Posts Tagged ‘science’

four sections of four different brain sculptures

The second annual Brain Project is now on display across the city.  These are only a small sample of the brain sculptures that form the exhibit.  In total there are 100 brains in about 20 locations around the city.   There is a map on the Brain Project website if you are interested in visiting some of them.

 

below: One of the locations where you can see some of the brain sculptures is Nathan Phillips Square.

a line of sculptures on display, podius standing in the water of the fountain, arches, and 3D Toronto sign in the backgruond.

Descriptions of all the brains on display around the city, as well as notes on the artists responsible, can be found online.    You can vote online for your favorite brain.

below:  Circles of beads and sequins – circles representing wholeness and totality come together to form a complex mosaic like the brain itself.  “Unleash Your Mind” is by Kara Ross.

a brain sculpture on display in front of the 3D toronto sign, decorated with colourful circles of sequins

below: Sitting on top of a blue and teal brain is a blue jay in a nest – a sculpture by Ted Hamer that is called “Thinkubator”.  Here the brain is shown as an idea incubator where the bird symbolizes the idea.

close up of part oa brain sculpture, the brain is painted blue and teal and there is a blue jay sitting on a nest on top of the egg (the bird is part of the sculpture)

below:  “Vitale” by Molly Gambardella is dedicated to the artist’s grandmother who died of Alzheimers in 2016.   Vitale was her maiden name.

a sculpture of a brain decorated with hundreds of coloured pencils, some are point up and some are blunt end up, the colours of the pencils make shapes and lines on the brain

below: Three of the brains on display at the Distillery District.  In front is “Red Head” by Anitra Hamilton who glued pieces of chicken eggshells to the surface of the brain.  Red acrylic paint highlights the spaces between the eggshells.   In the middle is Cindy Scaife’s “Food for Thought”.  Broccoli, avocado, apple and walnut, all healthy foods,  play in the park.

brain sculptures as part of the Baycret Foundation's Brain Project on display outside at the Distillery District

below: Also at the Distillery District is a brain by Laura Bundesen, “Not Forgotten” is a collage of fabric embellished with lace and embroidery and beads.  It is in memory of her stepmother who suffered from dementia.

close up of a fabric collage on a sculpture, bits of fabric with flowers on it, some embroidered leaves and flowers, lace and trim too,

Part of the goal of the project is raise awareness of diseases like Alzheimers that affect the brain.  Another goal was to raise money  – the sculptures are sponsored by various people and corporations (such as Telus).  As well, most of the brains from last year’s exhibit have been sold.  Funds raised through this project are donated to Baycrest Health Services.

below:  Keight MacLean’s “Loss” illustrates the idea of memory and memory loss using a portrait of a person, a loved one.  Paint as the memory loss, obscures the picture.

outdoor display in a clear acrylic box, a sculpture in the shape of a brain, with the picture of a woman's face on the side, yellow paint drips down from the top of the brain.

people looking at brain sculptures.  one is pointing to them, the other is taking a picture of them.

Construction hoardings around the site of the new new Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CEIE) at the University of Toronto have been painted with a wonderful mural.   Back in the spring I took some photos of it.

 

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, a rainbow W, a yellow lego block, two workmen in hard hats, a crane, a T, a red maple leaf

This artwall installation is a collaboration between U of T Engineering and graffiti artist Jason Wing (SKAM).  The mural features many things that engineers do, from the things that are unique to U of T Engineering to those that apply to engineers around the world.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, older building behind, long stretch of the mural in the picture

below: Batteries, circuit boards, robots and DNA.  The robot cat is Tangy, a bingo playing robot and one of the many assistive robots developed at U of T.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, a robot cat

below: Astronats in space and the Lady Godiva Memorial Band.  The band is part of the engineering school and it will be getting a new music room to practice in as part of the new building.   That symbol that looks like NY but isn’t – that’s pronounced ‘en sci’ and is the abbreviation for  U of T’s Engineering Science program.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, two musicians and an astronaut floating in space

below: The Nanoleaf bulb, one of the world’s most energy efficient bulbs is shown along with wind turbines and solar cells.  Wind and solar energy are two of the many research interests of the CEIE.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, a young man painted on the mural as well as a fancy LED lightbulb and two wind turbines.

below:  The Ye Olde Mighty Skule Cannon is the official mascot of U of T Engineering.   The equation coming out of the cannon is the formula used to calculate power.  Also in this part of the mural is a river and a faucet to represent the Institute for Water Innovation which is part of the CEIE.

