Science for the People: Science and the Canadian Federal Election

sftp-square-fistonly-whitebgThis week  Science for the People is talking about politics, and the prospects for pro-science politicians, parties and voters in Canada. We’ll spend the hour with panelists Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, science librarian John Dupuis, journalist Mike De Souza, and former Canadian government scientist Steven Campana, for an in-depth discussion about the treatment of science by the current Canadian government, and what’s at stake for science in the upcoming federal election.

Don’t forget to support the Science for the People Patreon Campaign to keep the sciencey goodness flowing toward your ear holes.

*Josh provides research help to Science for the People and is, therefore, completely biased.

Science for the People: Fact Checking Elections

sftp-square-fistonly-whitebgThis week we’re back at the intersection of science and politics, comparing economic data to partisan talking points and polling predictions to election results. We’ll talk to Jim Stanford, economist at Unifor, about his report “Rhetoric & Reality: Evaluating Canada’s Economic Record Under the Harper Government.” And we’ll speak to pollster and consultant Donna Dasko about the science and art of polling in Canadian federal elections.

Finally, don’t forget to support the Science for the People Patreon Campaign to keep the sciencey goodness flowing toward your ear holes.

Whale watching near Tadoussac

Zodiac boat
Zodiac boat

When the weather is warm enough – between May and October – whales will swim from the North Atlantic into the Gulf of St Lawrence, and upstream into the St Lawrence river. They get about as far as Tadoussac. At this point, the river is still very wide. Wide enough even for blue whales.

When it gets colder, the whales return to the ocean, but from May until October, Tadoussac is host to whales – and several companies stationed there organise whale watching trips.

I started a 4-month lab project in Quebec City in October 2000, so at the very end of whale season some other Dutch students and I went on a day trip to Tadoussac. Continue reading “Whale watching near Tadoussac”

Science Tourist: Algonquin Park, Ontario

I’ve taken you to a lot of indoor locations on my previous Science Tourist trips. Granted, one of them had a rain forest, but it was still indoors. Time to put on your hiking boots, because we’re going outside today, to Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada!

Algonquin Park is huge. Their FAQ says it’s 7,630 km² (2,946 square miles). A highway cuts through the southern part of the park, and that’s the only car route through the park. If you want to go further into the interior, you need a canoe to navigate the 1500 lakes. I’ve never gone that far. Both of my trips to the park have hovered close to the highway, but there’s still a lot to see there, and if you pick a quiet weekend to visit, you might not see anyone else on the hiking trails or on the lakes.


Toronto and Ottawa are each several hours away, so most people spend the night in the park. The first time I went camping in Algonquin Park, we had just started unloading the car at the campsite when the people from the neighbouring campsite told us to stop doing what we were doing and come over immediately with our cameras. There was a moose calf!

Continue reading “Science Tourist: Algonquin Park, Ontario”

Stargazing to Randy Described Eternity [repost]

Marie-Claire is very busy educating the youth of Canada. Too busy to even listen to music, which is about her favorite thing to do, after educating the youth of Canada. She was not too busy to make it to ScienceOnline 2013. Because the Song of the Week concept traces its roots back to ScienceOnline 2012, we thought it would be fitting to take you back to that very first post – doodly-doo, doodly-doo, doodly-doo

Emerging out the door of the pub on winter night, you bow your head and tighten your shoulders to keep the chill at bay. A few lilting steps might catch a dusting of snow. It takes a minute or so before the stars on the horizon catch your eye. It’s a crisp clear night. Swinging your head quickly upwards the stars take your breath away. The Milky Way is massive and scrawled across the sky.

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No song captures that feeling as well as Built to Spill’s Randy Described Eternity from their 1997 classic Perfect from Now On. A minute of slow, slightly off kilter guitar opens suddenly into full, expansive sheets of sound. The song kind of hits you in the chest. The lyrics themselves attempt to describe the longest time imaginable, but the feeling is actually one of infinite space. The guitar melodies are complex, layered and looped, creating an impression of boundlessness. In the repeated line “stop making that sound,” the sparse story even includes the requisite “shut up” for your friend who has failed to notice the sky and is chattering on about something irrelevant. After a night at the pub when the stars catch your eye and you look breathlessly up in wonder, this is the song that should be playing.

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