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UBC Publications

UBC Publications

UBC Reports Aug 11, 1976

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Vol. 22, No. 29, Aug. 11, 1976. Published by Information Services, University of B.C., 2075
Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1W5. J. A. Banham, editor. Judith Walker, staff writer.
John Morris photo
One of 200 French-speaking students learning English at UBC this summer, Louise
Choquette of Montreal finds a firm friend to read with on the plaza of the
Buchanan Building.
Off-campus housing needed
for Lower Mainland students
Wanted: 7,000 homes for students.
UBC student Dave Johnson,
co-ordinator of off-campus housing at
UBC and chairman of a joint
committee to find housing for
students throughout the Lower
Mainland, says that about 7,000
rooms, suites or houses are still needed
for early September, including some
5,000 for UBC students alone.
The joint committee of
representatives from UBC, Simon
Fraser University, Vancouver
Community College, Douglas College,
Capilano College, the B.C. Vocational
School and the B.C. Institute of
Technology has been formed in order
to share listings and advertising costs.
The biggest demand, Johnson says,
is for self-contained quarters with
cooking facilities, but there is need for
everything from single sleeping rooms
to entire houses.
If you have accommodation that
might suit a student, call the
off-campus housing registry at UBC at
228-2176 or 228-5825. It is manned
by four students Monday through
Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
More than 200 French-speaking
students from Quebec have chosen
UBC this summer as the place to learn
English. And, oddly enough, about 55
English-speaking Canadian students
have also chosen UBC as the place to
learn French.
The students are all part of a joint
federal-provincial Summer Language
Bursary program designed to promote
bicultural exchanges throughout
Canada. The program pays room,
board and tuition for full-time
students, either Canadian citizens or
landed immigrants, who wish to study
English or French as a second
language. The program has been
offered at a large number of colleges
and universities across Canada since
The students who have chosen to
take the program at UBC undergo six
hours of intensive language training
each day for 6Vi weeks, with evening
and weekend events planned for them
as well. Mornings are taken up with
instruction in the structure and use of
the language, either English or French.
For those students learning English,
the afternoons stress using the
language in situations off-campus.
This is a new approach to language
training, explained David Brown,
director of language programs at the
Centre for Continuing Education.
Visits to various places or
organizations are prearranged for the
students, who must report their
experiences to their instructors. The
students visit legal aid clinics,
museums, immigration centres,
women's centres — any place where
they must use their new language on
their own.
Most of the students are living at
Totem Park Residence during their
stay at UBC, although about 15
French-speaking students have chosen
to live with English-speaking families
off-campus. Evening events allow the
students to practise their new language
on each other while meeting the other
half of Canada.
About 80 instructors, many of
them UBC students, are involved with
the English and French programs on
both a full- and part-time basis,
teaching the students during the day
and living in residence with them at
Totem Park.
The program finishes Aug. 18. The Search for
Life on Mars
lartians. Ah yes, greenish creatures
with large antennae and flat feet.
For decades, people have been
speculating about life on other planets
— does it exist, what does it look like,
when and how will it come to Earth —
so that the very word "Martian" calls
to mind an image, however outlandish,
however much we may not believe in
life on Mars.
A few weeks ago the Viking landing
craft, designed by space scientists in
the United States, reached Mars after a
journey of some 11 months and began
its experiments to find if life exists or
did exist on that planet. Now we can
look more objectively at the
possibility of extraterrestrial life.
Two UBC scientists, Dr. Harold
Kasinsky of Zoology and Dr. Michael
Ovenden of Geophysics and
Astronomy, talk with UBC Reports
about the search for life on Mars and
the implications of finding, or not
finding, life in space.
First, an interview with Dr.
Kasinsky who is interested in the field
of space biology, or exobiology.
What do they expect to find on
They don't know what they're
going to find. The object of the game
is to see if life exists. But the only way
you can recognize life is if it's similar
to life as we know it. If it's a really
novel form consisting of unique
arrangements of atoms that we're not
familiar with, we're not going to
detect it.
Basically they're looking for soil
micro-organisms. They didn't land in
the middle of a traffic jam. There's no
big creatures around. So, if there's life
present and alive it's soil
micro-organisms — bacteria, fungi,
some sort of organism in the soil.
