Spend enough time reading about emerging technologies and, at some point, you will find yourself questioning some of your dearly held beliefs. It gives a whole new meaning to term, mind altering (also, mind blowing or mind expanding), which in the 1960s was used to refer to the effects of LSD and other hallucinogens. Today <September 1, 2019 (Labour Day in Canada and elsewhere), I have two news bits that could be considered mind expanding, sans hallucinogens.
If you look closely, you’ll see the beads shift position and that’s how the ones and zeroes make themselves known on this embroidered computer. An August 23, 2019 article (updated from a March 8, 2019 article) on the CBC’s (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio, Spark programme web space, provides insight into the work,
A beautiful ’embroidered computer’ may explode our categories of what computers are supposed to look like.
After all, we may think the design of a computer is permanent, but what a computer ‘looks like’ depends a lot on what era it’s from.
“We use gold-coloured copper wire to form a coil, in a donut shape” Posch told Spark host Nora Young. “Then we have a magnetic bead that sits in the middle of this coil, and when this coil is [connected to] power, the magnetic bead is either attracted or pushed away….
Depending on how we power… the embroidered coil, we can direct the magnetic bead in different positions.”
More gold embroidery on top of the bead will flip one way or another, based on the bead [above].
The process is analogous to the zeros and ones of computation.
As well as being an artist, Posch is a professor at the University for Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria. Much of her work and research uses textile art to explore digital technology.
In this case, it’s not like Irene expects people to start doing today’s heavy-duty computing on a two-metre-long, eight-bit golden embroidered fabric computer. But The Embroidered Computer project opens up space to question the design of computers in particular, but also our technologies in general
“I understand The Embroidered Computer as an alternative, as an example, but also a critique of what we assume a computer to be today, and how it technically could be different,” Posch said. “If this is actually what we want is a whole different question, but I think it’s interesting to propose an alternative.”
Bringing together textiles and electronics, which are normally seen as worlds apart, can bring new insights. “Going into the history of computing we very soon become aware that they’re not that apart as we sometimes think they are, if you think of the Jacquard weaving loom as one of the predecessors of computing today.”
OrBItaly (Organic BIoelectronics Italy) is an international conference, organized by the Italian Scientific Community and attended by scientists of the highest reputation, dedicated to the most recent results in the field of bioelectronics, with a particular focus on the employment of organic materials.
OrBItaly has attracted in the years a growing interest by scientists coming from all over the world. The 2019 edition is the fifth one of this cross-disciplinary conference, and will be held in Naples, on October 21st-23rd, 2019, at the Congress Center of the University Federico II
This year the conference will be preceded by the first edition of the Graduate School in Organic Bioelectronics, that will be held at the Congress Center of the University of Naples Federico II in Naples (Italy), on October 20th, 2019. The school is mainly targeted to PhD students, post-docs and young researchers as well as to senior scientists and industry-oriented researchers, giving them the opportunity to attend an overview of the latest advances in the fields of organic bioelectronics presented by leading scientists of the highest international repute. Invited lecturers will provide highly stimulating lessons at advanced levels in their own field of research, and closely interact with the attendees during platform discussions, outreach events and informal meetings.
Mario Barra, CNR – SPIN, email@example.com Irene Bonadies, CNR – IPCB, firstname.lastname@example.org Antonio Cassinese, Univ. Napoli Federico II, email@example.com Valeria Criscuolo, IIT, firstname.lastname@example.org Claudia Lubrano, IIT, email@example.com Maria Grazia Maglione, ENEA, firstname.lastname@example.org Paola Manini, Univ. Napoli Federico II, email@example.com Alessandro Pezzella, Univ. Napoli Federico II, firstname.lastname@example.org Maria Grazia Raucci, CNR – IPCB, email@example.com Francesca Santoro, IIT, firstname.lastname@example.org Paolo Tassini, ENEA, email@example.com
So, the conference runs from the 21st to the 23rd of October 2019 and there’s a one-day graduate school programme being held one day prior to the conference on the 20th of October 2019.
Regular readers may notice that some of the ORBITALY 2019 organizers have recently been mentioned here in an August 25, 2019 posting titled, Cyborgs based on melanin circuits.
SciFact vs SciFiction: Nerd Nite Goes to the Movies v1. Animal
This summer we’re trying something a little different. Our new summer series of talks – a collaboration between Nerd Nite and VIFF – examines the pseudo-science propagated by Hollywood, and seeks to sift real insights from fake facts, in a fun, playful but peer-approved format. Each show will feature clips from a variety of movies on a science theme with a featured scientist on hand all done Nerd Nite style with drinks! We begin with biology, and our first presenter is Dr Carin Bondar.
Dr Bondar has been the host of Science Channel’s Outrageous Acts of Science, and she’s the author of several books including “Wild Moms: The Science Behind Mating in the Animal Kingdom”. Tonight she’ll join Kaylee [Byers] and Michael [Unger] from Nerd Nite to discuss the sci-facts in a variety of clips from cinema. We’ll be discussing the science in Planet of the Apes, The Birds, Arachnophobia, Snakes on a Plane, and more!
When: July 10  Where: Vancouver International Film Centre When: 7:30 – 8:30 – This talk will be followed by a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic The Birds (9pm). Double bill price: $20 Tickets: Here!
SciFact vs SciFi: Nerd Nite Goes to the Movies continues:
July 31  – Dr. Douglas Scott: The Universe According to Hollywood Aug 14  – Mika McKinnon: Disaster According to Hollywood Aug 28  – Greg Bole: Evolution According to Hollywood
This series put me in mind what was then the New York-based, ‘Science Goes to the Movies’. I first mentioned this series in a March 10, 2016 posting and it seems that since then, the series has lost a host and been embraced by public television (in the US). You can find the latest incarnation of Science Goes To The Movies here.
Getting back to Vancouver, no word as to which movies will accompany these future talks. If I had a vote, I’d love to see Gattaca accompany any talk on genetics.
That last sentence is both true and provides a neat segue to the next event.
Genetics at the Vancouver Public Library (VPL)
Coming up on July 23, 2019, a couple of graduate students at the University of British Columbia will be sharing some of the latest information on genetics. From the VPL events page,
Curiosities of the Natural World: Genetics – the Future of Medicine
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 (7:00 pm – 8:30 pm) Central Library Description
Since their discovery over a century ago, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s have seemed like diseases without a cure. The advent of genetic treatments and biomarkers are changing the outcomes and treatments of these once impossible-to-treat conditions.
UBC researchers, Adam Ramzy and Maria-Elizabeth Baeva discuss the potential of genetic therapies for diabetes, and new biomarkers and therapeutics for Alzheimer ’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Additional Details: Alma VanDusen and Peter Kaye Rooms, Lower Level
It’s hard to know how to respond to this as I loathe anything that has ‘future of medicine’ in it. Isn’t there always going to ‘a’ future with medicine in it?
Also, there is at least one cautionary tale about this new era of ‘genetic medicine’: Glybera is a gene therapy that worked for people with a rare genetic disease. It is a **treatment**, the only one, and it is no longer available.
It is one of this country’s great scientific achievements.
The first drug ever approved that can fix a faulty gene.
It’s called Glybera, and it can treat a painful and potentially deadly genetic disorder with a single dose — a genuine made-in-Canada medical breakthrough.
But most Canadians have never heard of it.
A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia spent decades developing the treatment for people born with a genetic mutation that causes lipoprotein lipase disorder (LPLD).
LPLD affects communities in the Saguenay region of northeastern Quebec at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world.
