The 49 Society

The 49 Society is an on-line forum that has been established in honour of scientist, author and educator Dr. Derek York.

A world-renowned geo-physicist, Derek York dedicated his scientific life to furthering our understanding of the evolution of the Earth, the moon, dinosaurs, meteorites and our earliest ancestors. He was also a passionate and contagious communicator of the wonder, not only of his own areas of research, but of the entire scientific enterprise. He informed and inspired many people in the general public through his lectures, books, television and radio interviews, and monthly popular science column that ran for ten years in the Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail.

The 49 Society was first established by Derek over forty years ago at 49 St. George Street, home of Geophysics on the University of Toronto Campus. It was borne out of the conviction that an enlightened, progressive society was brought about by the exchange of ideas and the democracy of debate. The original 49 Society featured speakers such as Stephen Lewis, Martin Friedland, Julian Porter, Robertson Davies and many others who presented and debated the controversial new ideas of the day.

Though the 49 Society eventually ceased to be, Derek’s commitment to the exchange of ideas continued but on a larger scale. As chairman of University of Toronto’s Welsh Lectures, Derek brought in a series of world-renowned scientists including several Nobel laureates. The speakers included the late Carl Sagan, celebrated paleo-anthropologist Don Johanson, discoverer of the famous "Lucy" fossil, legendary astronomer Fred Hoyle, and the “Father of Fractals” Benoit Mandelbrot.

Today, the 49 Society finds new life and a new home on the web with the exciting potential to reach a global audience. Following Derek’s passionate example, this on-line forum is dedicated to the furthering of our understanding of ourselves, the universe and our place within it, through the monthly presentation of ideas from leading thinkers from all branches of the sciences, technologies and the arts, and through the special re-release of Derek’s popular Globe & Mail science columns.

Derek was convinced that science was not boring, tedious and for the intellectual 'elite’. On the contrary, if presented the right way, science was incredibly exciting, relevant, and accessible.

And part of what it means to be human.

We welcome you to the 49 Society.


The 49 Society Board:

President - Link York
Vice President - Lydia York
Treasurer - Monica Harhay
Editor - Terry Christian, Globe & Mail
Adviser - Jerry X. Mitrovica, University of Toronto
Adviser - Norm Evensen, University of Toronto
Secretary - Jane Kooy


The 49 Society would like to thank the following for their invaluable and inspiring contributions:

Howard Mann: Logo Design
Jeremy Boyd, Lisa Mann: Website Design