The other possibility is that life was
present, but is no  longer present.   It
2/UBC Reports/Aug. 11, 1976
looks like there was once a lot of
water on Mars, because of big gullies
and canyons. We know now that
there's nitrogen on the planet. This
Viking lander has measured nitrogen in
the atmosphere. They assume that
there was more of an abundance of
nitrogen in the past since nitrogen
slowly seeps away from the
atmosphere. And so nitrogen and
water gives you the basis of the
possibility of the formation of life.
The chemical constituents
necessary for life on Mars might once
have been opportune to form life on
77?9f is, life as we know it.
Basically they think if we're going
to find life, it's going to be built on
the chemistry of carbon with water as
its solvent. But maybe we're being too
provincial about it.
So what is the value of finding life
on Mars?
Really what we're doing by looking
at Mars is, we're trying to find out if
our theories of evolution of life on
Earth are right. Now you can't say
that on TV because people will say,
Well, why go to Mars? We hope that
Mars is in some state of evolution of
matter from the inanimate to the
animate such that we might see what
happened way back in the history of
the Earth. Maybe Mars evolved up to a
certain state, then a catastrophe
occurred and it stopped.
What about the Viking lander?
What can it accomplish?
It's been there now for several
weeks and they think they can get
information out of it for several years.
Because of the limited supplies it was
able to take with it, it can do less than
a dozen types of experiments. But
there are two landers. The next one is
going to land in the middle of
September or early October and is an
exact duplicate of the first Viking.
They'll set it up a little farther north,
closer to the pole where there might
be more free water.
What types of experiments will the
Viking be doing?
One set of experiments is designed
to detect complex organic compounds
in the soil which would give us a clue
as to the possible chemical nature of
life as it may have been or as it
presently exists. The second type of
experiments are a series of metabolic
experiments which test whether or not
there are biological organisms right
now on the planet which are able to
metabolize compounds — that is, are
they able to show the metabolic
processes we associate with life like
respiration and photosynthesis. The
other thing that they're doing is
Dr. Harold Kasinsky
How much will these experiments
really prove?
They can't tell all that much from a
dozen or two experiments, and I think
what's going to happen in the end is
we're going to be more curious than
when we started. We're going to
answer a whole mess of questions, and
raise so many more that it's going to
really frustrate these guys who are
going to have to wait for the next
billion dollars to do the next set of
The best possible situation they
could find right now would be that
there is some sort of bacteria in the
soil. They could then figure out
roughly the nature of the
micro-organisms, get some idea of
what stage of evolution life might be at. But it doesn't look like they are
going to find that.
Let's assume they don't find any
signs of biological activity but they
still find organic compounds in the
soil. It may be that there was once life
on Mars, that there was metabolism
taking place, but it took place some
time ago.
Let's assume they don't find any
organic compounds; they don't find
any signs of living organisms; all they
find is the basic elements. It may be
necessary then for us to re-evaluate
our theories of the evolution from the
chemical phase to the biological phase
on Earth, because we believe that
when the ingredients are present that
life will spontaneously arise, given
enough time. And all the ingredients
are there for life on Mars.
But if we can't find life on Mars
and we can't find it on Venus and
Jupiter or even signs that it was once
there, we'll have to re-evaluate the
whole thing.
And if we realize there's no other
form of life in the universe, it may give
us a greater respect for Earth and life
on it.
Dr. Michael Ovenden is known in
astronomy circles as the discoverer in
1972 of the lost planet, Aztex, among
other things. This planet, which seems
to have existed between Mars and
Jupiter, has now disappeared, leaving
only a trace of itself in the form of
thousands of asteroids. The void it left
perhaps caused Mars to be pulled
farther from the sun, thereby reducing
the temperature on that planet by
about 15 per cent, freezing any water
on its surface and destroying any life
that might have been. This theory
explains the remains of old river beds
on the surface of Mars, and could lead
to the hope that Viking will discover
evidence of life on Mars in the past.
But Dr. Ovenden prefers to
speculate on the implications of there
never having been life on Mars.
If we assume that life will
spontaneously arise given the right
conditions, ingredients and enough
time, and we don't find life on Mars,
will that seriously change our views
about life?
