in a reaction with water and carbon dioxide to produce sugar. Sugar, the plant’s food, is transported to the rest of the plant.

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Labrador tea time

Labrador tea (also known as Hudson’s Bay tea, marsh tea, and swamp tea) is a broad-leaf evergreen plant, meaning it keeps its leaves all year. You can find Labrador tea in Manitoba’s boreal forest.

I was in Whiteshell Provincial Park for Thanksgiving last weekend, and I decided to go on a Labrador tea hunt in the area (not in the park, since you can’t pick plants from a provincial park).

Why was I interested in finding this plant? Like the name suggests, you can brew tea from its leaves. I’ve had a tea blend with black and Labrador tea, but wanted to try Labrador tea on its own.

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Prefer to write poetry to code? Complain about relearning the photosynthesis cycle year after year, in class after class, but still don’t understand it?  Love science, but don’t love science?

Why, citizen science is for you!

Citizen science is done by everyday people. Make some observations, record some data, and let the scientists analyze it.

There are lots of great programs out there, satisfying all your science interest needs.

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Honey, honey

Mushrooms. You either love them, or you have no soul.

Manitoba’s edible mushroom game is strong. Morels, chicken of the woods, chanterelles, and my favourite, the honey mushroom.

The common name, “honey mushroom,” includes various species in the genus Armillaria.

Honey mushrooms in Manitoba grow in late September. The timing varies, depending on the temperature and rainfall. Honey mushrooms do well in damp, woodland habitats. They grow in soil and decompose tree stumps. You can read about honey mushrooms in Barron’s Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada.

Mushrooms have complicated structures. The typical mushroom looking part is the fruiting body. Individual fruiting bodies are connected by hyphae, which are thread-like tubes. Hyphae can fuse into rhizomorphs.

This means when you see lots of honey mushrooms, you’re likely looking at only one or two organisms.

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