Glybera was never sold in North America and was available in Europe for just two years, beginning in 2015. During that time, only one patient received the drug. Then it was abandoned by the company that held its European licensing rights.
The problem was the price.
The world’s first gene therapy, a remarkable discovery by a dedicated team of scientists who came together in a Vancouver lab, had earned a second, more dubious distinction:
The world’s most expensive drug.
It cost $1M for a single treatment and that single treatment is good for at least 10 years.
Pharmaceutical companies make their money from repeated use of their medicaments and Glybera required only one treatment so the company priced it according to how much they would have gotten for repeated use, $100,000 per year over a 10 year period. The company was not able to persuade governments and/or individuals to pay the cost.
In the end, 31 people got the treatment, most of them received it for free through clinical trials.
Crowe has written an exceptionally good story (November 17, 2018 article) about Glybera and I encourage you to read in its entirety. I warn you it’s heartbreaking.
I wrote about money and genetics in an April 26, 2019 posting (Gene editing and personalized medicine: Canada). Scroll down to the subsection titled ‘Cost/benefit analysis’ for a mention of Goldman Sachs, an American global investment banking, securities and investment management firm, and its conclusion that personalized medicine is not a viable business model. I wonder if part of their analysis included the Glybera experience.
Getting back to the July 23, 2019 talk at the VPL’s central branch, I have no doubt the researchers will be discussing some exciting work but the future might not be as rosy as one might hope.
I wasn’t able to find much information about either Adan Ramzy or Maria-Elizabeth Baeva. There’s this for Ramzy (scroll down to Class of 2021) and this for Baeva (scroll down to Scholarships).
WINDS from June 22 to September 29, 2019
This show or exhibition is taking place in New Westminster (part of the Metro Vancouver area) at the Anvil Centre’s New Media Gallery. From the Anvil Centre’s WINDS event page,
WINDS New Media Gallery Exhibition June 22 – September 29 Opening Reception + Artist Talk is on June 21st at 6:30pm
Chris Welsby (UK) Spencer Finch (UK) David Bowen (USA) Nathalie Miebach (Germany/USA)
Our summer exhibition features four exciting, multi-media installations by four international artists from UK and USA. Each artist connects with the representation, recreation and manifestation of wind through physical space and time. Each suggests how our perception and understanding of wind can be created through pressure, sound, data, pattern, music and motion and then further appreciated in poetic or metaphoric ways that might connect us with how the wind influences language, imagination or our understanding of historic events.
All the artists use sound as a key element ; to emphasize or recreate the sonic experience of different winds and their effects, to trigger memory or emotion, or to heighten certain effects that might prompt the viewer to consider significant philosophical questions. Common objects are used in all the works; discarded objects, household or readymade objects and everyday materials; organic, synthetic, natural and manmade. The viewer will find connections with past winds and events both recent and distant. There is an attempt to capture or allude to a moment in time which brings with it suggestions of mortality, thereby transforming the works into poignant memento-mori.
Landscape and weather have long shared an intimate connection with the arts. Each of the works here is a landscape: captured, interpreted and presented through a range of technologies. The four artists in this exhibition have taken, as their material process, the movement of wind through physical space & time. They explore how our perception and understanding of landscape can be interpreted through technology.
These works have been created by what might be understood as a sort of scientific method or process that involves collecting data, acute observation, controlled experiments and the incorporation of measurements and technologies that control or collect motion, pressure, sound, pattern and the like. The artists then take us in other directions; allowing technology or situations to render visible that which is invisible, creating and focussing on peculiar or resonant qualities of sound, light or movement in ways that seem to influence emotion or memory, dwelling on iconic places and events, or revealing in subtle ways, the subjective nature of time. Each of these works suggest questions related to the nature of illusive experience and how or if it can be captured, bringing inevitable connections to authorship, loss, memory and memento mori
David Bowen tele-present wind Image Biography Credits
Spencer Finch (USA) 2 hours, 2 minutes, 2 seconds (Wind at Walden Pond, March 12, 2007) Image Biography Credits
Nathalie Miebach (USA) Hurricane Noel III Image Biography Credits
Chris Welsby (UK) Wind Vane Image Biography Credits
Address New Media Gallery 3rd Floor Anvil Centre 777 Columbia Street New Westminster, BC V3M 1B6
If you want to see the images and biographies for the artists participating in ‘winds’, please go here..
So there you have it, science events and an exhibition in the Vancouver* area for July 2019.
*July 23, 2019 Correction: The word ‘and’ was removed from the final sentence for grammatical correctness.
**July 23, 2018 Correction: I changed the word ‘cure’ to ‘treatment’ so as to be more accurate. The word ‘cure’ suggests permanence and Glybera is supposed to be effective for 10 years or longer but no one really knows.
It seems May 2019 is destined to be a big month where science events in Canada are concerned. I have three national science science promotion programmes, Science Odyssey, Science Rendezvous, and Pint of Science Festival Canada (part of an international effort); two local (Vancouver, Canada) events, an art/sci café from Curiosity Collider and a SciCats science communication workshop; a national/local event at Ingenium’s Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, and an international social media (Twitter) event called #Museum Week.
Science Odyssey 2019 (formerly Science and Technology Week)
In 2016 the federal Liberal government rebranded a longstanding science promotion/education programme known as Science and Technology Week to Science Odyseey and moved it from the autumn to the spring. (Should you be curious about this change, there’s a video on YouTube with Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan and Parliamentary Secretary for Science Terry Beech launching “Science Odyssey, 10 days of innovation and science discovery.” My May 10, 2016 posting provides more details about the change.)
Moving forward to the present day, the 2019 edition of Science Odyseey will run from May 4 – May 19, 2019 for a whopping16 days. The Science Odyssey website can be found here.
Once you get to the website and choose your language, on the page where you land, you’ll find if you scroll down, there’s an option to choose a location (ignore the map until after you’ve successfully chosen a location and clicked on the filter button (it took me at least twice before achieving success; this seems to be a hit and miss affair).
Once you have applied the filter, the map will change and make more sense but I liked using the text list which appears after the filer has been applied better. Should you click on the map, you will lose the filtered text list and have to start over.
Science Rendezvous 2019
I’m not sure I’d call Science Rendezvous the largest science festival in Canada (it seems to me Beakerhead might have a chance at that title) but it did start in 2008 as its Wikipedia entry mentions (Note: Links have been removed),
Science Rendezvous is the largest [emphasis mine] science festival in Canada; its inaugural event happened across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) on Saturday, May 10, 2008. By 2011 the event had gone national, with participation from research institutes, universities, science groups and the public from all across Canada – from Vancouver to St. John’s to Inuvik. Science Rendezvous is a registered not-for-profit organization dedicated to making great science accessible to the public. The 2017 event took place on Saturday May 13 at more than 40 simultaneous venues.
This free all-day event aims to highlight and promote great science in Canada. The target audience is the general public, parents, children and youth, with an ultimate aim of improving enrollment and investment in sciences and technology in the future.
Science Rendezvous is being held on May 11, 2019 and its website can be found here.You can find events listed by province here. There are no entries for Alberta, Nunavut, or Prince Edward Island this year.
Science Rendezvous seems to have a relationship to Science Odyssey, my guess is that they are receiving funds. In any case , you may find that an event on the Science Rendezvous site is also on the Science Odyssey site or vice versa, depending on where you start.
Pint of Science Festival (Canada)
The 2019 Pint of Science Festival will be in 25 cities across Canada from May 20 – 22, 2019. Reminiscent of the Café Scientifique events (Vancouver, Canada) where science and beer are closely interlinked, so it is with the Pint of Science Festival, which has its roots in the UK. (Later, I have something about Guelph, Ontario and its ‘beery’ 2019 Pint event.)
