Major play for York’s Mars win

Major Canadian media reported that York University scientists had earned a berth on the team of experts involved in the US$325-million NASA mission to study Mars in 2007. The Canadian component, led by Allan Carswell, York professor emeritus of physics and astronomy, will measure the Martian atmosphere using laser radar technology, known as lidar, installed on lander spacecraft. “As far as we know, all life forms need water. The spacecraft will be measuring to see where there was, or is, water,” Carswell told the Toronto Star August 5. A robotic arm will excavate a trench and retrieve samples for geological and chemical analysis, the paper said. The Canadian team will conduct climate studies that will provide information on the present-day environment, including the local water vapor flux in and out of the surface layer.

The York team also involves York’s Department of Earth & Atmospheric Science Professors Diane Michelangeli and Peter Taylor. They’ll use lidar to study the Martian atmosphere and analyze data during the mission. “This is the first time that Canada is sending instruments to Mars, so that’s pretty significant,” Michelangeli told The Globe and Mail. “The ultimate goal is to send people to Mars. But before we send people to Mars we have to have a much better understanding of what’s happening when we’re sitting on the surface.”

York’s role in the Phoenix mission was also reported by CBC News, CTV News, Canadian Press, Broadcast News, CITY-TV and The Toronto Sun, among other outlets.

Filling the void

Now that the Rolling Stones have gone, Toronto can get on with its plans for Downsview Park, or Downsvoid, as some media pundits choose to call it. York environmental studies Professor David Bell, who heads the park’s board, is less enthusiastic about Downsview playing host to such extravaganzas on a regular basis, reported The Globe and Mail August 2. “It does do it well, that’s true,” he said. “But we don’t want to preclude a whole lot of other things that could occur in this park on a daily basis.” To that end, wrote the Globe’s John Barber, the once moribund federal corporation is currently gearing up to create Tree City, a massive new green space that will cover about half its 600-acre holding. The balance will include commercial and residential development needed to pay for the park.

Don’t delay dealing with procrastination

York psychology Professor Clary Lay, Faculty of Arts, is among a group of researchers who have gathered in the US to discuss procrastination, reported the Ottawa Citizen August 4. Experts say procrastination isn’t just a time management issue, but a complex phenomenon involving anxiety, self-handicapping, self-regulation problems or fear of failure. The International Conference on Counseling the Procrastinator in Academic Settings is being hosted by Ohio State University in Columbus. One in five Canadians is a chronic procrastinator, the article said.

Money for nothing, kicks for free

Who benefits from the big SARS show? In the Toronto Star August 2 ethnomusicologist and rock historian Rob Bowman said, “The Stones didn’t do this for money. They did this because they wanted to help Toronto.” Bowman noted that Mick and the boys would have made more revenue sticking to their tour date in Europe, where they would have played a football stadium and kept all the merchandising proceeds.

On Air

  • John Saul, York political science professor, Faculty of Arts, was interviewed by “A New Day” (CFWH-AM), Whitehorse August 4, to provide an update on the meaning of events in Liberia. Saul also was interviewed by “Daybreak” (CBME-FM), Montreal, and “Radio Noon” (CBN-AM), St. John’s, on the same topic.
  • “Hear and Now” (CBL-FM), Toronto August 4, featured music from the Black Canadian Music Conference which was held at York.
  • Fred Lazar, economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, was interviewed by “Global Sunday,” a national show, August 3, on whether First Nations governance was too hard, too soft or just right. Lazar, part of a panel discussion, said the First Nations Governance Act was not the way to go.