Peter will speak about energy issues in Canada and climate change as the most important environmental issue to face mankind. He will highlight the critical role energy conservation plays, the benefits of conservation and its challenges. He will refer specifically to what you can do in Mississauga, at home, at work and in school. There will be lots of time for questions so use this as a chance to ask those questions about energy that have been nagging you for years.
How do we know that people in Syria were exposed to the nerve agent, sarin? How do pesticides get into arctic fauna? Where did Ötzi, the iceman, come from? Analytical chemists measure all kinds of parameters that are used in the service of crime scene investigations and in the development of regulations. They can tell us not only where Ötzi came from, but what he did for a living.
This talk will provide you with a look into the world of analytical chemistry where large machines are used to measure small amounts of chemicals that are of great consequence. Medical diagnoses, environmental policies, battery lifetimes, ancient trade routes – all of these and many aspects of our everyday life – depend upon the work of analytical chemists, who provide the numbers that are used to find the answers to diverse problems.
Lockerbie, TWA 800, Ustica are names cast in the collective memory for large aircraft accidents. How can science help forensic investigation?
The solution of each such investigation calls for the participation of large number of experts from various disciplines, from coroners to aircraft forensic experts, from meteorologists and radar experts to police investigators, from ballistic to material scientists. Wreckage recovery, often at the sea, and aircraft reconstruction over convenient false fuselages call for large logistic and financial efforts. Investigation often borders true scientific research when investigation routine protocols are not sufficient. Donato Firrao has been called in Italy to the investigation of many aircraft accidents, often many years after the fact. He will explain how science and forensic engineering is applied in these types of investigations.
Modern science is a powerful and successful institution for creating knowledge. Given this general success, it is interesting to consider situations in which smart researchers, with integrity, get things wrong. One area in which there is a long history of good science leading to bad results is scientific research on women’s and men’s sexuality, and the distribution of labour between the sexes. This is a case in which scientific research can produce ignorance rather than knowledge. How does this happen? What are the consequences of these errors? And, how can we improve this state of affairs?
Disease causing bacteria are increasingly resistant to antibiotic drugs. The result is a growing medical crisis across the globe. Why is this happening and how can we prime the drug discovery pipeline?
The development of antibiotics in the early part of the 20th Century is arguably one of the most revolutionary discoveries in modern medicine. Yet these remarkable medicines are increasingly losing their efficacy to treat disease. This fact is one of the greatest challenges to Medicine and global Public Health in the 21st Century. Why is this happening? The answer lies in evolutionary biology and the natural history of antibiotics that reaches deep into the past and reflects the need to continuously discover and invent new drugs to match microbial evolution. Lewis Caroll’s Red Queen from the Through the Looking Glass anticipated this idea when she told Alice “ it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical and regulatory sectors have failed to take notice of this warning and there are few new drugs in the antibiotic pipeline. What is the impact on medicine in the short and long terms and what can be done about it?
What are Block Polymers and where can they be used in society? Dr. Liu will explain how Block copolymers form numerous intricate nanostructures with many applications that will benefit consumers, the environment, and society. The versatility of block copolymers arises from their inherent structure, which consists of two or more distinct chains of repeating molecular units. This multi-component feature allows block copolymers to form a vast array of elaborate and ordered nanostructures in solution or the solid state. More exotic block copolymer nanostructures can be created using novel generic methods developed by us. While the diversity and complexity of these structures are fascinating in their own right, these materials are also extremely useful. They can provide robust protective coatings that repel water- and oil-based pollutants alike or particles that reduce friction and engine wear.
Every cell in the human body interacts with its environment through the proteins found on its outer surface. It is through these many surface proteins that cells obtain nutrients, receive signals (e.g. hormones) and adhere to the right location in the body. In order to work properly, each cell surface protein must be organized and then removed when it is no longer needed. This critical role is carried out by a protein termed clathrin, which controls how cells respond to hormones and obtain nutrients from their environment. Understanding how clathrin works thus has important possible implications for human health.
Photosynthetic solar energy conversion occurs on an immense scale across the earth, influencing our biosphere
from climate to oceanic food webs. These are amazing solar cells! Fronds in kelp forests, crustose coralline algae and
purple bacteria have shown interesting properties relevant these energy transfer phenomena. Underpinning these examples are some fascinating chemical physics, where experiments and theories reveal the mechanisms involved in the ultrafast energy transfer processes of light harvesting. This talk will introduce the incredible physical processes that initiate photosynthesis in the first picoseconds after light is absorbed.
Co-sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and hosted by Ryerson University.
ThIs lecture was given at Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto M5G 2C3 – 7th Floor Room TRS-1-067.
Who we are, how we behave, how we love and laugh – the brain plays a very important role in these and many other behaviours. This presentation highlights some 35 years of personal research on damage to the frontal lobes of the brain, that area most related to the highest level of functions, and the effect of such damage on social behaviour. Examples include early cases of damage to the frontal lobes such as the well-known report of Phineas Gage; the effects of frontal lobotomies on personality; the mystery of the “double family”; a case study of the effect of damage to the latest area of the brain to evolve; to laugh or not to laugh – that is the question; and – if time – can we lose feelings associated with our memories?
