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International Year of Light

January 23, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The United Nations (UN) proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. It is a global initiative to illustrate the importance of light and optical technologies. The opening ceremony occurred this week in Paris.

Light plays an important role in our daily lives. Through photosynthesis, light is necessary to the existence of life itself. While light-based technologies, such as optical fibres, have revolutionized society through medicine, communications, entertainment and culture. And most importantly, these technologies support sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. The importance of light reaches far beyond life on Earth. Light has helped us to see and better understand the universe.

It’s easy to overlook the significance of light. We are so used to having light in our daily lives. We’re also often not aware of how light-based technologies affect almost everything we do. It is in consumer electronics (barcode scanners, DVD players, remote TV control), telecommunications (Internet), health (eye surgery, medical instruments), manufacturing industry (laser cutting and machining), defense and security (infrared camera, remote sensing), entertainment (holography, laser shows) and much more.

To learn more about light, take a look at these books:

Let there be light  The speed of light  Light years  Patterns of light

To learn more about photosynthesis, the process of how plants and organisms convert light energy into chemical energy, take a look at these books:

Eating the sun  Photosynthesis 3rd edition  Photosynthesis 6th edition  Photosynthesis and respiration

Energy from our sun that reaches Earth can be converted into heat and electricity. This is one of the major initiatives by scientists and governments to develop affordable and clean solar energy technologies. To learn more about sustainable energy, take a look at these books:

Lights on!  Project sunshine  Renewable  The solar revolution

The Internet changed the way we communicate. Through social media, low cost telephone calls and video conferencing we are able to stay connected with friends and family. This technology is possible because of light. These e-books look at optical communication, a light-based technology:

Fiber optic reference guide  Fundamentals of optical fiber sensors  Handbook of fiber optic data communication  Optical networks

From sunsets to rainbows, the natural world contains a wonderful range of light and colours. Take a look at these books to see light in nature:

Aurora  Color and light in nature  The optics of life  Why the sky is blue

Unfortunately, the importance of light is often unknown. We take for granted the light in our homes, the Internet we use daily to stay connected with loved ones, the vegetables we eat and much, much more. It is so great that the UN decided to declare 2015 as the Year of Light to bring awareness to the world the vital role light and light-based technologies plays in our lives. This is a great opportunity to learn and to join in on the events that are happening throughout Canada. The Canadian Association of Physicists are also hosting numerous events, including lectures.


Free Science Events in Toronto for January 2015

December 23, 2014 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The 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 January calendar (PDF).

January's highlights include:

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

January's highlights include:

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

The green smoothie prescription  The science of Shakespeare  Maltreatment of patients in nursing homes  No more dirty looks

Understanding Alzheimer's disease and other dementias  The human brain  The driving dilemma  Boosting your immunity

Season's Greetings, Glacial Readings

December 22, 2014 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Biography of Roald Amundsen on
Photograph of Amundsen's successful voyage to Antarctica in 1911.  (This image has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.)

Winter Arrives

Last night at 6:03 pm, the Winter Solstice swept across Toronto to officially jumpstart the winter season. The dwindling daylight endured these past three months will return stronger and stay longer.

This week ramps up with several festive celebrations manifesting in spectacular events across the city.  Even with the gladdening news of fun-filled activities and increasing daylight hours ahead, winter holds center stage.  The season accompanies face-freezing temperatures, frost-covered roads, incessant sleet, blowing snow, and blazing winds.  Past temperatures have easily dipped down to -25 degrees Celsius or lower and this does not include the wind chill factor.

Despite the frosty welcome, this arctic-like weather compares little with the winter temperatures at the bottom of the world.  The December 10, 2013 Guardian article, Coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth in Antarctica: -94.7C (-135.8F), provides an eye-opening account of how people sustain themselves in such severe biting conditions.

Canada sits in the northern hemisphere and the Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories are the land masses nearest to the North Pole.  In contrast, the North Magnetic Pole currently lurks near the upper western corner of Nunavut.  Both the geographic north and south poles have corresponding north and south magnetic poles that shift in location over time.  

