Cosmos From Your Couch

Looking for a way to connect with the wider world–or maybe the wider universe–during the pandemic? The Dunlap Institute and our partners from across the University of Toronto want to connect with you! Come hear about everything from old cosmic mysteries to the latest research, all from the comfort of your own couch. We’ll be presenting talks online via Zoom and YouTube.

All talks will be streamed live on the Dunlap Institute YouTube channel and archived below for future viewing.

There are currently no upcoming events for this event type. Please check back soon.

Check back often, as we’ll be updating this page regularly with more talks.



Misconceptions About the Big Bang

Dr. Michael Reid
March 18, 2020, 7:00 p.m. EDT

Credit: NASA/SVS

Nearly everyone has heard that the Big Bang was an explosion that created the universe. Starting from a tiny seed called a singularity, the whole universe sprang into being. Or did it? This common description of how the Universe began isn’t entirely wrong, but nor is it entirely right. In this talk, I’ll show how the well-intentioned ways we describe and illustrate the beginning of the Universe often reinforce misconceptions, and how these misconceptions lead to unnecessary skepticism about the Big Bang theory. We’ll talk about what the theory does say, what it doesn’t say, and how we can imagine it more accurately.

Dark Energy & Dark Matter 

Dr. Renée Hložek
March 19, 2020, 6:00 p.m. EDT

Do you lie awake at night wondering what the difference is between dark matter and dark energy? Join Prof. Renée Hložek tonight for a talk about how they are different, how they change the Universe and why you should care about these exciting dark components of our cosmos! She’ll tell you not only about what they are and about some of the exciting telescopes we are building to discover the secrets of the Universe. Bring your cup or tea or cocktail, settle down and get ready to explore our exciting cosmos.


Finding Your Space in Time and Place

Dr. Roberto Abraham
March 24, 2020, 7:00 p.m. EDT

In this talk he’ll do his best to give you an astronomical perspective on Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Roberto Abraham is a Professor of Astronomy in the David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. His research is in galaxy formation and evolution, as well as in the use of new technologies to enable breakthrough discoveries in astronomy. He is the former president of the Canadian Astronomical Society, has received many awards for his research and teaching, and has been involved in the construction and management of some of the most innovative telescopes on earth and in space.




Whispers From the Cosmos

Dr. Katie Breivik
March 26, 2020, 7:00 p.m. EDT

Sandbox Studio Chicago and Corinne Mucha

The recent discovery of gravitational waves marks the dawn of a new field of astronomy and provides new opportunities to study several elusive systems in the Cosmos. Compact binaries, made up of pairs of stellar remnants, are difficult to observe with traditional astronomical observations, but they are the most prolific source of gravitational waves. In this edition of Cosmos From Your Couch, we’ll do a light-speed intro of General Relativity, gravitational waves, and what we’ve learned from the 12 gravitational-wave detections to date!


A Brief History of Everything

Dr. Patrick Breysse
March 27, 2020, 7:00 p.m. EDT 

The Illustris-TNG collaboration

Fourteen billion years ago, the universe was little more than a cloud of hot hydrogen gas. I will tell the story of how that cloud of gas evolved into all of the galaxies, stars, and planets we see around us today. In the process, I’ll explain some of how astronomers study the history of the universe, and how telescopes are secretly time machines that let us look directly into the distant past. I’ll also talk about some of the great mysteries that remain in this story, and how we’re working in Toronto and elsewhere to solve them.




Questions From Your Couch

Dr. Katie Breivik, Dr. Abby Crites and Dr. Maria Drout
April 2nd, 2020, 7:00 p.m. EDT

Do you have a question for one of our astronomers? Our expert team will be live on Thursday, April 2nd at 7pm EDT for a “Cosmos From Your Couch” – Q and A edition! Submit a question for us at and then stay tuned to see it answered live on YouTube!