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Quinoa seeds found at Ontario construction site date back to 900 BC: researchers

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Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, January 17, 2019 1:34PM EST

Researchers at the University of Toronto say they’ve uncovered a large quantity of quinoa seeds grown in North America thousands of years ago.

They say the discovery marks the first time such seeds, a precursor to today’s trendy superfood, have been found north of Kentucky.

According to an article published in American Antiquity, archeologists came upon the seeds in 2010 while assessing the site of a new housing development in Brantford, Ont.

Researchers say the 140,000 seeds, which appeared to have been burned, date back to 900 BC, several centuries before the next earliest evidence of a crop in the province.

Researchers say they believe the seeds came to the province through trade rather than being grown locally.

They say the discovery suggests the trading system among North American Indigenous populations at the time may have been more complex than previously imagined.

Gary Crawford, study co-author and professor of anthropology at U of T’s Mississauga campus, said all evidence to date suggested that Indigenous peoples of the day only swapped stones and other minerals across long distances. The discovery of the quinoa seeds, he said, suggests that may not have been the case.

“We’re taking the conservative view that these seeds were traded,” he said of the Ontario findings. “It would make sense that it wasn’t only stone and minerals being moved around. In Kentucky, Illinois and Arkansas, this was a very important foodstuff; its nutrient value was probably similar to that of modern quinoa, which comes from South America.”

The present-day iteration of quinoa, which has figured prominently on lists of particularly healthy foods in recent years, has become a popular choice among foodies for its versatility in recipes and high protein and nutrient content.

Crawford and other researchers said they found no evidence of similar seeds in the area, contributing to the theory that this batch was traded rather than locally cultivated.

The study authors also speculated that the seeds were burned by mistake, possibly in an overzealous attempt to lightly parch them for future storage.

Crawford described the finding as “special, since it significantly predates other signs of historical, local agriculture.”

“The next time we find a crop in the province is about 500 AD, and it’s corn,” he said. “All previous research on this species of quinoa, which is now extinct, has taken place in the central United States.”

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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