Tag Archives: Science Rendezvous

Like Goldilocks, too late for the 2013 World Science Festival and too early the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival

The 2013 World Science Festival in New York City just ended yesterday (June 2, 2013) and the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival is scheduled, for  a date approximately 10 months from now, April 26 – 27, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Congratulations to the 2013 World Science Festival organizers as they have sold out most of their shows for this year’s extravaganza. Fear not, there’s still a way to enjoy the 2013 festival’s main event in June and some of its other events during the year: read the event summaries and preview on the festival blog. There’s this June 2, 2013 summary by Julian Taub in a posting titled, Small Wonder: Imagine the Medical Miracles of Nanotechnology,

What is it like to be on the nanoscale, the size thousands of times thinner than a human hair?

This is what an esteemed panel, moderated by Robert Krulwich, focused on throughout Cellular Surgeons: The New Era of Nanomedicine. [emphasis mine] Peter Hoffman, a panelist who wrote a book on molecular machines making order from chaos, tried to paint a picture of a very different world. Imagine a place where gravity is a non-issue and you are constantly bombarded by high-speed particles coming from random directions. …


Now, scientists are trying to design their own molecular machines. How are they going to keep up with millions of years of evolution that created the machines inside our body? Metin Sitti, a professor at Carnegie Melon who works on medical nanorobots explained, “As human beings, we are now going beyond nature, as engineers, as scientists. We don’t have the same constraints it has. We have the luxury and knowledge to play with these systems.”

Sitti presented one of his creations to the panel: a robot that rolls around in a patient who swallows it, capable of performing tissue biopsies and dispensing drugs at will. The robot rolls around the stomach, controlled by a magnet from outside the body. Sitti and his team came up with the soft, biodegradable body for the robot to make it more comfortable to use. Right now they are testing the bots on pigs.

Another panelist, Harvard biomedical professor and entrepreneur Omid Farokhzad, created a nanoparticle that carries drugs and attaches to specific receptors on a tumor’s surface. The tumor then engulfs it, in Trojan Horse style, and meets its demise. The particle also disguises itself from the immune system by coating itself with water. As it journeys through your body, it veers toward tumors by sensing their leaky blood vessels.

Then, there’s this Nov. 16, 2013 preview of one of the festival’s other event series, Oliver Sacks—The Justin Bieber of Neurologists,

“The Justin Bieber of Neurologists”—that’s how NPR’s John Hockenberry, noting that the World Science Festival program, “Hallucinations with Oliver Sacks,” had sold out in a matter of hours, described the celebrated doctor and best-selling author.  Their conversation at The Cooper Union on Friday, November 9, was both humorous and compelling, and marked the debut of Sacks’ new book, Hallucinations.  The evening also kicked off the Festival’s new year-round series, Science & Story.

Sacks, renowned for investigating the odd workings of the human mind, described vivid accounts of people who see, hear, smell, even feel things that aren’t actually there. “You think it’s real but other people don’t agree with you,” Sacks explained.

Sacks has said that he regards everything he writes as being at “the intersection of the first and third person, biography and autobiography.”

The USA Science and Engineering Festival is a biannual event and the third festival debuts in April 2014. Here’s a bit of information about festival sponsor, Lockheed Martin and the festival’s beginnings, from the organization’s Dec. 5, 2012 news release,

The Festival is a signature program for Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company that employs nearly 60,000 engineers, scientists, and technologists worldwide. The company co-founded the festival in 2010, helped expand the program in 2012, and serves as the founding and presenting host again in 2014.
“Lockheed Martin is a national leader in promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in our education system,” said high-tech serial entrepreneur Larry Bock and festival co-founder. “Thanks tothe leadership of Lockheed Martin and other sponsors, the festival provides students direct exposure to the most innovative employers in the field. It also allows prospective employers to demonstrate the coolest engineering and technology applications to young people firsthand, getting them excited to become tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.”
More than 500,000 people attended 2012 festival events, with over 250,000 attending the 3-day Finale Expo at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, making it the second most attended event in the convention center’s history.

