Lecture Series

before Fall 2005

1993 and 1994

Sunday, January 24, 1993

Measuring the Expansion Rate and Size of the Universe

Wendy L. Freedman, Ph.D., Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Pasadena, CA

Our view of the universe has changed profoundly during the course of the 20th century. In the 1920s it was discovered that our Milky Way and all other galaxies are moving away from one another at tremendous speeds. Today, many elementary questions still remain unanswered. When did this colossal expansion begin? Will the universe continue to expand forever, or will it eventually be halted by gravity and then collapse back on itself? For decades astronomers have been trying to answer such questions by measuring the size, scale and expansion rate of the universe. Such studies require measurement of the vast distances to galaxies, a task that has proved to be extremely challenging.

Joint meeting with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre

Sunday, January 31, 1993

Carbon Cages: Neither Graphite nor Diamond

Martin Moskovits, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry, U of T

It is graphite rather than diamond that is forever. Yet we buy diamonds with total lack of concern for the dark fate predicted for them by thermodynamics. If we can wear an unstable form of carbon like diamond on our hand, can we suppose that it is the only unstable form that we can safely hold? That question was answered with a resounding "No" in the summer of 1990, when an American and a German scientist showed that new forms of solid carbon could be extracted easily from a rare form of soot. These new crystals of carbon are based on spectacular cage -like geometric arrangements of carbon atoms. Named fullerenes in honour of Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes, they are used to create truly marvellous materials, including a new class of superconductors. The lecturer will hint at the quirky nature of scientific discovery in today's world.

Sunday, February 7, 1993

German Jews Yesterday and Today: the Case of Physicians and Patients

Michael H. Kater, M.A., Ph.D., F.R.S.C., Department of History, York University

What is the place of Jews in German society today? In particular, what is the place of Jewish physicians? At one time the Jewish doctor was the icon of professionalism to whom even Gentile patients flocked. This lecture covers the progress of Jewish physicians in German society since the creation of the Second Empire by Bismarck and traces their often tortuous path through the German Republic of the 1920s. It explains the biologically founded brand of Nazi anti-Semitism and why the doctors suffered most in the Holocaust. The doctors' constituents ­­ the patients ­­ are also examined.

Sunday, February 14, 1993

Finding the Lost Squadron: a Canadian Geophysical Success Story

W. R. Thuma, B.Sc., P.Eng., Vice President, Urtec Instruments Ltd.

In 1942 a flight of 8 fighters and bombers left the US to join the Allied war effort in Europe. Several factors including bad weather and enemy deception combined to terminate their flight on Greenland's vast icecap, high above the North Atlantic near the Arctic Circle. All 25 airmen were rescued 10 days later; the aircraft were entombed in the glacier. In 1992 the first P-38 Lightning fighter was brought to the surface from a depth of 81 m, 5 km from the original crash site. The search for the Lost Squadron spanned 11 years and intimately involved advanced Canadian geophysical technology. Using archival photographs, the lecturer will describe the events leading up to the forced landing and rescue as well as the techniques used to discover the aircraft and raise them from their icy grave.

Sunday, February 21, 1993

Transplantation of the Biological Clock

Martin R. Ralph, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, U of T

Biological clocks appear to be ubiquitous in nature, having been found at most levels of phylogeny from bacteria to humans. In mammals, these rhythms are generated by a small cluster of cells in the brain. Using a mutation of a gene that shortens the period of the circadian rhythm in hamsters, we have verified the pacemaker function of this cell cluster by transplanting the tissue from one animal to another, thus transferring the period of the rhythm to the new host. With this transplantation technique, we are now studying pacemaker interactions by producing chimeric animals with two functional clocks. In addition, it is now possible to culture cells and show that the pacemaker function is retained in vitro for a long time. By reducing the number of cell types in the cultures before grafting, it should be possible to assign the pacemaker function to a specific cell type.

Sunday, February 28, 1993  

What’s Hot and New in 1892?

