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THE CANNON Skule’s Newspaper since 1978

FEBRUARY 2018, Volume XL

One-Hundred and Forty Years Young Charting Skule’s Humble Beginnings DILAN SOMANADER Senior Editor It was 1878, the year Edison patented his phonograph and Tchaikovsky composed his only violin concerto. And in Victorian-era Toronto—a city of muddy streets, gas lamps, and horse-drawn carriages—the School of Practical Science opened its doors for the very first time. The idea of creating a professional school that could help Ontario keep up with the rapid pace of technological change was first put forth in 1871, by a two-man commission in the provincial government. The proposal was initially

met with strong pushback from legislators, who were wary of the high cost (around $50,000) and potential redundancies with the University of Toronto (which already offered a twoyear, albeit insufficiently rigorous civil engineering course). Nonetheless, a bill was eventually passed in 1873 to formally establish the school, with the goal of promoting the “development of the mineral and economic resources of the province.” A small three-story, red-brick building, which would come to be known as the “Little Red School 140 Years continued on page 5


There’s a book for this?

Skule’s Mental Health CHINMAYEE GIDWANI Cannon Contributor We've all seen the various awareness campaigns around mental health - from Skule to Bell Let's Talk. We've heard the words "get help if you need it". But how do you tell if you need help? What if you feel like nothing others can

do or say will change the way you are feeling? I certainly felt this way. First year is notoriously a tumble of bittersweet emotions, from managing the ever increasing pile of work to finding your place at this rather large university, and I was no exception. As with many other frosh, I felt hopeless

How Peanuts Can Kill People page 10

during my first year. Have you ever felt as though something is weighing down on you, dragging you down and slowing every step you take? Or does your mind ever feel foggy and clouded with indiscernible emotions? As the year went on, my mind became more foggy and my steps slowed down. Going to school

used to excite and inspire me, and now I dreaded just waking up in the morning. How could I find my place here when I was nothing but a number? One day, I was procrastinating in the EngSci common room when I noticed a discarded little notebook on the floor - the Skule Mental

A Streetcar Not Named Desire page 11

Health and Wellness Book. I remember thinking, there’s a book for this?! After checking if the coast was clear, I pocketed the book and rushed home to read it. The first page asked me a few questions. Am Mental Health continued on page 4

A $450 Million Painting page 12




Dale Gottlieb


Rick Liu


Sarp Kavalcioglu


Fletcher Clugston

SENIOR EDITORS Najah Hassan Marguerite Tuer-Sipos Dilan Somanader Patrick Diep Wibisha Balendran Ahnaf Ferdous Linda Yu WEBMASTER

Ishraque Chandan

Letter from the Editor Welcome back to the last semester of the academic year. What a positive way to think about it. You have new assignments, new classes, new projects, and new opportunities and experiences you’ll remember forever. For me, second semester is always my favourite time of year. I already feel settled and jaded enough to handle whatever professors can throw at me. And Godiva week is also a great experience. As I get older, I attend less to see the winners and have a fun time, and more to appreciate the amount of planning and organization that goes into this week. The announcers all do a great job, and the performances during the Blue and Gold and Lady Godiva are incredible. Coming off winter break, it was tough to make a theme for this paper. I think this issue is just in spirit of good writing by our team. We’ve continued with our trend of letting writers cover what interests them, and this has led to articles about stolen paintings, opinions on the direction of engineering, and reviews of Christmas music. As always, I’d like to thank everyone on the team for their hard work and continued support of the paper.



WRITERS Chinmayee Gidwani Jannis Mei

The Cannon is the official (serious) newspaper of the University of Toronto Engineering Society. Established in 1978, it serves the undergraduate students of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, with a circulation of up to 2000. Submissions are welcome by e-mail. Advertising and subscription information is available from the Engineering Society at 416-978-2917.


Muhammad Ali



Nadya Abdullah

The views expressed in this newspaper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Engineering Society unless so indicated. The editors reserve the right to modify submissions to comply with the newspaper’s and the Engineering Society’s policies.

CONTACT The Cannon 10 King’s College Road Sandford Fleming Building Room B740 Toronto, ON M5S 3G4



Machine Learning or Machine Dumbing: Dueling Views on the EngSci Machine Learning Program NAJAH HASSAN Cannon Senior Editor DALE GOTTLIEB Cannon Editor-in-Chief PRO: NAJAH Starting in September 2018, the Division of Engineering Science will introduce a new option in Machine Intelligence. While some students are excited for this new addition to the curriculum, others worry that this proposed program may be too far apart from the definition of ‘engineering’. Until about a century ago, an engineer was more commonly associated with the study of mechanical structures, civil infrastructure and material composites. However, today engineering also includes electrical engineers, software engineers, financial engineers and now, machine intelligence engineers. Machine intelligence or machine learning is defined as the study of developing machines that can think for themselves. New developments in the field have shown that this is a growing area of interest with a huge demand for graduates with this specialty. The new option through the Division of Engineering Sciences proposes to equip students with the ability to use multidisciplinary wholesome thinking to solve complex problems in the world. Why is this so important? The amount of data that is being collected through our devices on a daily basis is growing and humans just are not able to keep up with the organization and analysis of this information. By teaching computers to find patterns in data on their own, we can solve some complex problems and find the answers to questions

that we had not thought of previously. Take the example of 23 and Me’s new research towards discovering the cause of Parkinson’s disease. 23 and Me, a personal genomics company, is using data mining techniques to sift through around 2 million genetic samples that it received from its consumers. The company has used this information to find more than a dozen different mutations that are linked with the disease. Doing further analysis in this realm could lead to the cure for Parkinson’s, allowing us to break through to new domains of healthcare. The applications for machine learning are numerous. Toronto’s recently launched Vector Institute promises to use artificial intelligence to improve the lives of Canadians and establish economic growth by focusing on the principles and potential of machine learning. It aims to be Toronto’s new research hub and has a lot of opportunities for graduates in machine learning. Self-driving cars, machines that find cures, and future predictions based on past performances have all become a reality. The world is moving towards developing technologies that lead to faster, smarter and more efficient societies. As engineers who aspire to make a difference in the world, a knowledge of machine learning and artificial intelligence in this day and age will be a useful skill to have to adapt to this new change. Engineers can combine their problem-solving skills, mathematical background and engineering design strategies with machine learning to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

