Jack W. Szostak, PhD, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School; Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology,
The amazing diversity of life is the result of billions of years of evolution. But how did evolution itself begin? I will describe how efforts to design and build very simple living cells are testing our assumptions about the nature of life, generating ideas about how life emerged from the chemistry of the early Earth, and even offering clues as to how modern life evolved from its earliest ancestors.
Co-sponsored by the Gairdner Foundation
Global energy consumption is conservatively projected to expand two-fold by 2050. A survey of our renewable options reveals the Sun as the only viable non-carbon based energy source. Currently, silicon-based photovoltaics (PV) dominate the market. They are a practical and mature technology, but expanding the solar energy market to meet our needs will require a substantial change in technology. This presentation will survey recent advances in PV technology and ‘shed some light’ on the current research directed at making materials that can supplement our current use of silicon cells.
The first European settlement of Toronto was simply a continuation of patterns that had been in place for thousands of years. The Aboriginal occupants of the encampments and semi-permanent villages that lined the former water courses in the City left no written record of their lives. Their legacy consists of the oral histories and traditions passed on to descendants and the surviving traces of those settlements. This talk will summarize this rich archaeological record and discuss how the City of Toronto is ensuring its conservation.
Liette Vasseur, BSc, MSc, PhD, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University; Thematic Group Leader of Climate Change Adaptation of the Commission for Ecosystem Management of IUCN; Minjian Scholar at Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University, China
Climate change affects different parts of Canada in different ways. Predictions indicate that Southern Ontario will experience more droughts and heavy rainfalls that can greatly affect ecosystems and especially plants. In Atlantic Canada, sea level rise, continuous coastal erosion and more frequent storm surges threaten the fragile coastal ecosystem. I will describe some of the projects that I am involved with to examine the potential impacts of climate change on the human condition in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and the actions taken to try to adapt and improve resilience of communities and ecosystems.
The impact hazard from small asteroids is uncertain because of many poorly understood factors. These include how asteroids vapourize in the atmosphere together with the associated impact effects at the ground. The Chelyabinsk event gave scientists their first detailed instrumental data on a well observed, damage-producing airburst. I will describe what we have learned about the Chelyabinsk airburst in the year since it occurred and what it may tell us about future impacts at the Earth.
Co-sponsored by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada–Toronto Centre
Social insects like ants, bees and some wasps live in large colonies composed of many sterile workers and a few reproductive individuals. The division of labour between workers and queens is believed to be at the heart of the dominance of social insects. But how do social insects evolve and adapt when most members of their societies are sterile workers? I will present our laboratory’s recent progress on understanding the relationship between genes, worker behaviour, and evolution in the honey bee, Apis mellifera.
The shrinking Arctic sea ice cover is often taken as one of the most prominent indicators of recent climate change, andThe shrinking Arctic sea ice cover is often taken as one of the most prominent indicators of recent climate change, and its early, complete disappearance seems almost inevitable in the public debate, spawning speculations about the opening of northern shipping routes and resource exploration, as well as about the extinction of polar bears and the collapse of Arctic food-webs. However, little is actually understood about the recent rapid sea ice changes in the
Arctic, and climate models continue to predict sea ice changes with little skill. The presentation will provide a status of observed sea ice changes in the Arctic and Antarctic, and will discuss some of the uncertainties related to changes of the sea ice mass balance. I will then focus on results of our own field and remote sensing research with regard to Arctic sea ice, particularly results from airborne and snowmobile-based ice thickness surveying. Results show large regional sea ice variability in the Canadian Arctic which represent different environmental conditions and prevents easy, general predictions of future ice conditions.
The incredibly small bits of matter we call neutrinos may hold the secret to why antimatter is so rare, how mighty stars explode as supernovae, what the universe was like just seconds after the big bang, and even the inner workings of our own planet. In Neutrino Hunters, I will take you on a thrilling journey into the shadowy world of neutrinos and the colorful lives of scientists chasing these elusive particles, recounting a captivating saga of scientific discovery and celebrating a glorious human quest. Hear what the next decade of neutrino hunting may hold in store.
*Robin Kingsburgh, PhD Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences/ School of Interdisciplinary Studies OCAD University; Natural Science, York University
*Stephen Morris, PhD, Department of Physics, University of Toronto
Lisa Carrie Goldberg, Multidisciplinary Artist, and founder of Action Potential Lab, dedicated to merging science and art.