 

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, an older building behind, a volleyball player on the mural as well as two students sitting on the ground and looking at a laptop

below: A TTC streetcar and a traffic light are in the artwall to represent the fact that U of T engineers partner with cities worldwide to improve transportation infrastructure.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, new TTC streetcar in the mural as well as some musicians, an astronaut floating in space

a small square window cut into painted construction hoardings

I am still trying to get caught up with the photos that I took at Science Rendezvous last weekend.  There was so much happening!  Lots of people were involved and engaged in the various activities that were available both at Yonge Dundas Square and on St. George street.

below: On the stage at Yonge Dundas square:  Start with three identical piles of building blocks and three teams, put ten minutes on the clock and see what towers result.   The challenge was to
build the strongest, tallest, or most awesome tower.

competition to build the highest, strongest tower out of hard styrofoam blocks, children and adults working together.

below: Teamwork!

competition to build the highest, strongest tower out of hard styrofoam blocks, children and adults working together.

competition to build the highest, strongest tower out of hard styrofoam blocks, children and adults working together.

below: How do you test the strength of a tower?
By giving one exuberant girl a big orange ball of course!

A young girl throws a large orange ball at a tower of polysyrene blocks in an attempt to knock it over, an activity at Science Rendezvous on the stage at Dundas Square.

below: At the end of the competition, all three teams came together to build the tallest tower that they could.  It didn’t quite reach the stage roof, but it was close!

competition to build the highest, strongest tower out of hard styrofoam blocks, children and adults working together to see how tall they can make the tower


… more great activities…..

below: Question: How long does it take the light from the Sun to travel to the Earth?
Answer: sunlight travels at the speed of light (rounded to 300,000 km/s) and it has to cover a distance of 150 million km on average to reach Earth.  With a bit of math, the answer is 500 seconds, or 8 minutes and 18 seconds.

A sign stands in the street with information about the sun on it. Behind it is a second sign, this time with information about Mercury. Behind that are people at Science Rendezvous on St. George street

below: making paper

a young girl is making paper. she is sponging the paper dry over a piece of mesh in a frame

below: robots

A group of students is sitting on a sidewalk. One of them has a laptop and he is controlling a robot machine with wheels that is moving around on the street.

below: How unique are you? Test yourself for various phenotypes (the product of your genes)… Can you curl your tongue? Can you smell freesias? Is your thumb bent?  From answers to these and five other questions you can determine if you are 1/10 (you share similarities to many people) or 1/1000 (you are more unique)… or something in between.  Apparently I’m 1/45 and if you’re curious, my thumb is straight, I can’t curl my tongue and I can smell freesias.

Two students are conducting a genetic phenotype test on a couple of volunteers. They are looking to see if they can smell fresias or taste coriander.

below: St. George street.

looking up St. George street on the downtown University of Toronto campus. A white tent is set up on the street and under the tent are students running science demonstrations.

below: A demonstration using acids, bases, and pH indicators.  Technically, pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions.  In practice, it indicates how acidic or basic a substance is.  Water, with a pH of 7 is neutral.  Acids have a pH less than 7 while bases have a pH greater than 7.  A pH indicator is a chemical that changes colour depending on the pH.

Three students behind a table doing a demonstration about acids and bases in chemistry. One of the women is adding a strong acid to a solution that is a strong base. The pH indicator is changing from yellolw to purple

below: How much energy is a gummi bear? Find out by heating a little bit of of potassium chlorate in a test tube.  Once it is liquid, add a gummi bear.  Smoke and flames ensue.  When the potassium chlorate is heated, it produces oxygen gas which ignites if there is combustible material, such as sugar, available.

A student is doing a chemistry experiment to show how much energy is in gummi bear candy. He has lit one on fire and burned it to show the release of energy. It was done in a test tube.

below: Design and construction with K’nex

Two young Asian boys are building small structures with the building toy k'nex.

below:  Tetris players

Three young man are playing a tetris game on a large computer board.

below: programmable Lego vehicles

Two kids are playing with a programmable Lego car.

below:  Watch out!  Scientists on the loose!

