Science Literacy Week, 2022

We have been participating in this Canada-wide celebration of science since 2015, but this year really is special. We could not be more enthusiastic about welcoming you to our McGill events, some virtual and others in-person. The theme of this year’s Science Literacy Week, taking place September 19-25, is Mathematics. It is such a wonderfully broad theme that, together with our campus partners, we were able to organize an array of learning opportunities for you.

I thought that I would break it down day by day with a few insights, but first there are two exhibits that have already launched and that you can check out right away. There is a Math / Music exhibit at the Marvin Duchow Music Library with materials from their collection that demonstrate the rich connections between the two disciplines. There is also a Mathematics Redpath Book Display, both physical (in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library) and virtual for some interesting reading material.


  • Stats-wise (12-1pm; in person): I was a student of Professor Rhonda Amsel during my undergrad at McGill (last century!) and she truly is a wonderful educator. I cannot wait to hear her talk about the ‘why’ of statistics. This presentation is for everyone.
  • Introduction to Working with Data in Excel (2-4pm; virtual): This is hands-on experience for the absolute beginner.


  • The Art of Explaining Science to Non-Specialists (12-1pm; virtual): Who better to introduce this important skillset than Science Communication Specialist at the Office of Science Education, Diane Dechief? I promise that this will be one hour well spent.
  • Plant Walk and Harvest (12-1pm; in person): The folks at Redpath Museum have been huge supporters of Science Literacy Week since the beginning. There are limited spots available for this McGill garden tour.
  • Intro to LaTeX (2-3pm; virtual): Get some LaTeX practice using the free online editor, Overleaf.




That’s it so far. I’m sorry for all of the exclamation marks (it’s exciting). Register today for a workshop, or join us for one of the drop-ins. I hope to see you around 🙂

A look at 2012’s scientific achievements

In the latest issue of the New Scientist magazine, there is an article that briefly summarizes last year’s discoveries and debates in the physical sciences.  These were:

1- “Beyond Higgs: Deviant decays hint at exotic physics” [read more]

2- “Neutrino speed errors dash exotic physics dreams” [read more]

3- “If you want to be president, hire geeks not pundits” [read more]

4- “Why physicists can’t avoid a creation event” [read more]

5- “Fiendish ‘ABC proof’ heralds new mathematical universe” [read more]

6- “Death-defying time crystal could outlast the universe” [read more]

7- “Truth of the matter: The Majorana particle mystery” [read more]

8- “Quantum measurements leave Schrödinger’s cat alive” [read more]

9- “US judge rules that you can’t copyright pi” [read more]

10- “Move over graphene, silicene is the new star material” [read more]

Image from Microsoft Office Clipart

Learning LaTeX online

I recently had to learn some basics about LaTeX, which is free software used to create professionally typeset documents.  Its strength lies in formatting technical and scientific documents that contain mathematical notations.

Below are links to some short videos that are useful for learning how to use LaTeX:

Image from Microsoft Office Clipart

Mathematical theory and the Rubik’s Cube

The 2012 World Cube Association’s U.S. National Championship was held at the beginning of August in Las Vegas.  A California teenager, Deven Nadudvari, set a record by using one hand to solve 5 different 3-by-3 Rubik’s Cubes in an average of 14.86 seconds each.

“You can use Rubik’s Cube to teach engineering, you can use it to teach mathematics, and you can use it to talk about the interplay between design and engineering and mathematics and creativity,“ according to Paul Hoffman, president of the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, who is organizing an international exhibition in 2014 that will celebrate the cube’s 40th anniversary. (Montreal Gazette, 8/11/2012, Quenqua)

The Rubik’s Cube has been used to teach Group Theory in mathematics.  For more information about group theory and the cube, check out any of these books.

Photo from allie