We make the assumption that life
will occur as a natural process where
conditions are suitable for it or where
conditions were suitable for it. And I
think it will be an assumption which
will be very seriously in question if we
don't find life on Mars.
All arguments that one can put
forward for supposing that life, in a
very general sort of way, is a natural
property of the universe — it doesn't
require some kind of special creation
— would be very difficult to reconcile
with there not being life, or there not
having been life, on Mars.
It may be that life is very, very
unusual, that it depends on a very
curious circumstance that happened in
the early stages of the Earth's history.
You mean it may be that we're an
Yes. It may very well be that life is
a very unusual thing in the universe,
because its occurrence depends upon a
very peculiar concatenation of
circumstances that happens very
rarely, but of which we simply do not
That is why, in a very curious way,
it will be far more dramatic and
important if we do not find life on
Mars than if we do. If we do not find
life on Mars, then we have to begin to
take the view that, in some sense, life
must be rather special.
Dr. Michael Ovenden
If we don't find life on Mars,
couldn't that mean that we just didn't
look in the right place?
Well, yes, but I'm jumping ahead a
bit. What I'm saying is, if we decide
there isn't life on Mars. Now we
haven't decided that yet. It's
conceivable we haven't looked in the
right place; its conceivable our
instruments aren't working correctly.
But if this Viking doesn't find life
and the next one doesn't find life and
the next one doesn't find life, at some
point you have to substantially say,
Mars hasn't got life on it. At some
point you have to stop spending
billions of dollars just to improve the
precision of your statement a little.
I think there was a greater danger in
this Viking business. Because Martians
didn't come and peer in through the
window, it's going to be very much
more difficult to get money for
further space exploration. Now I think
it's really a much more fundamental
discovery to find that life isn't on
Mars, but you try and sell that to the
general public.
Library cards
A reminder to faculty and staff that
library cards expire at the end of this
month and need to be renewed for the
coming academic year.
To renew your card, take it to
either the loan desk in the Main
Library or the circulation desk in
Woodward Library. Or, if you prefer,
mail your card to the Circulation
Division, Main Library. It will be
renewed and returned to you by mail.
NRC grant changes
The National Research Council has
recently made several changes in its
grant programs which will affect both
this year's grants and applications for
next year's.
The deadline date for submission of
operating grant applications has been
changed from Nov. 15 to Nov. 1.
Applicants must submit all
applications in four copies.
Beginning in 1977-78, travel grants
will contribute to the payment of
travel expenses for the recipient only.
These grants could formerly have been
applied against travel expenses for the
recipient's family as well.
The Negotiated Grant program is
still suspended, but the suspension on
applications for Major Installation
Grants (more than $200,000) has
recently been lifted. The deadline date
for these grants is Oct. 1.
Current NRC grant holders should
note that maximum stipends to
graduate students paid from operating
grants, which have been $375 a month
since April, 1975, will increase to
$420 a month, starting Sept. 1, 1976.
Marconi fellowship
Nominations for the Third Marconi
International Fellowship are now open
and are being received by the Marconi
Council in Boulder, Colo.
The fellowship is awarded annually
to a person in science or engineering
whose career demonstrates interest in
the humanistic use of the products of
science and invention and who has
given creative thought to the means of
using electronics and communications.
A fund of $25,000 will be available for
further work by the recipient, or can
be used to commission an original
study by a colleague chosen by the
Nominations close Nov. 15, 1976.
Richard Spratley in Research
Administration, local 3652, has more
information on the fellowship.
UBC Reports/Aug. 11, 1976/3 NEXT WEEK AT UBC
Notices must reach Information Services, Main Mall North Ad min. Bldg., by mail, by 5 p.m. Thursday of week preceding publication of notice.
Next week's edition of UBC Reports will be the last
until Sept. 8. Be sure to send notices of events which
will happen between now and Sept. 11 to Information
Services immediately for publication in next week's
edition. Remember, the deadline for notices is tomorrow
(Thursday) at 5 p.m.
8:00 p.m. STAGE CAMPUS '76 presents The Birds by
Aristophanes. Dorothy Somerset Studio. Tickets,
$3; students, $2. Continues nightly until Aug. 14.
