Dream Big

Space experts come to U of M for a week of events

Photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson by Don Deitch

Campus will be bustling this week with lectures, demonstrations, and exhibitions for Dream Big, a series of events that brings together major figures in space and space exploration as well as local experts from the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg for a week of events.

Guests include Canadian Space Agency (CSA) president Walter Natynczyk, Mars One crew candidate Zac Trolley, former CSA president Guy Bujold, and, most notably, the headline speaker and Knight Distinguished Visitor Neil deGrasse Tyson, giving his first-ever lecture at a Canadian university.

Local speakers include Igor Telichev, assistant professor of engineering at the U of M; Chris Rutkowski, Winnipeg science writer and UFO sightings expert; Andrew Frey, assistant professor of physics at the U of W; and U of M postdoctoral fellow Harsha Kumar.

Proceedings will kicked off on Monday with a talk by Telichev on orbital debris and a demonstration of a “vomit comet” by Dario Schor of Magellan Aerospace. Tuesday features a talk by Rutkowski, a historian of reported UFO sightings, and a lecture on string theory by Frey.

Wednesday at noon, Harsha Kumar will give a talk titled “Tracing Our Origins Through Cosmic Explosions” in the Graduate Students’ Association Lounge at 217 University Centre. At 4 p.m., Trolley, one of Canada’s second-round candidates for the crew of Mars One, will give a talk at the same location.

At 6 p.m., the Engineering Atrium will host the Canadian Space Society Fair, with displays by the University of Manitoba Space Applications and Technology Society, the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Studies, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and more. After that, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A on careers in space featuring Guy Bujold and the CSA’s director general of space science and technology, ric Lalibert.

The big event is Thursday: Neil deGrasse Tyson, the eminent astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, will give a free public lecture at the Investors Group Athletic Centre. The lecture begins at 4 p.m., with doors opening at 3 (rush seating). For students at the Bannatyne campus, the lecture will be live-streamed in Theatre B.

Tyson is in demand as a public speaker, and securing him as a guest is a major coup for the university. “Believe it or not, there is over a year of planning involved in bringing Neil deGrasse Tyson to campus and maybe hundreds of emails,” said student life coordinator David Grad. He added that “it was absolutely worth it.”

“Dr. Tyson has a rare ability to spark the imagination of audiences and he is a great advocate for science, research, and innovation.”

Throughout the week, the Gallery of Student Art in University Centre will display colourized images taken by astronomy students and a timeline of advances in space exploration.

Finally, keep an eye out for the next issue of the Manitoban, where we will bring you detailed coverage of the events with photos and interviews.