Program & Tickets

Please note that tickets are required for entry to all Toronto Science Festival events, including free events. Tickets can be purchased using the buttons in the program below or on our tickets page.

NEW! RUSH TICKETS – CASH ONLY: Sold out events may have empty seats because not all ticket holders show up. These tickets will be offered to the RUSH TICKET line at the venue beginning 15 minutes before the start time of the event.

For non-free events such as keynotes talks, RUSH TICKETS can only be purchased with CASH. There will be NO credit card, debit or by cheque RUSH TICKET purchases. (Due to float limitations, ticket prices will be rounded to the nearest dollar.)

Seating is guaranteed with Eventbrite only until 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the event. TSF reserves the right to offer rush seating. Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of staff.

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
7:00 pm HUMAN EXPLORATION OF SPACE:
50 Years and Counting

Julie Payette, Canadian Astronaut

Convocation Hall
(map)
“High achiever” barely begins to describe Julie Payette. Masters degree in engineering, pilot, IBM engineer, Officer of the Order of Canada, singer with symphonies in Montreal, Toronto, and Switzerland, conversant in six languages, and now Director of the Montreal Science Centre. Oh, did we mention she was orbiting the Earth, using a giant robot arm to build a space station by the time she was 35? Julie will kick off the festival by sharing her unique insights into the past, present, and future of human space exploration.
 
NEW! The first 25 guests to this keynote will receive a free pass for two to a special advance screening of the Warner Bros. Pictures release “Gravity” starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. The movie opens nation-wide Oct. 4th but the TSF advance screening will take place at 7pm on Monday, Sept. 30th, at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge/Dundas. See Jim Bell “Postcards from Mars” keynote below for the same promotion.
 
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Julie PayetteCredit: Canadian Space Agency
8:00 pm BRAVE GENIUS:
Jacques Monod, Chance, and our Place in the Universe

Sean B. Carroll, Evolutionary Biologist

Convocation Hall
(map)
Biologist and Nobel Laureate Jacques Monod once remarked that “the most important results of science have been to change the relationship of man to the universe, or the way he sees himself in the universe.” Discoveries in molecular biology, evolutionary biology, and geology over the past half-century have profoundly reshaped our picture of human origins, and revealed the enormous role of chance in the fate of life on Earth. Join evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll as he chronicles some of those discoveries through Monod’s eyes, whose own ascent from struggling graduate student to leader within the French Resistance, co-founder of molecular biology, and emergence as a public figure and leading voice of science involved a great deal of chance, and courage.
 
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Sean CarrollCredit: Sean Carroll
9:00 pm Book signing with Sean Carroll
Convocation Hall Lobby
(map)
Dr. Carroll will be available to sign copies of his books, including his newest, Brave Genius, released only days before the festival. Books will be available for purchase. Brave GeniusCredit: Crown Publishing
9:30 pm Star Trek Half-Marathon
Innis College Town Hall
(map)
Join Hugo award-winning science fiction writer Peter Watts, author of the “Rifters” trilogy, and U of T astronomer Michael Reid as they explore the theme of first contact with extraterrestrials through the lens of Star Trek. Watts and Reid will screen three fascinating episodes from three Star Trek television series: “The Devil in the Dark” from the original series, “First Contact” from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and “Distant Origin” from Star Trek: Voyager. They’ll discuss what they say about life in the Universe and how we think about extraterrestrial life.
 
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Watts and ReidPeter Watts (left) and Michael Reid (right)
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
1:30 pm Panel: The Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth

Moderator: Dr. Jennifer Carpenter, Science Journalist

MacLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building
(map)
How does our understanding of the origin and evolution of life on Earth inform our thinking about life in other parts of the Universe? How universal are the evolutionary processes observed on Earth? Can we expect life beyond Earth to evolve as it does on our planet? Should we expect life to always evolve into complex forms? Explore the fundamental rules and patterns of the origin and evolution of life on Earth with a fascinating panel that includes plant evolutionary biologist Spencer Barrett, palaeontologist David Evans, evolutionary development biologist Cassandra Extavour, and evolutionary genomicist Stephen Wright.
 
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Exatvour, Evans, Barrett, and WrightCassandra Extavour, David Evans, Stephen Wright, and Spencer Barrett (clockwise from top left)
2:30 pm Contemporary Dance Performance by inDance
MacLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building
(map)
Experience the festival theme of Life in the Universe as interpreted via the Indian classical dancing body in a unique performance by the renowned dance company, inDance. You’ll see the dancers perform pieces which mirror the overarching theme of the conference, with the dancers isolating various body parts from South Indian classical dancing body and reconfiguring these into a cluster of pieces—including a version of “NINE” where three dancers abstract nine human emotions as an athletic, dynamic, pulsating, site specific work, specially choreographed for this festival. The performance is the creation of internationally renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher and dance scholar Hari Krishnan. In addition to being the director of inDance, Krishnan is also an Assistant Professor in the Dance Department at Wesleyan University.
 