Here are the plans announced in the Dec. 2012 news release,

Festival highlights leading up to the Finale Expo in April 2014 include:
Lockheed Martin returns as presenting host sponsor
New website :www.usasciencefestival.com featuring “Role Models in Science & Engineering,” with a current focus on women and minorities
 Facebook page with more than 35,000 fans and approximately 500 new fans each day
 Throughout 2013 and early 2014:
 Lunch with a Laureate program connecting students with Nobel Prize winning scientists
 Nifty Fifty (times 3) speaker program offering more than 150 leading scientists and engineers to speak in schools, with sessions videotaped for use in classrooms worldwide
 Hundreds of satellite and affiliate events across the country
In April 2014 during the 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC:
 Nifty Fifty All Star Symposium, VIP Event and student Sneak Peek on April 24 – 25, 2014
 Finale Expo open to the public April 26 – 27, 2014, with 750+ exhibiting organizations

As always, many thanks to David Bruggeman whose May 31, 2013 posting on his Pasco Phronesis blog brought the two festivals to my attention,

The World Science Festival started on Wednesday [May 29, 2013] in New York City.  While the USA Science and Engineering Festival is growing, the World Science Festival is likely the biggest annual science festival (in scope, if not in numbers) in the U.S.  (At a minimum, the World Science Festival is definitely more all-ages than it’s younger cousin in D.C.)

There is the Science Rendezvous festival here in Canada, an event I described as peculiarly Canadian in my May 10, 2013 posting. It seems of an entirely different order than these two in the US.

A peculiarly Canadian, national science festival: Science Rendezvous

I stumbled across the notice in my Twitter feed (@frogheart) this morning (May 10, 2013) about Science Rendezvous, a Canadian national science festival which is taking place on Sat., May 11, 2013. You can find a map which lists all of the events across the country here.

I gather they are taking a low key (peculiarly Canadian) approach to publicizing this event, which I am happy to see. (The festival was first mentioned here in my Dec. 31, 2012 posting.) More than one event has foundered once the initial enthusiasm has foundered so, it’s usually better to build slowly.

There are events in Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia (BC). As I live in BC I will focus on the three cities hosting events.

Here are the events in Vancouver (Note: Links have been removed.),

Come and explore real science at UBC [University of British Columbia] Science Rendezvous. Meet and talk to scientists from the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Chemistry, Environmental Interfaces Laboratory, Genetic Data Centre, Let’s Talk Science, Mathematics, Michael Smith Labs, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Physics and Astronomy and Pollution Control and Waste Management Group. Learn and play through hands-on activities and exclusive tours of some of UBC’s research facilities.

Join us for this family-friendly event on Saturday May 11, 2013 from 11am to 3pm at the Michael Smith Laboratories (2185 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4)

Activities Schedule:

Friday 10 May 2013
Location: Earth Sciences Building (2207 Main Mall V6T 1Z4)

Free Public Lecture*: The Role of Gender in Science Communication (5:30 – 7pm), panel moderated by Dr. Jennifer Gardy (Genome Research Laboratory, BC Centre for Disease Control; Adjunct Professor, Microbiology & Immunology, UBC)

Note: * This public talk is part of the Creating Connections Conference 2013 [mentioned here in my May 2, 2013 posting]

Saturday 11 May 2013
Location: Michael Smith Labs (2185 East Mall V6T 1Z4)

“The Wonderful World of Cooties in the Pond” (Room 105)

The Michael Smith Teaching Labs will have their suite of dissecting microscopes out, where kids can collect pond samples, and then try to see what they can find.  Be working on a real research laboratory lab bench, and hang out with Dr. David Ng who will be on hand for general science-y goodness.  All welcome!

“Maps, Raps and Infinite Gaps” (Foyer)

Math is everywhere — you just have to have the right glasses. Drop by to try your hand at some demonstrations revealing the math behind snowflakes, plea bargains, game shows, and much more.