Here’s some history about the Canadian inception and its UK progenitor. From he Pint of Science of Festival Canada website, the About Us page,
About Us Pint of Science is a non-profit organisation that brings some of the most brilliant scientists to your local pub to discuss their latest research and findings with you. You don’t need any prior knowledge, and this is your chance to meet the people responsible for the future of science (and have a pint with them). Our festival runs over a few days in May every year,but we occasionally run events during other months.
A propos de nous Pinte de Science est une organisation à but non lucratif qui amène quelques brillants scientifiques dans un bar près de chez vous pour discuter de leurs dernières recherches et découvertes avec le public. Vous n’avez besoin d’aucune connaissance préalable, et c’est l’occasion de rencontrer les responsables de l’avenir de la science (et de prendre une pinte avec eux). Notre festival se déroule sur quelques jours au mois de mai chaque année, mais nous organisons parfois quelques événements exceptionnels en dehors des dates officielles du festival.
History In 2012 Dr Michael Motskin and Dr Praveen Paul were two research scientists at Imperial College London in the UK. They started and organised an event called ‘Meet the Researchers’. It brought people affected by Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis into their labs to show them the kind of research they do. It was inspirational for both visitors and researchers. They thought if people want to come into labs to meet scientists, why not bring the scientists out to the people? And so Pint of Science was born. In May 2013 they held the first Pint of Science festival in just three UK cities. It quickly took off around the world and is now in nearly 300 cities. Read more here. Pint of Science Canada held its first events in 2016, a full list of locations can be found here.
L’Histoire En 2012, Dr Michael Motskin et Dr Praveen Paul étaient deux chercheurs à l’Imperial College London, au Royaume-Uni. Ils ont organisé un événement intitulé «Rencontrez les chercheurs» et ont amené les personnes atteintes de la maladie de Parkinson, d’Alzheimer, de neuropathie motrice et de sclérose en plaques dans leurs laboratoires pour leur montrer le type de recherche qu’ils menaient. C’était une source d’inspiration pour les visiteurs et les chercheurs. Ils ont pensé que si les gens voulaient se rendre dans les laboratoires pour rencontrer des scientifiques, pourquoi ne pas les faire venir dans des bars? Et ainsi est née une Pinte de Science. En mai 2013, ils ont organisé le premier festival Pinte de Science dans trois villes britanniques. Le festival a rapidement décollé dans le monde entier et se trouve maintenant dans près de 300 villes. Lire la suite ici . Pinte de Science Canada a organisé ses premiers événements en 2016. Vous trouverez une liste complète des lieux ici.
I clicked on ‘Vancouver’ and found a range of bars, dates, and topics. It’s worth checking out every topic because the title doesn’t necessarily get the whole story across. Kudos to the team putting this together. Where these things are concderned, I don’t get surprised often. Here’s how it happened, I was expecting another space travel story when I saw this title: ‘Above and beyond: planetary science’. After clicking on the arrow,
Geology isn’t just about the Earth beneath our feet. Join us for an evening out of this world to discover what we know about the lumps of rock above our heads too!
Thank you for the geology surprise. As for the international part of this festival, you can find at least one bar in Europe, Asia and Australasia, the Americas, and Africa.
Beer and Guelph (Ontario)
I also have to tip my hat to Science Borealis (Canada’s science blog aggregator) for the tweet which led me to Pint of Science Guelph and a very special beer/science ffestival announcement,
Pint of Science Guelph will be held over three nights (May 20, 21, and 22) at six different venues, and will feature twelve different speakers. Each venue will host two speakers with talks ranging from bridging the digital divide to food fraud to the science of bubbles and beer. There will also be trivia and lots of opportunity to chat with the various researchers to learn more about what they do, and why they do it.
But wait! There’s more! Pint of Science Guelph is (as far as I’m aware) the first Pint of Science (2019) in Canada to have its own beer. Thanks to the awesome folks at Wellington Brewery, a small team of Pint of Science Guelph volunteers and speakers spent last Friday at the brewery learning about the brewing process by making a Brut IPA. This tasty beverage will be available as part of the Pint of Science celebration. Just order it by name – Brain Storm IPA.
The event starts promptly at 8pm (doors open at 7:30pm). $5.00-10.00 (sliding scale) cover at the door. Proceeds will be used to cover the cost of running this event, and to fund future Curiosity Collider events. Curiosity Collider is a registered BC non-profit organization.
SciCATs (Science Communication Action Team, uh, something) is a collective of science communicators (and cat fans) providing free, open source, online, skills-based science communication training, resources, and in-person workshops.
We believe that anyone, anywhere should be able to learn the why and the how of science communication!
For the past two years, SciCATs has been developing online resources and delivering science communication workshops to diverse groups of those interested in science communication. We are now hosting an open, public event to help a broader audience of those passionate about science to mix, mingle, and build their science communication skills – all while having fun.
SciCATs’ Fundamentals of Science Communication is a three-hour interactive workshop [emphasis mine] followed by one hour of networking.
For this event, our experienced SciCATs facilitators will lead the audience through our most-requested science communication modules: Why communicate science Finding your message Telling your science as a story Understanding your audience [emphasis mine]
This workshop is ideal for people who are new to science communication [empahsis mine] or those who are more experienced. You might be an undergraduate or graduate student, researcher, technician, or other roles that have an interest in talking to the public about what you do. Perhaps you just want to hang out and meet some local science communicators. This is a great place to do it!
After the workshop we have a reservation at Chaqui Grill (1955 Cornwall), it will be a great opportunity to continue to network with all of the Sci-Cats and science communicators that attend over a beverage! They do have a full dinner menu as well.
Date and Time Sun, May 5, 2019 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM PDT
Location H.R. MacMillan Space Centre 1100 Chestnut Street Vancouver, BC V6J 3J9
Refund Policy Refunds up to 1 day before event
You can find out more about SciCats and its online resources here.
da Vinci in Canada from May 2 to September 2, 2019
This show is a big deal and it’s about to open in Ottawa in our national Science and Technology Museum (one of the Ingenium museums of science), which makes it national in name and local in practice since most of us will not make it to Ottawa during the show’s run.
Canada Science and Technology Museum from May 2 to September 2, 2019.
For the first time in Canada, the Canada Science and Technology Museum presents Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius, the most comprehensive exhibition experience on Leonardo da Vinci to tour the world. Created by Grande Exhibitions in collaboration with the Museo Leonardo da Vinci in Rome and a number of experts and historians from Italy and France, this interactive experience commemorates 500 years of Leonardo’s legacy, immersing visitors in his extraordinary life like never before.
Demonstrating the full scope of Leonardo da Vinci’s achievements, Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius celebrates one of the most revered and dynamic intellects of all time. Revolutionary SENSORY4™ technology allows visitors to take a journey into the mind of the ultimate Renaissance man for the very first time.
Discover for yourself the true genius of Leonardo as an inventor, artist, scientist, anatomist, engineer, architect, sculptor and philosopher. See and interact with over 200 unique displays, including machine inventions, life-size reproductions of Leonardo’s Renaissance art, entertaining animations giving insight into his most notable works, and touchscreen versions of his actual codices.
Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius also includes the world’s exclusive Secrets of Mona Lisa exhibition – an analysis of the world’s most famous painting, conducted at the Louvre Museum by renowned scientific engineer, examiner and photographer of fine art Pascal Cotte.
Whether you are a history aficionado or discovering Leonardo for the first time, Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius is an entertaining, educational and enlightening experience the whole family will love.
