Staff Spotlight - Pablo Finkel

January 8, 2020

The Space Centre wouldn’t be what it is today without our amazing staff. We’d like to take a moment to shine the spotlight on a member of our little space family.

How long have you been working here?
Since early February, 2019.

What is your position at the Space Centre? 
Interpreter. I do two main things. I do scientific demonstrations in the GroundStation Canada Theatre. These are short science demonstrations about different topics. We also do outreach. I go to schools and bring the inflatable planetarium, which looks like a giant blueberry that is really really cool. I inflate it, there’s a projector in the middle, the kids go inside and I have to insist it’s not a bouncy castle. The kids sit around the projector as if it’s a campfire and we tour the solar system. Another thing I do, which I do at the Space Centre and also at the schools, are workshops. We build rockets, we talk about aliens. There’s this workshop called Extremophiles. Depending on the conditions of a planet, whether it’s very acidic, very hot, very dry, with plasticine they have to design an alien that can survive on that planet. It’s astrobiology basically, it’s what I like. It’s a perfect workshop for me. 

What’s your favourite thing about space?
I have a biology background, so despite my massive interest in space and dark matter and stuff, I’m mostly interested in the possibility of finding other life in the solar system. There are these ice moons that have ice on the surface and are orbiting gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn and these moons are being expanded and contracted as they orbit these massive planets. So they get hot inside and it’s called tidal heating and it melts the ice. Scientists believe there is a subglacial ocean under all this ice and the ocean is being warmed up and has potentially organic molecules or precursors of amino acids and all those things. There’s Europa orbiting Jupiter, or Enceladus orbiting Saturn and they are beautiful.

What’s your favourite memory working at the Space Centre?
When I started working here, I was very new and there was an event for Valentine’s Day. Two of our astronomers were doing a debate in front of many people to determine whether Venus or Mars was better suited for human life and settlement. They asked if I could moderate. It was quite fun, I really enjoyed doing that. People laughed a lot. It was a really good debate. It was very informative, but funny. I had space to make my own jokes too. I was new and so I was a bit nervous, but I loved it. 

What do you recommend people check out at the Space Centre?
We do science demonstrations at the GroundStation Canada Theatre. We do many, but if I had to recommend one it would be ‘Cosmic Glue.’ It is a great one. We talk about gravity and we start by talking about the history of gravitation and finish with the theory of general relativity by Albert Einstein. It’s not the flashiest show, but it’s very informative about how gravity works and is understood. If we have time, we try to also talk about time. How is time dilated with higher speeds? And how does mass effect the fabric of space? And we basically talk about the concept of space time. It’s informative and it’s beautiful.