Two young kids have been dressed up as mad scientists and their father is taking their picture. They had rubber gloves on, eye protection and a lab coat. They both have pipettes.

below:  The little boxes used in this activity have a marble inside them.  When placed on an inclined surface, the boxes tumble to the bottom.  Sandpaper prevents the boxes from slipping.

A woman and a girl are racing objects that they made. Inside small rectangular boxes are marbles that make the boxes tumble down an incline.

 

below: Corn starch and water makes a wonderful substance.  It’s not liquid and it’s not solid.  If you are fast enough you run on top of it but if you stop moving, you sink into it!

A boy is running barefoot along a course that is filled with corn starch and water. Onlookers are cheering him on.

A girl is running barefoot along a course that is filled with corn starch and water. Onlookers are cheering him on.

An older man is running through corn starch and water with his arms held up

Did you know that we share 50% of our DNA with a banana?  Bananas don’t have DNA that codes for eye colour and we probably don’t any genes that produce yellow peels.   What we share is similar basic biochemistry, such things as DNA replication, cell metabolism, and regulation of cell growth, to name a few.  One thing that you can do with banana DNA is easily extract it.  We all know that cells are too small to see and that DNA is even smaller,  BUT if you mash a whole a banana, you can produce enough DNA to make a small clump.   That was one of the activities at Science Rendezvous this past Saturday.

Two young girls are performing an science experiment using beakers and a graduated cylinder. One of them is pouring liquid into the cylinder while the younger one watches.

Science Rendezvous is science outreach festival that occurs across Canada, a day when science hits the streets.  This year it was May 7th.  In Toronto, there were information booths, demonstrations, and activities by students from Ryerson (at Yonge Dundas Square) and students from U of T (St. George Street).

“There’s no place like GenHome” is a project by Ryerson students to break a Guinness World Record by building the longest DNA model.    DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid,  is a double helix.  Although it is a complex molecule, it can be broken down into components called nucleotides.  Nucleotides consist three parts – deoxyribose which is a sugar molecule, phosphate, and an organic base.  At the risk of being too simplistic (because the chemistry of DNA is way beyond the scope of this blog), the sugar and phosphate of the nucleotides form the backbone of the double helices.  The organic bases are in the space between the two backbones and if they are ordered properly, the bases hold the double helix together.

A couple more things you need to know about DNA.  First, there are four bases, adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G).  And second, bases come in pairs and only certain pairs can exist if the double helix is to form properly.  Adenine has to pair with thymine and cytosine has to pair with guanine, i.e. A with T and C with G and nothing else.

How would you build a DNA model?  The Ryerson University students wanted to get people involved in the project and if you were at Science Rendezvous, you could have become part of their DNA model.

below: Bases need partners and so do you !  Find a partner and take a spin.
Are the two of you A & T or G & C?

A young woman is standing beside a spinner with AT and GC being the possible landing places. She is talking to a couple who have spun and landed on GC

below: Next, have your picture taken with your base letter.

A young woman has her picture taken with a large orange letter A on a blue square.

A few moments later your picture is printed and ready to attach to the DNA model.

below: My partner for the activity adds his G (toe to toe with my C).

People making a DNA model using photos that volunteers have had taken of themselves with one of the letter of DNA. The four letters are A, C, T, and G. They are the nucleosides that make up DNA

I don’t know how long the DNA model is at this point.  I was hoping that there would be some information online but nothing has shown up yet.

Also, If you want to try extracting the DNA from a banana, the instructions are online at numerous sites including Scientific American.  You will need a banana, water, salt, detergent, rubbing alcohol, and a coffee filter.  Have fun!

 

***  a little breather after all that molecular biology ***

below:  At Science Rendezvous they were walking together until she saw my camera and then she tried to get away.  Hmmm…. Mr. Scientist Creature (mutant science rodent?!), maybe she was embarrassed? 🙂

A person dressed in a costume that looks like an animal - squirrel? fox? that is wearing a lab coat. An Asian woman who was walking with him before the photo was taken is shyly turning away, she is also laughing