For a change I’ve placed the video after its transcript,
The April 30, 2019 Ingenium announcement (received via email) hints at something a little more exciting than walking around and looking at cases,
Discover the true genius of Leonardo as an inventor, artist, scientist, anatomist, engineer, architect, sculptor, and philosopher. See and interact with more than 200 unique displays, including machine inventions, life-size reproductions of Leonardo’s Renaissance art, touchscreen versions of his life’s work, and an immersive, walkthrough cinematic experience. Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius [includes information about entry fees] the exclusive Secrets of Mona Lisa exhibition – an analysis of the world’s most famous painting.
I imagine there will be other events associated with this exhbition but for now there’s an opening night event, which is part of the museum’s Curiosity on Stage series (ticket purchase here),
Curiosity on Stage: Evening Edition – Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius
Join the Italian Embassy and the Canada Science and Technology Museum for an evening of discussion and discovery on the quintessential Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci. Invited speakers from the Galileo Museum in Italy, Carleton University, and the University of Ottawa will explore the historical importance of da Vinci’s diverse body of work, as well as the lasting impact of his legacy on science, technology, and art in our age.
Be among the first to visit the all-new exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius”! Your Curiosity on Stage ticket will grant you access to the exhibit in its entirety, which includes life-size reproductions of Leonardo’s art, touchscreen versions of his codices, and so much more!
Speakers: Andrea Bernardoni (Galileo Museum) – Senior Researcher Angelo Mingarelli (Carleton University) – Mathematician Hanan Anis (University of Ottawa) – Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Lisa Leblanc (Canada Science and Technology Museum) – Director General; Panel Moderator
Join the conversation and share your thoughts using the hashtag #CuriosityOnStage.
Agenda: 5:00 – 6:30 pm: Explore the “Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius” exhibit. Light refreshments and networking opportunities. 6:30 – 8:30 pm: Presentations and Panel discussion Cost: Members: $7 Students: $7 with discount code “SALAI” (valid student ID required on night of event) Non-members: $10 *Parking fees are included with admission.
Tickets are not yet sold out.
#Museum Week 2019
#Museum Week (website) is being billed as “The first worldwide cultural event on social networks. The latest edition is being held from May 13 – 19, 2019. As far as I’m aware, it’s held on Twitter exclusively. You can check out the hash tag feed (#Museum Week) as it’s getting quite active even now.
They don’t have a list of participants for this year which leaves me feeling a little sad. It’s kind of fun to check out how many and which institutions in your country are planning to participate. I would have liked to have seen whether or not the Canada Science and Technology Museum and Science World Vancouver will be there. (I think both participated last year.) Given how busy the hash tag feed becomes during the event, I’m not likely to see them on it even if they’re tweeting madly.
May 2019 looks to be a very busy month for Canadian science enthusiasts! No matter where you are there is something for you.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has often credited his success to spending countless hours studying his opponent’s movements on film. This understanding of movement is necessary for all living species, whether it’s figuring out what angle to throw a ball at, or perceiving the motion of predators and prey. But simple videos can’t actually give us the full picture.
That’s because traditional videos and photos for studying motion are two-dimensional, and don’t show us the underlying 3-D structure of the person or subject of interest. Without the full geometry, we can’t inspect the small and subtle movements that help us move faster, or make sense of the precision needed to perfect our athletic form.
Recently, though, researchers from MIT’s [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have come up with a way to get a better handle on this understanding of complex motion.
The new system uses an algorithm that can take 2-D videos and turn them into 3-D printed “motion sculptures” that show how a human body moves through space. In addition to being an intriguing aesthetic visualization of shape and time, the team envisions that their “MoSculp” system could enable a much more detailed study of motion for professional athletes, dancers, or anyone who wants to improve their physical skills.
“Imagine you have a video of Roger Federer serving a ball in a tennis match, and a video of yourself learning tennis,” says PhD student Xiuming Zhang, lead author of a new paper about the system. “You could then build motion sculptures of both scenarios to compare them and more comprehensively study where you need to improve.”
Because motion sculptures are 3-D, users can use a computer interface to navigate around the structures and see them from different viewpoints, revealing motion-related information inaccessible from the original viewpoint.
Zhang wrote the paper alongside MIT professors William Freeman and Stefanie Mueller, PhD student Jiajun Wu, Google researchers Qiurui He and Tali Dekel, as well as U.C. Berkeley postdoc and former CSAIL PhD Andrew Owens.
How it works
Artists and scientists have long struggled to gain better insight into movement, limited by their own camera lens and what it could provide.
Previous work has mostly used so-called “stroboscopic” photography techniques, which look a lot like the images in a flip book stitched together. But since these photos only show snapshots of movement, you wouldn’t be able to see as much of the trajectory of a person’s arm when they’re hitting a golf ball, for example.
What’s more, these photographs also require laborious pre-shoot setup, such as using a clean background and specialized depth cameras and lighting equipment. All MoSculp needs is a video sequence.
Given an input video, the system first automatically detects 2-D key points on the subject’s body, such as the hip, knee, and ankle of a ballerina while she’s doing a complex dance sequence. Then, it takes the best possible poses from those points to be turned into 3-D “skeletons.”
After stitching these skeletons together, the system generates a motion sculpture that can be 3-D printed, showing the smooth, continuous path of movement traced out by the subject. Users can customize their figures to focus on different body parts, assign different materials to distinguish among parts, and even customize lighting.
In user studies, the researchers found that over 75 percent of subjects felt that MoSculp provided a more detailed visualization for studying motion than the standard photography techniques.
“Dance and highly-skilled athletic motions often seem like ‘moving sculptures’ but they only create fleeting and ephemeral shapes,” says Courtney Brigham, communications lead at Adobe. “This work shows how to take motions and turn them into real sculptures with objective visualizations of movement, providing a way for athletes to analyze their movements for training, requiring no more equipment than a mobile camera and some computing time.”
The system works best for larger movements, like throwing a ball or taking a sweeping leap during a dance sequence. It also works for situations that might obstruct or complicate movement, such as people wearing loose clothing or carrying objects.
Currently, the system only uses single-person scenarios, but the team soon hopes to expand to multiple people. This could open up the potential to study things like social disorders, interpersonal interactions, and team dynamics.
As for anyone wondering about the Muybridge comment, here’s an image the MIT researchers have made available,
A new system uses an algorithm that can take 2-D videos and turn them into 3-D-printed “motion sculptures” that show how a human body moves through space. Image courtesy of MIT CSAIL
Contrast that MIT image with some of the images in this video capturing parts of a theatre production, Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge,
Getting back to MIT, here’s their MoSculp video,
There are some startling similarities, eh? I suppose there are only so many ways one can capture movement be it in studies of Eadweard Muybridge, a theatre production about his work, or an MIT video the latest in motion capture technology.
The image of the book cover for Vancouver’s first ever STEMMinist (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, an d medicine) book club meeting on April 23, 2019 at Vancouver’s Hycroft Manor is seemingly ensconced in a garden located at the University of British Columbia (nowhere near the manor). I could be wrong (it wouldn’t be my first time) but I’m pretty sure I have an old photograph of myself in that garden.
During our inaugural meeting of the STEMMinist Bookclub Vancouver, we will be reading “Broad Band” by Claire Evans. Join us for a lightly guided discussion on the topics covered in this book and we will see where the conversation goes from there! All are welcome!
The plan is to mirror the STEMminist Bookclub that was started in Australia by Dr. Caroline Ford (@DrCFord). We will aim to read one book every two months followed by an in-person meeting here in Vancouver, BC. You can also contribute to the discussion online on twitter @stemminist / #stemministbc.
