I had a wonderful and interesting time checking out Vancouver’s First Science Social! This is the first of hopefully many future tours that promote the geekier side of our great city. What’s great about the tour is that you don’t need to be media to check out all these great locations.
We started at Science World. I haven’t been to Science World in a long time, so it was nice to see some of the new exhibits and upgrades they are working on. The latest exhibition is Animals Inside Out – there are over 100 specimens that really spark your curiousity – or mine at least. Having an entire animal and to see how it worked on the inside is just mind blowing. There is so much that goes into making our bodies work that we don’t take notice to. Vast networks and systems that make sure we’re breathing and functioning properly – even when you’re just sitting at a desk typing away. Another cool part of the exhibit displays these systems and I stood for a good couple minutes, a little bit floored at the nervous system’s network throughout a couple of animals.
I’d highly recommend checking this out – it’s obviously not for everyone, but if you’re curious, it’s a great exhibit to check out.
Our next stop was TRIUMF – Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics located at UBC. TRIUMF is one of just three subatomic research facilities in the world that specialize in producing particle beams and houses the world’s largest cyclotron (that accelerates 1000 trillion particles each second). Now if you’re scratching your head and going, “Wha?” – TRIUMF does many kinds of experiments, including some medical ones that are a bit more relatable for us normal people. They use proton therapy to treat eye-cancers and they have used experimental treatments to destroy brain cancers. They also have a PET scanner that does highly specialized brain scans.
On the other side of the UBC campus is the Michael Smith labs. These laboratories focus on interdisciplinary biotechnology (phew!) but mostly on genetics. To kind of emphasize that point, we extracted our DNA. To do so, we took a cheek sample and separated it from the solution. Yep, that’s little me.
What I enjoyed and took away from the Michael Smith labs was how Dr. Dave Ng and the other researchers fuse art and science to be more accessible for all walks of life. There are many ways to visualize data – and in order to do that, you need both an analytical and a creative to do so.
Our last stop was at the HR Macmillan Space Centre. Their MO is to get people excited about space – and I can’t see how anyone couldn’t be excited with space, given the massive leaps we’re taking in exploring our solar system and universe. Soon enough, we will be sending people to Mars to see if we can sustain life there. It’s amazing because not too long ago, sending people to the moon was an extremely important accomplishment.
Sometimes I think about how small we really are in the make up of the entire universe, that every star in the night sky could have their own planets revolving around them – or maybe those stars are completely gone, but since we’re so far away, we still think it’s there. And to think that these stars only make up our galaxy – when there are so many more out in the universe. It’s incredibly humbling and sparks a curious chord with me.
I was excited to be a part of this great day of learning – it’s a fantastic way to keep the community informed about all the wonderful places to visit. And like I said previously, you can visit all these places and get tours as well – so get out there and discover!
Science World: http://www.scienceworld.ca/
Michael Smith Labs: http://www.msl.ubc.ca/
HR Macmillan Space Centre: http://www.spacecentre.ca/