Bert Hall, Ph.D., Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, U of T

This lecture reviews the scientific and technical accomplishments that brought the 19th century to a triumphant close ­­ such as electricity, motor cars, and synthetic chemicals ­­ and looks at optimistic predictions for the 20th century. The lecturer will adopt two roles, that of a prescient observer in the early 1890s, and that of a present-day historian. What went right and what went wrong, and why do predictions always seem so uncertain in the dynamic world of changing technology?
Co-sponsored with Engineering Continuing Education, in celebration of 100 years of Continuing Education at the University of Toronto

Sunday, March 7, 1993

Light Aircraft Design

Chris Heintz, P. Eng., President, Zenair Ltd.

Due to its vast expanse, Canada has required extensive use of aircraft in its development. In addition to their importance in transportation, light personal aircraft have played a key role in training pilots and in providing a focus for the considerable skills of Canadian designers and manufacturers. The design of light aircraft is one of the few areas in engineering where a single person can synthesize skills from a wide range of sciences to end up with a marketable product. The speaker will share some of his experiences as a designer of light aircraft.

To accord with Engineering Week


Sunday, March 14, 1993

Energy Efficiency, Conservation, and Ontario’s Green Industries Strategy

The Hon. Brian A. Charlton, Minister of Energy and Nick Markettos, P.Eng., Senior Policy Advisor

Ontario's Minister of Energy will outline the role energy efficiency and conservation will play in the Province's climb back to economic buoyancy. Government's industries and utilities can work together to better manage resources, taking advantage of new opportunities presented by technology and a changing public environment. Mr. Markettos will focus on the government's Green Industries Strategy: a coming together of efforts in waste, water and energy-related management. From the conception and manufacture of exportable green products to community-based programs, the GIS could generate far-reaching economic benefits.

To accord with Engineering Week 

Sunday, October 24, 1993

Demarcating Science: The Power of Boundaries

Laura Nader, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, CA

Since World War II there is new ferment in debates about science that include discussion of the worth of science, its hegemony, its function, its cultural ascendancy, ethnocentricity, and universality. Why? Demarcating science from other systems of knowledge is about boundaries and power. Demarcation is formed by a series of contrasts ­­ science/religion, rational/irrational, developed/under-developed. Such categories cemented and imbedded by an older generation of anthropologists are currently challenged. Debates about what to include and what to exclude are often arbitrary and rarely neutral. The consequences are important for the general public to ponder.

Sunday, October 31, 1993

The Wealth of the Southern Skies: A Scientific and Aesthetic Appreciation (Presidential Address)

Robert F. Garrison, Ph.D., Department of Astronomy, U of T

Since its first light in 1971, the University of Toronto Southern Observatory in Chile has been "the little telescope that could" ­­ and did, and can and does.  While working in the observatory in 1987, Ian Shelton discovered the brightest and nearest supernova explosion since 1604. The discovery was front page news in the New York Times for two weeks, and was cover story for Time Magazine a month later. Canadians were justifiably proud of the achievement, but many other less renowned discoveries have been made with this little "David" of telescopes. Why has it been so phenomenally successful? Well-equipped and well-located in the desert mountains of Chile, it fills a unique niche for astronomers.

Sunday, November 7, 1993

When the Amazon Flowed West: The Origin of South American Freshwater Stingrays

Daniel R. Brooks, Ph.D., Department of Zoology, U of T, Research Associate, Royal Ontario Museum

Evolutionary relationships between parasites and their hosts can offer insight into the geologic history of our world. Sharks, rays and skates are members of an ancient group of ocean-dwelling animals, the elasmobranchs. Among this group, only members of the South American stingray family Potamotrygonidae live permanently in freshwater. Since these animals are found in rivers that empty into the Atlantic Ocean, biologists assumed that their ancestor was an Atlantic marine stingray that adapted to freshwater and dispersed from the Amazon Basin, spreading throughout South America during the past 3-5 million years. However, since the parasites of freshwater stingrays are more closely related to those found in Pacific stingrays, and because adaptation to freshwater appears to have occurred only once, the ancestor of Potamotrygonids would have lived in the Pacific Ocean. The transition to freshwater would have occurred at least 20 million years ago, when the Amazon River flowed west into the Pacific Ocean.

Sunday, November 14, 1993

Fusion Energy: How Soon, and will it be Hot or Cold?