If you are interested in the contributions of women to science, learning more about the history of science, and want to talk about some of the issues and stories brought up in the books this is the book club for you
Broad Band is available online and in select book stores, and or may be ordered in by your favourite bookstore.
Date and Time Tue, April 23, 2019 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM PDT
Location Hycroft Manor 1489 McRae Avenue Vancouver, BC V6H 1T7
What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event? Free street parking in the surrounding area. Busing: 99 bus, walk or bus up Granville St from Broadway to 16th Ave 33 bus, walk up McRae Ave.
What can I bring into the event? We welcome you to bring your children.
Tea and Coffee will be available for purchase from the venue. Bringing your own is also welcome.
How can I contact the organizer with any questions? VancityStemminists@gmail.com
As to how the STEMMinist book club was founded, there’s a March 15, 2018 article by Caroline Ford for positive.news than call fill in some of those blanks,
Dr. Caroline Ford, co-founder of the Stemminist movement, shares her thoughts on how a supportive and empowering space for women and minorities in Stemm has been found in an unexpected place
Even your grandfather has heard of Stemm these days.
There has been a huge focus on Stemm (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) education in recent years, and a myriad of initiatives launched to encourage more girls and young women to pursue careers in these areas.
… what about the women already working in Stemm, dealing daily with a system that historically did not value them or even want them there? Remarkable women who encounter unconscious and outright bias in their workplaces, and systems that are built to benefit and promote a model of a scientist that doesn’t look or act anything like them. Responding to these numerous challenges, an online community of women in Stemm has been brought together through an unexpected medium – a very modern book club. [emphasis mine]
The STEMMinist Book Club was founded online in January 2018 and has already amassed more than 1,700 members from 25 countries. The online discussion takes place on Twitter, allowing members worldwide the flexibility and opportunity to join the conversation. Twitter has become an important medium for scientists in recent years, with scientists the third most regular users, following journalists and politicians. It can be a supportive and empowering space for women and minorities in Stemm, particularly for those working in more isolated environments.
As well as online discussions of key books about women in Stemm and feminism, group members meet up physically in cities around the world including Sydney, Dublin, Istanbul, Montreal and Oxford. …
I’m familiar with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and STEAM (add in the arts), so STEMM (with medicine added) is new to me. I wonder if there’s be a STEAMM one day? As well, I wonder about the humanities, Are they going to insist on being added so we can have SHTEM, SHTEAM, and SHTEMM/SHTEAMM?
One final note, there are four copies of Broad Band available through the Vancouver Public Library.
I have taken a liberty in the title for this piece, strictly speaking the non-Newtonian goo in the bra isn’t the stuff (ooblek) made of cornstarch and water from your childhood science experiments but it has many of the same qualities. The material in the Reebok bra, PureMove, is called Shear Thickening Fluid and was developed at the University of Delaware in 2005 and subsequently employed by NASA (US National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for use in the suits used by astronauts as noted in an August 6, 2018 article by Elizabeth Secgran for Fast Company who explains how it came be used for the latest sports bra,
While the activewear industry floods the market with hundreds of different sports bras every season, research shows that most female consumers are unsatisfied with their sports bra options, and 1 in 5 women avoid exercise altogether because they don’t have a sports bra that fits them properly.
Reebok wants to make that experience a thing of the past. Today, it launches a new bra, the PureMove, that adapts to your movements, tightening up when you’re moving fast and relaxing when you’re not. …
When I visited Reebok’s Boston headquarters, Witek [Danielle Witek, Reebok designer who spearheaded the R&D making the bra possible] handed me a jar of the fluid with a stick in it. When I moved the stick quickly, it seemed to turn into a solid, and when I moved it slowly, it had the texture of honey. Witek and the scientists have incorporated this fluid into a fabric that Reebok dubs “Motion Sense Technology.” The fluid is woven into the textile, so that on the surface, it looks and feels like the synthetic material you might find in any sports bra. But what you can’t see is that the fabric adapts to the body’s shape, the velocity of the breast tissue in motion, and the type and force of movement. It stretches less with high-impact movements and then stretches more during rest and lower intensity activities.
I tested an early version of the PureMove bra a few months ago, before it had even gone into production. I did a high-intensity workout that involved doing jumping jacks and sprints, followed by a cool-down session. The best thing about the bra was that I didn’t notice it at all. I didn’t feel stifled when I was just strolling around the gym, and I didn’t feel like I was unsupported when I was running around. Ultimately, the best bras are the ones that you don’t have to think about so you can focus on getting on with your life.
Since this technology is so new, Reebok had to do a lot of testing to make sure the bra would actually do what it advertised. The company set up a breast biomechanics testing center with the help of the University of Delaware, with 54 separate motion sensors tracking and measuring various parts of a tester’s chest area. This is a far more rigorous approach than most testing facilities in the industry that typically only use between two to four sensors. Over the course of a year, the facility gathered the data required for the scientists and Reebok product designers to develop the PureMove bra.
… If it’s well-received, the logical next step would be to incorporate the Motion Sense Technology into other products, like running tights or swimsuits, since transitioning between compression and looseness is something that we want in all of our sportswear. ..
For anyone interested in the science of non-Newtonian goo, shear thickening fluid, and NASA, there’s a November 24, 2015 article by Lydia Chain for Popular Science (Note: Links have been removed),
There’s an experiment you may have done in high school: When you mix cornstarch with water—a concoction colloquially called oobleck—and give it a stir, it acts like a liquid. But scrape it quickly or hit it hard, and it stiffens up into a solid. If you set the right pace, you can even run on top of a pool of the stuff. This phenomenon is called shear force thickening, and scientists have been trying to understand how it happens for decades.
There are two main theories, and figuring out which is right could affect the way we make things like cement, body armor, concussion preventing helmets, and even spacesuits.
The prevailing theory is that it’s all about the fluid dynamics (the nature of how fluids move) of the liquid and the particles in a solution. As the particles are pushed closer and closer together, it becomes harder to squeeze the liquid out from between them. Eventually, it’s too hard to squeeze out any more fluid and the particles lock up into hydrodynamic clusters, still separated by a thin film of fluid. They then move together, thickening the mixture and forming a solid.
The other idea is that contact forces like friction keep the particles locked together. Under this theory, when force is applied, the particles actually touch. The shearing force and friction keep them pressed together, which makes the solution more solid.
“The debate has been raging, and we’ve been wracking our brains to think of a method to conclusively go one way or the other,” says Itai Cohen, a physicist at Cornell University. He and his team recently ran a new experiment that seems to point to friction as the driving cause of shear thickening.
Norman Wagner, a chemical engineer at the University of Delaware, says that research into frictional interactions like this is important, but notes that he isn’t completely convinced as Cohen’s team didn’t measure friction directly (they inferred it was friction from their modeling however they didn’t find the exact measurement of the friction between the particles). He also says that there’s a lot of data in the field already that strongly indicates hydrodynamic clusters as the cause for shear thickening.
Wagner and his team are working on a NASA funded project to improve space suits so that micrometeorites or other debris can’t puncture them. They have also bent their technology to make padding for helmets and shin guards that would do a better job protecting athletes from harmful impacts. They are even making puncture resistant gloves that would give healthcare workers the same dexterity as current ones but with extra protection against accidental needle sticks.
“It’s a very exciting area,” says Wagner. He’s very interested in designing materials that automatically protect someone, without robotics or power. …
I guess that in 2015 Wagner didn’t realize his work would also end up in a 2018 sports bra.
