If you were following along last Thursday you’d know that I went on an adult-only field trip. The purpose of the excursion was to showcase how exciting and relevant science is for everyone so Science World and Simon Fraser University asked this diverse group of bloggers to share a day of science-y fun with friends and followers.
It doesn’t take a lot of convincing for me to know that science is fascinating and relevant to our lives. In sharing this experience with you, my hope is you’ll feel the same way.
There are some smart peeps doing some pretty amazing work in our fair city of Vancouver. I just wish that they could figure out how to stop the torrential rain from getting in the way of the fun. I suppose there are people working on that too.
Highlights of the #VanScienceSocial Adult-Only Field Trip
There was so much to see and talk about on this field trip but I’ll just give you the highlights because really, I could go on and on.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of really great shots for you to see. I really should break out my SLR for days like this as I’m not too happy with the photos I took. Please excuse the non-pinterest worthy snaps of my day.
Here are a few peeps, including John Bieler, ready to enter the hyper/hypobaric chamber up at SFU. This is a safe experiment (after filling out a very thorough medical form and being cleared by the doctor) in which the brave are taken to a simulated depth of 150 feet below sea level.
Having had too many negative experiences myself, including a comparatively shallow dive many years ago gone horribly wrong when my ears wouldn’t equalize, I opted out. Besides, if I wanted to feel drunk, as they did when experiencing slight nitrogen narcosis (the bends) in the chamber, I would just drink wine. Which I happily did by the way, when we returned to Science World for a champagne reception and dinner after the fun up at SFU.
Geeking Out for Astronomy
This is the real deal people! This is the very first full-colour photograph taken by the Trottier Conservatory telescope of the M101 constellation Ursa Major, millions of light years away. It took about four hours exposure to get this image, which I understand is very fast.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate, it rained cats, dogs and hailstones which didn’t allow the roof to be opened. Still, I was mesmerized listening to lead scientist, Dr. Howard Trottier, Mr. Starry Nights as he is affectionately known, talk about galaxies and stars and possible life beyond our solar system. He’s like a little kid and so fun to listen to.
The Trottier Observatory and Science Courtyard offers star-gazers both young and not so young, a chance to learn about astromomy, and even try out this amazing telescope. Cool, right?
We also had the chance to observe the strange behaviour of Ruff sandpipers, which live in the world’s largest Ruff Aviary at SFU. What is so strange you ask?
The crazy genetic diversity amongst this breed of bird says it all. Basically, there are three genetically different males Ruffs. That’s right. They all play very specific roles, using competition, collaboration and trickery during mating season to ensure their genetics get passed on. The black variety are dominant and territorial. The other males know this and use it to their advantage by hanging around their rivals and jump at the chance when the ladies swing by, if you catch my drift. Such opportunists!
Ruffs are not only persistently frisky at this time of year but often display both heterosexual and homosexual behaviour. Every bird sports different plumage which allows them to recognize and confuse each other without making any sound at all.
It was interesting to watch Dov Lank, SFU biologist, introduce a female mimic (a male that looks like a female, a little smaller and plain looking) to the males to see their reaction. Fascinating stuff.
If you’d like to know more about ruffs and the research up at SFU, click HERE.
Made in Canada Exhibit at Science World
The Made in Canada exhibit was by far my favourite part of the field trip mainly because I could see my son and I spending hours here building and creating stuff. And the message that even if you fail you can still create amazing things, in fact, it is necessary to the process, is on point with much of what we talk about these days.
The only part that I didn’t find fun was riding in the virtual canoe. Maybe it’s just my old sensibility kicking in, but I expected the virtual world we were immersed in would be more lifelike. And the controls didn’t really work for me so there’s that. But there was so much that was awesome of course, it’s Science World!
At the Made in Canada Exhibit you can:
- build a structure out of just two materials; dowels and elastic bands
- build and perfect flight of a styrofoam, including room to throw them. Woot!
- build a model bobsled that goes down the hill in exactly five seconds. Not as easy as it sounds.
- add-on bricks to a super cool Lego city of Vancouver
- marvel in all the amazing Canadian inventions
Canadian Inventions and Inventors at Science World
If you’re a techie geek like me you’d appreciate this glorious machine. This beauty is the innards of a D-Wave quantum computer, created and built right here in BC. I’m no scientist, but I know that we are in for a ride as this technology is already changing the way computers are used. Swoon!
And this? It is going to revolutionize the way we grow food. Imagine fresh, organic tomatoes all year round, without ever having to deal with messy soil. Watering? Forget it! Think of this as a plant-growing Nespresso system without the waste. Just insert the pod and away you go!
Can you imagine a world in which nuclear energy is obsolete? The company whose invention this is certainly can! This piston is part of an amazing machine that will generate clean energy for many years to come. And they are Canadian scientists. Yes. Yes they are.
There’s so much more to see than what I’ve shown here. So go on. Check out Made in Canada at Science World with your kids. And be prepared to be gob-smacked.