Science & Technology

Inquisitive Yukoners with a love of science and technology.

Yukon vegetables grown with the help of local manure

The Path To Bettering Your Soil

Gardening in the Yukon can sometimes feel like a perennial struggle when in other parts of the country it might appear almost effortless.

Horse dung compressed into bricks

More Than Just Waste

Let’s be honest, for most of us, poop is normally seen as something to be quickly flushed down the toilet. We call it “waste…”



Endless forests stand as the majestic backdrop to much of the Yukon, but by looking down, you can see a much more…

A filmmaker documents archeology work

Unfrozen After 85 Years

Parks Canada got the call late last August—a cache of items left behind in 1937 (by legendary photographer Bradford Washburn…

Spring in the Muck

Spring, past projects emerge from the snow and “evidence” of dog. Don’t lament this brown period. Rejoice. Within the rot is magic.

Finding History

Beaver castoreum found on an ancient throwing dart has led to new discoveries on traditional hunting technology in the North

Racing the clock

The only rule that water seems to obey is that of gravity. Parks Canada collects water samples of The Dezadeash twice per season.

Pollyanna-ing the pandemic

Pollyanna-ing the pandemic

What I’m writing about in this column are the benefits and blessings of technology that I’ve discovered in the last year.

All that glitters is not gold

The Yukon is well-known for its gold, but less known are the gemstones. What determines whether a mineral can be called a gemstone is open to interpretation.

Looking back (way back)

My interest in ancient archaeology happened when I turned 62. True, it was a little late in life to go back to life studies, but I was digging in my garden back in north central Ontario when I came upon some old bone structure.

Of time and tech

I thought that as I aged, and if my eyesight couldn’t be fixed by cataract surgery, it would be good to be able to do more things by voice and by ear.

The making of a mine takes science, luck and beer

The Brewery Creek Mine is located 60 kilometres east of Dawson City, but this story starts east of there, in 1979. That’s when Rio Canex Exploration Ltd. staked the “IDA” claims in response to the results of a Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) stream sediment sampling program.

Anything you can imagine

The sky’s the limit for Lukas Kobler, a forward-thinking entrepreneur who sees endless possibilities in what 3D printers can do. Kobler, a full-time engineering student at the University of Calgary, is juggling online courses while running his business, Yukon 3D Solutions, from his home in Whistle Bend. Some of the 3D prints he recently completed …

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Early geological mapping – Part 2

One project was to traverse and map the Mackenzie Mountains near the Yukon-NWT border by Joseph Keele who spent an entire year in 1907-08.

Viewing Stones – Part 2

If you are looking for your own viewing stone, the best rocks tend to be those that erode into interesting shapes.

Viewing Stones – Part 1

Gongshi, suiseki, and suseok are the art of stone appreciation. It originated in China during the Han Dynasty

Powering the North

When it comes to energy, northern communities require sustainable, reliable solutions. There are many challenges to planning a power project in the North, including severe weather and electric power networks that span great distances. Renewable energy technologies can work, but they need to be carefully planned and designed so they meet the power needs of …

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Podcasting for fun and fortune

I know computers and have taught school students the miracles of manipulating music and noise with software. I could turn my stories into podcasts!

Reaching out for that long-distance feeling

I just finished a long-distance chat with my nephew. Really long-distance; he lives in Hong Kong. The line was clear, and the conversation lasted nearly an hour. The cost to each of us? Not a single penny.

Bent rocks – Part 1

Living where we do in the cordillera region of western North America, we are able to see the power of plate tectonics up close. How do all these rocks get all bent out of shape?

Bizarre ice

A rare combination of crystal clear ice, a shallow, and variably coloured lake bottom, and a bright sunlight reflection set the stage for this unique environment of surreal dimensional ice phenomena.