Archie A. Harms, Ph.D., P. Eng., Department of Engineering Phyiscs, McMaster University, Hamilton

Nuclear fusion is widely recognized as the ultimate energy source: it powers the sun, terrestrial fuel supplies are essentially inexhaustible, and advanced reaction cycles are free of radioactivity. Its tantalizing promise has accordingly attracted an eclectic range of interests ­­ from spurious claims of a dictator to pet projects of tycoons and entrepreneurs. Its present character is dominated by an East-West coordinated project sustained by the intense motivation of a fraternity of researchers. Though the basic process and required conditions to be attained appear sufficiently understood, the combined effects of material properties, energy exchanges, and device complexity imply a continuing uncertain journey which ­­ at its ideal destination ­­ suggests an incalculable payback.

Sunday, November 21, 1993

Unitizing Quantum Mechanics: Control of Molecular Motion with Lasers

Paul Brumer, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry, U of T

Quantum mechanics remains one of the most conceptually challenging ideas of the twentieth century. As our understanding of quantum mechanics improves and as technology begins to allow applications on the size scale of molecules, scientists are attempting to utilize the quantum features of matter to develop new and innovative quantum-based processes and quantum- based devices. This lecture will describe some of the basic features of quantum mechanics and show how these features can be used to control the dynamics of molecules by manipulating the interaction between molecules and laser fields. Examples will be drawn from studies of the control of product yields in chemical reactions.

Sunday, November 28, 1993

What’s Bred in the Bone: Marrow Transplants in the 1990s

Dominick Amato, M.D., F.R.C.P. (C), Department of Medicine, U of T and Mount Sinal Hospital

Bone marrow transplantation has been performed in patients with various acquired and heritable diseases. Among the former are leukemias and aplastic anemia; among the latter are thalassemia and immune deficiencies. But media accounts of such patients seldom provide details about the procedure itself. Why can marrow transplantation be a useful treatment? Just how is it performed? Who can be a donor? What does being a donor involve? Why is the search for a donor sometimes so wide ranging? How successful is this treatment? What complications may occur? How does one decide whether or not a potential donor and recipient are a match?

Sunday, January 30, 1994

Addiction and Pleasure Centres of the Brain

Franco J. Vaccarino, Ph.D., Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, U of T

Over the past 10 years it has been discovered that drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and heroin, produce their rewarding effects by altering chemical activity in discrete brain regions ("pleasure centres"). These findings have contributed greatly to our understanding of drug addiction. The lecturer will provide an overview of this work, as well as discussing more recent evidence that these pleasure centres may also play a role in natural pleasures such as food and sex.

Sunday, February 6, 1994

Chaos and the Origin of Comets

Martin J. Duncan, Ph.D., Department of Physics, Queen’s University, Kingston

There is now overwhelming evidence that a simple Newtonian "clockwork" model of the solar system must be replaced by one incorporating the deterministic chaos found in most nonlinear dynamical systems. The nature and implications of chaos for the long-term dynamical evolution of the solar system will be reviewed. The results of computer simulations suggest that very long-term instabilities due to chaos in a belt of material beyond Neptune are ultimately responsible for the existence of most short-period comets. Very recent detection of objects in this belt will be discussed, as well as the implications for impacts of comets on planets, especially Jupiter and Earth.

Sunday, February 13, 1994

The Calculus Revolution: Right Revolution, Wrong Subject

Peter D. Taylor, Ph.D., Departments of Mathematics and Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston

Yes, there's a calculus revolution going on, and in North America it has absorbed millions of dollars and mega-hours of time of talented mathematicians and scientists. It is concerned with both content and pedagogy, and the problems it responds to are in fact faced by many areas of math and science. The lecturer will use a sequence of examples to illustrate this revolution and will suggest that it is in need of some refocusing. For example, we forget that our students are artists, just like us.

Sunday, February 20, 1994

City Making: the Emergence of Urban Design as a Discipline

George Baird, B. Arch., O.A.A., F.R.A.I.C., Partner, Baird/Sampson Architects

A relatively new professional design discipline (urban design) has emerged in Toronto and in other cities in North America and Europe. The lecturer will discuss the perceived urban problems that gave rise to the discipline, the debates between different schools of thought, and the exploration of varying design approaches. A consulting firm for urban design projects must consider urban morphology, building typologies, patterns of movement and circulation, urban microclimate for pedestrians and urban heritage.

