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Free Science Events in Toronto for December 2016

November 30, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

The Business, Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the December calendar (PDF).

December's highlights include:

  • December 7: #DMZSession: Robot Revolution - A discussion on the growing use of automation in the workplace, its implications and how it's becoming embedded into our day-to-day lives.
  • December 10: Winter Bird Count for Kids - Introduce your kids and yourself to the wonders of winter bird-watching.
  • December 15: Year of Pulses - Learn about the health benefits of pulses (e.g. dried peas, edible beans and lentils).

Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

At the library, December's highlights include:

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these books:

Popular Mechanics Robots   American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America   The Power of Pulses   The New Canadian Garden

Coding for Dummies   Psychiatry and the Business of Madness   Senior Fitness   The VR Book

Announcing the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, 2016

November 25, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

Founded in 1988, the Royal Society Science Book Prize celebrates outstanding science books from around the world. Securing a new sponsor this year, the prize is now known as the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize.

And the winner of the Science Book Prize for 2016 is...

The Invention of Nature

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf

Also available: audiobook  |  eBook  |  eAudiobook

In The Invention of Nature, Andrea Wulf reveals the forgotten life of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), the visionary German naturalist whose ideas changed the way we see the natural world.

Here are the shortlisted books for 2016:


Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant

Also available: eBook

Scientists have been uncovering evidence that our thoughts, emotions and beliefs can impact the way our body functions. In Cure, Jo Marchant explores the vast potential of the mind's ability to heal, acknowledges its limitations and explains how we can make use of the findings in our own lives.


The Gene

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Also available: large print  |  audiobook  |  eBook  |  eAudiobook

In The Gene, Siddhartha Mukherjee attempts to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates and choices. Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee’s own family reminds us of the difficulty of translating the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world.


The Hunt for Vulcan

The Hunt for Vulcan: ...And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson

Also available: eBook  |  eBook (2nd copy)

For more than 50 years, scientists searched for the “missing” planet Vulcan. There was just one problem: it never existed. In The Hunt for Vulcan, Thomas Levenson follows the visionary scientists who chased after the phantom planet and recounts one of the strangest episodes in the history of science.


The Most Perfect Thing

The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird's Egg by T. R. Birkhead

In The Most Perfect Thing, Tim Birkhead uses birds’ eggs as a portal into natural history. Along the way, stories of naturalists and scientists, including those of Birkhead and his students, explore the vital role of the study of birds’ to understanding human reproduction.


The Planet Remade

The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World by Oliver Morton

In The Planet Remade, Oliver Morton explores the history, politics and science of geoengineering and considers the promise and dangers of these controversial strategies in response to global warming.

Bad Singer

November 21, 2016 | Jane | Comments (0)

Tim Falconer, who is among the statistically tiny percentage of people who are completely tone deaf, loves music. This puts him into an even tinier percentage of that tiny group. One of the things that sets Falconer apart, again, is that he's chosen to address his musical shortcomings by trying to learn how to sing. He has a genuine interest in learning to sing, but also to make scientific sense of his amusia (as his condition is called). 


After all, what is it about the brain that enables it to find a musical pitch -- and reproduce it? Is there some biologically meaningful function to this ability? Can we engineer the ability, with work?

Falconer will be at North York Central Library to talk about his quest to turn himself from "bad singer" to an acceptable performer. He'll also talk about what he has learned along the way about the science of music, and how the brain perceives it. 

Book cover of The power of music : pioneering discoveries in the new science of song           

November 21st, a Brief Moment in Time

November 21, 2016 | Ann | Comments (2)

And then November by Randi Hausken from Bærum, Norway
And Then November by Randi Hausken from Bærum, Norway. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Over two weeks ago, Daylight Savings Time reverted back to Eastern Standard time. We now reach the late autumn -- the third and last phase of the season -- when the skies turn cobalt grey and temperatures plummet below freezing. Most of the leaves have fallen off the trees as this period prepares for the arrival of winter

To help embrace the cooler changes in weather and scenery, here are some images taken from Toronto Public Library on Pinterest to illuminate your spirits:

And the first white snows.
Courtesy of TPL Pinterest. Saved from


Indigo Dreams
Courtesy of TPL Pinterest. Saved from


It was November
Courtesy of TPL Pinterest. Article from Steller Stories


Longing for Autumn
Courtesy of TPL Pinterest. Article from Bloglovin'


