Learning Unlimited Etobicoke: From Wilderness Astronomy to Weird Science and beyond

Learning-Unlimited-UNIVERSE-of-SCIENCE-audienceWEBOver the past three months, I’ve had the honour and pleasure of presenting a weekly general-interest science lecture for Learning Unlimited Etobicoke, who have been offering speaker series’ since 1976.

From astronomy to medical science, to paleontology, to materials science, to research oddities, to Canada’s biggest science projects and beyond, we looked at some of the most fascinating aspects of the universe of discovery.

Peter, Learning Unlimited's Bob Lee, and another participant perform "robotic heart surgery" on a bowl of Jell-O during Extreme Makeover: Medical Robot Edition week

Here below – mostly for participants of the series, but also for anyone else interested – are links to some of the hundreds of things we looked at from January to March of 2012:


Weird Science (January 10)

AvroCar flying saucer-mobile

Edison’s concrete obsession

Flying cars

Humorous driving contraptions

Ford “Nucleon” Atomic Car concept


Snake-bot video

The “New” solar system

“Blueberries” on Mars

Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa

Saturn’s Moon Titan

The Largest Stars in the Universe (that we know of)

Black Holes


Particle accelerators

Underground labs

Liquid mirror telescopes

Blue whales


Tardigrades (i.e. “Water Bears”: the most indestructible-known-animals)


The “Prehistoric Shark” alive today

Weirdest dinosaurs ever (Peter’s blog post based on this part of his lecture)


Dinosaur Season in Canada (January 17)

What were the dinosaurs? (and what constitutes a dinosaur?)

When did they live and what did they do?

Types of dinosaurs

Ages and Periods of the Earth

How did the dinosaurs die

Going on a dino dig

Top dino discoveries in 2011 and 2012

Buying a dinosaur (a great source in Canada)

Jurassic Forest (animatronic dinosaur park near Edmonton) video


Scary Science (January 24)

Dionosis, Lead & Wine

Asbestos use

Opium and Heroin as household products

A little radiation anyone?

Mercury (Nuts! Who knew it was poisonous…?)


The infamous macaque experiments

Killer-asteroids (and video)

Explosive decompression (and other ways to die in outer space)

Monster volcanoes

Algol, the Demon Star

The facts behind “The end of the world” in 2012


Extreme Medical Robot Makeover (January 31)

Minimally-invasive surgery

Robotic surgery

Medical robots

The daVinci system

U Calgary’s neuroArm


Western University’s CSTAR



“It seemed like a good idea . . .” Fumbles and Failures in Science (February 7)

Penicillin (it actually remains a good idea)

The “Aether Wind”

Worst cars of all time

Biosphere 2

The Banff Merman

The Archaeoraptor hoax

Will we ever have “cold” fusion?


Science Road Trip 2012 (February 14)


NRC Institute for Ocean Technology

Mistaken Pointoldest complex life on earth

L’Anse aux Meadows – Land of the Vikings

Whale watching in St Anthony, NL

Fundy National Park

Reversing Falls

Alexander Graham-Bell house

Bluenose II refit


Mont Megantic

Manicouagan Crater

Hydroelectric projects (and tours of them)

Bombardier Museum

Canada Aviation Museum


Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

Science North

Dynamic Earth

SNO Lab neutrino observatory

Bruce Peninsula National Park dark sky preserve

Fox Observatory

Bluewater Astronomical Society

Gordon’s Park on Manitoulin Island dark sky preserve

Swim with the polar bears in Cochrane Ontario


Land of the prehistoric marine animals

Gimli – largest Icelandic settlement outside of Iceland

Polar Bear tours at Churchill


Grasslands National Park and dark sky preserve

The Canadian Light Source synchrotron (particle accelerator)

Grey Owl’s Cabin

T-Rex Centre

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park and dark sky preserve


Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta Badlands

Jurassic Forest (animatronic dinosaur park near Edmonton) video

Banff cosmic ray station

Jasper National Park, the world’s largest, darkest dark sky preserve

Jasper glacierwalk

Oilsands “Discovery Centre”, Fort McMurray

British Columbia

Burgess Shale

TRIUMF Canada’s Nuclear and Particle Physics lab

University of Victoria’s NEPTUNE underwater science network

Vancouver Aquarium

Pacific Rim National Park

Legacy of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics


Beringia Centre museum, Whitehorse, YK

Kluane National Park

Northern Lights Centre

Dredge # 4, Dawson City, YK

Eagle Plains and a drive up to the Arctic Circle

Aurora Village, Yellowknife

Narwhal watching, Baffin Island


Zero to 24,000 in 60 Seconds: Transportation’s Next Big Thing (February 21)

Boeing’s 787 “Dreamliner”

Airbus A380 – the largest pasengerliner in the world

EasyJet’s “Ecojet”

Blended wing concept

Maglev trains

Transatlantic maglev idea

Maglev cobra (video – description text is in Spanish, video is in English)

MiG 31 fighter jet “Edge of Space” tour

Zero-G “Vomit Comet” flights

Suborbital spaceflight vacations

Orbital vacations


The New Astronomy: Stargazing in an Age of Light Pollution (February 28)

Dark sky preserves across the globe

Dark sky map of the world

Dark sky preserves in Canada

Peter’s dark sky column


Traditional Knowledge in the Modern World (March 6)

Lost Library of Alexandria

New Library of Alexandria

First Nations star chart

Spirit Bear video

Reflecting telescopes

Japanese tea “robots”

Hippocratic Oath

First syringes





How the Internet works


Canada’s Biggest Science Projects (March 13)

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

All about Quantum Theory/Quantum Mechanics

SNO Lab neutrino observatory

Level 4 bio-containment lab in Winnipeg

The Canadian Light Source synchrotron (particle accelerator)

TRIUMF Canada’s Nuclear and Particle Physics lab

University of Victoria’s NEPTUNE underwater science network

Gemini North observatory

Atacama Large Millimeter Array

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope


About the presenter:

Peter’s web site

Peter’s books

Peter’s science blogs for Telescopes.ca


Where to get all the cool stuff you saw during the series (toys, gear & gadgets) EfstonScience, at Dufferin & 401 (the store with the giant telescope on the roof)


Specific products:


Telescopes shown on-stage

mechanical bird

robotic arm


Don’t see something here you wanted to know about? Drop Peter a note below and ask to have it posted!

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