ASX General Elections

We want to acknowledge that the health and safety of our members is our highest priority. This is why with heavy hearts we had to cancel our last Star Talk of the year. 

Due to the current situation, we are replacing our Annual General Meeting and executive elections for the 2020-2021 academic year with an online election.

If you are an undergraduate ASX member at the University of Toronto (i.e., you are a U of T undergrad on our mailing list), then you are eligible to vote and to run for an executive position.

To run, email space.society@utoronto.ca before April 17th 2020 at 11:59PM. You can state up to three executive positions that you intend on running for in order of preference, and please prepare a short statement of no more than 250 words for each position. If you wish to run for more than one position, please tailor your statement to each of the positions you intend on running for.

Available Executive Positions:
** President
** Vice President
** Finance Director
* Secretary
Outreach Director
Symposium Directors (x2)
Events Directors (x2)
Graphics Designers (x2)
Web Designer
*Note that if a candidate wishes to run for President, Vice President, Finance Director or Secretary, then they require a nomination from two other ASX members.
**Note that a candidate may only run for the President, Vice President or Finance Director positions if they have previously held an ASX executive position for at least 6 months.

To see descriptions of available positions, please see section 4 of the ASX Constitution. The procedure for voting laid out in the constitution will be suspended due to extraordinary circumstances; further information will be provided shortly. You can find our constitution through the following link: http://asx.sa.utoronto.ca/files/2013/10/ASX_constitution_mar2018.pdf

If you have any further questions, please email space.society@utoronto.ca.

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16th ASX Symposium: Fiction to Fact – Step into Sci-Fi

Link for tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/asx-annual-symposium-fiction-to-fact-step-into-sci-fi-tickets-91233446695

Link to facebook event:https://www.facebook.com/events/187830452275728/

Where is the line drawn between 20th century science fiction and 21st century science fact? Back for its 16th rendition, the ASX Annual Symposium is planning on answering that question by featuring three masters of both fact and fiction. On February 28th, join Dr. Catherine Asaro, Dr. John G. Cramer, and Dr. Geoffrey A. Landis — scientists and science fictions writers all — on a fantastical odyssey through wormholes and to the very frontiers of extraplanetary colonisation.

Admission is free for all students — of any institution — with Photo ID (still be sure to reserve a seat on the linked Eventbrite page), and $10 otherwise. Refreshments shall be provided. Tickets are on sale online and will be available at the door.

About the Speakers:

Dr. Catherine Asaro earned her PhD in chemical physics from Harvard University and has dedicated her career to promoting STEM literacy among young scientists and the general public. An incredibly prolific science fiction writer, Dr. Asaro has penned twenty-five novels — including the epic series “Saga of the Skolian Empire” — and numerous short stories. She has twice won the esteemed Nebula Award for Best Novel.

Dr. John G. Cramer is a Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Washington. Renowned academically for his transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics, Prof. Cramer is additionally passionate about popular science and science fiction. He has appeared on both NPR’s Science Friday and the Science Channel and is the author of two novels of hard science fiction: “Twister” and “Einstein’s Bridge.”

Dr. Geoffrey A. Landis is a scientist at NASA’s John Glenn Research Center. Dr. Landis has pushed the cutting edge of space exploration, working on missions like Mars Pathfinder and studying interstellar sails as a fellow of NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts. As a science fiction writer, he has won both a Nebula and a Hugo Award for his short stories “Ripples in the Dirac Sea” and “A Walk in the Sun” respectively.

Abstracts:

The Good, the Bad, and the Fun: The Science in Science Fiction
Presented by Dr. Catherine Asaro

The limits of mathematics and physical reality aren’t usually a priority in popular science fiction. What would happen if one were to deconstruct these examples of ‘bad’ science — and see what could actually work? With the application of some elementary calculations and audience participation, one can find out if the Death Star really could blow up a planet, whether or not Wonder Woman violates physics, and if Spock’s estimate of Tribble reproduction rates is feasible. General sci-fi tropes will be addressed as well, including topics like the mathematical possibility of faster-than-light travel.