For more information on the Earth's magnetic poles, please read Gillian M. Turner's (2011) title, North Pole, South Pole : the epic quest to solve the great mystery of Earth's magnetism:

North Pole, South Pole: the epic quest to solve the great mystery of Earth's magnetism by Gillian M. Turner

The Geographic North and South Poles in Early Maps

One could become fascinated with the interpretations of things and events in earlier times.  The Toronto Public Library Digital Archive and The Toronto Public Library on Pinterest offer amazing digital artifacts to entertain, enlighten, and enrich our understanding of past accomplishments.

Early maps provide an intriguing view of the world.  Featured below is a map of the North Pole in 1732. As you can see, the region where the country of Canada currently resides was, "Part of America," and the area above the Arctic Circle was named, "Parts Unknown."  Clearly, little was understood on the various aspects of this northern terrain, but geographers such as Herman Moll provided the North Pole with a definitive point in space.

More digital images pertaining to the North Pole on
1732 Map of the North Pole by Herman Moll and courtesy of the Toronto Public Library


The map below was printed forty years later and sketched an outline of the South Pole.  This depiction seemed as mysterious as its polar counterpart.

A Southern or Antarctic Hemisphere map by Robert Sayer in 1732 on
Map of the Southern or Antarctic Hemisphere by Robert Sayer in 1773 courtesy of The Toronto Public Library

There was no indication of any land structure at the South Pole.  This visualization is a chilling reminder of the limits of human endurance in early global exploration.  The Polar Regions remained shrouded in secrecy for the next century.

Recorded for Posterity

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, travelers have endeavoured to reach the poles. The need to know was of paramount significance.  The unfinished maps of that period in time compelled explorers to fill in the gaps with new knowledge.  Other aspects included competition to reach that place first and the challenge to test their own physical, mental, and emotional limits against the harshest conditions imaginable.  Even so, some explorers paid the ultimate price for this opportunity.  These stories, too, are preserved in the historical body of knowledge as a part of that particular landscape.

In today's world, current technology in the form of satellite imagery digitally maps out these forbidden landscapes.  This information is easily accessible through print and online resources.  Explorers who want to travel to these regions (particularly the South Pole) will require the latest tech gear to arm themselves against these harsh terrains.  

For the rest of us who prefer to reside in warmer climates but want to read up on these fascinating explorations, here are some suggested cool titles:

Race to the top of the world: Richard Byrd and the first flight to the North Pole by Sheldon Bart To the end of the earth: our epic journey to the North Pole and the legend of Peary and Henson by Tom Avery Polar attack: from Canada to the North Pole, and back by Richard Weber Into the cold (2011, DVD) by Copeland, Sebastian and Heger, Keith
South with the sun: Roald Amundsen, his polar explorations, and the quest for discovery by Lynne Cox Return to Antarctica: the amazing adventure of Sir Charles Wright on Robert Scott's journey to the South Pole by Adrian Raeside 1912: the year the world discovered Antarctica by Chris Turney Photographs of Captain Scott by David M. Wilson

Enjoy the cheery warmth of the festive season while Old Man Winter pounds the Northern Hemisphere with blistering icy conditions.  The early travelers on their polar expeditions will solemnly wait until the reader chooses to pick up and continue along with them on their epic journeys.

The Neuroscience of Willpower

December 18, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

  Yes you can clouds
Image courtesy of

With 2014 drawing to a close, I have been thinking about New Year's resolutions, not that I make them, officially.  I think about what I would like to change, improve and accomplish for the next year, (yes, I know--resolutions).  I recently realized that I have been thinking about making the same changes ever since I was a teen.  It's strange that I accomplish everything I want and need to for work, but cannot do the same for my personal life.  

I am hoping to change that by going to a presentation, The Neuroscience of Willpower at North York Central Library at 7 p.m. on January 6, 2015.  Uri Galimidi will share simple, yet effective, neuroscience-based interventions that will help strengthen willpower, conquer undesirable habits, adopt new beneficial habits, increase the rate of success of meeting your goals, and help you become the best possible version of yourself.  In a nutshell: boost your willpower, change your life.

In the meantime, I might do some reading on increasing my willpower... or I might not.