Save a Space Station for a picture

The Russian Space Agency gave it to me for helping them out,” he said. He went on to tell me how he had attracted the interest of the Russians


Just about every country in the world has caves. Every province and territory in Canada, including the Yukon, has some. Caves have provided shelter to humans and animals. Culturally, they can represent dark pits of mystery or storeholds of treasure. They are always associated with an adventure. Caves are defined as naturally made cavities that can …

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Online connections

In the old days–good or otherwise–interpersonal connections were via letter or phone or face-to-face. Now there are any number of interactions that can take place online and can lead to connections with real people. For example, Facebook, where you can use your trigger finger to like what you see. You may get a momentary buzz of …

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Straight talk on joints

Columnar joints, that is. There is a geological feature that has caught human imagination for tens of thousands of years. It has been given names, where it has appeared in different parts of the world, including the Devils Postpile, Titan’s Piazza, Los Organos and the Giant’s Causeway. All are spectacular examples of what is called …

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A perfect storm

We can’t ignore the human factors that lead to extreme weather events I attended David Phillips’ (Senior Climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada) March lecture on weather and climate change. This inspired me to write a series of articles with the goal of elaborating on many points that he made in his ‘factoid’-filled presentation. …

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Spring into summer

We live in one of the most geothermal active locations in North America. The entire west coast is influenced by plate tectonics. As continental-sized pieces of crust slide against each other, they produce heat. This thermal activity can come to surface as hot springs. (above: Alpha Pond, Liard Hot Springs) There are at least 70 …

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Tech company grows byte by byte

You’d be forgiven for thinking Triniti Technology only sells cell phone cases. Sylvio Lin, general manager for the Whitehorse-based company, knows that’s what it looks like from the outside.  “Most people think we just sell electronics,” said Lin. “They have no idea what else we do in terms of repair and servicing.” Beyond the cell …

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Kiss your ash goodbye

Yukon Innovation Prize finalist Michael Gerasimoff wants to help transition heating in the Yukon from fossil fuels to biomass (wood) while maintaining the excellent air quality that is a cherished aspect of living in the North. Gerasimoff has a background working in climate change and engineering fields and is a registered professional engineer in geology. …

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Venting for need, intelligent indeed

Like another project, Yukon Innovation Prize finalists Cody Reaume and Thomas Jacquin are focused on improving the energy efficiency of Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs.) The units have become a mandatory part of northern construction because, as buildings become more insulated and efficient, the amount of fresh air capable of circulating into the structure is reduced. …

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Noctilucent Clouds – a rare meteorological phenomena for northern observers

Noctilucent clouds near Kakwa, Alberta Unless you’re dedicated enough to get up in the middle of the night with very good binoculars or a small scope to view the Virgo cluster of galaxies cresting our southern horizon, your stargazing options have greatly diminished. However, this gives me the chance to relate a uniquely northern meteorological …

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Fish actually have ears

Although fish have ears, they do not have eardrums like humans and other wildlife A number of years ago, while writing outdoor columns for some Ontario newspapers, I touched on the subject of the anatomy of the sensory parts of animals and fish. After the publication hit the newstands, I walked into a coffee shop …

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What is the jet stream?

I attended David Phillip’s lecture on weather and climate change in early March and was inspired to write a series of articles with the goal of elaborating on many points that he made in his ‘factoid’ filled presentation.  First up is the jet stream. The illustration above is taken from the US National Weather Service. …

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Concretions – shapely time capsules

Your Backyard Geology – Part 9 Concretions are not shaped by running water or fabricated by humans, nor are they dinosaur eggs. They are fascinating geological formations that come in the most interesting shapes. Concretions are time capsules holding clues into the past geologic record. Concretions are widespread in sedimentary rocks worldwide, including the Yukon. …

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Limestone reefs in southern Yukon

Part 8 of Your Backyard Geology Within Whitehorse city limits, you can see Grey Mountain from almost anywhere. It is one of the first landmarks tourists see flying into the city. Eight thousand kilometres away, the residents around Salzburg, Austria, can look up from their morning coffee and see the rugged, beautiful grey-white peaks of …

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The white channel gravels

As the story goes, the early gold rush stampeders found all the creeks staked when they arrived. The Sourdoughs already there jokingly told the newcomers to go to the top of the hills to find gold.