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inDance_cropped_400pxCredit: inDance
3:30 pm Intermission
4:00 pm Panel: Life in Extreme Environments

Moderator: Dan Falk, Science Journalist

MacLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building
(map)
Could you live in boiling, acidic water? Inside solid rock? Under several kilometres of ice? In the near-vacuum of space? Increasingly, scientists are finding organisms that can. Join astrobiologist Kevin Hand, geochemist Barbara Sherwood Lollar, and oceanographer John Baross for a fascinating discussion about these weird creatures and all the extreme environments they inhabit. Plus, find out what they tell us about the origins of life on Earth, and what other extreme environments some organisms might call home.
 
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Hand, Sherwood Lollar, and BarossKevin Hand (top left), Barbara Sherwood Lollar (top right), and John Baross (bottom)
5:00 pm Intermission
Gourmet food trucks will be available in King’s College Circle, outside Convocation Hall.
7:00 pm POSTCARDS FROM MARS:
Using Rovers to Search for Evidence of Life on the Red Planet

Jim Bell, Planetary Scientist

Convocation Hall
(map)
Don’t worry if your application to live on Mars was rejected. You can still visit the Red Planet through the spectacular imagery captured by a trio of Mars Rovers—Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. Planetary scientist Jim Bell was instrumental in developing cameras and processing images from the three robotic explorers and in his talk “Postcards from Mars”, he’ll share his favorite vistas of our planetary neighbour with you. Through the beauty of these photographs, you’ll see why Bell can be described as a scientist, an explorer and a nature photographer.
 
NEW! The first 25 guests to this keynote will receive a free pass for two to a special advance screening of the Warner Bros. Pictures release “Gravity” starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. The movie opens nation-wide Oct. 4th but the TSF advance screening will take place at 7pm on Monday, Sept. 30th, at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge/Dundas.
 
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rover3_400x400pxCredit: NASA/JPL
8:00 pm MOONBEAMS AND STARRY DREAMS

Jazz Performance by Diane Nalini

Convocation Hall
(map)
Singer-songwriter-physicist Diane Nalini, backed by a trio, performs a repertoire celebrating the romance of the starry skies and the wonders of the universe. Drawing from her passion for jazz, French Chanson and Brazilian popular song, she delivers infectious rhythms that enthrall and inspire.Astrophysicist & writer Ray Jayawardhana will chat with Diane about the science behind the music and our cosmic connections during the interlude.
 
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Diane NaliniCredit: Diane Nalini
9:00 pm Message to the Stars—Contest Announcement
Convocation Hall
(map)
Join us as we announce the winners of the Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) contest and reveal the messages they submitted for transmission into space in our attempt to contact intelligent extraterrestrials. The messages will then be transmitted live during this session via the Algonquin Radio Observatory in Algonquin Park.
 
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Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-CaltechCredit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech
9:30 pm Book signing with Jim Bell
Convocation Hall Lobby
(map)
Jim Bell will be available to sign copies of his new book, The Space Book. Books will be available for purchase. The Space BookCredit: Sterling Publishing
9:30 pm Sky Observing and Telescope Clinic
Presented by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
King’s College Circle, outside Convocation Hall Ever wanted to look at the stars through a telescope? Have a telescope or a pair of binoculars gathering dust in a closet? Come to this event—with or without your own equipment—and members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will show you the night sky through their telescopes and teach you how to use yours. A great event for families.
 
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Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASACredit: ESA/Hubble and NASA
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
10:30 am Café Scientifique Brunch
St. Michael’s College COOP
(map)
Love science but hate lectures? Does a casual conversation with scientists over brunch and mimosas sound like your kind of continuing ed? Then this Café Scientifique is for you! Organized in partnership with the Ontario Science Centre, this is a brunch with big thinkers in biology, astronomy, and earth sciences. Not sure what to talk about? We’ll start the conversation off with a few Big Ideas about life, the Universe and, well, everything. You don’t have to prepare a thing: just bring your curiosity—and your appetite!
 
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12:30 pm Panel: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Moderator: Nora Young, host of CBC Radio’s Spark

*venue change*
MacLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building
(map)
Many find the idea of contact with intelligent aliens inspiring. But, there are skeptics, too. Who would speak for Earth? What should they say? Is there any hope for meaningful conversation with beings so different from us? And can we justify spending money searching for intelligent life when we have so many problems here at home? Join us for a riveting conversation about these intriguing questions with SETI pioneer Jill Tarter, Dunlap Institute astronomer Shelley Wright, and York University anthropologist Kathryn Denning.
 
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Tarter, Wright, and DenningJill Tarter (top left), Shelley Wright (top right), and Kathryn Denning (bottom)
1:30 pm FILM: CARL SAGAN’S CONTACT

With a special introduction by SETI Institute founder Jill Tarter

Innis College Town Hall
(map)
In Carl Sagan’s novel Contact and the movie of the same name, SETI astronomer Ellie Arroway receives a signal from space and becomes the first human to make contact with extraterrestrials. Arroway—played in the film by Academy Award winner Jodie Foster—was inspired by a real SETI pioneer, astronomer Jill Tarter. Join us for a special screening of Contact, (1997, directed by Robert Zemeckis) with an introduction to the film and a Q&A session afterwards with the inspiring Dr. Tarter.
 
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Contact Movie Poster