“Physics and Astronomy” (Room 101)

Come visit the Physics & Astronomy booth to learn about electricity, ride on our hovercraft, and check out cool physical prototypes made by students in the Engineering Physics Program.

Pollution Control and Waste Management Group (Civil Engineering) (Room 101)

The BC Water and Waste Association’s UBC student chapter looks at the science of drinking water and waste water. Join us at Science Rendezvous in anticipation of Drinking Water Week 2013. Get hands-on experience trying out water treatment processes yourself; take the bottled vs tap taste challenge; take a pledge to reduce your water use (and enter to win awesome prizes!!); and behold the mighty wall of water!

The Amazing Science Chase

Presented by Let’s Talk Science and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Have fun with science challenges, make a rocket and win prizes! (Sign up for the race at the Science Chase Booth in front of the MSL)

Beaty Biodiversity Museum (Foyer)

Getting to know your backyard better. Meet the backyard biodiversity specimens and other collections!
Location: Chemistry Building D-wing (2036 Main Mall, V6T 1Z1) Click here for campus map.

“Look, I’m a Chemist!” (12:30pm – 3pm) Room D211/D213

Experience the wonders of chemistry with our entertaining hands-on activities, a chemistry-themed photo booth, balloons and our delicious liquid nitrogen ice cream! Make slime, lava lamps and marshmallow molecules. Click here to check out Chemistry event preview on CityTV’s Breakfast Television
Location: Genetic Date Centre, Forestry Science Centre Building (Tour starts at MSL room 102)

Genetic Data Centre Lab tours (11:30am, 12:15pm, 1pm) – learn about DNA sequencing and genetic markers of killer whales, mountain beavers and blueberries.
The number of participants is limited at 20 per tour; please sign up to secure your spot at the information booth!

Location: Environmental Interfaces Laboratory, Earth Sciences Building (Tour starts at MSL room 102)

Environmental Interfaces Laboratory tours (12pm, 1pm, 2pm) – learn how scientists measure and monitor greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, soil and water!
The number of participants is limited at 20 per tour; please sign up to secure your spot at the information booth!

Here is the listing for Burnaby,

Join us for Simon Fraser University’s [SFU] Science Rendezvous 2013. An exciting day full of interesting things to see and do, artistic performances and educational demonstrations and explorations at SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus on Saturday, May 11, 2013, from 11:00am – 4:00pm, rain or shine. We’re opening our doors to showcase the spirit and essence of Simon Fraser University. Programs and staff from all campuses will participate at the event.

Educational demonstrations
Interactive activities
Magic of Science shows
Engaging science lectures
The Great Space Ship Debate

And the Amazing Science Chase: just like it sounds, it’s the concept of the hit TV show with a twist. Don’t miss it on May 11th, compete in this Amazing Race-style science challenge of mind AND body!

Finally, there are also events being held in Langley,

Kwantlen Polytechnic University [KPU]
presents ….
Science Rendezvous 2013

KPU is a proud sponsor of the Science Rendezvous event being held on

Saturday, May 11th from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm

Our Langley Campus will be transformed into a spectacular science experience where the general public will get a chance to participate in hands-on experiments, walk through chemistry, biology, physics and geography labs, see a demonstration of the high-tech patient simulators in the nursing labs, discover our state-of-the-art greenhouses and learn about how KPU is making its mark in science in Canada.

Other activities will include:

The Chemistry Magic Show

I SPY …. lawn weeds

What’s Bugging You? Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs

Dancing Fire

Wireless Robots

Strawberry DNA Extraction

Make Your Own Slime

Film Canister Rockets

Show & Tell Marine Micro Organisms

and so much more ….

Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are!

FrogHeart’s 2012, a selective roundup of my international online colleagues, and other bits

This blog will be five years old in April 2013 and, sometime in January or February, the 2000th post will be published.

