Quirks & Quarks·quirks and quarks

Canada 150: Nobels for physics, Indigenous health and our 3 oceans

Celebrations of Canadian Nobel Prize winners, innovators and inventors
Arthur McDonald, Dalhousie University alumnus and co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, laughs while posing at the university. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

Well we've made it to our 150th birthday.  And I have to say, we don't look a day over 149.  Across the country Canadians are marking our sesquicentennial with celebrations that look back at our first century-and-a-half, and look ahead to what the future may bring.

We decided to do something special ourselves to mark Canada's 150th birthday. We put in a call to the Royal Society of Canada, our national Academy of Arts, Humanities and Sciences. We asked them to invite their members to reflect on our the last 150 years of science in Canada — taking a view from within their fields.  And so in today's show we'll be bringing you the voices of some of Canada's most accomplished researchers to talk about our nation's history — and maybe a little about our future — in science.

Dr. Art McDonald, Professor Emeritus at Queen's University in Kingston and 2015 Nobel Prize laureate in Physics, discusses the four Canadians who have won the Nobel in physics. His prize, of course, was awarded for his work with the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory and its observation of neutrinos. Interestingly he points out that he and the other three Physics laureates are all from small towns in Canada.

Dr, Carrie Bourassa, a proud Métis, and Scientific Director of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health of  the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, is based in Sudbury. She marks our 150th without much celebration, and with a reflection on Canada's shameful record on Indigenous health issues. She notes that the CIHR program she directs has a renewed mandate and, importantly, more money with which to engage with the problems of Indigenous health and wellness.

Dr. Phillipe Tortell, Professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia, celebrates the "uniquely Canadian" way that marine scientists have built up, over the past 60 years, a detailed and long-term picture of our changing oceans.