Get Your Logic On

April 16, 2012

Torah Kachur

Last weekend was the second annual LogiCon convention in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  I was a guest speaker, not once, but twice.  Yup, that's how logical I am.


This new conference in Edmonton is aimed at the free thinkers, the skeptics and the wannabe nerds in the city.  It's for everyone who likes to think, has to think or has a brain and I fit into one of those categories. 


My first talk I attended was from James Pinfold, who has the paltry resume of leading an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider and was a co-discoverer of hard evidence for the unification of the electromagnetic and weak fundamental forces.   He, like, discovered shit that Einstein predicted.  That's how cool he was.  Although the background of the LHC is well-known, it was a fascinating talk from someone on the ground, the layout of the place, the scale and the whopping price tag, although Dr. Pinfold poignantly pointed out that the 5 billion dollar price tag of the Large Hadron Collider is a miniscule sum compared to a lofty bank bailout.


Physicists and mathematicians filled the rest of my day - a talk on non-Euclidean geometry by Alan Thompson, a post-doc at the UofA, where he talked a lot about circles, lines and everything that made complete sense to a math idiot like me.  And then he got to throw in using non-Euclidean geometry to estimate the shape of the universe.  And finally, FINALLY, I found a cool use for pure math.....turns out the universe is exactly the shape we thought it was, pancake flat. 


Next up, my talk.  Superhero Science: the Biology and Technology of Superpowers.  This was a throwback to Science in Seconds' first incarnation as a group of girls that dressed up in Superhero costumes and talked about the incredible array of superpowers in nature and our ability to mimic them in tech.  It was a fun talk and it was pretty easy to impress the audience when you show videos of invisibility cloaks and people disappearing.  Except a few kids in the audience meant that I couldn't swear and I got tongue-tied a few times.  My potty mouth strikes again.


Then a fun talk by an old high school classmate, Malcolm Roberts who decided to figure out how many permutations and combinations of where to put numbers on a die (as in role-playing geek like dice) depending on the number of faces of that die.  I got to peer into a world of dice-rollers and fancy dice and also learn yet another application of pure math.


Estimating the size of the universe, dice development...maybe math is important after all.


The two day event saw talks by Tim Caulfield, a health ethicist and Canadian thinker of health and science policy.  Plus more math talks and some talk from the organizers, the Edmonton Skeptic Society, about how to deal with pseudoscience, how to think and read science news critically and otherwise call bullshit.


Finally, the second session contained another talk by yours truly, this time on the Future of Food.  And, as my dad says, 'The future of all food is shitty....'.


ba dam bam boom





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