Human activity has significantly perturbed the nitrogen cycle leading to negative consequences for air quality, climate, acid deposition, and ecosystem health.
Nitrogen is key to life on Earth, but despite being the most abundant element in the atmosphere, the strength of the N2 triple bond renders those atoms inaccessible under most natural conditions. In the modern industrial period, humans have devised technologies that break this triple bond (or ‘fix’ the nitrogen) intentionally (e.g. for fertilizer production) and unintentionally (e.g. as a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion). Once released, fixed nitrogen can cause a cascade of environmental issues. The impacts I will discuss include: 1) the role of nitrogen oxides in controlling smog production in the Greater Toronto Area; 2) the coupling of ammonia and acidic particles with implications for human and ecosystem health; and 3) the interaction of the nitrogen cycle and climate change.
Dr. Michael Strong, Dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Distinguished University Professor at Western University
Rather than being a single disease entity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is now considered to be a syndrome in which the death of motor neurons occurs through a wide range of pathological processes. However, there is now emerging a consensus view that alterations in RNA metabolism play a critical role and perhaps the final common pathway uniting these pathological processes. In this lecture, we will review the evidence that, for the majority of cases, that ALS is a disorder of RNA metabolism.
In partnership with the Gairdner Foundation
Prof Bryan Gaensler, Director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, and Canadian Science Director for the Square Kilometre Array
Some of the biggest questions about our Universe are as yet unsolved. How did the first stars form? What is the mysterious “dark energy” that is pushing the Universe apart? And are there other planets out there like our own, perhaps harbouring life? To answer these and other key questions, astronomers are about to build the biggest telescope ever conceived, the Square Kilometre Array. Prof Gaensler will describe this enormous international project, the results it promises to deliver, and the major role being played by Canadian scientists and engineers in this exciting endeavour.
In partnership with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre
Photo credit – Daniel Boud, University of Sydney
For more information on this topic:
Square Kilometer Array – Canadian website
Jane Heffernan, PhD, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University
Mathematical models can be used to describe the spread of infectious diseases and how infections affect your immune system. We will discuss diseases such as influenza, measles, pertussis, and HIV.
Professional Engineer with the Province of Ontario, Assistant Professor in the Biological Engineering program of the University of Guelph, Director of the BioNano Laboratory
The risk of a major biological incident in farmed animals, such as the emergence of a novel infectious agent and/or a global pandemic, is on the rise due to globalization and ecological pressures. Anticipating when and where an incident may occur can enable a timely and well-informed response. The 4th revolution in agriculture has begun, bringing novel technologies such as Internet of Things, SMART and Precision Agriculture and mobile ‘apps’ for disease surveillance. I will discuss nanosensor biotechnologies for innovative detection and advanced diagnostics for farmed animal health management.
Chris Fletcher, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo
Human activities are changing Earth’s climate, making it imperative to determine the impact on climate if we continue to use fossil fuels. I will explore computer models of the climate system which allow us to gaze into the future by making projections of how Earth’s climate could evolve over the coming century.
Hosted by Ryerson University.
Large-scale brain models have become a mainstay of “big science”. Currently, Canada has the largest functional brain model known as “Spaun”. This brain model produces behaviour comparable to people and animals. Researchers use Spaun to understand normal brain function, disorders, the effects of drugs and how to build smarter artificial agents.
Catherine Scott, PhD Student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto Scarborough
Darwin wrote, “who indeed could suspect that [spiders] should be susceptible of the finer feelings? Yet such is the fact.” The private lives of spiders are filled with fine scents, sounds, and silk. This discussion of the sophisticated sexual communication system of the black widow spiders is the perfect way to celebrate both Valentine’s day and Darwin’s theory of sexual selection.
Catherine’s blog: spiderbytes.org, @Cataranea on twitter
Cesar Hidalgo, Associate Professor at MIT, Director of Macro Connections at MIT Media Lab
Making sense of data requires the development of tools that can transform data into narratives. In this presentation I show various examples of tools that we have created at The MIT Media Lab that facilitate the ability of people to construct visual narratives from large datasets. These data visualization engines include (i) the Observatory of Economic Complexity (atlas.media.mit.edu), a comprehensive effort to visualize international trade data; (ii) DataViva (dataviva.info), a tool visualizing data for the entire formal sector economy of Brazil; (iii) Pantheon (pantheon.media.mit.edu), a tool focused on human collective memory centered on data from globally famous biographies; (iv) Immersion (immersion.media.mit.edu), a tool that focuses the interface of email on people to reveal your personal story of professional and personal interactions; (v) Place Pulse and StreetScore (pulse.media.mit.edu & streetscore.media.mit.edu), which are tools exploring the physical evolution of cities, and (vi) DataUSA, a tool that visualizes public data for the entire United States. I conclude by demoing a prototype of (vii) DIVE, a data visualization and integration tool that helps automate the creation of data driven narratives.
In partnership with the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
Mr. Ken Knox,
Chair of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Council (STIC), CEO of Knox-Vannest Inc
The Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) is an independent body that advises the Government of Canada on science, technology and innovation. With STIC’s latest “State of the Nation” report, I will explore how Canada’s performance compares to the rest of the world in science & technology innovation.
For further reading, visit the STIC website and download the “2014 State of the Nation” report.