Beakerhead Presents

The Walrus Talks Experimentation

Calgary Saturday, September 14, 2013, 3 p.m. MT


The Walrus Talks Experimentation will focus on creativity, education, art, and science. It will explore that moment when, through experimentation, we step from the known into the unknown.


  • Xenotext by Christian Bök, poet
  • Improvisation by Steve Kirby, jazz musician
  • Music and Creativity: Constraints and Innovation by Daniel Levitin, author and neuroscientist
  • The Next Generation of (Space) Explorers by Natalie Panek, rocket scientist
  • Collaboration by Jeffrey Remedios, Arts & Crafts president
  • Leaps in Learning and Discovery by Indira Samarasekera, University of Alberta president

Thank you to all for attending The Walrus Talks Experimentation at Beakerhead.

Shelley Ambrose at Beakerhead
Welcome to The Walrus Talks Co-publisher and Executive Director Shelley Ambrose.
Naheed Nenshi at The Walrus Talks Experimentation
Hello Calgary! Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi gives an introduction.
Jay Ingram at The Walrus Talks Experimentation
Weird Science Jay Ingram introduces the night.
Christian Bök at The Walrus Talks Experimentation
Xenotext Poet Christian Bök.
Indira Samasekera at The Walrus Talks Experimentation
Leaps in learning Indira Samasekera, president of University of Alberta, discusses innovations in education.
Natalie Panek at The Walrus Talks Experimentation
Space Natalie Panek, rocket scientist, on the next generation of space explorers.
Jeffery Remedios at The Walrus Talks Experimentation
Collaboration A talk from Arts & Crafts president Jeffery Remedios.
Music and creativity Author and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin discusses how constraints make us more creative.

Photograph courtesy of Christian Bök

Christian Bök is an experimental poet. His book Eunoia, in which each chapter is restricted to the use of a single vowel, won the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2002. Bök is currently working on an eleven-year-long project, set to be completed in 2014, to create an example of living poetry by encoding verse into a DNA sequence. DNA sequence is implanted into an organism with the aim of triggering the creation of a corresponding protein, which, when decoded, becomes a verse created by the organism.

Photograph courtesy of Steve Kirby

Steve Kirby, jazz bassist, arrived in Winnipeg from New York in 2003, having already established a prominent career performing, recording, and touring with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Elvin Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Cyrus Chestnut, Abbey Lincoln, Steve Turre, James Carter, Slide Hampton, Joe Lovano, Lester Bowie, John Hicks, and many others. Now a fixture in Winnipeg’s cultural scene, Kirby continues to perform, compose, and record; his newest album, Stepchild (2012), features the Northern Prairie Jazz Collective. He is the director of jazz studies at the University of Manitoba, director of the U of M Jazz Camp, artistic director of the Izzy Asper Jazz Performances, and editor of Dig! Magazine, Winnipeg’s bimonthly jazz publication. Kirby’s gifts as a performer, clinician, and speaker have inspired audiences in concert halls, clubs, inner-city street festivals, community centres, high school gyms, and university classrooms in North America and beyond. He shares not only his passion for jazz, but the tenets of tolerance, self expression, and community building that are at its core.

Photograph by Arsenio CorôaArsenio Corôa

Daniel Levitin is professor of psychology, music, and computer science at McGill University. He is the author of the international bestsellers This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession and The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature, and he is one of the bestselling science writers of the last ten years. Prior to entering academia, Levitin was a record producer and engineer with artists such as Blue Öyster Cult, Santana, and Stevie Wonder.

Image courtesy of Natalie Panek

Natalie Panek is a mission system and operations engineer at MDA Space Missions, the organization behind the creation of the Canadarm. She has a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Calgary, where she participated in the university’s solar car team. She helped design the team’s first car and drove it from Austin, Texas to Calgary in the 2005 North American Solar Challenge. She also obtained a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies, focusing on experiments to study combustion in a microgravity environment. Panek’s love of space and aviation led her to obtain a private pilot’s license to fly a single-engine aircraft during her undergraduate studies. She also participated in internships at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center and at the International Space University’s Space Studies Program at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where she worked on a mission to Mars.

Jeffrey Remedios is the Toronto-based president and co-founder of Arts & Crafts, one of the top independent music companies, which represents artists including Broken Social Scene, Feist, Stars, Dan Mangan, Timber Timbre, and many more. Remedios oversees all aspects of the company’s business, establishing A&C as a global music brand, and he remains a front-line manager for Broken Social Scene and Timber Timbre. Rolling Stone recently cited Remedios as a key insider shaping the future of the music business.

Photograph by Ruth KaplanRuth Kaplan

Indira Samarasekera, O.C. is the twelfth president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta. During her presidency, she has helped build strong international partnerships, exemplified by agreements with the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, and the Aga Khan University, and IC IMPACTS—a collaboration between top research institutions in Canada and India, dedicated to ensuring health, safety, and sustainability in both countries. Samarasekera is chair of the Worldwide Universities Network, a council member of the National Institute for Nanotechnology, and she sits on the board of directors of Scotiabank and the Science, Technology, and Innovation Council. She was part of a group of special advisors to the Canadian minister of environment at the 2009 Copenhagen Summit; has been a moderator, presenter, and facilitator at the 2010, 2011, and 2012 World Economic Forums; and participated in the prime minister’s roundtable on Canada-India higher education cooperation. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2002, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum.

The Walrus Talks is a national series of events produced by the charitable, non-profit Walrus Foundation as part of an educational mandate to provide forums for conversation on matters vital to Canadians. The Walrus Foundation produces The Walrus magazine, the most awarded publication in Canada, as well as producing content at, on Walrus TV, and on stages from coast to coast to coast.

The Walrus Talks format features eight speakers for seven minutes each on various themes relating to a single topic. Each event offers lively, thoughtful, inspiring, riveting, smart, new thinking from scientists, writers, performers, scholars, and leaders of business and the arts. Each Talks event is followed by a spirited reception with attendees and participants.

The Walrus Talks delivers fresh ideas and new ways of looking at big issues. The Walrus has no “wings.” Our speakers are chosen to reflect a range of experiences and viewpoints, but they all have one thing in common: the desire for real conversation about issues that affect the future of Canada. Our goal is for audience members to think “I never thought about it that way” when the Talks are over.

Dates, details, and ticket information are available at