No doubt, there is a lot of work to be done in this field! AGAINST: DALE From the Stone Age to the Iron Age, the Bronze Age, and the Silicon Age, the technological development of society has always been measured by our capabilities to manipulate the materials around us. We need a fundamental understanding of nature if we ever wish to achieve the great strides in the quality of life that engineering rightfully takes credit in developing. Even the computer and the software that it runs only exists because of the knowledge to manipulate silicon on the atomic level and to tailor it to our needs. This is why I think it’s a shame that engineering is drifting away from the physical sciences and towards software. The new introduction of Machine Learning engineering in Engineering Science at the loss of infrastructure engineering I feel is a grave representation of the stagnation of progress. Engineering Science used to be defined by the broad choices in studies available. For old-school students, there was Infrastructure Engineering, for students interested in chemistry, there was Nanotechnology Engineering, and so on. Now there’s Aerospace Engineering, Robotics Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Machine Learning…Engineering (?) all teaching a similar subject matter. Other disciplines are following suite. Materials Engineering, once called Metallurgical Engineering, changed its name to cover catchier fields of research like nanotechnology. Mechanical Engineering


now focuses on circuit design for robotics, and Industrial Engineering focuses on computer optimizations. The uniqueness of engineering is being lost, and the ability for engineers to do what scientists can’t is fading. A condensed matter physicist is better at nanotechnology than a materials engineer, much like a Computer Scientist is better than a Machine Learning Engineer at programming. Soon, the only group of people with the knowledge and ability to progress the basic knowledge of science will be lost to the promise of high paying, immediate payoff jobs in Silicon Valley. At the present, especially as young millennials, it feels as though an app like Uber is revolutionary, but in reality, it adds nothing to society. The ability to hail a taxi a second faster using an app pales in its affect on society compared to the design of the car, or even a small but

essential component of a car like the transmission. A field of engineering like Machine Learning Engineering will get many students high paying jobs in Silicon Valley, but will detract from the development of society engineering has held so dear since its inception. To some, my argument against the introduction of Machine Learning Engineering might be translated to ‘machine good, machine learning bad’, but I think it stems to a much bigger issue than we can predict today. With the increasing reliance on computers to solve our problems, and the decreasing number of people researching anything else, we’re destined to be stuck in the silicon age forever. As the top engineering school in the country, I feel UofT needs to think twice before setting an image for all other schools that the only thing an engineer is good for, is what a computer scientist is great for.

4 • THE CANNON Mental Health continued from page 1 I feeling stressed? Am I feeling lonely? Am I worried about everything all the time? And there it was - someone managed to put what I was feeling into words and make it tangible. The fog was still there, but someone threw me a tool to get rid of it, and I just needed to figure out how to use it. I picked the first one that caught my eye - for one week, I forced myself to sleep on time, regardless of how much work I had. I also started bringing snacks to class, which helped me focus and learn better. When this improved my condition, I slowly tried other things in the handbook. Keeping a journal, exercising, joining clubs and meeting new people. All of this may seem like common sense, but when I thought there was nothing I could do about the way I was

FEBRUARY 2018 feeling, these small goals helped me regain control of my mental health. And that's the key - mental health is an ongoing battle and taking little steps out of the hole can make a huge difference over time. I'm not by any means perfect - I still have days when the fog begins to creep in the corner of my eyes and I can feel myself being dragged back into where I once was. But when I make time to sleep, exercise, and hang out with friends, the fog begins to subside and I can be myself again. I realize that I am more than just a number, and I belong here because I love learning. So if you're reading this and identify with me even a little bit, know that you're not alone and there's always a way out.




140 Years continued from page 1

a few weeks after his 32nd birthday.

House”, was built on the University grounds in 1878. All that remained was to fill the crucial position of Chair of Engineering. In late June of 1878, the position was advertised in provincial newspapers and two scientific journals; nine men responded to the posting. One of them was John Galbraith of Port Hope, Ontario, who was a graduate in honour Mathematics of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Toronto in 1868, and a recipient of both the gold medal in mathematics and the Prince of Wales Medal for overall proficiency. Following graduation, Galbraith held a number of engineering positions—from division engineer for the Canadian Pacific Railway, to mechanical draftsman for a company that manufactured machinery like steam engines and grain elevators. He later returned to the University to receive his Master of Arts in 1875. Galbraith’s outstanding academic qualifications and ten years of extensive practical experience set him apart from the eight other applicants, and he was hired on September 28th,

The First Term: Fall, 1878 In its earliest incarnation, the School offered a threeyear program for a diploma that could be obtained in one of three departments: 1) Engineering, which included Civil, Mechanical, and Mining; 2) Assaying and Mining Geology; and 3) Analytical and Applied Chemistry. Courses for the engineering department were common among all three branches for the first two years, and in third year students would specialize in a branch of their choice. The School served a dual purpose during its early years, as both a governmentfunded professional school and an extra building for the University of Toronto. Classes for the School of Practical Science took place on the second floor, which had a small private room, a library, a drafting room, and a lecture room that was shared with the University. The rest of the building was used by the University for courses ranging from mineralogy and geology, to biology and chemistry. As the School’s only engineering professor,

Galbraith was responsible for delivering all engineering courses. In addition to Galbraith, the faculty consisted of five other professors from the University: Prof. R. Ramsay Wright (Biology), Prof. H.H. Croft (Chemistry), Prof. E.J. Chapman (Mineralogy and Geology), Prof. J. Loudon (Mathematics and Natural Philosophy), and Prof. W.H. Ellis (Chemistry). A sessional report submitted to Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor in December 1878 offers a glimpse into a school still in its infancy. “The First Term of the present Session opened on the Third of October,”

reports Prof. Wright, who was then-acting secretary of the School, “and although the fittings of the Building had hardly been completed, the Lectures and Courses of Practical Instruction were begun in most of the Departments.” Seven full-time students entered that year, all of whom were enrolled in the engineering department. And of them, Wright says, “several have been previously engaged in practical Engineering work, and have entered the School with the object of gaining a more scientific and complete knowledge of their profession...” There were also several

occasional students from the University, as well as from various medical and veterinary schools around the city, who were taking courses at the School in chemistry, biology, and mineralogy. With the fall term wrapped up, Wright was happy to report that the terminal examinations had “indicated gratifying progress.”

