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Warring identities

Mary Chaktsiris | November 20, 2014

Can buying pigeons be a crime? In 1916, a seemingly routine act of receiving a crate of pigeons was misconstrued as an act of war. John Balasz, born in a country at war with the British Empire, was accused in Sault St. Marie of using the pigeons to carry unauthorized wartime messages. read more »

Polanyi Prize for Literature: ...

COU Staff | November 17, 2014

In modern times, alarmist visions of a grey tsunami of retirees, a lost generation of unemployed young people and a theorized war against youth have been warning global audiences that people of different age groups are simply incompatible. Andrea Charise’s research examines how the generational identity and intergenerational conflict that’s evident today was represented much earlier in literature. In fact, in 19th-century British literature and culture, older age was being reconceived, not only in literature but also as a field for health-based research. Today, we are told to do the Sudoku and exercise our body to keep ourselves young, but aging and the notion that we must keep our body and mind in perpetual motion is a late 18th-century way of thinking about the body. Charise’s research also examines the politics and poetics of generational relations in 19th--century Britain, which again surface in modern times. The conflict between the generations was evident in literary texts as far back as Oedipus Rex and King Lear, but in 1798, British economist Thomas Malthus set off a culture war when he blamed the potential catastrophe of overpopulation on the thriving reproductive capacities of young people. In modern times, Charise says the defining of age-based groups such as Boomers and Millenials is evidence of generational identity and intergenerational conflict in the modern literary imagination. Literature and the humanities, her research concludes, are crucial to communicating in accessible ways the consequences of the way we think about age and the way generations think about each other. Andrea Charise, Assistant Professor of Health Studies, University of Toronto, Scarborough wins the Polanyi Prize for Literature.

Polanyi Prize for Physics: ...

COU Staff |

Eduardo Martin-Martinez’s research explores a new field that combines the two most fundamental pillars of physics – quantum theory and general relativity - to understand the nature of the gravitational interaction and to build new technology that breaks the boundaries of what we thought was possible. Einstein gave us a new theory of gravity in the early 1900s, and for years physicists have tried unsuccessfully to examine gravity in relation to quantum theory. Martin-Martinez wants to use quantum information theory to learn more about gravity. General relativity – which has been used in modern technology such as GPS – tells us that the force of gravity is caused by curvature of spacetime. Two masses attract in the way two billiard balls attract each other when placed on a trampoline. Mass and energy move in a curved spacetime and the spacetime is curved by the presence of mass and energy. One of the most important modern challenges is to find a quantum description of gravity. Quantum information theory studies the storage, transmission and processing of information through quantum systems. In this context, quantum mechanics allows us to carry out tasks that were previously considered impossible. Quantum physics can deliver computers exponentially faster than the computers we can conceive of today, solve complex problems, store large amounts of information, and allow absolutely secure communications using quantum cryptography. The goal of Martin-Martinez’s research is to use powerful tools from quantum information, science and technology to study quantum effects induced by gravity and, through them, to learn new information about spacetime. At the same time, he wants to use the theory of relativity to develop new quantum technologies. Potential applications include quantum computing technology and answers to how curvature and quantum theory affect the processing of information. Eduardo Martin-Martinez, Research Assistant Professor, Institute for Quantum Computing, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Waterloo wins the Polanyi Prize for Physics.

Polanyi Prize for Economic ...

COU Staff |

Rahul Deb’s research examines whether it is possible to tell using a relatively simple test whether firms involved in a competitive bid for business with government or another regulated vendor are genuinely competing, or whether they are secretly colluding. read more »
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