Tag Archives: Burnaby

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!

Burnaby-based company (Canada) challenges fossil fuel consumption with nuclear fusion

General Fusion, a Burnaby-based company getting ready to commercialize nuclear fusion by the end of this decade, is making a bit of a media splash. From a Nov. 30, 2011 news item on physorg.com (written by Tim Lawrence for AFP),

In the race against world governments and the wealthiest companies to commercialize a nuclear fusion reactor, a small, innovative Canadian firm is hoping to bottle and sell the sun’s energy.

They hope to test a prototype in 2014 and eventually become the first to commercialize the technology, offering a safe, cheap, pollution-free and virtually inexhaustible source of energy.

“What we’re trying to do is build the technology that can make the power that drives the sun, make it here on earth,” said Michael Delage, General Fusion’s vice president.

Most times when we hear ‘nuclear’, especially in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident, we think of nuclear fission not nuclear fusion, which is a different technology. From the General Fusion website page on Safety,

Nuclear fusion power plants produce electricity without incurring the dangers associated with nuclear fission.

Fusion systems cannot melt down or explode since the fusion reaction only acts on a small amount of nuclear fuel at a time and can only occur if suitable conditions can be created and maintained for a sufficient time. If any part of the process does not work perfectly, fusion will not occur. In contrast, in a fission reactor, fuel is added in bulk and the reactor controls the rate at which a chain reaction occurs; if the control mechanism fails, the reaction can run away and a meltdown can occur.

Fusion systems do not use or produce highly active, long-lived radioactive waste. In contrast, fission reactors create reaction products that are unstable and more highly radioactive than the parent fuel material. Some of these fission products have half-lives of tens of thousands of years, creating long-term radioactive waste storage problems.

Fusion power plants are unattractive terrorist targets since their destruction cannot cause widespread environmental damage or human injury, and they do not produce or contain any materials that could be used for making bombs.

The description of the benefits from the technology are certainly persuasive (from the General Fusion website section on Benefits),


Nuclear fusion power plants produce electricity without emitting greenhouse gases or pollutants.


General Fusion’s technology preserves non-renewable resources and promotes energy access, independence and security.

General Fusion power plants use deuterium and lithium as input fuel. The generator converts the lithium into tritium during the reaction process.

Lithium is abundant and widely available. The current annual lithium production is 16,000 t with 28.5 Mt of known land reserves and 250 Gt of seawater reserves. If fusion power plants were used to generate all of today’s electricity, land and sea reserves of lithium would be sufficient for 207 million years of production.

If you prefer to get your information via video,

Good luck to the  folks at General Fusion!