Statisticswise it’s been a tumultuous year for FrogHeart with ups and downs,  thankfully ending on an up note. According to my AW stats, I started with 54,920 visits in January (which was a bit of an increase over December 2011. The numbers rose right through to March 2012 when the blog registered 68,360 visits and then the numbers fell and continued to fall. At the low point, this blog registered 45, 972 visits in June 2012 and managed to rise and fall through to Oct. 2012 when the visits rose to 54,520 visits. November 2012 was better with 66,854 visits and in December 2012 the blog will have received over 75,000 visits. (ETA Ja.2.13: This blog registered 81,0036 in December 2012 and an annual total of 681,055 visits.) Since I have no idea why the numbers fell or why they rose again, I have absolutely no idea what 2013 will bring in terms of statistics (the webalizer numbers reflect similar trends).

Interestingly and for the first time since I’ve activated the AW statistics package in Feb. 2009, the US ceased to be the primary source for visitors. As of April 2012, the British surged ahead for several months until November 2012 when the US regained the top spot only to lose it to China in December 2012.

Favourite topics according to the top 10 key terms included: nanocrystalline cellulose for Jan. – Oct. 2012 when for the first time in almost three years the topic fell out of the top 10; Jackson Pollock and physics also popped up in the top 10 in various months throughout the year; Clipperton Island (a sci/art project) has made intermittent appearances; SPAUN (Semantic Pointer Arichitecture Unified Network; a project at the University of Waterloo) has made the top 10 in the two months since it was announced); weirdly, frogheart.ca has appeared in the top 10 these last few months; the Lycurgus Cup, nanosilver, and literary tattoos also made appearances in the top 10 in various months throughout the year, while the memristor and Québec nanotechnology made appearances in the fall.

Webalizer tells a similar but not identical story. The numbers started with 83, 133 visits in January 2012 rising to a dizzying height of 119, 217 in March.  These statistics fell too but July 2012 was another six figure month with 101,087 visits and then down again to five figures until Oct. 2012 with 108, 266 and 136,161 visits in November 2012. The December 2012 visits number appear to be dipping down slightly with 130,198 visits counted to 5:10 am PST, Dec. 31, 2012. (ETA Ja.2.13: In December 2012, 133,351 were tallied with an annual total of 1,660,771 visits.)

Thanks to my international colleagues who inspire and keep me apprised of the latest information on nanotechnology and other emerging technologies:

  • Pasco Phronesis, owned by David Bruggeman, focuses more on science policy and science communicati0n (via popular media) than on emerging technology per se but David provides excellent analysis and a keen eye for the international scene. He kindly dropped by frogheart.ca  some months ago to challenge my take on science and censorship in Canada and I have not finished my response. I’ve posted part 1 in the comments but have yet to get to part 2. His latest posting on Dec. 30, 2012 features this title, For Better Science And Technology Policing, Don’t Forget The Archiving.
  • Nanoclast is on the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) website and features Dexter Johnson’s writing on nanotechnology government initiatives, technical breakthroughs, and, occasionally, important personalities within the field. I notice Dexter, who’s always thoughtful and thought-provoking, has cut back to a weekly posting. I encourage you to read his work as he fills in an important gap in a lot of nanotechnology reporting with his intimate understanding of the technology itself.  Dexter’s Dec. 20, 2012 posting (the latest) is titled, Nanoparticle Coated Lens Converts Light into Sound for Precise Non-invasive Surgery.
  • Insight (formerly TNTlog) is Tim Harper’s (CEO of Cientifica) blog features an international perspective (with a strong focus on the UK scene) on emerging technologies and the business of science. His writing style is quite lively (at times, trenchant) and it reflects his long experience with nanotechnology and other emerging technologies. I don’t know how he finds the time and here’s his latest, a Dec. 4, 2012 posting titled, Is Printable Graphene The Key To Widespread Applications?
  • 2020 Science is Dr. Andrew Maynard’s (director of University of Michigan’s Risk Science Center) more or less personal blog. An expert on nanotechnology (he was the Chief Science Adviser for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, located in Washington, DC), Andrew writes extensively about risk, uncertainty, nanotechnology, and the joys of science. Over time his blog has evolved to include the occasional homemade but science-oriented video, courtesy of one of his children. I usually check Andrew’s blog when there’s a online nanotechnology kerfuffle as he usually has the inside scoop. His latest posting on Dec. 23, 2012 features this title, On the benefits of wearing a hat while dancing naked, and other insights into the science of risk.
  • Andrew also produces and manages the Mind the Science Gap blog, which is a project encouraging MA students in the University of Michigan’s Public Health Program to write. Andrew has posted a summary of the last semester’s triumphs titled, Looking back at another semester of Mind The Science Gap.
  • NanoWiki is, strictly speaking, not a blog but the authors provide the best compilation of stories on nanotechnology issues and controversies that I have found yet. Here’s how they describe their work, “NanoWiki tracks the evolution of paradigms and discoveries in nanoscience and nanotechnology field, annotates and disseminates them, giving an overall view and feeds the essential public debate on nanotechnology and its practical applications.” There are also Spanish, Catalan, and mobile versions of NanoWiki. Their latest posting, dated  Dec. 29, 2012, Nanotechnology shows we can innovate without economic growth, features some nanotechnology books.
  • In April 2012, I was contacted by Dorothée Browaeys about a French blog, Le Meilleur Des Nanomondes. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to have been much action there since Feb. 2010 but I’m delighted to hear from my European colleagues and hope to hear more from them.

