LogiCON 2014 Talks

This year, no need to pick and choose: you get to see all of these amazing talks! Talk order is subject to change. Follow @LogiCONNews for info.

Tickets available on EventBrite

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Of Boiling Water and Dark Matter

Carsten Krauss

When you leave your teapot with water in the microwave too long you produce an interesting state called superheat. This state of liquids has been used to detect rare phenomena in physics for a long time. Now, researchers are trying to tackle the problem of what dark matter is using the same principle in an all tricked out new detection system. I will explain particle detection with superheated liquids and present the current status of experiments trying to identify the nature of dark matter with large amounts of superheated liquid at SNOLAB in Sudbury, Ontario.

9:35 AM - 10:05 AM

The Good, The Bad, and The Down Right Ugly: Why Information Matters

Virginia Pow

In our day and age of instant access to amazing quantities of information, how to we sift through and find out the best sources to use and when to use them?

10:10 AM - 10:40 AM

What is Quantum Physics and How Did it Develop?

John Davis

Many people have heard the phrase quantum physics, but don't really know what this is. I will attempt to walk you through the progression of ideas that lead to the development of quantum physics, highlighting the major breakthroughs in understanding. You will see how straightforward logic, with a few dashes of genius, led to a revolution in the way we think about the world around us. In the end, I hope this will elucidate why researchers like myself explore ultra-low temperatures and how this is the playground of quantum physics.

10:50 AM - 11:20 AM

Cutting Edges not Corners: Science and Ethics in Research

Robbin Derry

Ethics are often thought of as fluid, hard to pin down, conveniently variable between situations and cultures. Science, on the other hand, has harder edges, and cleaner definitions. It is reliably the same whatever the situation or culture. So what happens when ethics and science converge? Do they conflict or compliment? Does one trump? In the world of business research, we have many opportunities to investigate this convergence. What questions should we ask as consumers of research, about the rules of science and ethics in everyday research? In the news, in our schoolwork, in conversations at work and at home, we hear and absorb data that is presented to us as reliable facts. It is our job to sift through this information to distinguish science from not science, and to consider the ethical implications of research claims and processes. Science and ethics teach us to ask essential questions about the research we conduct and the research we believe.

11:25 AM - 11:50 AM

Real Life on Simulated Mars

Ross Lockwood

The first trip to Mars may occur as early 2030, but there is a lot of work to be done to prepare for a successful mission to the red planet. Analog simulations like the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation are used to study everything from life-support systems to the psychological impact on future astronauts. These low-cost analogs help researchers plan long-duration missions that closely replicate many of the conditions that exist on Mars. For the last two months, I have been living in a habitat built on the desolate lava fields of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, simulating the life of a Martian in the Tharsis region of Mars.

11:50 AM - 12:50 PM

Lunch Hour

The food court near the CN Theatre will be open for business during the lunch hour.

12:50 PM - 1:00 PM

Real Life on Simulated Mars - Answers to Recorded Questions

Ross Lockwood

Due to the simulated time-delayed nature of communications with Mars, the questions for Ross will be recorded at the end of his talk and his answers will be played back after the lunch hour.

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Cosmic Light from the Big Bang

Sharon Morsink

When astronomers look deep into any region of space that appears empty of stars or galaxies, we we see "light" (actually microwave radiation) coming from that location. This cosmic light, known as the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) is light that was emitted at a time when the universe was much hotter and denser than it is today. In this talk, I will discuss why this is evidence that supports the idea of a "Big Bang" beginning to our Universe. I will also explain how observations of polarized light in the CMBR by the BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica might be evidence for a conjecture called "inflation" which suggests that during the Big Bang's early moments there was a period of extra-fast expansion of space.

1:35 PM - 2:05 PM

The Art of Reading Popular Science

Rachelle Saunders

Pop science books have never been more popular than they are now: visit any bookstore and you'll see shelves and shelves of books on the latest from the science world ranging from cosmology, quantum theory, climate science, neurology, psychology, sociology, biology... and all of the other "ologies". But just because it says "science" on the book jacket doesn't mean that's necessarily what you're getting on the inside. There are a lot of books out there of dubious quality and – more confusingly – books that contain both good and bad science within the same covers. How do we stay open-minded enough to learn but remain skeptical enough not to be fooled? Follow the "Science for the People" team as we grapple with this question every week. How do we sort through dozens of pop-science books from the initial request process to deciding what makes the final interview?

2:10 PM - 2:40 PM

It’s About Time…

Marc MacKenzie

What does radiation tell us about time? Quite a lot, actually. From using radiometric dating to estimate the age of artifacts, to estimating the age of the earth, and even to ‘listening’ for the ‘echo’ of the Big Bang in the electromagnetic spectrum, some form of radiation is being used as the yardstick of the ages. From early attempts to measure the speed of light, to today’s most precise atomic clocks used in conjunction with GPS to give centimetre accuracy, radioactivity and electromagnetic radiation are all about timing. We’ll explore some of the forays in to timing with radiation.

2:45 PM - 3:15 PM

To Infinity... and Beyond?

Alan Thompson

Most people are familiar with finite collections of objects and the rules that govern them. For instance, suppose I have a box of oranges. Then it is easy to count how many oranges the box contains and, given a second box of oranges, I can determine which box has more oranges in it. But what happens if my boxes contain infinitely many oranges? Then our intuition breaks down. Does it even make sense to say that one infinite box contains "more" oranges than the other? And how about if I put the two boxes together? Do I get more oranges then? And what do I even mean by "an infinite box of oranges"? Mathematicians have grappled with the concept of infinity for centuries, and along the way have discovered many surprising things about its behaviour. In this talk we'll find out what mathematicians mean when they talk about infinity, and some of the basic rules that govern it. Along the way we'll find out how to make sense of concepts like "more" and "less" in the infinite world, and be lead to some interesting conclusions about the uniqueness of the thing we call "infinity". Oh, and there will be pictures of my cat. Everyone loves cat pictures.

3:25 PM - 3:55 PM

Distorted Decisions: The Role of Cognitive Biases in Everyday Decision Making

Christopher Madan

Day in and day out, we make a lot of decisions, but are we making the right ones? Here I will discuss several instances where people's decisions are influenced by factors that are often not considered, and will explore the cognitive mechanisms behind these biased decisions. By gaining a better understanding of how we behave, we can be aware of when these biases present themselves in our everyday lives, and choose whether to attempt to compensate for these biases or not.

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Dealing With Denialism

Lynne Honey

If you look at the comments section under any post on the web that deals with a controversial topic in science, you will find a lot of strong statements from people who have been labeled ‘denialists’. From the Holocaust to climate change, evolution to vaccines, parapsychology to 9/11, you will find people who are unwilling to accept reliable and valid empirical evidence. In this session we will discuss how to identify a denialist argument by looking at the common tactics used by individuals and organizations, and how training in science and logic can help to immunize people against falling for the fallacies.

4:35 PM - 5:00 PM

Clues About the Past, Hints About the Future: How Will The Universe End?

Rhys Chouinard

The universe is a vast, incredible place, with untold wonders hiding at the end of every telescope. The further away astronomers look, the further back in time they see. This fact allows us to glimpse the universe in its earlier years, and watch it evolve over time. In this talk we will first explore how the universe is studied, and what kinds of things are in it. Then, we will try to determine what the clues about the past are telling us about how the universe may end. We will discuss the most likely scenario for the end of the universe; whether it could stay in its current state forever, collapse in on itself, stretch itself into a deep freeze, or something even stranger.