140 Years continued on page 6

…there existed a great spirit of camaraderie, and one could borrow anything from a pipeful of tobacco to a dress shirt if anybody in the class had one.

6 • THE CANNON Experience continued from page 1

140 Years continued from page 5 Student Life In the 1922 issue of the Transactions of the University of Toronto Engineering Society, several alumni and former faculty members from the “Old Red School” were asked to share their experiences. These are just a few of the many colourful anecdotes they told: James L. Morris was the School’s very first graduate, having completed his diploma in Civil Engineering in 1881. He remembers the “October sports”, like steeplechase and walking races, held on the lawn in front of University College, and the Literary and Scientific Societies where one could listen to essays and speeches by the Arts students. J.H. Kennedy (’82) recalls “the mischievous spirit of having fun with the Toronto police.” He recounts an incident when, after a school assembly, he and hundreds of other students from the University marched up Yonge to Bloor

FEBRUARY 2018 Room. “The whole school practically used to assemble,” he writes, “standing on benches around the wall, and watch us go to it until one went down.” The bonds between classmates were strong in those days: “…there existed a great spirit of camaraderie and one could borrow anything from a pipeful of tobacco to a dress shirt if anybody in the class had one.” If there is one common thread running through each student’s experience, it is the love and adoration for Prof. Galbraith, or “Johnnie” as he was more fondly known. For T. Kennard Thomson (’86), Galbraith was “far and away the most outstanding feature of the Red School House.” E.W. Stern (’84) SCHOOL OF PRACTICAL SCIENCE & OBSERVATORY (1889) CREDIT: CITY OF TORONTO writes that beyond his outstanding technical Galbraith Street—singing college casually, but intimately.” serenaded,” he recounts, qualifications, was a kind and sympathetic songs and tapping “heavy H.E.T. Haultain—a “and the Toronto police hickory canes” on the freshman in 1886 who force, which at the time man who took interest in sidewalk. They eventually later became a professor— was very inadequate, was each one of his students. encountered the police remembers the school given a rough evening.” “We, his old pupils, are his and several students “were caretaker, “Prof.” Graham, Silvester recalls the stunts lifelong friends,” Stern says, arrested upon their way who made drafting boards students would pull, like “We owe him a debt which home”, but “a collection was and sold them to students. “It unharnessing horses from can never be repaid.” taken up the next day” and was custom for the students their carriages and chasing An Ever-Evolving School

To see how far our Faculty has come is both inspiring and humbling— from a small brick-building with seven students, to a world-renowned institution with almost 8,000.

their fines were paid. According to Prof. Loudon, the theatre was a “great attraction” for students; Friday nights and Saturday afternoons were often spent at the Grand Opera House for a Shakespearean play. One thing that stood out to Loudon during those early days of the School was the closeness between the students and teachers, who all “knew one another, not

to give him a Christmas present,” he writes, “and on one such occasion he was presented with a greased pig, which he was forced to pursue through the building for some time, much to the amusement of onlookers.” For G.E. Silvester (’91), Halloween was an eventful night in the college year, when students would head to the theatre or take part in a “monster parade”. “The women’s residences were

them away, or painting “unruly” freshmen with ink. He also remembers the boarding houses for students on McCaul, Church, and Henry Streets which charged $3 a week on average, as well as dining at the only students’ restaurant near College and Spadina. T.R. Deacon (’91) remembers the boxing matches held every Friday evening underneath the Engineering Supply

When the 1880s and 90s rolled around, Toronto was an expanding city in the throes of industrialization. Gas lamps were swapped out for electric lights; telephone poles sprouted along sidewalks; muddy streets were paved over with asphalt; and new buildings came up—among them, the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen’s Park. The School of Practical Science underwent many of its own changes during the decades, including: the introduction of a degree program for Civil Engineering; the establishment of the Engineering Society; the creation of separate departments for Mechanical and Mining Engineering; and the addition of an optional fourth year to give students more time



to perform hands-on laboratory work. The popularity of the School grew so rapidly with each passing year, that by the 1887-88 session, full-time enrollment had surpassed 50 students. But it soon became clear that the School

was bursting at the seams by almost every measure. In an 1887 sessional report submitted to the Minister of Education, Daniel Wilson (who was President of the University at the time) expressed deep concern at the growing lack

of resources. “With only one Professor of Engineering and a graduate assistant,” Wilson wrote, “it was found utterly impossible to institute complete systematic courses in Civil and Mechanical engineering and their subdivisions.” The burden on Galbraith was in fact far too great: by the 1883-84 session he was delivering lectures for a total of 14 engineering courses by himself, in addition to providing practical instruction in surveying and drafting. The small size of the building was an urgent issue as well. Lectures had to be delivered in the drafting room for lack of space, “much to the inconvenience of other students engaged in drawing.” Without a proper meeting room, the Engineering Society was forced to store a large number of their periodicals in Prof. Galbraith’s office. And on top of being overcrowded, the building was neither properly ventilated nor well-lit; sanitation was poor; and an inadequate heating system caused water pipes to burst in the winter and flood rooms. Additional lecturers were eventually hired to ease the burden on Galbraith, and the teaching staff grew

steadily over the coming years. To remedy the lack of space, a large extension of the building which tripled the School’s area was completed in 1890. Engineering laboratories and testing facilities were also added to allow students to have experimental training with equipment like pumps, tanks, and turbines. The extension undoubtedly marked a turning point for the school. Local press became interested in the practical tests conducted at the labs on the quality of Canadian building materials, and it was not long before the Ontario government was finally satisfied that the School had been a good investment. Throughout the 1890s and early 1900s Galbraith continued to work tirelessly to expand the School—pushing for the hiring of more staff and the installation of more equipment for the laboratories. As full-time enrollment surpassed 200 at the turn of the century and the issue of space was back on the front-burner, Galbraith concluded that the only solution would be a new building. The School submitted a student-signed petition to the Lieutenant Governor, which eventually led to the construction


of the Mining Building. However, it would hardly be an end to the School’s accommodation woes: enrolment jumped to 475 by the time the building was completed in 1904, so it opened at capacity. The conclusion of the 1905-06 session marked the end of the School of Practical Science. After 28 years in operation, it was finally incorporated into the University of Toronto as the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. Galbraith became the Faculty’s first Dean, and remained devoted to his students until his death in the summer of 1914, aged 67. The “Little Red Schoolhouse” would be demolished in 1966 to make way for the Medical Sciences Building, but its legacy still reverberates to the present day. To see how far our Faculty has come is both inspiring and humbling— from a small brick-building with seven students, to a world-renowned institution with nearly 8,000. And just as no one in 1878 could have imagined where we’d be now, there is no telling where we’ll be in 140 years. As the saying goes, you can never fully appreciate where you’re going until you know where you’ve come from.

