August 3, 2018

Summer Science V

Science Smorgasbord

The five weeks of the 1965 Summer Science Program that we spent in Lakefield sped by in a whirl of activities. "The time has passed very quickly," I wrote in one of my letters home. Indeed, I expressed a similar sentiment in just about every letter I wrote (along with my recurrent plea for a little extra pocket money).

We covered a remarkably broad range of topics in our classes, from optical illusions (including why the full moon appears larger on the horizon than overhead) in the psychology segment to freeway hop (when regularly spaced road bumps can send a car into the air) in engineering to the role of insects in spreading viral plant diseases in biology.

At the same time, in trying to provide a broad but quick overview of a subject, some of the instructors unfortunately seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time on classification schemes and definitions of technical terms. It was a lot to take in on the run. It also wasn't uncommon for some of us to doze through an afternoon lecture or an evening film, no matter how fascinating the topic. At least there were no exams.

And there were unexpected byways. One morning during the pure math sequence, Elizabeth Meeds brought in an astronomy paper with some weird ideas about the speed of light, written by someone in her small town in Saskatchewan. We all had a good laugh as Dr. Davis read portions of the paper to us, but this led to a wide-ranging discussion of scientific hoaxes, mistaken proofs, and riddles and number puzzles. We saved our introduction to analytic geometry and affine transformations for the next day.

It turned out that, when Dr. Davis was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of his duties had been to answer letters the university received proposing crank theories, alleged proofs of angle trisections, and other oddities. He described some of the more memorable letters to us. Dr. Davis was also an expert chess player, and one evening, after our usual film program, he gave us tips for playing chess, especially openings.

Brian Margetson with Professor William H. Bowes, after an applied mathematics session.

The applied mathematics classes introduced me to a novel way of extracting square roots, using Newton's method, and some of the basic notions of computation, from binary numbers and Boolean logic to computer programming. We also spent time plotting curves and determining slopes to develop the basic ideas of calculus. Most classes in both pure math and applied math ended with some sort of "homework" assignment.

Dr.Paul M. Laughton of Carleton University overseeing the chemistry lab.

I was almost totally at sea in chemistry, despite my experience with a chemistry set at home (including some unfortunate experiments involving sulfur). The lab work, such as performing titrations, doing dilutions, and using a spectrophotometer, was completely new to me, as were such notions as reaction mechanisms, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics, introduced in the lectures. Nonetheless, chemistry week was still interesting and fun--and quite startling at times as we learned about alternative models of the atom.

Dr, John Anderson, Mike Waters, and Desmond Norris checking out equipment in a biology lab session.

We focused on experimental biology during our fifth week at Lakefield. One of the experiments, however, had started a few weeks earlier. Several of us set traps for chipmunks and field mice in the nearby woods for an experiment to measure how light affects animal activity. Chipmunks are typically active during the day, and mice during the night. We kept the animals in cages with activity wheels and controlled when the cages were lit, tracking how much and when an activity wheel was in use.

Our initial trapping efforts provided just one chipmunk and a young deer mouse. I even lost the deer mouse a day later when it escaped as I was trying to transfer it from one cage to another. But, suspecting that the mouse may not have traveled far, I set a trap in the classroom building, baiting it with an extra-special treat--a dab of peanut butter obtained from the kitchen. The ploy worked, and we recovered the mouse.

We eventually obtained several more animals for our tests, but, in the end, the results proved inconclusive. I really did much better with the math and physics portions of the program.

Summer Science Program Faculty and Guest Lecturers, 1965

Pure Mathematics (two weeks)
Dr. Harry F. Davis, Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of Waterloo
Applied Mathematics (three weeks)
Prof. William H. Bowes, Professor of Engineering, Carleton University

Week of July 5, 1965
Physics: Dr. George J. Thiessen, Head, Acoustics Section, Division of Applied Physics, National Research Council, Ottawa
Dr. T. Harry Leith, Associate Professor, Division of Natural Sciences, York University: "The History and Philosophical Development of Major Ideas in the Physical Sciences"
Dr. Nathan Stolow, Director, National Conservation and Research Laboratory, National Gallery, Ottawa: "Conservation of Works of Art: Meeting Place of Science and Art"

Week of July 12, 1965
Psychology: Dr. Richard H. Walters, Head, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo
Geology: Dr. David M. Baird, Head, Department of Geology, University of Ottawa
Dr. Robert J. Uffen, Professor of Geophysics and Principal, University College of Arts and Science, University of Western Ontario: "On Relation of Geophysical Explorations to Canada's Mineral Wealth"
Mr/ Edward Futterer, Technical Assistant to the President, Kerr-Addison Mines Ltd., Toronto: "Mining and Metallurgy"

Week of July 19, 1965
Engineering Sciences: Dr. John Ruptash, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Carleton University
Dr. Donald A. MacRae, Associate Head, Department of Astronomy, University of Toronto and Assistant Director, David Dunlap Observatory: "The Space Around the Earth"

Week of July 26, 1965
Chemistry: Dr. Paul M. Laughton, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Carleton University
Prof. Frank A. Forward, Director, Canadian Scientific Secretariat, Privy Council Office, Ottawa: "Practical Applications of Inorganic Chemistry"
Dr. Peter J. Dyne, Chemistry and Metallurgy Division, Atomic Energy of Canada, Chalk river, Ontario: "Science in the U.S.S.R."
Dr. James M. Neelin, Research Offucer, Division of Biosciences, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa: Biochemistry of Macromolecules"

Week of August 2, 1965
Experimental Biology: Dr. James A. Tait, Assistant Professor of Biology, York University, and Dr. John M. Anderson, Associate Professor of Biology, Carleton University
Dr. William S. Friend, Associate Professor of Zoology, University of Toronto: "The Origin of Life"
Dr. Roy H.E. Bradley, Research Officer, Research Station, Canada Department of Agriculture, Fredericton, New Brunswick: "Insect Vectors of Viruses"
Dr. Charlotte M. Sullivan, Associate Professor of Zoology, University of Toronto: "The Scope of Modern Biology and its Import on Current Human Affairs"

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