York prof talks about space elevator on CNN

It sounds like science fiction. And it was, wrote CNN online Nov. 6. Now, 30 years after 2001: A Space Odyssey author Arthur C. Clarke wrote about an elevator that rises into outer space, serious research is happening all over the world in an effort to make the far-fetched-sounding idea a reality.

Professor Brendan Quine and his team in the Faculty of Science & Engineering at York University think they have the answers to at least some of [the] problems. They’ve built a three-story high prototype of an elevator tower that would rise roughly 13 miles (20 kilometres) – high enough to escape most of the Earth’s atmosphere.

“At 20 kilometres, you still have gravity; you’re not in orbit,” Quine said. “But for a tourist, you can see basically the same things an astronaut sees – the blackness of space, the horizon of the Earth.”

Quine acknowledged that the prototype is just a first step toward realizing the elevator and that several more prototypes are needed to fine-tune details.

He estimated that the cost of the basic tower would be about $2 billion – the equivalent of a massive skyscraper in places like New York City – and that the technology to build it could be ready in less than 10 years.

He said a more advanced – and expensive – elevator tower could be built to go higher into the stratosphere. But for the purposes of actually ferrying everyday people into space, 20 kilometres makes the most sense, Quine said.

“The tower might be economically viable if you’re able to transport 1,000 people a day to the top of it for about $1,000 a ticket,” he said. “At the top, you’d probably want amenities – hotels, restaurants. It could be a very pleasant experience, in contrast to zero gravity, which makes many people sick.”

For now, advocates of making the elevator a reality say they’ll keep at it. They’ll continue reminding themselves that they wouldn’t be the first to turn what started as an outlandish idea into good science.

  • Quine also spoke about the space elevator idea on Toronto’s CFRB Radio Nov. 9.

York psych clinic opens

Psychology PhD student and clinic trainee Madalyn Marcus (MA ’07) was on hand for the opening of York’s psychology clinic, wrote Metro Toronto Nov. 9.

Graduate psychology students at York University can now further their training through a state-of-the-art clinic right on campus.

Marcus, who is one of the PhD students who will train at the York University Psychology Clinic, says the new facility is invaluable for the program. “There are so few placements for us (students) in the community,” she said.

The clinic, which officially opened last week and offers mental health services to York faculty members, staff and people from the community, provides students with the opportunity to hone their skills in areas outside of their placements.

Clinic director Louise Hartley says there is a critical need for the facility, both for students and for the public. “We’re seeing cutbacks on all levels. Many hospitals have reduced their psychology departments and it’s increasingly difficult for students to get the clinical training they need,” she said.

Hartley expects the clinic will help further develop the University’s expertise in areas of research including autism and attention deficit disorder.

We (still) get the General Idea

Last Thursday, AA Bronson (Michael Tims), the sole survivor of the artist collective General Idea (GI), was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 10 in a review.

It’s a long-overdue acknowledgment for his role in this brilliant artistic experiment, which we can glimpse in its early mutations in an exhibition this fall at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU). Organized by AGYU director/curator Philip Monk, the exhibition restages two of GI’s seminal exhibitions from the 1970s, taking us back to the notorious Yonge Street lair of Italian-born art-dealer Carmen Lamanna (who provided the crucial seedbed for so much advanced Toronto art of the day), and allowing us to experience the enigma of GI afresh.

Royal week ahead for landscape architect

It’s not something former York grad student Linda Irvine dreamed of, but the Cornell resident will get to hobnob with the Royal Family at Rideau Hall Nov. 11, wrote the Markham Economist & Sun Nov. 9.

Irvine, who has been working for the Town of Markham as manager of the Parks & Open Space Development, and Planning & Urban Design Department for 10 years, received the invitation three weeks ago to meet Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, at the Governor General’s residence in Ottawa.

Irvine is meeting the royals in her capacity as president of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. “I was very surprised because it wasn’t expected,” she said. “I was very pleased because Prince Charles is actually an honorary member of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects.”

Milliken will always feel like home for volunteer

At an age when most people are eager to get away, 22-year-old Joshua Cardoza is choosing to stay put in Milliken, wrote the Markham Economist & Sun Nov. 9.

“I’ve lived in the same house for all 22 years of my life,” said the York University urban diversity student. “There are lots of opportunities to discover new things, especially networking to meet a lot of new people. It’s a community that’s rich with multiculturalism. It’s a nice mosaic of the people that come together.”

Cardoza said he’d like to teach in an inner-city type of school someday, but hopes to travel first before he settles. “I’d love to go to Spain, Italy, Paris, Australia. I’d get my exposure there, but to bring that experience back to the classroom is another thing. If I were to travel and come back, that’s exactly what I’d want to do, explain to my students in Argentina this is how people interact and learn,” he said.

On air

  • Peter Cumming, children’s studies professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about young people and “sexting” (sending sexual text messages), on Montreal’s CFCF TV Nov. 9.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about plans by GM to reinvest in an automotive plant in Ingersoll, on CTV News Nov. 9.
  • Seth Feldman, film studies professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, spoke about his new radio documentary about Charles Darwin for CBC Radio’s “Ideas” program, on CBC Radio stations across Canada Nov. 9.
  • Mona Oikawa, professor in York’s Department of Equity Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the treatment of Japanese Canadians in the Second World War, on CBC Radio Nov. 9.
  • York grad Natalie Weed (BA Hons. ’09) and former York student Ahmed Hussein, spoke about ethnic tensions on Canadian university campuses, on Toronto’s CFRB Radio Nov. 9.