David Ian’s Vintage Christmas Trio CD a little more structure, and fewer runaway solos. There’s a little bit Vintage Christmas of “sprezzaturra”, where Trio is not the Christmas everything, especially the music you heard as a kid. embellished chords, just It is also not the jazz that seems to fit, without trying people often think of (i.e. too hard. not slow and introspective, Vintage Christmas Trio not scat or doo-wop, not is especially enjoyable for elevator music). This is those who have studied playing with augmented the classical framework 9ths and dominant 13ths. enough that they have Highlights of the trio started breaking the rules include strolling through with diminished and the chords, walking bass, augmented chords. It is like at a jazz bar, with also accessible to audiences JANNIS MEI Cannon Contributor

who do not typically listen to jazz, and those who are will appreciate the carefully chosen notes and chords. Vintage Christmas Trio is minimalistically elegant, and it is in coming together as an ensemble that makes Vintage Christmas Trios shine. Each performer is needed for each piece of each song. This is not like jazz ensembles you see live, where one instrumentalist takes over as a soloist for a while, and for those moments, the other

members of the ensemble don’t need to be doing anything. For example, when Jon Estes on the bass goes on a bit of a run, David Ian on the piano is there to set the harmonic framework. Deck the Halls starts with a few familiar bars, then takes it away to delightful chord progressions, while gradually introducing the other instruments. Good King Wenceslas sounds refreshed with Ian’s chords in place of a choir’s words,

though the taste of fully fleshed-out chords leaves the listener desiring more. At the end of the day, Trio puts some of the conservative Christmas carols and older, less familiar songs such as Up on the Housetop, a new light by stripping away the lyrics and traditional framework and engaging the listener with unexpected chords. Vintage Christmas Trio is great listening for all audiences.










What Grinds my Gears: Travelling with a peanut allergy? WHAT GRINDS MY GEARS DALE GOTTLIEB Cannon Editor-in-Chief In December, my sister and I planned a trip to Asia to visit a friend in Hong Kong and tour Cambodia. Both of us have severe peanut allergies, and despite the warnings from nearly everyone, we figured as long as we were careful we’d be fine. The flight landed at 7:30 in the morning in Hong Kong, and by noon we were in the emergency room after eating a dumpling filled with peanuts. In less than three hours, the trip went to hell. What went so wrong? We went to the worldfamous Michelin Star restaurant Tim Ho Wan and ordered Chiu Chow style dumplings. My friends tell me that any Chinese native would know that Chiu Chow basically means peanuts, but I can’t speak to the validity of this since I’m not from the area. More importantly, my sister and I went in with the North American assumption that anything containing peanuts would be clearly labelled on the menu. My friends also tell me this was a mistake. In Asia – and in the vast majority of the world – people don’t know about allergies. It’s not something common, and it certainly isn’t something life threatening. Hong Kong at least has world class hospitals and is a developed city. If we ate a peanut in Cambodia it would mean

almost certain death. After this incident, my sister decided to fly home but I continued with the trip. I flew from Hong Kong to Bangkok using AirAsia, and nearly had an anxiety attack on the plane. Every surface I touched I imagined was covered in peanut oil. Every 5 minutes I doused my hands with sanitizer. I asked to borrow the pen from the person next to me to fill out the immigration card, and felt terrible when I handed it back and reapplied hand sanitizer right after. I knew it was rude, but if he was from Thailand, I imagined him being coated in a thin layer of Peanut oil. I thought Bangkok was the worst place I’ve ever visited. On the taxi ride from the airport, I saw crumbs in the seat cushion, and feared I was sitting on peanut shavings. At the hotel, I pictured the previous tenant lying in bed eating Pad Thai getting peanuts everywhere. Even walking down the streets, I was worried that the air from the food vendors was from peanut oil and I’d enter anaphylaxis. I took a trip to the Grand Palace, which was of course closed this one day throughout the whole year because the King was visiting. So it goes. But I took a tuk-tuk to Wat Pho, a nearby temple. After the ride, I shook the drivers hand and immediately gave myself a good washing. At night, I went back

to the hotel and met with my tour group. I decided to book the trip through Intrepid rather than winging it since I figured a native Cambodian tour guide could keep me safe from peanuts. When I announced to the group that I was allergic to peanuts, everyone clearly thought I was an idiot for coming to Cambodia. I didn’t disagree. However, nearly two weeks went by without incident. Not a single plate was brought to my table with peanuts, and I was able to eat local food at street vendors. I was even able to eat a tarantula which was fried in vegetable oil. I thought I was immune, and was prepared to write an article about how misunderstanding of Cambodian food we all were and how they almost never used peanuts in cooking. This was until the last meal of the trip. We took a round trip from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, that lasted for a few days. When we returned, we ate at the same restaurant as the week before. With my peanut anxiety in full swing, I ordered the same meal the I got before knowing there were no peanuts in it. I took the photo of it for this article, and right before I took a bite, the tour guide told me to not eat it and he spoke to the waitress in Khmer. The meal was taken away, and a new one was brought. This one clearly

