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On May 16, science facts and fiction in focus at Beyond Disciplines

Beyond Disciplines wraps up its second season as part of Science Odyssey
May 2, 2017


After a highly successful second season, Beyond Disciplines will take its final bow of the season on the evening of May 16, with a science fiction-themed event.

“As scientists, we always welcome the opportunity to demystify scientific concepts including things that we watch on TV, read in the news, or on social media,” explains Science Facts and Fiction host Rafik Naccache, assistant professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“Of course, we plan on doing this while having a lot of fun and quite a few chuckles,” says Naccache, who will be donning a superhero persona for the event, like his panelists. Naccache, who will discuss nanoscience, has chosen the moniker “Dr. Nano” for the occasion.

From super heroes to weird anatomy to killer bacteria, speakers will walk the audience through the fine line that separates fact from fiction in the world of science, using examples such as comic books and movie clips.

“One of the best things about this Beyond Disciplines talk will be being able to show the public that the gap between science and science fiction is rapidly narrowing,” says Aaron “Jedi” Johnson, associate professor in Psychology. Johnson’s presentation will focus on mind control.

““The ability to control another person by one’s thoughts sounds like something that only exists in science fiction - but researchers have demonstrated that we can control machines by our thought, and recently what other people see and do,” says Johnson, who promises a real-life demonstration at the event.

Brigitte ‘CSI’ Desharnais, a PhD student in Chemistry and Biochemistry, plans to discuss the world of forensic technology, while can be very different from what’s portrayed on television.

“Pop culture has a huge impact on what the public (including police officers and coroners!) expect from forensic experts, so this event is a very nice platform to highlight the fact that we're not magicians. Good science takes time, rigour and hard work.”

This final Beyond Disciplines takes place as part of Science Odyssey, an NSERC-organized national event which takes place each year to promote science. This year the Odyssey takes place from May 12 – 21. A full list of events can be viewed here.

Exercise Science chair Richard ‘Superman’ Courtemanche is looking forward to his talk, which will focus on superhero powers.

“I want to ask questions like, how does Iron Man mentally control his armor? Without superpowers, what training makes Batman the world’s best athlete?” explains Courtemanche. He says the event provides an opportunity to educate the public about science through the lens of pop culture.

“Physiology teachers can make use of this curiosity, banking on the monstrous success of superhero movies and on their permeation into the mainstream. By identifying the physiological vs. magical, the known vs. the unknown, more students can be attracted into science or just naturally make use of their scientific reasoning “muscles”, says Courtemanche, joking, “in brightest day, in blackest night… physiology will show the light!”

Beyond Disciplines: Science Facts and Fiction will be followed by a science fiction-themed reception. Other speakers include Angela ‘Mythbuster’ Alberga (Exercise Science) who will debunk common myths about nutrition and weight loss, and Brandon ‘Contagion’ Findlay (Chemistry and Biochemistry) who will discuss infection and zombie infestation.

The event takes place at Concordia's EV Building, room 1.605, from 5 - 7 pm. To learn more and to register, visit the event listing page.

The events of Science Odyssey come to Concordia with the support of the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies.


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