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Meeting Summaries – 2007-2008

1 October 2007

Title: Nuclear Energy and the Post-Petroleum Future

Speaker: Herschel Specter, RBR Consultants

The depletion of reserves plus the increasing prices of oil are prompting more research into other types of energy sources. Relationships between energy and the environment, and of our overall energy systems will be explained. Ideas for how we can operate without oil as we make the transition to a post-petroleum future will be given with a special emphasis on the increasing role of electricity in transportation and space heating including its relationship to conservation. The role of nuclear power in a mix of energy sources, renewable and otherwise, will be presented including the results of the speaker’s recent study of possible accident/terrorism threats to nuclear power plants.



5 November 2007

Title: Baking the Bedrock – Why the Halifax Slates have “The Pits”

Speaker: Rebecca A. Jamieson, Department of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University

About 380 million years ago, a large body of granite magma (the South Mountain Batholith) intruded the sedimentary rocks that underlie what is now Halifax. Heat from the magma was transferred into the surrounding rock, forming a “baked zone” (contact aureole). New minerals formed in the baked zone by solid-state metamorphic reactions, with higher-temperature minerals closer to the granite contact. The first appearance of the key minerals andalusite, biotite, and cordierite can be used to define “isograds” that correspond to variations in temperature and rock composition. Two different isograd sequences are observed. Cordierite, which defines the outer limit of the baked zone in both cases, is marked by characteristic weathering pits in slates. Following cordierite, biotite and then andalusite appear in the Point Pleasant Park – Purcell’s Cove area. In contrast, andalusite appears before biotite in the central Halifax peninsula, including the vicinity of the Dalhousie campus. The latter sequence is very unusual and is interpreted to reflect extremely aluminum-rich rock compositions. Raman spectra of graphite in the Halifax slates suggest metamorphic temperatures of about 350°C in the outer baked zone and 560°C at the granite contact. Pyrrhotite, an easily-weathered iron sulphide mineral linked to acid rock drainage, is widely distributed both within and beyond the contact aureole.


3 December 2007

Time: 7:30pm 

Location: Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Speaker: Daniel O’Halloran, O’Halloran Campbell Consultants Ltd.
Title: In-stream Tidal Power in the Bay of Fundy

The presentation will provide an overview of:    * existing in-stream turbine concepts and developments   * planning for installations in the Bay of Fundy   * reference to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) currently     underway   * reference to the NS Department of Energy’s current Request for Proposals     (RFP) for turbine demonstrations   * some physical topics relating to turbine installation in the Bay of Fundy.


Winter 2008

7 January 2008

Time: 7:30pm
Location: Alumni Hall, University of King’s College   (map)
Panel Discussion Title: Climate Change- Impacts to Nova Scotia



  • Gary Lines
    Meteorologist, Environment Canada
  • Scott McCoomb
    NS Dept of Energy
  • Bill Freedman
    Dept of Biology, Dalhousie University
  • Glen Lesins
    Dept of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University

Moderator: Brad Tucker  – Director of Science Education Discovery Centre


4 February 2008

Time: 7:30pm

Location: Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Speaker: Christine Chambers, Department of Pediatrics and Psychology, Dalhousie University
Title: Childhood Pain

Chronic pain is unfortunately a common experience for many adults, but it is often surprising to find that many children and adolescents also can experience disabling pain. In this lecture, Dr Chambers will review the study and science of pediatric pain. She will present some of her own studies and those of others highlighting the importance of psychological and social factors in childhood pain. She will illustrate the value of psychological interventions in decreasing pain and distress for children as a result of medical procedures (e.g., immunization) or for those who experience chronic headaches or abdominal pain. She will give an overview of ongoing studies on pain in children at both the IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University and she will illustrate how the scientific study of pediatric pain is leading to direct improvements in how pain in children is assessed and managed.


3 March 2008

Time: 7:30pm

Location: Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Speaker: Tanya Peckmann, Department of Anthropology, St. Mary’s University
Title: Identifying human remains with Forensics

Forensic anthropology is the examination of human skeletal remains for law enforcement agencies to determine the identity of unknown human bones. The analyses yield clues as to how populations of people might have lived, how old they were when they died, if they were female or male, their state of health (or disease) or types of trauma they may have experienced as related to climate, warfare, or occupation. With a real forensic anthropologist as your guide, this presentation will show you the realities of the profession by using real case studies as examples, as well as report on and demonstrate new and groundbreaking research in the field of 3-D facial reconstruction.


7 April 2008

Time: 7:30pm

Location: Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Speaker: Jon Sweeney, Canadian Forestry Service
Title: The Brown Spruce Longhorn Beetle problem


5 May 2008

Annual Dinner and General Meeting

Time of the talk: 8:00pm
Location: University Club, Dalhousie University
After Dinner Speaker: Gordon Fader: Atlantic Marine Geological Consulting Ltd.
Title: The Story of Halifax Harbour