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A detailed look at the scientific achievements of Canada

Canada must be a nation of talented scientists, as incredible discoveries, world changing theories and lifesaving chemicals have all been dreamt up and produced here for years. However, despite an incredible success record, little is known about the country’s impressive scientific record. .

Asked which nations of the world have contributed most to science, many reply “well the United States and Britain”, true there are some talented people in both countries, but looking at hard facts, it would seem that Canada and Germany are the real scientific pioneers. .Cananda also has another trick as well, unlike many national educational systems, Canadian children seem to be really interested in Science, and seem to want to take a scientific career further. Higher education science students are plentiful and science based documentaries are watched by millions. .So what has Canada achieved? Well firstly and most importantly (certainly if you’re diabetic) is the discovery of insulin as a treatment for diabetes.

It was discovered in Toronto in 1922 by pioneering medical scientists, Frederick Banting and Charles Best. They were both awarded the Nobel Prize a year later. .This wouldn’t be the last Nobel Prize dished out to a medical scientist in Canada. in 1981 another scientist was celebrated, David Hubel, who did the first significant map of the visual cortexes of the brain.

This meant finding out exactly what part of one’s brain controls brightness, colour, motion and more. Although the majority of this work was carried out in the 60s and 70s Dr. Hubel continues to work on his theories today with his colleague Torsten Wiesel.

.Michael Smith, was actually born in 1932 in England, but moved to Vancouver in 1956 where he worked on an ingenious development of site-based mutagenesis which involved creating mutations in organisms. Smith worked out how to change a certain part of the DNA in a plant or animal to alter the way it could develop.

His research allowed countless researchers from all over the world to develop special bacteria, plants and animals with new desirable qualities or abilities that either did not occur naturally or that would have taken years of breeding trials to achieve. .The characterization of so called ‘free radicals’ was another important Canadian triumph. Investigated at length by Gerhard Herzberg in 1904. Again, not Canadian born and bred, but Herzberg arrived in Canada in 1935 and ran the Physics division of Canada's National Research Council from 1949 - 1969. A free radical is a very short-lived molecule with an extra pair of electrons that it tries to share with another molecule as quickly as possible.

These extra electrons make the free radical very reactive which means it can combine very quickly with another molecule. The fleeting nature of free radicals makes them very difficult to observe, yet they are crucial to understanding the mechanisms of almost all chemical reactions. .Canadian success has not just been limited to biology and chemistry, technology has benefited greatly from Canadian scientist. The CCD microchip, for example which is widely used in camcorders, webcams and telescopes was developed by Canadian Willard Boyle.

A computerized weather forecasting system initially dreamt up in West Vancouver is not user across the world. .When it comes to science, there is, in my opinion, only one country that can truly call itself a country of great scientists, and that country is Canada.

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