I don’t hold my own life in higher regard than my social anxiety to ask a waiter if there’s any peanuts


had different looking oil around the chicken, and no longer contained peanuts. What I only found out on the last day of the trip, right when I thought I was a master of avoiding peanuts in Southeast Asia, was that the tour guide was protecting me the whole time. Little to my knowledge, he was behind my back the whole time protecting me. Would I be dead if I toured Cambodia myself and didn’t use a tour group like Intrepid? Almost certainly. I don’t hold my own life in higher regard than my social anxiety to ask a waiter if there’s any peanuts. Even after the whole fiasco in Hong Kong, I didn’t ask if my dinner in Thailand contained any peanuts. Would I tour South East Asia again despite the inherent risks involved? In a heartbeat. I think you can’t put a price on the experience of travelling and seeing a new culture. Even my own life is worth exploring the world. Frankly, I’d have a higher

chance of death on my way to the airport, and if I die on vacation at least my family gets the travel insurance payout. I got plenty of beautiful photos and wonderful memories out of my trip. What grinds my gears is that the fear of injury held me back from ever going to Asia, and made me write it off as a possible destination in my life. I would highly recommend that anyone who has an allergy don’t let it hold you back. I’m not taking responsibility if something happens, but travel responsibly and safely and you’ll be fine. My dream place to go for my next destination is Saudi Arabia to participate in the visiting student program at King Abdullah university. This is probably not the safest place in the world for me to travel too, but I hope I’ve learned to be a more responsible traveller in the future. And opportunity like this is worth risking it all to see the culture and talk to people from one of the most well-known kingdoms.


• 11

A Streetcar Named Survivor TDOT TRANSPORT SQUAD

RICK LIU were the norm for public Cannon Design and Layout transit. With the industrial revolution, and the railway Toronto used to be an revolution happening in oddity in North American the background, steel rails cities. Streetcars were began being laid down on supposed to be dead, but city streets for carriages in Toronto, they continued to follow as a guide. The to rocket through the benefits were pretty clear at city, well after the point the time, and are still there many cities abandoned for modern streetcars: their streetcars. But now, rails could be used year streetcars are making round in rain or snow, a comeback in North and rails have a smoother American cities for better ride because of the low or for worse, and Toronto, friction of steel wheels by being too stubborn or on steel rails. Various lazy to remove its tracks, experiments with more is now miraculously ahead mechanical propulsions of the game in terms of occurred but most had transit. their problems. Steam During the 1800s, fogged the streets up with horse drawn carriages not just steam, but also

unhealthy smoke. Cable cars were too expensive since they required an entire substructure under the road for the cables, and only existed in hilly cities, like San Francisco’s famous cable cars. Third rail, like subways, provided an obvious safety hazard. Eventually in Saint Petersburg in 1880, an electric trolley wire was built for it’s streetcar system, and was brought over to Toronto only 3 years later, making Toronto’s streetcars some of the earliest electric streetcars in existence. Horses were soon discontinued because they were no longer viable. Many cities, and even

small towns, created vast streetcar networks. Obviously, big cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Boston all had systems, but even small towns had some sort of electric streetcar. My hometown of Calgary, having a population 65,000 in the 1930s, had an extensive streetcar network. In Canada alone, towns from Nelson, to Belleville to Moose Jaw to Lethbridge had streetcars. It’s obvious that nowadays, very few cities and especially towns under 10,000 people have streetcar networks anymore. The depression was the first strike against the streetcar, and caused

developments that sold the idea of single family homes with front lawns and white picket fences. The car was the obvious key to that idea and car centric infrastructure such as urban freeways were built to clear out the old and dirty inner cities in the name of urban renewal. This had a profound impact on streetcar systems, and public transit systems in general. The New York City Subway for example, had ridership decline from its 1949 high, and would keep declining to the 1980s. It would never reach its 1940s ridership again. In the face of declining ridership, dawning ideas that middle class families

... streetcars are making a comeback...

many streetcar operators, the majority of which were private companies, to go bankrupt and close their doors. Publicly operated streetcars also could not find funds to operate and maintain their networks. But the biggest cause in the removal of streetcar and the decline in public transportation was the post war explosion in car ownership. In the United States and Canada, car ownership exploded from 0.7 vehicles per household in 1945 to 1.3 by 1955. Cities in North America were new, and did not face the same density and space constraints as European cities, and were free to build sprawling

would use their cars, the annoyance of having streetcars take up road space, the maintenance cost of streetcar rails/ trolley wires/streetcars themselves, and the idea (which still persists and is a credible argument today) that buses can do everything a streetcar can do for less all started the trend for many cities to start abandoning their streetcars. Some cities, like Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco buried their streetcars to create a pseudo subway. These systems still exist today. A Streetcars continued on page 12

12 • THE CANNON Streetcars continued from page 11 few cities, like Montreal, eventually partially replaced their system with a subway. The Bloor line and the Yonge line were also originally streetcar lines that were replaced by subways. Some cities were simply too cheap and lazy to rip up the tracks and wire, and chose to replace their streetcars with trolleybuses that also use the trolley wire. West coast cities, such as Seattle and Vancouver, are famous for this, partly because trolleybuses can go up hills far better than diesel buses. Edmonton also had a trolleybus system, until it faced the decision to either retrofit the wire, or remove it (spoiler alert, it removed it). In Toronto, the Mount Pleasant, Ossington, Bay, Harbord/Wellesley, and Weston buses all were trolleybuses due to the removal of streetcar on those routes, but were eventually converted to regular buses because of the cost to replace the wire/buses at the end of life. Many systems just replaced their streetcar with buses. A common conspiracy in the transit world is that GM (who dominated the bus market) bribed many systems, or outright bought them, and caused the switch to buses from the Presidential Conference Committee (PCC) streetcar that was found in almost all streetcar systems across North America. The extent of whether this is true or not is in question, but its obvious that Streetcars were on the decline. Only Toronto, San Francisco, Boston, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and New Orleans (Streetcar named Desire anyone?) kept their original systems, and Toronto’s is by far the largest of this bunch by at least 30 km, beating San Francisco with 82 km vs 53 km of track.