Moderator: Ian Clarke, BSc, PhD, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences/ School of Interdisciplinary Studies, OCAD University
Science and art often have a perceived divide in contemporary culture, yet historically their roots stem from similar manifestations of creativity and aesthetics, in exploring, responding to and explaining Nature. This panel presentation brings together scientists, artists and those with a foot in each of the ‘two cultures’ to discuss their interdisciplinary practices, and encourage novel ways to understand the world around us.
*Curatorial team members for “Occam’s Razor: Art, Science & Aesthetics”, a juried exhibition of works of art inspired by science, examining similarities in practice amongst scientists and artists, at Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts (April 2-20, 2014), and the !dea Gallery, Ontario Science Centre (May 3- June 1, 2014).
Microscopes have been serving scientists for more than four hundred years and provided a possibility to glimpse into the lives of cells and minute living organisms. Modern microscopes utilize lasers with very short pulses to help visualize cells without labeling and in their natural environment. We use advance microscopy to study the structural dynamics of cells in plant and animal tissue, and how their behaviour is affected by diseases including cancer. I will guide you into the inner parts of a moving cell and discuss how cells contract and react to changes in the environment.
Viewing the genome as a collection of recipes rather than a catalogue of genes is fundamentally changing how we think about and treat genetic diseases such as cancers, spinal muscular atrophy and autism. The implications for you personally and for the sustainability of health care are shocking.
For more information on Dr. Frey’s talk:
Dr. Frey’s lab’s website
Exciting new genetics research is in the news almost daily. Companies promise (for a fee) to analyze your genome (but beware!). Despite the hype, the real discoveries are truly extraordinary and are transforming our understanding of normal biology, and how we manage and treat disease.
Co-sponsored by the Gairdner Foundation
What happens in our brains that allows us to calculate and become mathematically fluent? As the brain develops, the structures and functions associated with calculation change dynamically. In this talk of interest to educators, parents and anyone who has ever felt “mathematically challenged”, we will explore how individual differences in competence and strategy-use affect the brain as we calculate.
Numerical Cognition Laboratory at Western University
Each year, billions of migratory organisms on our planet commute vast distances between their temperate breeding grounds and tropical overwintering habitats. I will share with you how we’ve uncovered some of these incredible, record-breaking migrations and, using an example of the iconic monarch butterfly, show why tracking individuals over the course of the annual cycle is fundamental for their successful conservation.
In the field, people can now record plant and animal sightings in real time with their smart phones. At the same time, emerging radio tracking technology known as “motus” (from the Latin for “motion”) is transforming bird migration research. Together, these open the door to new “citizen science” and exciting discoveries in both the academic and recreational realms, key to conserving birds and all wildlife.
Sir John Franklin’s third expedition, the most infamous European voyage to navigate a sea route through the Canadian Arctic, has captivated people in Canada and around the world for a century and a half. Explore recent archaeological research and what it tells us about the lives and deaths of these explorers has revealed about the lives and deaths these explorers. Join the voyage as we revisit the momentous finds that led to the discovery of Franklin’s long-lost ship Erebus.
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour biological rhythms that affect our health and behaviour, influencing many things, from the best time to take a test, to the timing of a heart attack or stroke, to the arrival of death itself. Recent discoveries about the mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms have implications on how we organize school, work, social, and medical schedules.
Thanks to NASA’s Mars Rovers, we know much more about our planetary neighbour than we did a decade ago. Controlled from Earth, experiments conducted by the Rover instruments reveal that Mars was once a more habitable place. A key instrument on all 4 Mars Rovers and also on the Rosetta mission lander, Philae, is the Canadian APXS experiment, a soda-can sized device that measures the composition of rocks and soils.
Co-Sponsored by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Toronto Centre.
An afternoon of engaging hands-on activities geared towards children 6-12 years and their families, sharing the excitement of science, technology, engineering and math.
Volunteers running the activities will include post-secondary students who are eager to share their passion for science and can help answer your questions.
Doors open at 1:30 pm
Event ends at 3:30 pm
On average, we urban dwellers spend about 90% of our time indoors, and share the strong intuition that the physical features of the places we live and work in influence how we feel and act. Explore how the brain responds to variations in the physical features of our environments, and the effect this has on our appreciation for various types of spaces and our decisions to enter or exit it.