  Neuroscience of everyday life
Willpower: rediscovering the greatest human strength by Roy F. Baumeister The willpower instinct: how self-control works, why it matters and what you can do to get more of it by Kelly McGonigal The neuroscience of everyday life by Sam Wang (DVD)
On second thought: outsmarting your mind's hard-wired habits by Wray Herbert This will make you smarter: new scientific concepts to improve your thinking by John Brockman Beyond IQ by Garth Sundem (eBook)


Free Science Events in Toronto for December 2014

November 27, 2014 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The 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 4: Earth Exhales: A Volatile History, part of the Earth Sciences Seminar Series at the University of Toronto.
  • December 7: What is Happening with Monarch Butterflies? Citizen scientist Don Davies describes the current situation of monarch butterflies and what we can do to help.
  • December 18: Safe Winter Driving, learn what is required to maintain and regain control over your vehicle in specific types of skids, the vital principle of the natural laws of motion and your vehicle's limitations, and recommended winter tune-ups.

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

December's highlights include:

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

An introduction to our dynamic planet  Monarch butterflies  Driving techniques  The brain book

The baby's table  Ebola  Sams teach yourself HTML and CSS in 24 hours  The Allergy-Free Cook bakes cakes and cookies

Chase away the autumn blues with an evening of words and music

November 7, 2014 | Maureen | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Sun lovers get the blues when dead leaves scratch along the sidewalk in bone chilling autumn gusts, and days are short and bleak. You might want to hurry home and shut the door on this dark season, but there are remedies for the autumn blues. Stomp and crunch your way through leaf piles! Rejoice in the dark majesty of autumn skies! Greens and tropical blues have had their time. Now the crimson, gold and sapphire of autumn rule, and you can hear the rhythm of Canadian poet Bliss Carman’s classic verse as you stride through frenzied leaf cyclones that suddenly animate the sidewalk:

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood--
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

Autumn leaf

Is your jack-o'-lantern still out in your yard or on your balcony? Take a photo everyday, animate them, and watch Jack bite his own evil grin as he rots! Make yourself an autumn song playlist. It’s easy to do using Naxos Music Library, which is available to you from your home computer or in any Toronto Public Library branch. All you need is your library card to access a huge music collection. Using the jazz version of Naxos Music Library, I created an autumn playlist that includes the songs “Autumn leaves”,  “Stormy weather”, “Autumn Nocturne”,  “Lullaby of the leaves”, “Autumn in New York”, “Soon it’s gonna rain” and “My favourite things” performed by great artists such as Miles Davis, Vince Guaraldi, Charles Mingus, Oscar Peterson, John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald. Coltrane’s soaring, diving saxophone improvisation of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s “My favourite things” is 13 minutes and 41 seconds of pure brilliance that makes me think of the erratic dance of falling leaves tossed by the wind. With these jazz geniuses playing the soundtrack for your autumn blues, you just might want to stay blue.

North York Central Library invites you to a musical performance that is all about the blues. On Tuesday November 18, award winning blues artists Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley, along with guitarist and musicologist Mike Daley, will perform blues poetry, which is a fusion of blues music and the African American oral tradition. They will perform work by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes and others. Diana and Chris have played all over North America and Europe, and have won nine Maple Blues Awards and 6 Juno nominations. The performance begins at 7:00 p.m. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

 DeltaPhonic Blues Poems  Something about the blues
 The Essential Langston Hughes Selected poems of Langston Hughes   Squeeze my lemon


Entrepreneur in Residence: How to Realize Your Dreams?

October 25, 2014 | Charlene | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich! "sold out it's first print run in three weeks" in the late 1930s. Today, it is considered the greatest self-improvement books of all time." His philosophy of personal achievement has been an inspiration to many, including many successful well-known business leaders today.  

To learn more about his principles and philosophy of success, attend one of our programs at North York Central Library. Hear Sunny Verma and guest speaker Satish Verma discuss Napoleon Hill's secrets of success and examples of some well-know billionaires who put his formula to prosperity into practice. Learn how to create your destiny through entrepreneurship in this mind-opening seminar. No registration is required.  FREE.