Sunday, February 27, 1994

Chaos and Sudden Cardiac Death

Leon Glass, Ph.D., Department of Physiology, McGill University, Montreal

In recent years the word chaos has developed a scientific meaning that differs from its common language meaning. In common language, chaos refers to situations in which there is no rule or order. In modern scientific jargon, chaos refers to complex rhythms in systems that follow definite deterministic rules. In various ways the concept of chaos ­- both in its common language meaning and its modern scientific meaning ­­ has been applied to study complex cardiac rhythms. After describing some of the normal and abnormal rhythms of the human heart, the lecturer will show how mathematics is being used to interpret complex cardiac arrhythmias and to assess the risk of sudden cardiac death. The talk will be preceded by an overture of chaotic music and fractal slides.

Sunday, March 6, 1994

From Fruit Flies to Man: the Genetics of Animal Design

Janet Rossant, Ph.D., Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital and Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, U of T

How does a complex organism like a human being develop from a single fertilized egg? The information is encoded in the DNA as genes. Important master control genes that define regions along the body axis from head to tail were first discovered in the fruit fly, but essentially the same set of genes is used to define the body pattern throughout the animal kingdom, up to and including man. This amazing conservation of both structure and function will be illustrated with examples from several animals and the implications for understanding human development and disease discussed.

Sunday, March 13, 1994

Reducing the Catastrophes From Natural Hazards

Alan G. Davenport, P. Eng., D. Eng., F.C.A.E., F.R.S.C., Director, Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory, Faculty of Engineering Science, University of Western Ontario, London

The toll in terms of lives lost and property damage arising from natural hazards such as earthquakes, windstorms, floods, volcanoes and wildfires has been steadily rising. The cost to both developing and developed countries has risen to staggering amounts. To address the problems the United Nations has established the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. Canada was a co-sponsor and has now established a national committee to oversee Canadian initiatives. The lecturer will discuss the impact of natural disasters in Canada and elsewhere, the initiatives that can be taken to reduce them, and the contributions that Canada can make.

Sunday, March 20, 1994

Ideas, Wealth Creation and the Health and Well-being of Societies

J. Fraser Mustard, O.C., O. Ont., M.D., Ph.D., F.R.S.C., President, The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

The quality of the social environment in which humans live and work has a profound effect on their health and well-being. Regions or nations that fail to sustain their prosperity usually end up with deterioration in both the social and physical environments and negative effects on the health and well-being of members of that society. Today the global economy is moving to wealth creation which is based on ideas. Canada and most of its regions have had trouble making this adjustment and have borrowed substantially in both the private and public sectors. This debt has to be confronted. There are two choices: either reduce expenditure in the non primary wealth-creating sectors (e.g. health care) or become a society capable of creating wealth from ideas in the primary wealth-creating sector.

Sunday, October 16, 1994

A Zoologist’s Approach to Multiple Sclerosis (Presidential Address)

Betty I. Roots, Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.S.C., Department of Zoology, U of T, and President of the RCI

In his original description of the demyelinating disease, multiple sclerosis (MS ), Cruveilhier (circa 1835) considered it to be caused by the suppression of sweat. Since that time numerous hypotheses have been advanced but the cause(s) of MS remain enigmatic. Amongst current questions are: Is it an infection or an autoimmune disease? Why does living at a northern temperate latitude increase the risk of contracting MS? What roles do diet and heredity play in susceptibility to MS? These questions will be discussed from the perspective of the lecturer 's own research in an odyssey through experiments on organisms as diverse as mice, fish, and worms.

Sunday, October 23, 1994

Synthetic DNA and Biology

Michael Smith, Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.S., F.R.S.C., Director, Biotechnology Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Career Investigator, Medical Research Council of Canada, 1993 Nobel Laureate

The proposal of a double-helix structure for DNA in 1953 was followed by the elucidation of the genetic code a decade later. These events heralded a period in biological science when biochemistry and synthetic organic chemistry would provide a new array of tools for the molecular understanding of the function of the biological macromolecules DNA, RNA and protein. The use of short synthetic DNA fragments (oligonucleotides) in the isolation and characterization of genes and proteins will be discussed in the context of this new era in molecular biology and genetics.

