Mock mission to Mars-like Arctic

York University atmospheric physicist Brendan Quine is part of a team of scientists who are using Nunavut’s Devon Island and its Haughton Crater to map out how humans can work and perhaps live on Mars, reported The Calgary Herald Oct. 23. While the Canadarm stands out as the best-known example of Canadian science hitting the big leagues in space exploration and research, a 12-university team with 50 scientists hopes to eclipse that milestone by landing a Canuck mission to Mars in 2008 or 2010. “We have the know-how and the technology,” said Quine, a professor with York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science who is helping lead the charge on the Northern Light project. For the “bargain basement” price of $200 million, or less than two-thirds the price of a Boeing 747, Canada could send its own unmanned mission to Mars, Quine told the Herald.

Measuring the health of the planet

York University mathematics Professor Jianhong Wu is among 18 Toronto-based scientists whose pioneering work Toronto Life magazine has spotlighted in its November issue. All 18 portrayed are leaders in their fields and “are changing how we measure the health of our planet, how we view the heavens, how we work and play, how we combat pain and illness,” intoned the magazine. Wu holds the Canada Research Chair in Applied Mathematics and leads a team that is developing mathematical models to track the spread of infectious diseases such as SARS.

Employers willing to foot big bills to develop staff

In a story Oct. 23 about executive MBA programs, the Toronto Star said several factors make executive MBA courses more than double the cost of traditional programs. “One of the reasons why our program is so expensive is that it is privatized,” explained Andre deCarufel, executive director of the Joint Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA Program, an $85,000 program run by York University in Toronto and Chicago’s Northwestern University. “Most academic programs are subsidized. Our program reflects the true cost of running it.” These programs cater to executives with several years of work experience who expect an executive level experience, wrote the Star. Fees for executive programs can also include an international excursion, a laptop computer and round-the-clock technical assistance – not to mention the cachet that goes with attending an elite business school. “We can’t say we’re in a class by itself and then have middle-of-the-pack pricing,” said deCarufel. It’s clear that the high fees haven’t translated to a shortage of students – or of employers willing to foot the bill, wrote the Star. DeCarufel said the high costs are worth it for employers. The ones who sponsor workers to undertake these kinds of programs are more likely to be acknowledged as being among the best employers to work for. That means they’re more likely to attract and keep talented staff.

On air

  • Sociologist Anne-Marie Ambert, professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, commented on the kidnapping of nine-year-old Cecilia Zhang on Global Television’s “Global News” Oct. 22.
  • Robert MacDermid, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, said the Liberals and MP Paul Martin are already right-wing, during a discussion on the tentative right-of-centre merger deal between the Canadian Alliance and federal PC Party, on Rogers TV call-in show “Goldhawk” Oct. 22.