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This flagship series brings together Parliamentarians with experts in science and engineering, showcasing outstanding Canadian research accomplishments. Its purpose is to provide unbiased insight into topical scientific issues, within a non-partisan forum. This prestigious forum represents a unique opportunity for scientists to communicate important findings to a distinguished and influential audience.

The series is organized by PAGSE, an umbrella group of 25 + science and engineering organizations operating under the auspices of the Royal Society, and is supported by NSERC.


Exotic Canada: Deep, Dark and Hot
A tour of hydrothermal vents
on the ocean floor

with
Verena Tunnicliffe
The University of Victoria

The hottest water on Earth, over 400°C, gushes into the otherwise barren depths of the cold ocean. One such spectacular site lies in Canadian waters just off Vancouver Island. Hydrothermal vent studies are changing basic ideas in many sciences. They present a new model for the origin of life, explain chemical balances in the oceans, and provide new insights on processes deep within the Earth's crust.

Visiting this last frontier on the planet tests even the best technology. Nevertheless, we can reach these oases of life, kilometres below the ocean surface, using manned and remotely operated submersibles. Once there, we find strange associations between animals and bacteria that form some of the densest biological growths in the ocean.

Hydrothermal vents offer a marvelous habitat where abundant food is available to the venturesome. The challenges, however, include noxious chemical toxins, undependable access to fluids, competition from your neighbours, and a long way to go to the next vent. And just when you have made the perfect home, the volcano under your feet erupts.

Simultaneous translation will be provided.

Co-Sponsors:
--the Speaker of the Senate, the Hon. Daniel Hays
--the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Hon. Peter Milliken
--Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE)
--NSERC

DATE: Thursday, March 15, 2001 from 7:30 am - 9:00 am