FEBRUARY 2018 Toronto also has its fair share of streetcar abandonment, but for the majority of the system, it has largely been kept intact. The TTC (who assumed ownership of the system from the private Toronto Railway Company) took advantage of the wave of streetcar abandonments by buying PCC streetcars on the cheap. But by the 1960s, the TTC went through its own phase of considering abandonment and planned to phase out all streetcars by 1980 and replace them with busses or trolleybuses. Jane Jacobs, fresh from her time stopping freeways in New York, had just settled in Toronto and supported activist Steve Munro and professor William Kilbourn in pressuring the TTC to reverse those plans. Nostalgia was strong in Toronto, and with rider preferences for streetcars and a report that the lifecycle cost to switch to buses was more expensive than keeping the streetcar the abandonment plans ended. Over the years, the TTC kept true to its promise of keeping the streetcars, replacing the PCCs with the “current” CLRVs in 1980, and building new lines such as 509 Queens Quay in 1990, the 510 Spadina in 1997 and building exclusive lanes in 2010 for the 512 St. Clair. The system survived another economic recession in the 1990s and is continuing to be modernized with the record $1.2 billion order for new streetcars. For a long time, Toronto’s streetcar system was an outlier in North American Transit systems, but many new cities are adding streetcars. In 1978, Edmonton led the first wave of adding the new “super-streetcars” called LRT. These systems were inspired by surviving systems in Europe and




FEBRUARY 2018 Australia, particularly Germany, where the decline of streetcars was not as profound. Streetcars in Germany had priority at traffic lights, had their own lanes or weren’t on the road, and had sections where the system resembled a subway. In the North American context, LRT systems functioned much like surface subways, but had shorter stations for less capacity and cost, and went underground/ above ground when it was necessary to avoid a road or a freight rail line. Unlike streetcars, they had stops far apart like a subway, ran off the road, and did not have to wait for traffic lights. These LRT systems were much cheaper than traditional subways since the cost of tunneling and viaducts were prohibitive to many medium sized cities. Today, LRT systems exist in Los Angeles, Calgary, Denver, Seattle, Dallas, Washington and most notably, Portland. The GTA has pseudo LRT lines like the 509, 510 and the 512, but the first true LRT system will be finished in 2022 with the completion of the Eglinton LRT, Finch West LRT and the Mississauga LRT. Streetcars made a return to North American transit in 2001 when Portland built the first true (Non LRT) system in 50 years. That has since sparked a major boom in streetcars. Many cities brought back streetcars with their original PCC vehicles as heritage lines and tourist attractions, such as the F Market and Wharves in San Francisco. This represented the fastest and cheapest way to bring streetcars back from the dead since the cost for the train was to simply refurbish surplus PCC streetcars other agencies (especially the TTC) had lying around. These lines were quickly becoming regular options for non tourist commuting,

and these cities, along with others, built brand new streetcar systems. Currently Portland, Seattle, Washington, Detroit, Kansas City and Cincinnati all have new-build streetcar lines while many others, such as New York City’s BQX, Vancouver, and Los Angeles, are proposing/ building streetcar lines. However, these new streetcar systems are not without flaws. The newbuild systems are generally focused only in downtown, often just loops of the downtown area, and don’t connect to other major lines. Otherwise, they

technology have made buses to be equally as accessible. Politicians who propose streetcars have cited that ridership may be higher because riders (like the horse drawn streetcar era) prefer rails over the bus. While this is somewhat true, the number 1 and 2 factors affecting ridership is frequent and reliable service, and connecting destinations where people want to go. In many cases, streetcar replace/create routes that are equally, if not worse than bus routes due to the cities limited amount of streetcar infrastructure/vehicles, and sparsity compared to

meant as a slight against streetcars, rather a desire to see high quality streetcar systems be built. Toronto’s system is no question the best streetcar system in North America because of its extensive experience running it, and its successes are constantly being cited and used as a model for cities that are only beginning to build their networks. At 56,700 riders a day, the King streetcar along with 4 other streetcar lines make up 5 out of the 10 busiest surface routes in the TTC. Each streetcar line’s length, in a straight line, has the highest frequency

At 56,700 riders a day, the King streetcar along with 4 other streetcar lines make up 5 out of the 10 busiest surface routes in the TTC

only connect to the tourist areas of the city. This has often led to low ridership on these systems that are less cost effective than equivalent service using buses since the lines do not go anywhere useful (or if they do, they don’t connect it to other useful destinations). Streetcar lines also run in mixed traffic, blocking other cars and getting blocked by cars themselves. In many cases, they run the route slower than buses and their LRT cousins where the exclusivity of their lanes and transit priority signaling increases their average speeds by up to 10km/h or more. Versus LRT, streetcars are also slower because of the far higher number of stops that streetcars generally serve. Streetcars are often claimed to be more accessible, but advancements in bus

buses. South American cities have proved that buses can be better for the commuter than streetcars with their BRTs. A true BRT will have exclusive lanes/ roads, higher capacity buses, payment at stations, limited stops, transit priority traffic lights, and most importantly, can be done for less cost than a streetcar system because it doesn’t require expensive infrastructure like trolley wire/catenary or rails. They can be easily repurposed and capacity can be adjusted easier because cities have large amounts of buses at their disposal. Often, BRTs are unfairly penalized since many cities cheap out on BRT features until they become like regular bus routes, but true BRTs are found even in Vaughan and Mississauga This article is not

of the system and connect business, residential, and commercial areas at every point of line, which contribute to the high ridership on the TTC system. While only 3 routes and a bit of the Queen Streetcar (3.5 after the King Pilot) have exclusive lanes, transit priority lights are found across the network. Other rules, such as left-turn bans, and the “no passing a stopped streetcar” improves the speed of streetcars to improve performance. Streetcars also contribute to their own ridership by encouraging demand. King, Queen, Dundas, College, Spadina and St. Clair stations all have higher density, and attract more businesses than most other equivalent streets besides Yonge & Bloor. When built to the same spec, riders will choose streetcars over

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buses and create more traffic for business. They also shape the street with more development because the rails symbolize a cities commitment to providing long-term quality transit service on that street, compared to buses where business can easily be spooked by sudden changes to bus lines. Streetcars also have lower operating and maintenance cost which offset the higher capital cost of buses, a key reason in why Toronto kept its streetcar network. A bus has a lifespan of only 20 years, while TTC has in the past kept PCCs in the system for 50-60 years, and the current CLRVs are going to last 45 years. Streetcars can also turn better (despite the cringe I get when I see a CLRV turning) and go up hills better than buses. The biggest benefit today’s streetcars have are their capacity. The new Toronto streetcars can hold 273 people, over the 122 people in articulated buses, 86 in double decker buses, or 51 people in normal buses. This is an effective tool in increasing route capacity and decreasing congestion. Toronto streetcars are iconic and clearly have a history shaped by stubbornness, uniqueness, and now advancement. The network is not the largest in North America, but it beats out many other cities with trams or streetcars like Zurich, Amsterdam, Paris, Hong Kong, Munich and Frankfurt in its extensiveness. Toronto is clearly not done improving its network though. New vehicles are being delivered slowly, and the TTC is constantly pushing for improvements like the King Pilot, or new lines, like the Waterfront, Cherry, and Broadview extensions. Streetcars have shaped the history of Toronto for the past 100 years, and will hopefully keep running for the next 100.