Lichen what I see – But not always sure what to call it

If there is anybody out there who recognizes what is in these pictures, please step forward.   Recently, I found myself looking more intensively at lichens and mosses. As there are no blooming wildflowers in the midst of winter and as there happened to be very little snow in December 2018, they caught my interest. Lichens …

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A whole lotta quakin’ goin’ on

On Monday May 1, 2017, at around 5:30 a.m., a magnitude 6.2 earthquake landed near the B.C.-Yukon border, followed by another slightly stronger one at around 7:30 a.m. The rare event got a lot more people talking about seismic activity in the region, and a few murmured their fears of an eventual “big one.”

The Tintina Trench

There was a not-so-urban myth out there that you could see the Tintina Trench from the moon. That is not true, unless the person on the moon had a good telescope.

Carmacks agate

Quartz is everywhere; it is the second most common mineral making up the Earth’s crust, just behind feldspar. Quartz is composed of the two elements silicon and oxygen. It has many different forms.

Celebrating the role of mining in the Yukon

The Yukon Chamber of Mines has prioritized outreach and community engagement as part of their programming. Heading into its 10th year, the annual Mining and Exploration Camp, which is held during Yukon Mining Week each spring, is one of two major events geared towards that work. (Family Day, held during the annual Geoscience Forum in …

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Moving Mountains

Student Sharon Bubsy examines one of the seismometer stations in remote areas of the Yukon and Northwest Territories. PHOTO: courtesy of the Yukon College   Researchers investigate how Earth movement on the coast can affect inland mountains The white-capped Mackenzie Mountains, which spill over the border between Yukon and the Northwest Territories, are surprisingly active… …

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Let’s end plastic pollution

To end plastic pollution, we need to shift our attitudes and behaviours. Plastic pollution affects our health and the health of the animals and plants we share our planet with.

Powering up the North

Diesel power generators are like cars: the more efficient they are, the less fuel they need. And that increased efficiency translates into less cost, both for drivers at the pump and for the communities that rely on diesel fuel for heat and electricity.

The awe of quartzite beneath you

Rock, not the genre of music, that guy on the radio or your friend from Newfoundland referring to “The Rock” as home, but rocks and the minerals they are made of, are integral to our existence. We interact with them in many ways every day. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American philosopher and writer, wrote in …

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From the field to the lab

Yukon College archaeologist Norm Easton has been unearthing the secrets of the area around the Yukon-Alaska border for more than 25 years. This year, for the first time, he is leaving the field to focus on doing research in the laboratory.

Virtual Village: Virtual Village: Facebook is “Like Farming”

Did you ever wonder what’s behind those math questions on Facebook? You know, the ones that “most people will get wrong.” Or what about those count-the-triangles picture games, which apparently most of us get wrong too? What do they have in common with recipes, iPad giveaways, and eye test puzzles? Most of these posts are …

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Hard Work, Long Days and Satisfaction in the Arctic

In a memorable scene in the 1983 movie Never Cry Wolf (adapted from Farley Mowat’s 1963 book), a biologist is dropped by floatplane in the middle of the high arctic tundra. He is completely alone, except for a small collection of wooden crates packed with his research and living supplies. The camera pans out until …

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Around the Americas on Vegetable Oil

A travel-loving Chilean couple has begun a journey that will lead them through provinces, countries, continents, and even hemispheres. And what’s more: they will fuel this year-long endeavour with waste vegetable oil, after spending most of June in Vancouver alongside mechanics, modifying their truck’s diesel engine. Now Victor Millan and Carola Teixido are on the …