Sadly, there was only one interview here this year but I think they call these things ‘a big get’ as the interview was with Vanessa Clive who manages the nanotechnology portfolio at Industry Canada. I did try to get an interview with Dr. Marie D’Iorio, the new Executive Director of Canada’s National Institute of Nanotechnology (NINT; BTW, the National Research Council has a brand new site consequently [since the NINT is a National Research Council agency, so does the NINT]), and experienced the same success I had with her predecessor, Dr. Nils Petersen.

I attended two conferences this year, S.NET (Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies) 2012 meeting in Enschede, Holland where I presented on my work on memristors, artificial brains, and pop culture. The second conference I attended was in Calgary where I  moderated a panel I’d organized on the topic of Canada’s science culture and policy for the 2012 Canadian Science Policy Conference.

There are a few items of note which appeared on the Canadian science scene. ScienceOnlineVancouver emerged in April 2012. From the About page,

ScienceOnlineVancouver is a monthly discussion series exploring how online communication and social media impact current scientific research and how the general public learns about it. ScienceOnlineVancouver is an ongoing discussion about online science, including science communication and available research tools, not a lecture series where scientists talk about their work. Follow the conversation on Twitter at @ScioVan, hashtag is #SoVan.

The concept of these monthly meetings originated in New York with SoNYC @S_O_NYC, brought to life by Lou Woodley (@LouWoodley, Communities Specialist at Nature.com) and John Timmer (@j_timmer, Science Editor at Ars Technica). With the success of that discussion series, participation in Scio2012, and the 2012 annual meeting of the AAAS in Vancouver, Catherine Anderson, Sarah Chow, and Peter Newbury were inspired to bring it closer to home, leading to the beginning of ScienceOnlineVancouver.

ScienceOnlineVancouver is part of the ScienceOnlineNOW community that includes ScienceOnlineBayArea, @sciobayarea and ScienceOnlineSeattle, @scioSEA. Thanks to Brian Glanz of the Open Science Federation and SciFund Challenge and thanks to Science World for a great venue.

I have mentioned the arts/engineering festival coming up in Calgary, Beakerhead, a few times but haven’t had occasion to mention Science Rendezvous before. This festival started in Toronto in 2008 and became a national festival in 2012 (?). Their About page doesn’t describe the genesis of the ‘national’ aspect to this festival as clearly as I would like. They seem to be behind with their planning as there’s no mention of the 2013 festival,which should be coming up in May.

The twitter (@frogheart) feed continues to grow in both (followed and following) albeit slowly. I have to give special props to @carlacap, @cientifica, & @timharper for their mentions, retweets, and more.

As for 2013, there are likely to be some changes here; I haven’t yet decided what changes but I will keep you posted. Have a lovely new year and I wish you all the best in 2013.