I have two bits about the Romans: the first is noted in the head for this posting and the second is about a chance to experience a Roman style classroom.
Empire of Letters
This January 8, 2019 news item on phys.org announces a book about how the technology of writing influenced how ancient Romans saw the world and provides a counterpoint to the notion that the ancient world (in Europe) was relentlessly oral in nature,
The Roman poet Lucretius’ epic work “De rerum natura,” or “On the Nature of Things,” is the oldest surviving scientific treatise written in Latin. Composed around 55 B.C.E., the text is a lengthy piece of contrarianism. Lucreutius was in the Epicurean school of philosophy: He wanted an account of the world rooted in earthly matter, rather than explanations based on the Gods and religion
Among other things, Lucretius believed in atomism, the idea that the world and cosmos consisted of minute pieces of matter, rather than four essential elements. To explain this point, Lucretius asked readers to think of bits of matter as being like letters of the alphabet. Indeed, both atoms and letters are called “elementa” in Latin—probably derived from the grouping of L,M, and N in the alphabet
To learn these elements of writing, students would copy out tables of letters and syllables, which Lucretius thought also served as a model for understanding the world, since matter and letters could be rearranged in parallel ways. For instance, Lucretius wrote, wood could be turned into fire by adding a little heat, while the word for wood, “lingum,” could be turned into the world for fire, “ignes,” by altering a few letters.
Students taking this analogy to heart would thus learn “the combinatory potential of nature and language,” says Stephanie Frampton, an associate professor of literature at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], in a new book on writing in the Roman world.
Moreover, Frampton emphasizes, the fact that students were learning all this specifically through writing exercises is a significant and underappreciated point in our understanding of ancient Rome: Writing, and the tools of writing, helped shape the Roman world.
“Everyone says the ancients are really into spoken and performed poetry, and don’t care about the written word,” Frampton says. “But look at Lucretius, who’s the first person writing a scientific text in Latin — the way that he explains his scientific insight is through this metaphor founded upon the written word.”
Frampton explores this and other connections between writing and Roman society in her new work, “Empire of Letters,” published last week by Oxford University Press [according to their webpage, the paper version will be published on February 4, 2019; the e-book is now available for purchase].
The book is a history of technology itself, as Frampton examines the particulars of Roman books — which often existed as scrolls back then — and their evolution over time. But a central focus of the work is how those technologies influenced how the Romans “thought about thought,” as she says.
Moreover, as Frampton notes, she is studying the history of Romans as “literate creatures,” which means studying the tools of writing used not just in completed works, but in education, too. The letter tables detailed by Lucretius are just one example of this. Romans also learned to read and write using wax tablets that they could wipe clean after exercises.
The need to wipe such tablets clean drove the Roman emphasis on learning the art of memory — including the “memory palace” method, which uses visualized locations for items to remember them, and which is still around today. For this reason Cicero, among other Roman writers, called memory and writing “most similar, though in a different medium.” As Frampton writes in the book, such tablets also produced “an intimate and complex relationship with memory” in the Roman world, and meant that “memory was a fundamental part of literary composition.”
Tablets also became a common Roman metaphor for how our brains work: They thought “the mind is like a wax tablet where you can write and erase and rewrite,” Frampton says. Understanding this kind of relationship between technology and the intellect, she thinks, helps us get that much closer to life as the Romans lived it
“I think it’s analagous to early computing,” Frampton says. “The way we talk about the mind now is that it’s a computer. … We think about the computer in the same way that [intellectuals] in Rome were thinking about writing on wax tablets.”
As Frampton discusses in the book, she believes the Romans did produce a number of physical innovations to the typical scroll-based back of the classic world, including changes in layout, format, coloring pigments, and possibly even book covers and the materials used as scroll handles, including ivory.
“The Romans were engineers, that’s [one thing] they were famous for,” Frampton says. “They are quite interesting and innovative in material culture.”
Looking beyond “Empire of Letters” itself, Frampton will co-teach an MIT undergraduate course in 2019, “Making Books,” that looks at the history of the book and gets students to use old technologies to produce books as they were once made. While that course has previously focused on printing-press technology, Frampton will help students go back even further in time, to the days of the scroll and codex, if they wish. All these reading devices, after all, were important innovations in their day.
“I’m working on old media,” Frampton says, “But those old media were once new.” [emphasis mine]
While the technologies Carolyn Marvin was writing about were not quite as old Frampton’s, she too noted the point about old and new technology in her 1990 book “When Old Technologies Were New” published by the Oxford University Press in 1990.
Getting back to Frampton, she has founded an organization known as the Materia Network, which is focused on (from @materianetwork’s Twitter description) “New Approaches to Material Text in the Roman World is a conference series and network for scholars of books and writing in Classical antiquity.”
You can find Materia here. They do have a Call for Proposals but I believe the deadline should read: December 20, 2018 (not 2019) since the conference will be held in April 2019).
I have a couple of final comments. (1) The grand daddy of oral and literate culture discussion is Walter J. Ong and I’m referring specifically to his 1982 book, Orality and Literacy. BTW, in addition to being a English Literature professor, the man was a Jesuit priest.
Reading Ancient Schoolroom
(2) The University of Reading (UK) has organized over the last few years, although they skipped in 2018, a series of events known as Reading Ancient Schoolroom (my August 9, 2018 posting features the ‘schoolroom’). The 2019 event is taking place January 23 – 25, 2019. You can find out more about the 2019 opportunity here. For anyone who can’t get to the UK easily, here’s a video of the Reading Ancient Schoolroom,
The Reading Ancient Schoolroom is a historically accurate reconstruction of an ancient schoolroom. It gives modern children an immersive experience of antiquity, acting the part of ancient children, wearing their clothes and using their writing equipment. It was developed by Eleanor Dickey at the University of Reading. Find out more at: www.readingancientschoolroom.com
The conference itself will be held from May 22 – 24, 2019 at Arizona State University (ASU) and the deadline for abstracts is January 31, 2019. Here’s the news straight from the January 8, 2019 email announcement,
The Seventh Annual Conference on Governance of Emerging Technologies & Science (GETS)
May 22-24, 2019 / ASU / Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law 111 E. Taylor St., Phoenix, AZ The conference will consist of plenary and session presentations and discussions on regulatory, governance, legal, policy, social and ethical aspects of emerging technologies, including nanotechnology, synthetic biology, gene editing, biotechnology, genomics, personalized medicine, digital health, human enhancement, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, internet of things (IoT), blockchain and much, much more! Submit Your Abstract Here: 2019 Abstract or Conference Website
Call for abstracts:
The co-sponsors invite submission of abstracts for proposed presentations. Submitters of abstracts need not provide a written paper, although provision will be made for posting and possible post-conference publication of papers for those who are interested. Abstracts are invited for any aspect or topic relating to the governance of emerging technologies, including any of the technologies listed above.
· Abstracts should not exceed 500 words and must contain your name and email address. · Abstracts must be submitted by January 31, 2019 to be considered. · The sponsors will pay for the conference registration (including all conference meals and events) for one presenter for each accepted abstract. In addition, we will have limited funds available for travel subsidies (application included in submission form). For more informationcontact our Executive Director Josh Abbott at Josh.Abbott@asu.edu.