When: Tuesday, October 28, 2014: 6:30 p - 8:00 pm - North York Central Library

Discover how you too can create your own brand of success in business and life. Try reading some of the suggested titles below:

The Science of Success The Magic Ladder to Success: The Wealth-Builder's Concise Guide to Winning!  The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires Think and Grow Rich for Women 


Free Science Events in Toronto for November 2014

October 25, 2014 | Jeannette | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

The 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:

  • November 9: How to Feed 9 Billion in 2050, the speaker will explore the question: is eating plants better for both human and environmental health?
  • November 13: Toronto Diabetes Expo, this event features onstage programming, complemented by an exhibitor area.
  • November 23: EcoFair, a family-oriented event that informs and inspires people to make greener choices in their homes and communities.

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

November's highlights include:

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

Feeding the planet  Mayo Clinic - The essential diabetes book  All you need is less  Authentic aromatherapy 

Photoshop CS6 essential skills  Breathing room  Arduino for beginners  Makers at work

This post was edited on October 27, 2014

Got the Fever? /ɪˈlɛkʃən/ Fever?

October 20, 2014 | Ann | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Elections - City of Toronto website
Image courtesy of The City of Toronto website

Defining Election

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the general definition for the word election, (pronounced "ɪˈlɛkʃən") is as follows,

The formal choosing of a person for an office, dignity, or position of any kind; usually by the votes of a constituent body. (retrieved from on October 5, 2014)

On Monday, October 27, 2014, the polls will open and the people of the City of Toronto will have the opportunity to select a new mayor, a councillor to represent each of the 44 City Wards, and 3 school trustees during this municipal election.   A full list of election candidates is available for your perusal.

The link to where to vote is conveniently located on the ballot box below.

  MyVote link to search for your Ward #, ward map location, voting eligibility, ballot samples used, and voting locations

Image: (License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ  Free for commercial use / No attribution required)


"Election Fever" with Guest Speaker, Edward Keenan

Prior to the official election date, North York Central Library is offering a program on Thursday, October 23, 2014 from 7 pm to 8 pm in the Concourse. 

The program is called, Election Fever: Exploring What Makes Our City Great with guest speaker, Edward Keenan who is currently involved in several notable professions including working as a columnist for The Toronto Star and as a talk show host at Newstalk radio 1010.   Please register by calling (416) 395-5660 to reserve a seat.


Edward Keenan programs and booksImage Courtesy of Edward Keenan


Edward Keenan is also a writer and author of the recently released (2013) book, Some Great Idea:  Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto.  The Toronto Public Library offers print and e-book versions for your reading pleasure.  


Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto by Edward Keenan


Suggested Titles to Feed the Election Fever

Come visit the Society and Recreation Department on the 3rd floor.  We have an excellent display of intriguing titles on social and political science encompassing Canada as well as specific books and magazines on Toronto.


Society & Recreation Department Display October 2014


As the energy for the upcoming municipal election reaches fever pitch, voters may also want to glance through resources pertaining to elections, votes, and political choices in Canada:

Dynasties and interludes: past and present in Canadian electoral politics by Lawrence LeDuc   Dominance & decline: making sense of recent Canadian elections by Elisabeth Gidengil Voting behaviour in Canada Fights of our lives: elections, leadership and the making of Canada by John Duffy
Parties, elections, and the future of Canadian politics by Amanda Bittner and Royce Koop Steps toward making every vote count: electoral system reform in Canada and its provinces by Henry Milner Making political choices: Canada and the United States by Harold D. Clarke The Canadian election studies: assessing four decades of influence by Antoine Bilodeau, Mebs Kanji, and Thomas J. Scotto


Enjoy the program, cultivate your knowledge with the best resources available, and select the most suitable candidates to serve the people of the City.

Empower Your Presence: 5 Tips to Tailor Your Workplace Image

October 1, 2014 | Charlene | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

(Prime Impressions Image Consulting)

Possessing an empowered presence can increase your success and true wealth, whether going for an interview, starting out in your career, or vying for a promotion. Dressing intentionally plays a huge a role in impression management. 

Come hear Catherine Bell, President of Prime Impressions Image Consulting give five tips on tailoring your workplace image and how to use them to navigate “The Ladder of Formality” for all sorts of work environments – from professional attire, through three levels of business casual – so that you’ll always stride forth with confidence and ease.  Please join us on Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 6:30-8:00 pm at North York Central Library - Auditorium.  Please register online.

To learn more about improving your workplace image, Toronto Public Library offers material in various formats for your convenience.


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.