Come said the wind to the leaves one day
Courtesy of TPL Pinterest. Article from On Sutton Place | Ann Drake

If these images have inspired you to seek out Ontario with its brisk and colourful scenery, here are some suggested readings to take along with you:

Spectacular wineries of Ontario: a captivating tour of established, estate & boutique wineries An artist's and photographer's guide to wild Ontario Backroads of Ontario (4th edition, expanded and updated)
Top 150 unusual things to see in Ontario (5th edition) Naturally Ontario: exploring the wealth of Ontario's wild places Nature's year: changing seasons in central and eastern Ontario

This season may be feel sad, dark and miserable, but here is an opportunity to plan a fun outing in Ontario to keep your inner light aglow. Enjoy this brief moment before the winter festivities begins.


The Dark is Rising

November 18, 2016 | Maureen | Comments (8)

I wish I could find the secret door in the back of my wardrobe that leads to another world. Winter is coming in this one. And it feels like the dark is rising. I need a fictional vacation destination. But to where? A holiday in the Shire would suit me, hiding in a cozy hobbit hole, with a steaming tea pot and plate of seed cake. But of course, the dark riders, the Nazgûl, would come. I could revisit Narnia, and sit by the fire with Mr. Tumnus, the faun, but it's always winter there, thanks to the terrifying white witch. Maybe some butter beer at the Three Broomsticks, not far from Hogwarts? On second thought, no. Some patrons of that establishment have allied themselves with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

The dark is rising - Susan Cooper The fellowship of the ring - J. R. R. Tolkien The lion, the witch and the wardrobe - C. S. Lewis

Fantasy novels ooze darkness - like the real world. I need to escape to a world more fantastical than a fantasy novel - a place where there is no darkness. A place like Stars Hollow, the gentle dream of small town America that is the setting of the television show, Gilmore Girls. The worst crime in Stars Hollow was the theft of a lawn gnome. The town's religious leaders were pals who hung out in the local diner together. The town misanthrope hid a heart of gold under his crankiness. There was one unpleasant character: Taylor Doose - politician, business owner, real estate mogul all rolled up into one bossy, know-it-all package. But when Taylor starts turning into a self-serving petty dictator in a comfy sweater, local farmer Jackson challenges him in a race for town selectman, and the essentially goodhearted people of Stars Hollow hand him a landslide victory. Yep, Stars Hollow is the perfect place for a vacation from reality just now.   

Stars Hollow is, of course, the home town of book obsessed Rory Gilmore, who said, in her valedictorian speech, “I live in two worlds. One is a world of books.” Rory didn’t go anywhere without at least one book; she usually had several. All glammed up and off to a fancy party, Rory tucked a copy of The portable Dorothy Parker in her bag, just in case. Her tastes were eclectic  -- from Anna Karenina, to the comedy of P. G. Wodehouse, to Social origins of dictatorship and democracy. By one count, there were 339 books referenced in the series. I wonder what Rory will be reading in Gilmore Girls: A year in the life, which debuts on Netflix on November 25. Who knows, maybe she's written a book herself. After all, Lauren Graham, who plays her fictional mom Lorelai, has written two:

Talking as fast as I can - From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and everything in between - Lauren Graham Someday, Someday, Maybe - Lauren Graham


Here are some books referenced in Gilmore Girls, according to the website BuzzFeed:

An American tragedy - Theodore Dreiser A confederacy of dunces - John Kennedy Toole
Backlash - the undeclared war against American women - Susan Faludi One flew over the cuckoo's nest - Ken Kesey
Lies_and_the_lying_liars_cover The last empire - essays 1992-2000 - Gore Vidal
The divine comedy - Dante Alighieri The razor's edge - W. Somerset Maugham


Heart of darkness Inferno-bang1


The Godfather - Mario Puzo Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson


The fountainhead Property - Valerie Martin


The second sex - Simone de Beauvoir The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire - Edward Gibbon
Moby Dick - Herman Melville Notes of a Dirty Old Man - Charles Bukowski


Howl and other poems - Allen Ginsberg Please kill me - The uncensored oral history of punk - by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain

When Gilmore Girls ended in 2007, Rory was about to embark on her first job as a journalist, filing reports for an online publication about Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic nomination. Watch Alexis Bledel reprise her role as Rory, overwhelming First Lady Michelle Obama with her book lust:

You can borrow all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls in DVD format from the library. Good news! We've changed the loan period for DVD TV series from one week to two! Click to reserve a copy:

Gilmore Girls. The complete first season

Gilmore Girls. The complete second season

Gilmore Girls. The complete third season

Gilmore Girls. The complete fourth season

Gilmore Girls. The complete fifth season

Gilmore Girls. The complete sixth season

Gilmore Girls. The complete seventh season

The In-Between Days of Teva Harrison

November 11, 2016 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

In-Between Days by Teva Harrison, available as a book and an eBook


I've just finished reading Teva Harrison's memoir In-Between Days, and I understand now why it has been so widely praised. Her book is often sad, sometimes funny and always honest. It's a window into the world of someone living with a life-threatening disease, in the space between wellness and illness, between hope and fear, between joy and despair.

Teva Harrison is a Toronto artist and writer. She was 37 when she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. In the early days of her illness she started drawing: "I tried to channel the way I felt: the fear, pain, and shame, the search for joy and meaning. The emotions of living with cancer are complicated. I was drawing because I had to draw. Often, it was all that made me feel better." She shared her comics on-line and the project grew into In-Between Days.

You can meet Teva Harrison and hear her story at the North York Central Library on Tuesday November 15. This event is part of the eh List Author Series, which brings award-winning Canadian authors to Toronto Public Library branches. Her talk will be followed by a book signing.

Here are the event details:

Date: Tuesday, November 15

Time: 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Location: Auditorium, North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge Street


Here are some other books written by people who experienced serous illness:                                                                                                                                                                        



Free Science Events in Toronto for November 2016

November 8, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (1)

The Business, Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the November calendar (PDF).

November's highlights include:

Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

At the library, November's highlights include:

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these books:

Winter World   Asteroids   Obsessive Compulsive Disorder   The Basics of Digital Privacy

In-Between Days   The Complete Book of Bone Health   Black Hole Blues   Bad Singer


How Good Are You at Stress Management?

November 7, 2016 | Emoke | Comments (0)

Cool MindStress is an issue that most of us have been struggling with for a long time now and probably will do so for the rest of our lives. That may sound pretty grim, but fear not, the library can help!

The North York Central Library will be hosting a program on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 (7-8 pm) in the Auditorium called How Good Are You At Stress Management? This program is free, and you can register at 416-395-5660.

In this presentation, Uri Galimidi will explain the biology of stress and the fight or flight response. He will be discussing the findings of two recent studies about the impact of stress on the study participants. He will also share five powerful interventions to help you reduce your stress at home and work. This presentation will also include an interactive simulation of the two studies and their applicability to everyday life.

Uri Galimidi is the founder and president of The Will To Change Inc., a firm that specializes in executive coaching, leadership development, organizational behaviour and personal growth. He is also the creator of The Willpower Program, a "neuroscience-based program that will help you train your 'willpower muscle', enhance your self-control, conquer undesired habits, adopt new healthier habits, successfully pursue your goals and become the best possible version of yourself." In the past two years, Uri has delivered this program to over 2,000 audience members in Canada and the United States.

Come hear Uri speak at the North York Central Library on November 30th, and get some help on how to manage stress better in your life.

Please see other materials that Toronto Public Library has on the subject of stress:

The doctor's guide to sleep solutions for stress and anxiety-combat stress and sleep better every night  The upside of stress - why stress is good for you, and how to get good at it The mindful way through stress - the proven 8-week path to health, happiness, and well-being  The Stress cure - how to resolve stress, build resilience and boost your energy

Relieve stress - 20 quick techniques   The stress solution -using empathy and cognitive behavioral therapy to reduce anxiety and develop resilience   Thriving under stress - harnessing demands in the workplace    Challenging stress, burnout and rust-out - finding balance in busy lives

eh List Author Series Presents Ami McKay's The Witches of New York

October 27, 2016 | Reagan | Comments (0)

The bestselling Canadian author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure, Ami McKay will be at North York Central Library on Tues Nov 1, 2016 from 7:00 - 8:00 pm.

She will be discussing her new, beguiling novel, The Witches of New York, a tale of three remarkable young women navigating the glitz and grotesqueries of Gilded-Age New York by any means possible, including witchcraft!

Q&A and book signing to follow; Book City will be selling books at the event.

