Browse "Science & Technology"

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SkyTrain

The SkyTrain is the rapid transit rail system serving Metro Vancouver, British Columbia. It uses mostly Advanced Light Rapid Transit (ALRT) technology, an automated rail system that operates mainly on a raised guideway, although some sections run underground or at street level. Regular service began 3 January 1986. The SkyTrain’s opening coincided with Expo 86, the world’s fair hosted by Vancouver as part of its 100th anniversary celebrations. The system is run by TransLink, the provincial transit agency for the South Coast of British Columbia. It was the world’s first driverless urban rail system. Now, it is one of the longest fully automated rapid transit systems in the world. The SkyTrain has three lines connecting 53 stations in seven municipalities. In 2018, it had more than 495,000 boardings per weekday, on average.

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Smallpox in Canada

Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by the variola virus. The disease arrived in what is now Canada with French settlers in the early 17th century. Indigenous people had no immunity to smallpox, resulting in devastating infection and death rates. In 1768, arm-to-arm inoculation became more widely practised in North America. By 1800, advances in vaccination helped control the spread of smallpox. Public health efforts also reduced rates of infection. In the 20th century, Canadian scientists helped the World Health Organization eradicate smallpox. Eradication was achieved in 1979, but virus stocks still exist for research and safety reasons.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Smoking

Smoking is a universal health hazard. All forms of TOBACCO smoking are risky. Canadian consumption of cigarettes has been declining since the monitoring of smoking began in 1965, when an estimated 50% of adults smoked. In 1981 smoking prevalence had dropped below 40%.

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SNC-Lavalin

SNC-Lavalin is a global engineering and construction firm based in Montreal, Quebec. It works in several industries including oil and gas, mining, cybersecurity and nuclear power. It also builds public and private infrastructure around the world.

The company began in 1911 as an engineering consultant for power projects. In 1991, the original company, called SNC, merged with competitor Lavalin to become SNC-Lavalin. Today it employs some 50,000 people in more than 50 countries. In 2018, it registered $10.1 billion in revenue.

In Canada, the company has received contracts to build major transit projects in cities including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Worldwide, SNC-Lavalin oversees resource-extraction and infrastructure projects in North America, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East.

Since 2011, allegations of fraud and corruption on the part of SNC-Lavalin and several of its executives have plagued the company with scandal.

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Snowshoes

Snowshoes are footwear that help to distribute the weight of a person while they walk over deep snow, preventing them from sinking too far into the snow with every step. In the past, Indigenous peoples used snowshoes for winter travel in Canada, outside the Pacific and Arctic coasts. Snowshoeing has since become a popular Canadian pastime, enjoyed by hikers and sportspeople.

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Soaring

Soaring, or gliding, is the sport of flying a sailplane or glider for a sustained period of time by utilizing currents of rising air to stay aloft.

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Sod Houses

Sod houses, or “soddies,” were a common style of dwelling built in the Prairies during the second half of the 19th century. Soddies were small structures cheaply built out of blocks of sod and rudimentary house fittings. Sod refers to grass and the soil beneath it that is held together by the grass’s roots. Although the term “sod house” is primarily associated with Canadian and American structures built during westward expansion, the structures found their architectural roots in Indigenous and Norse practices. Sod houses have come to symbolize the hardship of homestead life, despite shacks and log cabins being the primary form of housing.

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Soil Classification

Classification involves arranging individual units with similar characteristics into groups. Soils do not occur as discrete entities; thus the unit of measurement for soil is not obvious.

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Soil Science

Soil science is the science that deals with soils as a natural resource. Studies focus on soil formation, classification and mapping, and the physical, chemical and biological properties and fertility of soils as such and in relation to their management for crop production.

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Solar Energy

The energy contained in sunlight is the source of life on Earth. Humans can harness it to generate power for our activities without producing harmful pollutants. There are many methods of converting solar energy into more readily usable forms of energy such as heat or electricity. The technologies we use to convert solar energy have a relatively small impact on the environment. However, they each have disadvantages that have kept them from being widely adopted.

In Canada, the use of solar energy to generate electricity and heat is growing quickly and is helping reduce pollution related to energy production. Despite Canada’s cold climate and high latitudes (which get less direct sunlight than mid-latitudes), solar power technologies are used in many places, from household rooftops to large power plants. The Canada Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board) expects solar power to make up 3 per cent of Canada’s total electricity generation capacity by 2040.

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Sonar

Sonar (sound navigation and ranging), method for locating objects by the reflection of sound waves. It is used naturally by such animals as BATS and DOLPHINS to locate food and obstacles.

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Space Technology

An agreement signed with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) led to the launching of a series of 4 Canadian satellites, beginning with Alouette 1 (on 29 Sept 1962) from the Western Test Range in Vandenburg, California.

Macleans

Space Travel Challenges

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on October 14, 1996. Partner content is not updated.

For mankind, the adventure began at 9:07 a.m. Moscow time on April 12, 1961. A Soviet air force major named Yuri Gagarin blasted into the Siberian sky aboard a five-ton spacecraft and the world marvelled at the astounding news that he had landed safely after circling the Earth in just 108 minutes.

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Specific Learning Disabilities

​Children and youth with learning disabilities typically have average to above average intelligence but also have problems perceiving (making sense of) or using information that results in a pattern of uneven abilities and observable weaknesses in reading, writing, speaking, listening, problem solving, mathematics, and social skills.