This week in the Varsity: Science Rendezvous

I’ve decided to post my Varsity articles in the Mind Gap. Here’s a snippet from this week’s issue:

It’s eleven o’clock on a rainy Saturday morning. What would usually be a sleepy St. George campus is, at the moment, a medley of PhDs and kids in lab coats. The place is buzzing, even under threatening skies.

From archaeology to astrophysics, the city-wide Science Rendezvous has something for everyone. As I make my way through the Science Carnival on St. George Street, I encounter a lab coat-clad volunteer who asks if I know what a polymer is, and whether I want to make silly putty. In a live chemistry cooking show, I witness can-can-dancing carbohydrates […]

Click here for full article.

The secret lives of weather men

How does a weather man become a weather man (or woman for that matter)?

I asked myself this question today, for the first time, as I was watching the hourly weather report on CP24. What kind of training do you need to become a meteorologist? Do you need to be a meteorologist to be able to report on weather?

meteorology 1

According to Wikipedia:

Meteorologists are scientists who study meteorology. The best-known application of this knowledge is in forecasting the weather. Many radio and television weather forecasters are professional meteorologists, while others are reporters who are passing on information provided by national and regional weather services. Their data comes from model calculations supported by observations from weather satellites, weather radars, sensors and observers throughout the world. Meteorologists work in government agencies, private consulting and research services, industrial enterprises, utilities, radio and television stations, and in education. In the United States, meteorologists held about 8,800 jobs in 2006.

Apparently, Canada is home to one of the best weather presenters in the world. Claire Martin, a CBC weather reporter, was presented with the award in 2000, 2001 and 2003 by the International Weather Festival.

claire martin 2

Ms. Martin did her BSc with a specialist in meteorology at the University of Alberta. The University of Toronto doesn’t offer a meteorology program as far as I know. And after a quick perusal of next year’s academic calendar, the Faculty of Arts and Science only offers a couple of meteorology-related courses through the physics department.

Advanced Atmospheric Physics (formerly PHY498H1) [24L]

A preparatory course for research in experimental and theoretical atmospheric physics. Content will vary from year to year. Themes may include techniques for remote sensing of the Earth’s atmosphere and surface; theoretical atmosphere-ocean dynamics; the physics of clouds, precipitation, and convection in the Earth’s atmosphere.

I’m sure Prof. Roland List, a U of T professor emeritus of physics, and meteorology specialist, would have something to say about it. Just recently, in 2008, Prof. List was awarded with an Honorary Life Membership of the International Commission on Cloud Physics. This was presented “In recognition of his many years of outstanding scientific contributions and his unselfish service to the international cloud physics community”.

Other famous weather forecasters include the CBC’s very own meteorologist Nick Czernkovich. Nick tracks the Greater Toronto Area weather every evening on CBC News at Six. Nick is a graduate of McGill University at the Master’s level; his research specialty was short-term thunderstorm forecasting, known as nowcasting. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science from York University.

toronto weather

Now… speaking of weather: is it just me, or is it really cold in Toronto these days for mid-May? Just wondering…