Why Should You Care About the 450M Da Vinci Painting? ART X SCIENCE

MARGUERITE TUER-SIPOS 1800s, authenticating the painting as a true Da Vinci Cannon Senior Editor was challenging. To authenticate a Unless this paper piece of art there are really is your sole source two major components of news, it is more than of the creative process likely you have already that must be validated; heard of the recent sale the material and the of a Leonardo Da Vinci technique. The materials painting, Salvator Mundi, used in the painting for more than 450M USD. must be congruent with Just to clarify, that would both the artist’s typical be more than 563M CAD. choice of pigments and As an engineering student the availability of those it could be hard to imagine pigments during the why an exorbitantly priced presumed time period. painting is pertinent The technique used in to your undergraduate the painting must match degree, however without techniques used in the rest developments in of the artist’s body of work. engineering technology While the style and subject it is unlikely the painting matter can only suggest would have ever fetched the artist’s hand, material such a price. Not only analysis and high-level was technology essential imaging can objectively in the authentication confirm parallels between process of the painting, the piece in question and it uncovered new details other legitimate paintings. about Da Vinci’s creative When discussing a process and aided in the possible Leonardo Da piece’s restoration. With Vinci painting the stakes a long and sordid history, of the authentication including the addition of climb. a moustache during the


Determining whether Salvator Mundi was a true Da Vinci was a particularly difficult authentication due to the nature of Da Vinci as an artist. Seemingly unable to be satisfied with a painting, Da Vinci finished very few pieces in his lifetime, and those he did were created with obsessive technique defined by many alterations. To authenticate Salvator Mundi as a true Da Vinci would be to add to a list of 16 paintings created by one of the most influential artists in human history. So what convinced a group of sceptical art historians that underneath the heavily damaged painting that lay before them was a brilliant work by Leonardo Da Vinci? Mirroring the slow and methodical process of the Leonardo himself, the researchers analyzing Salvator Mundi painstakingly combed through the painting to build an impenetrable wall of proof about the painting’s authorship. Taking macroscopic samples of the paint revealed two clues about Salvador Mundi’s origins. Christ’s blue robe was painted using a pigment called lapis lazuli, a significant discovery since this was the most expensive pigment during this time period and would have thus been available to only the most skilled painters. Even more interestingly, this is the only painting in which Da Vinci used the precious pigment, perhaps indicating how highly he himself valued this particular piece. The care he took to create the flesh tones in Salvator Mundi echo this elevated interest. Through a cross-sectional examination of the paint fragments on Christ’s


hand, the technique Da Vinci used is uncovered. A total of five layers of paint were carefully overlain to create the subtle highlights and shadows in the hands in order to emulate the warmth of real human skin. This delicate layering is emblematic of Da Vinci’s later style; a complicated technique seen only in two of his other works (Mona Lisa and St. John the Baptist), and never mastered by his students. The analysis of

the painting’s materials however was only one half of the information needed to validate Salvator Mundi. To confirm the painting was made at the hand of Da Vinci, more proof was needed. Infrared reflectography (IRR) was employed to look beneath the painting’s surface, in search for clues about what preceded the finished product. IRR is a common tool in the authentication and

FEBRUARY 2018 conservation of paintings. IRR takes advantage of the properties of paint pigment. Within the infrared wavelength range (700-2000nm), paint pigments approach transparency. While shining an infrared light on the painting, an infrared camera captures an image known as an infrared relfectogram. It is the infrared relfectogram

of Salvator Mundi that cemented its status a true Da Vinci creation. By looking beneath the painting’s surface the extensive network of Da Vinci’s alterations was exposed. The infrared relfectogram revealed the initial position of Christ’s blessing hand had been more upright, and was later changed to achieve a more natural

pose. Further, the angle of Christ’s left hand had been adjusted several times to best achieve the optical illusion of the crystal orb. The face of Christ contrasted this flurry of change; underdrawings visible in the relfectogram demonstrated almost no adjustments were made from Da Vinci’s initial plan. Overall the body of Christ was highly

improvised while his head was carefully planned and meticulously executed. This combination, and mastery, of different techniques in one portrait was an indisputable relic of Da Vinci’s genius. Through the analysis of microscopic paint fragments and the infrared relfectogram it was determined Salvator Mundi was the work

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of Leonardo Da Vinci. Without advances in technology this discovery would have never been made, and arguably one of Da Vinci’s most brilliant paintings would have remained an overpainted Jesus with a moustache.

New Years Resolutions From The Cannon FLETCHER CLUGSTON Cannon Photography Editor

NAJAH HASSAN Cannon Senior Editor

WIBISHA BALENDRAN Cannon Senior Editor

RICK LIU Cannon Design and Layout

AHNAF FERDOUS Cannon Senior Editor

My reading habits have really gone downhill since I started engineering, and now I rarely pick up a book. In addition, this past year I fell into the lazy cycle of rereading old books off my shelf when I did bother to read at all. Reading used to be my go to pass time, especially during winter, but now I always find some excuse to put off starting a new book until another day. This year my goal is to start reading again, and to read new books outside of my go to genre, namely science fiction. In Toronto, we have access to a huge public library system, and I intend to make the most of it this year.

Learn a new song on guitar every week! My love for music is no secret. I play a little bit of guitar too. On New Year’s Eve, a friend handed me a guitar and asked me to play something. Now, because of my busy skule life, I hadn’t touched the guitar for a couple of months and so I was only able to remember two songs. It disappointed me a little because I really like playing the guitar and I wished that I had more time to play. So, my new year’s resolution is to learn a new song on guitar every week and make more time for the things I like to do. Hopefully, next new year’s eve I won’t need to think for ten minutes before remembering the chords to a song.

