On MAPS

Our second WIDEN UTSC session of the year is here – this time, we’re talking MAPS!

NOVEMBER 22nd, 2012 11am-1pm in AA160.  (Please RSVP to barry.freeman@utoronto.ca by November 20th if you plan to attend.)

Our illustrious presenters:

Malcolm M. Campbell (Biological Sciences)

“Can’t get there from here: Genome maps provide a different sort of direction”

Hardly a day goes by when there isn’t a news story that mentions genetic maps or related genome maps. The use of the word “map” as applied in genetics is almost a century old, just a little younger than the rediscovery of the principles of genetics themselves. Despite this fact, most people generally have an incomplete understanding of the nature of genetic and/or genomic maps, if they know what such maps are at all.  This brief talk will explore what is meant when one refers to a “genetic map” or a “map of the genome”. The talk will focus on how such maps are made, how they are used, and their rapidly growing importance.

John R. Miron (Geography)

“Maps, Spatial Analysis, and Geography”

Geography seeks to understand map patterns. Typically, this begins with an interpretation of local differences across the map and is followed by asking why things happen in particular places? In this, Geography seeks to incorporate a notion of process that presumes a commonality over a map. For human geographers, these processes are typically cultural, economic, environmental, political, psychological, or social. In this context, what is the role for GIS and mapping and what is spatial analysis? I conclude that GIS and mapping here take on the character of a tragic figure.  GIS and mapping provide a visual tool useful for spotting cause-and-effect possibilities but subject to trompe l’œil. GIS and mapping provide a tool for integrating data from disparate sources whose principal weakness is errors arising because data are from different sources. GIS and mapping provide an exploratory tool (knowledge engine) whose strength is the ease of sifting large databases for empirical insights while its weakness is that correlation is not causation. Finally, GIS and mapping provide precision; unfortunately, that precision can be illusory.

Johnny N. Westgate (Environmental Chemistry)

“Refining Airsheds”

An “airshed” can be thought of as a gridded map indicating where air-masses were before they were sampled for pollutants, often suggesting source areas.  However, a ‘grid’ of boxes that are 1° of latitude by 1° of longitude has boxes of greater area at Earth’s equator than at Earth’s geographic poles.  Instead, a ‘geodesic grid’ of cells can be used, all of which have the same area.  An added advantage to the geodesic grid is that the shape of airsheds can also be compared, which offers clues about whether specific source areas can be identified. The concept of airshed shape leads to a simple test for the ‘significance’ of each element of an airshed, giving some level of confidence in assigning sources of pollutants.

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