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.


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?

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

ASX 16th Symposium “Boom to Bust – The Story of Our Universe”

16th_annual_symposium_boom_to_bustDate & Location: 6:30 PM-10:00 PM Feb. 15 2019, JJR Macleod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building 1 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON

Calling space enthusiasts near and far! It’s your favourite event of the year: ASX’s Annual Symposium is back for its 16th rendition, and have we got a show for you! Join distinguished academics Dr. Katrin Heitmann (University of Chicago), Dr. Rosemary Wyse (Johns Hopkins University), and Dr. Fred Adams (University of Michigan) this February 15th as they take you on an epic journey from the very beginning of our universe, all the way to the death of the final star.

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

About the Speakers:

Dr. Katrin Heitmann is a physicist at the United States’ Argonne National Lab and a Senior Member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on cosmology and in particular on extreme-scale simulations of the evolution of the Universe.

Dr. Rosemary Wyse is the Alumni Centennial Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Physics & Astronomy. Her research focus is in the field of galaxy formation and evolution, with emphases on resolved stellar populations and the nature of dark matter.

Dr. Fred Adams is the Ta-You Wu Collegiate Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan. His recent work includes star formation in clusters, the development of a theory for the initial mass function for forming stars, and studies of extra-solar planetary systems.


Dr. Katrin Heitmann: Cosmology — the study of the origin, evolution, and constituents of the Universe — is now entering one of its most scientifically exciting phases. Three decades of surveying the sky have culminated in the celebrated “Standard Model of Cosmology’’. As part of the Standard Model, we have built a detailed picture of the very first moments after the Universe was born and how tiny fluctuations then grew into the complex structures that we observe today. In this talk I will give an introduction to our current understanding of the physics of the very early Universe and how we use measurements of the cosmic microwave background to develop this understanding. I will then discuss how these measurements not only tell us about the early Universe but also about the make-up of the Universe. Finally, I will show how the power of the world’s largest supercomputers is harnessed to evolve cosmological structure from early times to the current epoch, providing a faithful view of the Universe as seen through a telescope that is currently under construction, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

Dr. Rosemary Wyse: I will discuss the evolution of galaxies from the epoch at which thecosmic rate of star formation peaked, to the present day. Stars of mass similar to that of our Sun (and lower) that formed during this phase are still shining and can be studied in our own Milky Way and in its companion galaxies. Stars retain memory of the conditions at their birth and old stars nearby can provide insight into the Universe at early epochs. We can also observe distant galaxies in their youth, at these early times. We thus have two complementary approaches to unravelling how galaxies form and evolve. I will discuss some results from these two approaches, particularly relating to the assembly history of galaxies and to the nature of the dark matter that dominates the growth of structure.

Dr. Fred Adams: This talk considers the future evolution of the universe over time scales that greatly exceed the current cosmic age. The future timeline plays out on many different scales, so that planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe itself all experience a death-like closure. If the energy density of the universe continues to be dominated by its vacuum state, cosmic acceleration has dramatic near-term consequences. On longer time scales, stellar evolution plays itself out and transforms hydrogen burning stars into degenerate stellar remnants, such as white dwarfs and neutron stars. As the galaxy ages, new physical processes come on-line, including star formation through brown dwarf collisions, dark matter accretion by white dwarfs, and capture of stars by the central black holes. Galactic structure changes via collisions, dynamical relaxation, and dark matter annihilation. After the demise of the galaxy, orphaned stellar remnants shine through the decay of their constituent nucleons, but eventually evaporate away. The black holes survive this epoch of proton decay, but lose their mass/energy on longer times scales as they emit Hawking radiation. After the largest black holes are gone, the universe slowly slides into darkness.

For more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/2597321363641562/

Continue Reading ASX 16th Symposium “Boom to Bust – The Story of Our Universe”


Hello everyone,

It is with much sadness and regret that due to a series of unforeseeable events, we have unfortunately been forced to cancel the 15th Annual ASX Symposium, originally planned for February 2nd…

Yesterday, Dr. John B. Charles informed us that due to the recent US government shutdown and new laws put in place by the US State Department, that he is unable to travel to Canada for the event. We discussed with him to participate in the Symposium through Skype or some other form of video conferencing in order to still proceed with the event as planned. However, just today Professor Soon Jo Chung informed us that he has a serious family emergency and will also be unable to attend the event. Thus, because of the inability of both speakers to attend the event and the close proximity to the date of the event, we have been forced to cancel the event outright.

For all of those who purchased a ticket through Eventbrite, we will provide you with a refund, which should appear within 5-7 days.

We at ASX were extremely excited to host this event for everyone, and we are extremely saddened to bring you this unfortunate news. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

– The 2017-2018 ASX Executive Team


ASX 15th Symposium Schedule


Hello everybody! It’s your friendly neighbourhood astronomy & space exploration club here to give you another update on our upcoming symposium. This time we have for y’all the event’s schedule, so without further ado…


Event Schedule
5:30: Doors open
5:30 – 6:00: Ticketing
6:00 – 6:10: Opening Remarks
6:10 – 7:00: 1st speaker: Dr. John Charles
7:00 – 7:10: Q&A
7:10 – 7:20: Intermission
7:20 – 8:10: 2nd speaker: Prof. Soon-Jo Chung
8:10 – 8:20: Q&A
8:20 – 8:30: Closing Remarks
8:30 – 8:40: Raffle
8:40 – 9:30: Reception (food and drinks)


Once again we cannot wait to see everybody there!

Continue Reading ASX 15th Symposium Schedule

ASX 15th Symposium Location Change

Hi everyone! Just want to let everyone know that the location for our upcoming Symposium has changed from JJR MacLeod Auditorium to Earth Sciences Centre (33 Willcocks St, Toronto, ON M5S), room 1050. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused or will cause.

Continue Reading ASX 15th Symposium Location Change