The Use (and Misuse) of Wormholes in Hard SF
Presented by Dr. John G. Cramer

Wormholes (curved-space shortcuts through space-time) are valid solutions of Einstein’s equations of general relativity, our standard theory of gravitation. However, these wormhole solutions are subject to stability problems and to local conservation laws. The use of wormholes in several works of science fiction has ignored these constraints, treating them essentially as magic shortcuts. In my hard SF novels Einstein’s Bridge and its new sequel Fermi’s Question, the laws of physics as applied to wormholes are taken seriously and used as a part of the plot structure. Further, in the latter novel explores the concept of accelerated wormholes exploiting relativistic time dilation as a method of fast interstellar access.

Terraforming: Science or Science Fiction?
Presented by Dr. Geoffrey A. Landis

Space is hostile to life in a hundred different ways. Other than the Earth, none of the planets of the solar system are places on which a human could live for more than a minute without protection from the environment. Yet, science fiction presents the concept of “terraforming”: the idea that we might be able to transform the unforgiving environment of another planet from a barren, lifeless (and possibly airless) surface to an analog of the Earth, a place where humans can live unprotected. Is this even possible? Is it only science fiction, or is terraforming something we could do in the real world? Which planets could we consider terraforming– Mars? Venus? The Moon? How would we do it, and how hard would it be?

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January Star Talk: Black Holes in 2020

It’s time for our first event of 2020! Black hole are everywhere in popular science and science fiction, but what do we really know about these ultra-dense objects? If you would like to know more, join ASX for our Star Talk on Wednesday, January 29, in Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories (LM), Room 161. Professor Chris Matzner will be illuminating the darkness surrounding black holes, by elaborating on the state of our understanding in 2020! The free, public lecture itself is from 7PM-8PM followed, weather permitting, by a free, public telescope viewing atop MP. Everyone is welcome!

Lecture Abstract:
Once just a speculation, the existence of black holes is now an established fact. But what are they? Where do they come from? How were they found? What consequences do they have in our Universe? What mysteries remain? I will cover our knowledge of black holes as of 2020, and what we might learn next.

About the Speaker:
Dr. Christopher Matzner is a Professor and Graduate Associate Chair of U of T’s David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. Prof. Matzner is currently conducting research on aspects of star formation (protostellar disks, molecular clouds, energy feedback) and stellar explosions (supernovae, gamma ray bursts).

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Graduate Student Panel – Methods of Modern Astronomy

Location: Cody Hall (Room 107), Astronomy & Astrophysics Building (AB),
U of T – St. George

Want to know more about how modern astronomy is conducted? Bursting with questions on how exoplanets are detected or how galaxies are surveyed? Not sure what to ask, but just want to learn more? Then come on down to ASX’s November Graduate Student Panel!

This 27th of November, we are proud to be featuring an expert panel of U of T PhD candidates in astronomy and astrophysics, each one with experience in cutting-edge observational methods. Feel free to come with your own questions, or lend an ear to our guided discussion. Weather-permitting, the discussion will be followed by an observation night using the instruments at the top of McLennan Physical Laboratories’ Burton Tower. As usual, everyone with any amount of background knowledge is welcome!

The panel will be moderated by journalist Dan Falk, winner of the 2019 Fleming Medal for Excellence in Science Communication. Falk is an award-winning science writer, broadcaster, and author, with credits in New Scientist, Scientific American, Astronomy Magazine, and Quanta among many others.

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Star Talk: Stellar Fossils of the Early Universe

Date: October 30th, 7PM – 9PM
Location: Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories Rm 161

This star talk features Dr. Jeremy J. Webb, an Assistant Professor in U of T’s Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. An NSERC postdoctoral fellow, Professor Webb is currently conducting research on Dynamical Evolution of Star Clusters, Dark Remnants, Dark Matter Substructure, Stellar Streams, Multiple Populations in Globular Clusters, and N-body Numerical Techniques.

Title: Fossils of the Early Universe
Abstract: Star clusters lie at the cross-roads of star formation, galaxy formation, and galaxy evolution. Stars do not form alone in isolation, but in clustered environments surround by between several tens to several millions of stars. The current star cluster population of a galaxy is made up of newly formed clusters of young stars and old star clusters that formed at the same time as the galaxy itself. These old clusters, often called globular clusters, provide clues as to what a galaxy was like when it first formed and how it has evolved over time. I will discuss what we know about cluster formation and evolution, as well as how we can use clusters as tools to study the galaxy within which they orbit. To help gain an understanding of the present day properties of Galactic clusters, we will also explore what life would be like if our Sun was actually inside a cluster with the help of a virtual reality environment. Not only will the night sky look very different, but the type of science available to astronomers would also change.

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