Vancouver Science Social

#VanScienceSocial: May 11, 2017

In celebration of the Canada-wide science festival, Science Odyssey, we are hosting the Vancouver Science Social, which is a unique social media event that aims to connect diverse audiences with the wonderful and nerdy world of science, in BC. We believe that science is exciting and inspiring for everyone, not just scientists, which is why we're reaching out to our local social influencers, in the hope that they will share the brilliant work of our scientists and innovators with their friends and followers. Participants of the Vancouver Science Social will join the Science World team on a tour of some of the most amazing science hubs in Vancouver. They will explore, learn and take part in some hands-on science experiments with local experts.

On this full-day tour, we’ll meet robots, take a ride in a virtual canoe, simulate diving to a depth of 150 feet in a hyper/hypobaric chamber, try on a bionic, energy-harvesting exoskeleton and meet some cross-dressing birds. Then, we’ll marvel at everything we’ve learned, with a view of the planets during the Trottier Observatory champagne reception.

Stops on this year's field trip:

SFU Locomotion Lab

At SFU’s Locomotion Lab you will walk on a two-belted treadmill that measures the forces under each foot to calculate what the leg muscles are doing. Try using biofeedback to control speed and incline. You will also hear stories about kangaroo tails and elephant nerves, and try on a bionic energy harvesting exoskeleton.  The exoskeleton harvests energy as you walk and converts the energy you exert to power cell phones, batteries and other equipment for those who work in the field.

Trottier Observatory and Science Courtyard

Visit SFU’s newest public attraction and see if you can spot Jupiter through the observatory’s telescope. You will also be able to spot some bright and colourful double stars starting about 7 or 8pm. In the meantime, take a guided tour of the award-winning science courtyard with Howard Trottier. Features include star-shaped benches, huge illuminated seasonal star charts, and "star-lit" Milky Way pathways. The "backbone" of the courtyard is a long concrete plinth that represents the science of spectroscopy, which is the backbone of all astronomical knowledge. The plinth is lit with colours that represent the spectra of light generated by six important elements (hydrogen, helium, carbon, aluminum, silicon, and sulphur.) “Green screens” surrounding the observatory are creatively filled with plants whose colours are chosen to match the colours of the nine "planets" - with Pluto counted as an honourary member of the family!

Cross-dressing birds

Visit the planet’s largest ruff aviary, with approximately 300 birds on site. Meet biologist David Lank who started the aviary in 1985 with 40 eggs that he personally transported from Finland. Ruffs are unique because there are three types of males in this species, each with its own approach to courtship and mating and with distinct physical characteristics. They are classified as “territorials”, “satellites” and “female mimics”. The female mimics are the “cross-dressers”, they don’t exhibit conventional male behaviours and they lack the impressive plumages of the males, but they have sex with both males and females. By the end of the tour, you may be able to pick out which is which!

Environmental Medicine and Physiology Unit (EMPU)

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to experience the “rapture of the deep”? For those who are interested and medically able, we’ll take you “diving” to a depth of 150 feet where you will experience nitrogen narcosis, a temporary condition brought on by breathing compressed air. For a short time, you will feel light-headed and will experience an altered mental state similar to alcohol intoxication. A physician will monitor you for one hour after your “dive”.   SFU’s hyper/hypobaric chamber is the only civilian research chamber in Canada and is capable of “diving” to 305 meters of sea water and of “flying” 33.5 km Above Sea Level. The facility is used for research and as a training facility for pilots, divers and others.




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