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Famed Parrsboro fossil hunter Eldon George dies at 87

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As a boy, the shores of Parrsboro, N.S., became Eldon George’s world. He would eventually help bring the world to Parrsboro’s shores.

George, a renowned rockhound whose enthusiasm for fossils and minerals earned him international recognition, died Thursday surrounded by family and friends. He was 87.

Rod Tyson, who chairs the Cumberland Geological Society, described George as a raconteur who always enjoyed talking to people. He was a kid at heart who loved to find minerals and fossils and loved even more learning about those finds and sharing them with others.

“He just genuinely loved earth science,” said Tyson.

A promoter of Parrsboro

The amateur geologist, credited with finding the world’s smallest dinosaur tracks in 1984, first took up the practice as a boy. After a traumatic injury to his right arm, George’s mother encouraged him to paint and collect shells.

But it was the discovery of a fossil when he was nine that would spark a passion that burned bright in George for the rest of his life.

For almost 60 years, his Parrsboro Rock and Mineral Shop and Museum, which he operated with his wife, Elaine, helped draw major scientists and scientists at heart to the area.

When the distinctive brown building with the green dinosaur outside closed a few years ago, George donated its 1,500 fossils to the Fundy Geological Museum down the road.

During his near 60 years of running his rock shop, Eldon George managed to fill it with 1,500 fossils. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

George’s efforts to promote tourism in the region were recognized multiple times by the provincial government.

Tim Fedak, interim curator of geology for the Nova Scotia Museum, got to know George as he did his own research along Parrsboro’s famed cliffs and during his time as director of the Fundy Geological Museum.

Since 2015, Fedak has also worked on the Rock Shop Project, documenting George’s collection for the museum.

George’s passion and interest in geology was instrumental in getting the local community to recognize the value of the minerals and fossils in the area, said Fedak.

His efforts were central to the creation of the Cumberland Geological Society and Fundy Geological Museum, and he was part of the group that created the Rockhound Roundup in 1966, which would eventually become the Nova Scotia Gem and Mineral Show.

“That’s a major accomplishment to have an earth science museum in a small town like this,” said Tyson.

A major inspiration

While George, who was named to the Order of Nova Scotia in 2013, was a citizen scientist, Fedak said his passion to understand what he was finding helped him develop a sophisticated way of looking at things.

“He would start to construct in his mind what the ancient ecosystem was for that area and he would start looking for things that he would expect to be there.”

But it’s not the accolades that stand out the most to Fedak.

“His smile and the way he would reach out to children and adults and how much he has inspired other people to become interested in geology, that’s what I’ll remember him by.”

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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla

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Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm

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Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover

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KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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