Special CRAM presentation explores the gravity of our existence, April 5

On April 5, inquiring minds from across the Greater Toronto Area are invited to a special evening of learning and discovery at CRAM, the first free learning festival of its kind in Canada. From 5 to 11 p.m., Toronto’s four universities will open their doors to the public to share some truly fascinating and novel research experiences that would not normally be available to the public. York University is taking this festival in a totally innovative direction with a slew of research events, a presidential panel, food trucks and more.

This article is part of a series that profiles events taking place at York University’s Keele Campus.

Laurence Harris, professor in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Health, director of the Centre for Vision Research at York University, is keenly interested in gravity, the kind that keeps us firmly planted on Earth.

Laurence Harris

His presentation, titled “Prisoners of Gravity,” taking place in Vari Hall B at 6 p.m., explores the given nature of gravity in human existence. Harris will consider the question: what happens to us when gravity is absent?

Humans have evolved in the constant presence of the gravitational pull of Earth. Most of us may not realize it, but gravity is an essential influence on our behaviour and perceptions. The human brain uses gravity for stability, as a reference to help us judge distances and even to help establish ownership of our bodies. So, what happens to us when gravity is removed? Who do we become?

In this fascinating exploration of gravity, space and modern science, Harris will share what happened during some fascinating experiments in unusual environments such as under water and aboard the International Space Station. Harris will talk about the far-reaching effects these results might have for us here on Earth.

Watch Harris explain his research in the following video.

Harris holds a York Research Chair in Multisensory Integration and he founded the journal Multisensory Research. Harris explores how the senses combine to generate the perception of our body and the world in which it moves. He has worked on projects on the International Space Station and has a variety of unique equipment for exploring the role of gravity in perception.

CRAM happens on April 5 from 5 to 11 p.m. at York University’s Keele Campus. Each research event will last approximately 25 minutes and include a Q-and-A with the featured researcher. CRAM events will take place in Vari Hall, 198 York Blvd., Keele Campus. There’s no cost to attend, but organizers request that participants register their intent to attend (it helps with planning the event).