I received an email (Dec. 19, 2018) from the ArtSci Salon folks in Toronto (Canada) about this call for submissions. It’s a bit late but there’s still time (Jan. 14, 2019) to make the deadline, From a December 19, 2018 ArtSci Salon announcement,
Tech Art Fair
February 16 – 18, 2019 at the Ontario Science Centre
Juried Competition: Call for Applications to Participate in the Tech Art Fair
you a tech-focused artist who wants to showcase your work in a diverse
and dynamic public venue? Do you enjoy face-to-face conversations about
what you do? Would you like to expand your network and generate new
synergies within a global like-minded community? The Tech Art Fair at
the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto will highlight creative processes
and provide an opportunity for participants to launch and test-drive
creative ideas during a three-day winter holiday event, anticipated to
attract up to 10,000 visitors. The Tech Art Fair will be complemented by
an online exhibition hosted by the New York-based SciArt Center.
This is a call for applications to participate in the Tech Art Fair to be held in the Great Hall of the Ontario Science Centre from February 16 through to February 18, 2019. Up to 20 applicants will be selected through a juried competition to demonstrate and exhibit work and sell affordable items at the Tech Art Fair. In addition to participation in the Tech Art Fair, participants will be considered for the art studio residences at MOCA Toronto [Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto], leading to an exhibition at the Ontario Science Centre.
Eligible Art and Selection Criteria
call is open to artists, artist collectives, innovative entrepreneurs
and interdisciplinary makers. Original art projects made in classic or
digital media will be considered. This could include installations,
immersive 3D works, innovative craft projects, electronics, Internet of
Things projects and wearables, decorative arts, furniture, functional
glass, ceramics and textiles.
We’re seeking provocative and unconventional art with a connection to science and technology that reveals your creative
process, inspires awe and excitement and sparks dialogue. We’ll also be
looking for work which facilitates interaction, collaboration and
creation with our visitors.
will be provided with a designated space containing one 6-foot table,
two chairs and electrical power. Additional vertical supports (up to 6
feet in height) will be available for a limited number of works.
Opportunities for displaying large-scale art pieces, hanging
installations or video projections will be limited. Applicants selected
by the jury will be required to sign a participation agreement with the
Ontario Science Centre to participate in the Tech Art Fair. Please
review the agreement:
your agreement to execute and fulfill the terms of this agreement is a
pre-condition to consideration by the jury. As set out in the agreement,
you must be in attendance at the Ontario Science Centre during the
Centre’s working hours for the duration of the Tech Art Fair.
Rachel Birnberg and Cecilia Garcia, North York Arts
October 31, 2018, 9 a.m. – Call for Applications opens January 14, 2019, 11:59 p.m. – Call for applications closes January 14 – 17, 2019 – Juried competition underway January 18, 2019 – The Centre begins notifying successful applicants January 26, 2019 – Due date for signed participant agreements February 15, 2019, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Participant set-up complete February 16, 2019, 10 a.m. – Tech Art Fair opens to the public February 18, 2019, 5 p.m. – Tech Art Fair closes to the public
I have looked at the ‘agreement’ and given the constraints and apparent lack of any funding for travel, this call is probably more suitable for artists based in Ontario and/or in close proximity to Toronto. You can find the original call for submissions here on the Ontario Science Centre’s site.
The dates are November 7 -9, 2018 and as the opening draws closer I’m getting more ‘breathlessly enthusiastic’ announcements. Here are a few highlights from an October 23, 2018 announcement received via email,
CSPC 2018 is honoured to announce that the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, will be delivering the keynote speech of the Gala Dinner on Thursday, November 8 at 7:00 PM. Minister Duncan will also hand out the 4th Science Policy Award of Excellence to the winner of this year’s competition.
CSPC 2018 features 250 speakers, a record number, and above is the breakdown of the positions they hold, over 43% of them being at the executive level and 57% of our speakers being women.
*All information as of October 15, 2018
If you think that you will not meet any new people at CSPC and all of the registrants are the same as last year, think again!
Over 57% of registrants are attending the conference for the FIRST TIME!
Secure your spot today!
*All information as of October 15, 2018
Here’s more from an October 31, 2018 announcement received via email,
One year after her appointment as Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer will discuss her experience with the community. Don’t miss this opportunity.
[Canadian Science Policy Centre editorials in advance of conference]
Role Title: Director of Communications
Deadline: November 5, 2018
Salary: $115,000 to $165,000
About the Council of Canadian Academies
The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) is a not-for-profit organization that conducts assessments of evidence on scientific topics of public interest to inform decision-making in Canada.
The CCA is seeking an experienced communications professional to join its senior management team as Director of Communications. Reporting to the President and CEO, the Director is responsible for developing and implementing a communications plan for the organization that promotes and highlights the CCA’s work, brand, and overall mission to a variety of potential users and stakeholders; overseeing the publication and dissemination of high-quality hard copy and online products; and providing strategic advice to the President and CCA’s Board, Committees, and Panels. In fulfilling these responsibilities, the Director of Communications is expected to work with a variety of interested groups including the media, the broad policy community, government, and non-governmental organizations.
Key Responsibilities and Accountabilities
Under the direction of the President and CEO, the Director leads a small team of communications and publishing professionals to meet the responsibilities and accountabilities outlined below.
Strategy Development and External Communications
• Develop and execute an overall strategic communications plan for the organization that promotes and highlights the CCA’s work, brand, and overall mission.
• Oversee the CCA’s presence and influence on digital and social platforms including the development and execution of a comprehensive content strategy for linking CCA’s work with the broader science and policy ecosystem with a focus on promoting and disseminating the findings of the CCA’s expert panel reports.
• Provide support, as needed for relevant government relations activities including liaising with communications counterparts, preparing briefing materials, responding to requests to share CCA information, and coordinating any appearances before Parliamentary committees or other bodies.
• Harness opportunities for advancing the uptake and use of CCA assessments, including leveraging the strengths of key partners particularly the founding Academies.
Publication and Creative Services
• Oversee the creative services, quality control, and publication of all CCA’s expert panel reports including translation, layout, quality assurance, graphic design, proofreading, and printing processes.
• Oversee the creative development and publication of all CCA’s corporate materials including the Annual Report and Corporate Plan through content development, editing, layout, translation, graphic design, proofreading, and printing processes.
Advice and Issues Management
• Provide strategic advice and support to the President’s Office, Board of Directors, Committees, and CCA staff about increasing the overall impact of CCA expert panel reports, brand awareness, outreach opportunities, and effective science communication.
• Provide support to the President by anticipating project-based or organizational issues, understanding potential implications, and suggesting strategic management solutions.
• Ensure consistent messages, style, and approaches in the delivery of all internal and external communications across the organization.
• Mentor, train, and advise up to five communications and publishing staff on a day-to-day basis and complete annual performance reviews and planning.
• Lead the development and implementation of all CCA-wide policy and procedures relating to all aspects of communications and publishing.
• Represent the issues, needs, and ongoing requirements for the communications and publishing staff as a member of the CCA senior management team.
The Director of Communications requires:
• Superior knowledge of communications and public relations principles – preferably as it applies in a non-profit or academic setting;
• Extensive experience in communications planning and issues management;
• Knowledge of current research, editorial, and publication production standards and procedures including but not limited to: translation, copy-editing, layout/design, proofreading and publishing;
• Knowledge of evaluating impact of reports and assessments;
• Knowledge in developing content strategy, knowledge mobilization techniques, and creative services and design;
• Knowledge of human resource management techniques and experience managing a team;
• Experience in coordinating, organizing and implementing communications activities including those involving sensitive topics;
• Knowledge of the relationships and major players in Canada’s intramural and extramural science and public policy ecosystem, including awareness of federal science departments and Parliamentary committees, funding bodies, and related research groups;
• Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Creative Suite, WordPress and other related programs;
• Knowledge of a variety of social media platforms and measurement tools.