DALE GOTTLIEB Cannon Editor-in-Chief

DILAN SOMANADER Cannon Senior Editor

My New Years resolution is simple: do less, achieve more. This isn’t a work smarter not harder type thing. I simply mean I want to work less, and I want to achieve more. Going into fourth year, this is probably one of the most important years of my life. I’d like to land a summer internship in a country I want to explore, and I want to apply to Grad Schools around the world. For me, the greatest achievement I could do this year is to set myself up for a future of neat experiences.

If there’s anything I want to leave behind in 2017, it’s my phone addiction. That means no more mindless scrolling through my Facebook feed, or falling down Youtube rabbit holes, or doing quizzes to find out which Property Brother I am while I’m walking down the street. This year, I’m going to stay off my phone as much as hey check this out it’s 34 Must-Have Items for People Obsessed with Pasta.

The New Year has begun and I am excited for what is in store in 2018 for all of us! I have made a couple of resolutions for the new year that I am hoping to fulfill. I aim to not try to mess up my circadian rhythm by staying up until 4 AM to finish my assignments or study for midterms or exams. Another procrastination prevention method for me is avoid submitting assignments at the last 30 seconds until it’s overdue on Turnitin! Furthermore, I will try to obtain a PEY position that is interesting to partake in and put my skills to the test! Along with PEY, I anticipate in learning new activities or hobbies such as skydiving! In addition to trying out new activities, I plan on allocating more play time with my four legged furry friends! However, I should definitely reduce the number of coffee and bubble tea runs for the new year. Lastly, I should consider writing more articles for The Cannon this year!

I moved out of dorms earlier this year, so this entire first semester has been a new experience for me to live on my own and do normal adult things like clean the kitchen, cook healthy food and paying the bills. My new year’s resolution is to actually regularly complete my household responsibilities like making my bed, cleaning the house or cook healthy food. I hope to actually get good at adulting and do all those things regularly each week. On a lighter note, I occasionally write articles for The Cannon the few times Dale allows me to see daylight. I like to think that my articles are notoriously long, so much so that it caused the previous layout editor to quit! At 2018 words, Dilan’s article this issue smashed the previous record for longest article (held by yours truly) of 1358 words. I will continue to strive and use my BSing skills to end the year with The Cannon’s longest article.

PATRICK DIEP Cannon Senior Editor

LINDA YU Cannon Senior Editor

Condition myself to reflexively say “fuck it let’s do it” and actually do it every time I am about to procrastinate or overly-hesitate. Or simply put... Keep up the “fuck it let’s do it” attitude.

I don’t typically call my new year resolution a resolution knowing that it’s likely they’ll remain unresolved - however, in the new year I wish to do better in school by being more focused, and spend more time with people I love.

With this upcoming year many new year’s resolutions are coming into fruition in these first few weeks of 2018, but how long these can be maintained is still up for question. Personally, for this year my new year’s resolutions revolve around the same goals I set out in 2017, but building more on these goals. One of them was continuing to try and get more active during the school year. Studying, coffee, and procrastinating can take a toll on one’s health and sometimes the freshman 15 can follow you for other years. As such, finding time in my schedule to go to Hart House for instance can be a great way to keep both the mind and body healthy. Also, the other major goal I wanted to build on this year would be to try and manage my time more wisely and get more sleep. Procrastinating is always a bad habit of mine, and every year I have essentially procrastinated about getting rid of this habit. This year I want to motivate myself so that I can get my work done when I need to. By following this guideline, the stress and all the sleepless nights can be minimized and help promote a healthier lifestyle.



An Open Letter to My Non-Engineering Friend SKULE SURVIVAL GUIDE NAJAH HASSAN Cannon Senior Editor

Comics ! By Nadya Abdullah

Dear Non – Engineering friend, I know it’s been a while since we hung out. It’s really hard to find a time where we can both be free because of our really busy schedules. Of course, you already know that. Yet, there are also some things that I think you do not know about me and my engineering people. I’m writing this letter to give you a glimpse of what my life is really like. A few weeks ago, someone accused me of not caring about anyone or anything apart from my calculus textbook. That definitely is not true. It’s just that sometimes I give my textbook more attention than I give people because

I have a test the following week. Also, my textbook doesn’t question me about my life decisions. It may make me doubt myself in other ways but I do have a lot to learn from it. A lot of people are also under the assumption that Engineering students have their lives all figured out. That’s not exactly true. One of the cool things about engineering is that it is so dynamic and there are so many different things you could do with your degree. Most of us do not even know where we will be five years from now. Maybe we will get it right on the first try. Maybe we are going to have to try out several different careers before we find the one we want to do. The only definite plan we have is that we want to choose a path that

offers us the opportunity for a lot of growth, learning and discovery. Other than that, we’re just as uncertain about the future as anyone else our age would be. Yes, I am training to be a problem-solver. But, no, I don’t know what’s wrong with your toaster. They teach us a lot of things here. However, we haven’t taken any courses that have given us the ability to be able to fix everyday household objects just by taking a look at them. I might be able to tell you why your toaster is not working but that doesn’t mean I will immediately know how to fix it. I suggest you take it to a repair shop where people who are more experienced with household appliances and their limitations will be able to help you. I have met some of the

coolest people here! Our Skule community is quite diverse. You have your dancers, your artists, racecar enthusiasts, gamers, theatre performers, foodies and so much more. The list just goes on. I’ve found some of the most amazing friends who support me through the hard times and make sure I don’t lose hope. And believe me, there are hard times. There are days when the anxiety catches up to me and a big cloud grows over my head that I just can’t seem to shake off. I make mistakes too. But, I have learned to get back on my feet every time I fall. The amazing engineering community has made sure of that. They have taught me that failure is important, that to err is human and that this is all part of the learning

process. Finally, I want you to know that believe it or not, I’m happy here. I know I complain a lot and that I don’t get as much sleep as I would like to, but if I had to choose again, I would not choose any differently. Every week is an adventure where I get to meet some very interesting people, learn a lot of new things and explore more of my interests. Let everyone on the other side know that I’m okay and that they shouldn’t worry about me. I haven’t forgotten them and I will make time for them as soon as I can. I just wanted to let you know that Engineering is greater than I thought it would be! Sincerely, An Engineering Student

The Cannon February 2018  
The Cannon February 2018