For reservations, call 228-2678.
concert of baroque ensemble music by the faculty
of the Vancouver Baroque Music Workshop. Bruce
Haynes, baroque oboe and recorder; Hugh McLean,
organ; Mary Cyr, viola da gamba; Stanley Ritchie,
baroque violin; and Elisabeth Wright, harpsichord.
Dancers Angene Feves and Charles Perrier will also
perform. Tickets: $3.50; students and senior
citizens, $2.50. Recital Hall, Music Building.
from the Italian Renaissance by the Hortulani
Musicae. Ray Nurse, lute and wind instruments;
Ingrid Suderman, soprano; John Sawyer, viola da
gamba and rebec; Jon Washburn, viola da gamba;
Patrick Wedd, keyboard instruments; Brian
Fitzgibbon, lute; and guest dancers Angene Feves
and Charles Perrier. Tickets: $3.50, students and
senior citizens, $2.50. Recital Hall, Music Building.
1:30 p.m.     INTERNATIONAL     HOUSE     ART     CLASSES.
Instruction and consultation for serious art
students provided by artist Ted Dickson. Students
supply own materials. Offered every Thursday
until 4:30 p.m. Upper lounge, International House.
To register, call 228-5021. Free, all welcome.
8:30 p.m.     VANCOUVER    EARLY   MUSIC   FESTIVAL.   A
concert of Renaissance and baroque music by the
faculties of the Vancouver Baroque Music
Workshop and the Vancouver Early Music and
Dance Workshop. Music from the 1 5th to the 18th
centuries will be played. Tickets: $3.50; students
and senior citizens, $2.50. Recital Hall, Music
YOUNG ALUMNI CLUB two-day car/camping
trip. For information call the Alumni Association
at 228-3313.
8:30 p.m. DISCO DANCING in The Pit, with music provided
by CITR campus radio disk jockeys. Continues
every Saturday evening to midnight until Aug. 28.
Admission free. Student Union Building.
summer scene
Boys from 7 to 16 years are eligible. Sessions include two hours
of on-ice instruction plus 40 minutes of off-ice circuit training
daily. Cost is $30 for a 5-day session, $50 for a 7-day session and
$65 for a 10-day session. Available until Aug. 27. Call 228-3177.
Empire Pool is open for swimming. Faculty, staff and students
have the lunch hour from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m., Monday through
Friday, reserved for their swimming time. Public swimming and
lessons are available from 1:45 to 5:00 p.m. Monday through
Friday. Swimming passes are available at the pool office or by
calling 228-3800.
UBC People
Three members of UBC's
Department of Chemistry have been
elected fellows of the Chemical
Institute of Canada in recognition of
their contributions to Canadian
chemistry and chemical engineering.
The new fellows are Profs. Lionel
G. Harrison, Gerald B. Porter and
David C. Walker.
Charles Connaghan, vice-president
of administrative services at UBC, has
been elected to the board of trustees
of St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.
Prof. Larry Moore of Commerce
and Business Administration was
elected president of the Canadian
Association of Administrative Sciences
4/UBC Reports/Aug. 11, 1976
at meetings of the learned societies in
Quebec City earlier this summer.
• • •
Ken Andrews, a UBC electrician
and the member of UBC's Board of
Governors representing the employed
staff of the University, was elected
second vice-president of the B.C.
division of the Canadian Union of
Public Employees at the union's
annual meeting in Vancouver.
• • •
Hannah Polowy, of UBC's Faculty
of Education, was the recipient of the
Samuel Laycock Memorial Award of
the Canadian Parent-Teacher
Federation. The award was in
recognition of outstanding service to
education by fostering co-operation
between parents and teachers and
promoting understanding between the
home and the school.
• • •
Two UBC continuing education
experts have been appointed to a
provincial government committee
which will study all aspects of
continuing and community education
in B.C.
Jindra Kulich, acting director of
UBC's Centre for Continuing
Education, and Gordon Selman, of
UBC's Faculty of Education and
former director of the continuing
education centre, have been named to
the committee established by Deputy
Minister of Education Walter
Dr. Hardwick said the committee
would make recommendations
regarding continuing and community
education policy related to such
matters as programs, finance and


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