The Witches of New York - 2016

Witches of new york

Interested in reading Ami McKay's other books? Find her other titles The Birth House (2006) and The Virgin Cure (2010) in our collection.

The Birth House - 2006

Birth house

The Virgin Cure - 2010

Virgin cure

Want to read Ami McKay's The Virgin Cure for your book club? You're in luck! Ami's website has a reading guide for the book. Find Book Club sets at the Barbara Frum Branch. Reserve your Book Club set today.

Niagara Falls' Daredevils

October 24, 2016 | Ann | Comments (4)

 Annie Taylor before her trip

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Annie Edson Taylor (1838-1921)

Over a century ago today on October 24, 1901, a 63-year-old teacher climbed into a wooden rowboat accompanied by two men and a half-submerged pickle barrel in tow. Taylor decided that in order to procure more funds to ensure a healthy retirement, she had to perform an amazing act to draw attention to herself. The pickle barrel was fully insulated by a rolled-up mattress, a heart-shaped pillow, and possibly her cat for moral support. 

Annie Taylor with her cat
By GG Bain News Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Both she and the cat survived with minor cuts to their heads. Taylor was able to use her notoriety from this stunt to make some extra cash but was unable to make enough to retire comfortably.

The horrendous drop or the possibility of dying did not deter others daredevils from repeating this stunt. A more recent (2012) article from The Toronto Star called How did these people survive a plunge over Niagara Falls? provides a fresh perspective from the point of view of the survivors who jumped into the Falls and fell all the way to the bottom without any protective wear. One jumper, Kirk Raymond Jones, lived to tell his tale and tour in a circus.


Daredevils Above the Falls

Charles Blondin was a tightrope daredevil and attempted this feat without a net or safety harness to prevent him from falling into the "boiling cataract." His only request was that the day would have good weather. The photograph shows Charles carrying a pole tethered with the Royal Union flag on the left to represent Canada and the American flag on the right and a chair hanging on the tightrope in front of him to perform more death-defying stunts.

Charles Blondin 1946 tightrope walk

Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library 


In 1975, Henri Rechatin rode on a motorcycle driven by a partner on a tightrope, while another acrobatic performer is also tethered to the motorcycle and swings behind the cable car. Henri here attempts to climb down into the cable car below. Three people participated in this daring feat and relied on each other -- the motorcyclist keeping the bike steady, Rechatin using the balancing pole to keep everything in balance, and the female acrobat below to hold her pose.

Winding up his daredevil trip above the Niagara Gorge whirlpool today; French acrobat Henri Rechatin steps down onto the aerial car cable from a motorcycle driven by a friend. Photograph taken by Don Dutton in 1975
Courtesy of Toronto Public Library


Here is another picture of Henri (spelled Henry in this photograph taken by Graham Bezant) Rechatin on May 23, 1976, beginning his tightrope stunt while rolling on a single metallic wheel. It looked to be a chilly day as he was wearing a long-sleeved sweater. This photograph shows Rechatin clearly focusing on his task of balancing his feet on the metal wheel to keep it stable while it rolls over the tightrope.

Henri (Henry) Rechatin riding a metal wheel on a tightrope on May 23, 1976 over the Falls

Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

More interesting resources

There are many more stories on Niagara Falls that are not mentioned here. For more information on Niagara Falls and her daredevils, please refer to the following titles listed below:

Inventing Niagara: beauty, power, and lies Roll out the barrel: The story of Niagara's daredevils Niagara: a history of the Falls
Hidden history of Greater Niagara The second greatest disappointment: honeymooning and tourism at Niagara Falls Moon Niagara Falls

There are more titles written in the nineteenth century on this great travel location from that period's perspective to look through.  Also, for those who have the daredevil in them to zip above the Falls at a fast rate, the Zipline & Aerial Adventure is somthing to try.

Niagara Falls is that extra bit more wonderful with her daredevils there to entertain the tourists with their death-defying feats. Unfortunately for some, these stunts have cost them their lives. The Falls beguile these people to hurl themselves into the mouth of the raging waters or to tiptoe above it, while denying the Falls its tender human morsels. Either way, these brave people are now part of the Falls' history and their stories continue to attract tourists to this great place.

Welcome to North York Central Library. We're one of the City's most welcoming spaces, open to all for study, research, relaxation and fun.

Our extensive digital and print collections, programs and services are yours to use, borrow and explore. Expert staff are always on hand to help. Meet us in person or join us online.