A popular speaker series at Carleton University is taking higher learning out of the classroom.

The free Science Café series, held every other Wednesday at the Wild Oat Café on Bank Street through the end of April, explores topics from why leaves turn different colours, to nanotechnology and health, to computer malfunctions.

A professor of biology at Carleton, Root Gorelick has been organizing the series for the past two years.


“I enjoy these talks,” he said. “And people really get into this stuff. We get dozens of people. We have kids under 10 in there and people in their 80s.

“We truly mean this as an event that gives back to folks with no strings attached whatsoever, so people in the community can come and learn.”

For that reason, Gorelick asks that speakers make their topics — no matter how technical or scientific — accessible. “We have to be able to explain it to anybody,” he said.

The Science Café talks run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., but those who shy away from being lectured at for an hour need not worry. Each event includes a 20-minute talk by a scientist followed by a 40-minute open question-and-answer period.

Audience participation is key, said Gorelick.


  • Oct. 13: Thermometers, barometers, ham sandwiches and Borsuk-Ulam theorem.

  • Oct. 27: Geological calamities, from Icelandic volcanic eruptions to Ottawa earthquakes

  • Nov. 10: How to get to where you want to go without a map.

  • Nov. 24: A precise way to treat cancer.

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