Science Café 2010-11
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Female-male differences: Are there any?
Root Gorelick | Department of Biology
There are no universal female-male differences between individuals with two copies of each chromosome. What about individuals with only one copy of each chromosome, such as eggs and sperm? Even here, differences are at best subtle, but may make us reluctant essentialists. I will discuss implications for evolutionary, feminist, and trans theory.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Everything you always wanted to know about turtle's sex but were afraid to ask
Greg Bulte | Department of Biology
Virtually unchanged for 220 million years, turtles are unmistakable ‘living fossils’ that exhibit a surprising diversity of adaptations allowing them to succeed in most environments including the warmest desert and the biggest ocean. This success is partly driven by a fascinating array of reproductive strategies, from environmental sex determination to sperm storage.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Thermometers, barometers, ham sandwiches, and Borsuk-Ulam theorem)
Pat Morin | Department of Chemistry
We explore the Borsuk-Ulam theorem and its surprising applications For example, no matter how badly you make a ham sandwich, it's always possible to cut it, with one slice, so that both parts have the same amount of ham and bread: perfect for sharing. For another example, at any given time, there are two points, on opposite sides of the earth, that have the same temperature and barometric pressure.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Geological Calamities Near and Far: Icelandic Volcanic Eruptions to Ottawa Earthquakes
Brian Cousens | Department of Earth Sciences
During the spring and summer of 2010, life in Ottawa was punctuated by two earth science events: the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland and the magnitude 5.0 earthquake in eastern Ontario and western Quebec. Both events, near and far away, had dramatic local impacts on Ottawa residents.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
How to get to where you want to go when you are forgetful and don't have a map
Prosenjit Bose | School of Computer Science
Planning a route from point A to point B is a fundamental task that is performed regularly in various contexts. Driving, hiking, sending an SMS, making a call, and surfing the web are all activities that involve the planning of some route. We discuss finding routes but add a little twist. You have no map and you forget almost everything.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Painting tumors with proton beams: a novel and precise way to treat cancer
Gabriel Sawakuchi | Department of Physics
Energetic proton beams produced by particle accelerators are currently being used to treat cancer patients. Proton beams can precisely kill the cancer cells located in the tumor volume while sparing health tissue and organs at risk that surrounds the tumor. This talk will give an overview of proton therapy and highlight its advantages over conventional photon and electron radiation therapies.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Up close and personal radiation treatments for cancer
Rowan Thomson | Department of Physics
Radioactive sources placed next to or inside a tumour may be used to treat cancer, e.g., breast, prostate, and ocular cancers. This presentation will focus on research aimed at improving the accuracy of these treatments and personalizing treatments for individual patients. Prospective and potential future treatment techniques will be described.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Chemistry of money
Peter Gordon| Department of Chemistry
Why were gold and silver the metal of choice for early currencies? What metals are used today to make coins, and why? How do anti-counterfeiting measures work and what are the next steps in money manufacturing technology? I will discuss the chemistry behind these topics and more.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Chemistry of wine and chocolate
Maureen McKeague and Erin McConnell| Department of Chemistry
It would be rather difficult to imagine our world without either the delicious pleasure of chocolate or the vibrant, moving flavours of wine. Despite this, it is easy to imagine either of those without the one academic discipline they are both very dependent on: that of the age-old craft of chemistry. Every subtle hint of vanilla in your favorite bottle of red and every sumptuous taste of cocoa owe their existence to the science behind them, and the chemists who experiment and perfect their flavours. This talk will be focused on the interesting, artistic chemistry behind two of your favorite indulgences.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Chemistry of ancient coin patina
Robert Crutchley | Department of Chemistry
The ancients minted coins in gold, silver, bronze and copper and, because there were no banks, in times of trouble, wealth was hidden away, perhaps never to be recovered. Some coins were offered as a sacrifice to the Gods (e.g. a wishing well) or simply lost. The chemical transformations that occurred over two thousand years depend on soil or water conditions and can result in beautiful patinas that are highly prized by collectors.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Mass Spectrometers: Keeping an ‘ion’ your safety and health
Jeff Smith | Department of Chemistry
Have you ever met a mass spectrometer before? You may think not, but in all likelihood, you have. Mass spectrometers are increasingly used in a variety of security, forensic and health applications worldwide. Some of the most interesting and relevant applications in society will be discussed.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
From the quill to the ink jet printer: Marking paper through time
P.K. Sundararajan | School of Computer Science
At first, it was an invention that nobody wanted. The inventor was living from hand to mouth in a small apartment in Astoria, New York. Come and learn about the history of xerography: the scientific principle behind it, the materials used, and how it was later adapted to laser printers.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
How maple trees produce maple syrup
Root Gorelick | Department of Biology
Tree leaves produce sugars via photosynthesis, transporting sugars downwards through bark cells. Tree leaves suck water up from the roots, transporting water upwards via capillary action through hollow pipes in wood. How then do maple trees transport sugars (watery maple syrup) upwards during early spring before leaves grow?
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Seismicity of the Ottawa region
George Dix and Dariush Motazedian | Department of Earth Sciences
Despite being far from a tectonic plate boundary, Montreal and Ottawa rank right behind Vancouver for Canadian seismic risk because they are in the Western Quebec seismic zone. This zone extends northwest to Maniwaki, parallel to the Ottawa River. Low energy (M1-2) earthquakes occur on a weekly basis, with three greater (>M5 - 6.2) events recorded since 1935, including June 23, 2010. This history reflects a long-lived geological framework of faults extending back 600+ million years, with seismic risk also amplified in Ottawa due to earthquake ground motion interacting with soft postglacial sediments that rest on bedrock.