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The Beauty of Biodiesel

One of these days soon a couple from Chile is going to arrive in Whitehorse, their inter-continental road trip fuelled by vegetable grease from restaurants (see story on page 7). Restaurants have to pay to dispose of that fryer grease, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get some. With any luck they’ll be able …

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Increase Your Chances of Communicating with Outer Space

“How big is the space station and do you have enough room to dance?” a Grade 3 Grey Mountain Primary School student asked Chris Hadfield via the do-it-yourself magic of ham radio. “It’s huge,” Hadfield said. “It’s the size of five hockey rinks. Yes, there is room to dance, but I need someone to dance …

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Virtual Village: The Support Crunch

Some colleges and universities have closed or scaled down their information technology programs. In the Yukon, for example, we went from having a full, stand-alone, two-year diploma to a collaborative program where the teaching is shared through four colleges.

Virtual Village: Identity Theft

A statistical trend that receives little appreciation is that crime rates in Canada have been declining steadily for more than 20 years. There are exceptions, however. Identity theft has become more prevalent. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, there were just over 17,000 victims in 2012, with losses of about $16-million. I’m going to write …

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Virtual Village: How Secure are Tablets?

Tablets are on the rise. They are touch-screen based devices that are smaller, more portable and more convenient than a desktop computer. The first commercially released tablets were introduced by Microsoft about ten years ago but were not well received. However, in 2010, Apple introduced the iPad and the market grew markedly. These were smaller, …

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Virtual Village: How Safe is Online Shopping?

Since the inception of e-commerce about 15 years ago, there have been many myths regarding its safety. Online shopping and banking are extremely useful, particularly when you live in a remote location. But, how safe is it? The short answer is that there are some risks. However, these are smaller than many people think. For …

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Virtual Village: Web Browsers

Every time you access the internet, what you’re doing is using a web browser. And even though Internet Explorer is installed on just about every non-Apple Macintosh computer out there, there are many other web browsers to use and reasons to use them. Each have their benefits and disadvantages, so to help you understand your …

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Virtual Village: Creating a Family Social Media Policy

Every large corporation has probably devoted time and effort in recent years to draft its social media policy. This policy outlines the types of information the corporation puts forward on social media, who posts that information, who approves what gets posted, et cetera, in an effort to ensure that the corporation’s best face is put …

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Virtual Village: Going phishing

That’s not a typo in the headline. Phishing is the process of attempting to gain information through deception. It uses email and fake web sites to get you to unknowingly provide information to a criminal. Common methods of phishing include receiving emails that appear to be from banks, other institutions, or online retailers saying that …

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Virtual Village: Online Hoaxes

One of the more annoying facets of the Internet is the ability to spread online hoaxes and urban legends. These did die off in popularity at one point, but now seem to be enjoying a resurgence with the ability to spread them through Facebook and Twitter. They are annoying in that while usually not harmful, …

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Virtual Village: Clouds on the Horizon?

This summer, the word “cloud” has popped up in conversation with some frequency. However, you are probably also seeing the term used beyond descriptions of the awful weather. The internet cloud basically refers to running applications or storing data somewhere on the internet, rather than on your local computer. To some extent, you probably do …

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Virtual Village: Social Media Safety: Part 2

In my last article, I introduced the idea that you should approach keeping your online information safe in the same way you would protect yourself in real life. Let’s consider this again and look at your social media profile. Setting this up properly is important, since some or all of your profile information is publicly …

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Communicating In Comfort

Daylight pours through a large window as Meagan Perry sits tapping away at her keyboard. The subdued lime green walls seem to expand the relatively small home office space. And while the laptop perched on the wooden desk means business, a bright blue yoga mat reveals an accompanying sense of relaxation. “The great liberation of …

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Open Source is the Future

Anthony Trombetta once wrote about his experience earning two tickets to see the White Stripes, suggesting that one must have lived under a rock if they had not heard of the White Stripes. OK, so before they came here, I had no idea who the White Stripes were. And I am here today to tell …

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