Saturn moon could reveal how planets form

There’s another Lake Ontario in the universe, the same size as the one in Canada, but a whole lot colder. And there’s no water in it – just super-chilled liquid ethane, reported Canwest News Service July 31. Scientists confirmed Wednesday that Titan, one of the moons of Saturn, has this liquid lake on its surface, ending years of guesswork. It even has a beach, though the temperature is -180 C and there’s no oxygen anyway.  

Titan, which is more than double the size of our own moon, has been tantalizing astronomers for years. It’s one place where they suspect life might exist. Several years ago the NASA probe Cassini sent back photos of this frozen world, putting an end to the theory that Titan might be covered in oceans of liquid ethane.  

Ethane is a light hydrocarbon, formed when ultraviolet sunlight breaks down the methane (similar to natural gas) in its atmosphere. Elsewhere on Titan, methane in the atmosphere sometimes condenses and forms rain, running in rivers across the moon before it evaporates again.  

Ethane and methane are organic chemicals, notes astronomer Paul Delaney, a senior lecturer in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering. When those show up, "you do begin to speculate that the building blocks (of life) are there. Titan is like a primordial Earth, a very young Earth," and it has a thick atmosphere to shield any life from radiation and space debris. But the main goal in exploring Titan (unlike Mars) isn’t to find life; it’s to learn how planets formed and evolved, he said.  

Warner adds Chinese dance to York program

Mary Jane Warner chairs a rapidly evolving dance department at York University, where a proliferation of dance forms has blossomed, reported The Epoch Times Toronto July 30. Now a school that once focused on ballet and modern dance has opened its arms — and dance studios — to the world. York now offers classes in African dance, Middle Eastern, hip hop and, as of last semester, Chinese dance. 

“I would say both ballet and Chinese dance have this beautiful flow of movement. [Chinese dance] always has a very liquid quality to it — a sense of lightness, of airiness, a beautiful sense of use of the arms,” said Warner.  

In the end, said Warner, dance allows people to understand each other, something she sees in the students at York as they study dances from around the world. “I think that that is one of the things that dance can do for us, to bring us harmony; people can dance without being able to speak the same language.” 

Vitale named head coach of the Canada Deaflympic Hockey Team

Former York assistant hockey coach Jim Vitale has recently been appointed the head coach of the Canada Deaflympic Hockey Team for the first World Deaf Ice Hockey Championship, which will be held in Winnipeg next April 10 to 17, reported the Caledon Citizen July 31. As head coach of the Ontario Deaf Ice Hockey Team, Vitale led them to the seventh Canadian Deaf Hockey Championship/Roy Hysen Cup this past May. Canada will face Russia, the U.S., Sweden and Finland at the world championships.