The Director of Communications must have:
• Superior time and project management skills
• Superior writing skills
• Superior ability to think strategically regarding how best to raise the CCA’s profile and ensure impact of the CCA’s expert panel reports
• Ability to be flexible and adaptable; able to respond quickly to unanticipated demands
• Strong advisory, negotiation, and problem-solving skills
• Strong skills in risk mitigation
• Superior ability to communicate in both written and oral forms, effectively and diplomatically
• Ability to mentor, train, and provide constructive feedback to direct reports
Education and Experience
This knowledge and skillset is typically obtained through the completion of a post-secondary degree in Journalism, Communications, Public Affairs or a related field, and/or a minimum of 10
years of progressive and related experience. Experience in an organization that has addressed topics in public policy would be valuable.
Language Requirements: This position is English Essential. Fluency in French is a strong asset.
To apply to this position please send your CV and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org before November 5, 2018. The cover letter should answer the following questions in 1,000 words or less:
1. How does your background and work experience make you well-suited for the position of Director of Communications at CCA?
2. What trends do you see emerging in the communications field generally, and in science and policy communications more specifically? How might CCA take advantage of these trends and developments?
3. Knowing that CCA is in the business of conducting assessments of evidence on important policy topics, how do you feel communicating this type of science differs from communicating other types of information and knowledge?
While research is world-class and technology start-ups are thriving, few companies grow and mature in Canada. This cycle — invent and sell, invent and sell — allows other countries to capture much of the economic and social benefits of Canadian-invented products, processes, marketing methods, and business models. …
So, the problem is ‘invent and sell’. Leaving aside the questionable conclusion that other countries are reaping the benefits of Canadian innovation (I’ll get back to that shortly), what questions could you ask about how to break the ‘invent and sell, invent and sell’ cycle? Hmm, maybe we should ask, How do we break the ‘invent and sell’ cycle in Canada?
… Escaping this cycle may be aided through education and training of innovation managers who can systematically manage ideas for commercial success and motivate others to reimagine innovation in Canada.
To understand how to better support innovation management in Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) asked the CCA two critical questions: What are the key skills required to manage innovation? And, what are the leading practices for teaching these skills in business schools, other academic departments, colleges/polytechnics, and industry?
As lawyers, journalists, scientists, doctors, librarians, and anyone who’s ever received misinformation can tell you, asking the right questions can make a big difference.
As for the conclusion that other countries are reaping the benefits of Canadian innovation, is there any supporting data? We enjoy a very high standard of living and have done so for at least a couple of generations. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has a Better Life Index, which ranks well-being on these 11 dimensions (from the OECD Better Life Index entry on Wikipedia), Note: Links have been removed,
Housing: housing conditions and spendings (e.g. real estate pricing)
Income: household income and financial wealth
Jobs: earnings, job security and unemployment
Community: quality of social support network
Education: education and what you get out of it
Environment: quality of environment (e.g. environmental health)
This notion that other countries are profiting from Canadian innovation while we lag behind has been repeated so often that it’s become an article of faith and I never questioned it until someone else challenged me. This article of faith is repeated internationally and sometimes seems that every country in the world is worried that someone else will benefit from their national innovation.
Getting back to the Canadian situation, we’ve decided to approach the problem by not asking questions about our article of faith or how to break the ‘invent and sell’ cycle. Instead of questioning an assumption and producing an open-ended question, we have these questions (1) What are the key skills required to manage innovation? (2) And, what are the leading practices for teaching these skills in business schools, other academic departments, colleges/polytechnics, and industry?
in my world that first question, would be a second tier question, at best. The second question, presupposes the answer: more training in universities and colleges. I took a look at the report’s Expert Panel webpage and found it populated by five individuals who are either academics or have strong ties to academe. They did have a workshop and the list of participants does include people who run businesses, from the Improving Innovation Through Better Management‘ report (Note: Formatting has not been preserved),
Former President and Vice-Chancellor of
Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, ON)
Richard Boudreault, FCAE,
Chairman, Sigma Energy
Storage (Montréal, QC)
Judy Fairburn, FCAE,
Past Board Chair, Alberta Innovates;
retired EVP Business Innovation & Chief Digital Officer,
Cenovus Energy Inc. (Calgary, AB)
Tom Jenkins, O.C., FCAE,
Chair of the Board, OpenText
Director of the Institute for Gender and the
Economy and Distinguished Professor, Rotman School of
Management, University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)
Senior Vice President of Engineering,
Shopify Inc. (Ottawa, ON)
Academic Director and Professor, i2I, Beedie
School of Business, Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, BC)
John L. Mann, FCAE,
Owner, Mann Consulting
CEO, Volta Labs (Halifax, NS)
Professor of Higher Education and Director of
the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International
Higher Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education,
University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)
Professor and Chair, J. Herbert Smith
Centre for Technology Management & Entrepreneurship,
Faculty of Engineering, University of New Brunswick
Senior Executive, Innovation, IBM Canada
J. Mark Weber,
Eyton Director, Conrad School of
Entrepreneurship & Business, University of Waterloo
I am a little puzzled by the IBM executive’s presence (Dan Sinai) on this list. Wouldn’t Canadians holding onto their companies be counterproductive to IBM’s interests? As for John L. Mann, I’ve not been able to find him or his consulting company online. it’s unusual not to find any trace of an individual or company online these days.
In all there were nine individuals representing academic or government institutions in this list. The gender balance is 10 males and five females for the workshop participants and three males and two females for the expert panel. There is no representation from the North or from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland.
If they’re serious about looking at how to use innovation to drive higher standards of living, why aren’t there any people from Asian countries where they have been succeeding at that very project? South Korea and China come to mind.
I’m sure there are some excellent ideas in the report, I just wish they’d taken their topic to heart and actually tried to approach innovation in Canada in an innovative fashion.
Meanwhile, Vancouver gets another technology hub, from an October 30, 2018 article by Kenneth Chan for the Daily Hive (Vancouver [Canada]), Note: Links have been removed,
Vancouver’s rapidly growing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tech sectors will greatly benefit from a new VR and AR hub created by Launch Academy.
The technology incubator has opened a VR and AR hub at its existing office at 300-128 West Hastings Street in downtown, in partnership with VR/AR Association Vancouver. Immersive tech companies have access to desk space, mentorship programs, VR/AR equipment rentals, investor relations connected to Silicon Valley [emphasis mine], advisory services, and community events and workshops.
Within the Vancouver tech industry, the immersive sector has grown from 15 companies working in VR and AR in 2015 to 220 organizations today.
Globally, the VR and AR market is expected to hit a value of $108 billion by 2021, with tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft [emphasis mine] investing billions into product development.
In the Vancouver region, the ‘invent and sell’ cycle can be traced back to the 19th century.
One more thing, as I was writing this piece I tripped across this news: “$7.7-billion pact makes Encana more American than Canadian‘ by Geoffrey Morgan. It’s in the Nov. 2, 2018 print edition of the Vancouver Sun’s front page for business. “Encana Corp., the storied Canadian company that had been slowly transitioning away from Canada and natural gas over the past few years under CEO [Chief Executive Officer] Doug Suttles, has pivoted aggressively to US shale basins. … Suttles, formerly as BP Plc. executive, moved from Calgary [Alberta, Canada] to Denver [Colorado, US], though the company said that was for personal reasons and not a precursor to relocation of Encana’s headquarters.” Yes, that’s quite believable. By the way, Suttles has spent* most of his life in the US (Wikipedia entry).
In any event, it’s not just Canadian emerging technology companies that get sold or somehow shifted out of Canada.
So, should we break the cycle and, if so, how are we going to do it?
*’spend’ corrected to ‘spent’ on November 6, 2018.