From slippery sidewalks and icicle-adorned rain gutters to ice-covered roads and cancelled flights, winter always comes with its challenges.

Various de-icing techniques are used to get rid of unwanted ice, prevent infrastructure failures and allow people to got on with their lives. However, these techniques require alot of energy and harmful chemicals. Researchers have been trying to develop surfaces that prevent ice formation or require little effort to dislodge ice that forms on them.

A team of researchers at McGill University’s Biomimetic Surface Engineering Laboratory looked to nature for these solutions, which they found in the feathers of adorable wobble-gaited penguins.

Today in The Conversation Canada, Anne-Marie Kietzig and Michael John Wood from McGill University outline how penguin feathers help these birds naturally repel water and ice. They go on to explain how they mimicked this microstructure in stainless steel cloth meshes, creating a potential solution for our de-icing challenges.

Also today:

Freny Fernandes

Assistant Editor, Environment + Energy

The perpetually ice-free Gentoo penguin can serve as inspiration for the creation of passive anti-icing surfaces. (ravas51/flickr)

Penguin feathers help inspire new de-icing techniques

Anne-Marie Kietzig, McGill University; Michael John Wood, McGill University

Nature takes a unique approach to solving its icy surface problems. We found the solution to de-icing challenges in the feathers of adorable wobble-gaited penguins.

A rare photo from an Indian Residential School in Fort Resolution, N.W.T. These systems have been labeled a form of genocide by the Canadian House of Commons. (Department of Mines and Technical Surveys/Library and Archives Canada)

Residential school system recognized as genocide in Canada’s House of Commons: A harbinger of change

Temitayo Olarewaju, University of British Columbia

Canada’s recent resolution to label the Indian Residential School system as genocide (and not cultural genocide) is not a mere alteration of words, it is a significant and consequential change.

People take the citizenship oath at Pier 21 immigration centre in Halifax on July 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adina Bresge

The problem with immigration targets: They’re ‘guesstimates’ easily misunderstood by the public

Jennifer Elrick, McGill University

Immigration targets can be useful and expedient for policymaking. In the public arena, they need to be more fully understood if immigration debates are to be based on reality.

Positive and negative stereotypes about aging have cultural and political implications that determine how societies care for their older generations. (Shutterstock)

To better address the needs of older populations, researchers and media should stop fussing over aging

Najmeh Khalili-Mahani, Concordia University

Locking individuals into the narrative of age as a vulnerability means inevitably creating ageist stereotypes.

La Conversation Canada

Les équipes de travail inclusives composées de personnes d’origines, d'expériences et d’identités diverses, aux savoirs théoriques et expérientiels complémentaires, sont essentielles pour résoudre les problèmes contemporains d’une manière plus représentative de nos sociétés. (Shutterstock)

Principes EDI : les équipes de travail doivent être inclusives et la collaboration, transdisciplinaire

Sandrine Renaud, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR); Marie-Josée Drolet, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR)

Au-delà de ces efforts symboliques d’inclusion, la mise en place d’une véritable collaboration transdisciplinaire est nécessaire pour tirer avantage de la pluralité des perspectives.

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