Sunday, October 30, 1994

Why Outline Pictures Make Sense to the Sightless and the Sighted

John M. Kennedy, Ph.D., Division of Life Sciences, Department of Psychology, U of T

You probably think of pictures as servants of sight, as if they could only be copies of visible, optical objects, so at first the idea that pictures could make sense to the blind seems strange. But it is not difficult to make pictures in a raised form, and then to test blind people to find out which pictures are intelligible to them. The results are deeply instructive. Not only are pictures helpful and recognizable to the blind, but the lessons we learn from the skills of the blind revolutionize our understanding of pictures. This lecture will be richly illustrated with pictures drawn by blind people, young and old.

Sunday, November 6, 1994

Diatoms to Dinosaurs: the Size and Scale of Living Things

Chris McGowan, Ph.D., Curator, Department of Vertebrate Palaeontology, Royal Ontario Museum, Department of Zoology, U of T

A mouse weighs about an ounce (30 gm), has 700 heart beats a minute, a gestation period of 21 days, a brisk metabolic rate, and lives for less than 3 years. A 5-ton elephant, in contrast, has 30 heart beats a minute, a 22 month gestation period, a slow metabolic rate and lives for 60 years or more. How are these facts related? In a panoramic view of life, ranging from the microscopic world of plankton to the time of giant dinosaurs, we will see that the common thread is body size. This illustrated talk includes topics as diverse and seemingly unrelated as aphid showers in England, flying fishes in Galapagos, condors in the Andes and a tortoise in Tonga.

Sunday, November 13, 1994

Physicians, Parliament and Euthanasia

Frederick Lowy, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Director, Centre for Bioethics, U of T

Canadian public and professional opinion about euthanasia and physician-assisted death is sharply divided. Public opinion polls suggest that an increasing majority favours permitting physician-assisted death at the request of a competent patient who is suffering from irreversible illness. The Supreme Court of Canada, by a 5:4 decision, denied Sue Rodriguez's appeal to permit this assistance and upheld the current Criminal Code ban. The Canadian Medical Association, in August 1994, passed a resolution against physician participation in euthanasia. A Senate Committee has been studying this question and will report by December 1994. Prime Minister Chrétien has promised a "free vote" on the issue. The intersecting medical, ethical and political issues will be considered.

Sunday, November 20, 1994

Whither Nuremberg?  Medicine’s Continuing Nazi Heritage

William E. Seidelman, B.Sc., M.D., Department of Family and Community Medicine, Medical Director, HIV Ambulatory Program, The Wellesley Hospital, Toronto

The medical crimes of the Hitler regime are commonly perceived to have been committed by a few demonic physicians working in isolation from the mainstream of German medicine. The success of this myth has imperiled the value system of medicine today. The World Medical Association (WMA), established to address the ethical challenges arising from the German tragedy, has itself been compromised by this legacy. The leadership of the WMA has included doctors once associated with the Nazi SS terror organization and linked to crimes prosecuted at Nuremberg. Despite these recent revelations the WMA has yet to address the ethical issues raised by its own Nazi heritage or to pay homage to the victims.

Sunday, November 27, 1994

The Solar System: Insights Since Apollo

David W. Strangway, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., President, University of British Columbia

It has been 25 years since the first Apollo moon landing. It is therefore an appropriate time to reflect on scientific accomplishments as well as to consider how our understanding of the solar system has changed as a result. We have learned a great deal about the moon and its evolution ­­ a history much different from the earth's. Lunar studies have shown that there was intense meteorite asteroid bombardment from 4.6 b.y. (billion years ago) to 4.0 b.y. and then a remarkable slowdown in the process. There was also volcanism that ended about 3.0 b.y. This information has been important in interpreting results returned from Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the satellites of Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. It has also been an important element in interpreting results from fly-bys of asteroids as well as reports from Clementine, a lunar polar orbiter.

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