3 Rs




Friday, November 23, 2012

Will Beetlejuice go Supernova in 2012?

The doom and gloom theorists think so. Such theorists have proposed that the gamma radiation could damage biological life of Earth. And don’t forget the theory of two suns visible in the sky in the daytime.

Fact: Beetlejuice is located on the right shoulder of the constellation Orion the Hunter.

Speculation: No one can accurately predict when a star will go supernova.

Fact: To quote Phil Plait, creator of Bad Astronomy: “…if Beetlejuice explodes, we’re in no danger at all.” (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/01/is-betelgeuse-about-to-blow/)

Fact: Beetlejuice is about 640 Light Years (L.Y.) away from Earth. Jeff Adkins says:

“Let’s suppose just for the sake of rough argument that when Betelguese goes it will be 100 billion times brighter than the sun. That’s not an unusual brightness for a supernova; they can often rival an entire galaxy.

On the other hand, Betelguese is a lot farther away. At the speed of light, the sun is 8 minutes away. At the speed of light, Betelguese is 640 light years away. The intensity of light falls off as the square of the distance. Betelguese will, therefore be much dimmer than the sun as seen from earth. “

Speculation: It may be possible to see it in the daylight, much like we can sometimes see the moon in the daylight. I don’t think it will rival the sun in brightness. See http://space.about.com/b/2011/01/24/will-betelgeuse-go-supernova-in-2012.htm

Read http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/20/two-suns-twin-stars_n_811864.html  about one astronomers point of view and how it got twisted. There are hints of a doom and gloom scenario. A few news agencies got the story and blew it way out of proportion. Over the next few days, you will hear about the supernova being so bright, therte will be no night for a few months; there will be two suns in the sky; the solar radiation emitted will seriously damage the biological realm on Earth (us, plants and anything else that grows).

Beetlejuice has been dying for thousands of years. It is a super red giant. If you were to put Beetlejuice into our Solar System, it would take up the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

I was immediately suspicious of this article where the distance to Beetlejuice is 600 to 640 Light Years (L.Y.) from Earth, not 1300 L.Y.s like the article states. Further research on my part has resulted in just another 'end-of-the-world scenario' now that the Mayan Myth scare has been debunked.

You be the judge.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

STAO 2012 Followup

What a terrific conference. Attendance was only down about 10% compared to last year. This is insignificant in light of the fact that many of Ontario's teachers are on 'work to rule' while others were in a legal strike position. What that means is that extra-curricular activities get slashed. Our conference is co-curricular and not extra-curricular and this is why many came.

I had seven teachers at my "Building Balsawood Gliders to Scale" workshop. The teachers followed my instructions, put the control surfaces on the various parts and we flew them in the room. Some of the teachers went out into the hallway to fly their newly created gliders. We built the standard glider with a main wing, horizontal an verical stabilizer. We added control surfaces to control roll, pitch and yaw.

Our second glider was a delta wing with a canard.  And the third one we made using paper towel rolls for those on a tight budget.

The second workshop was called "Taylor's Pneumatic Toys." I'm humble; I named it after me. I started off with an experiment demonstrating the multiplication of force. Following this I taught the educators how to build a pneumatically controlled Canadarm.  I am a visual learner and this is how I teach. I explain a point then show my audience what to do. What I learned about doing this workshop was that I needed more models to show each of the steps. I had a finished model. This wasn't working so well. I gave them the booklet with the plans in it. I was reluctant to give out the plans earlier because they would have just built it without realizing there are steps that must be followed in the assembling process if the arm is supposed to work. I'll definitely have more visual pieces for my workshop in Houston.

We didn't have time to make what I call the McDigger. The McDigger is a front-end loader using a medium McDonalds ® French fries' container for the loader section.  I gave each of the 25 in attendancea a McDigger kit to take home.

I get such joy out of watching teachers get excited about flying planes and making Canadarm's work. I am confident that they will take this excitment back to their classrooms and get their students excited about science.

Alfterall, it is really about the kids.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

STAO 2012 Recapture the Wonder

I’m leaving today for the Doubletree Hotel on Dixon Road by Pearson International Airport for the Science Teachers Association of Ontario (STAO) Annual Conference. Educators from all over Canada usually attend. Jeremy Hanson (Canadian Astronaut) will be speaking on Saturday morning. I can’t wait to hear him. I’ll try to line up an interview with him. The conference runs from Nov 15 – 17, 2012.

I am doing two presentations. The first is “Building Balsawood Gliders to Scale” primarily for Grade 6 teachers. The second is entitled, “Taylor’s Toys” which is also the title of my book. I am currently working on the second draft. My second workshop will have educators doing an experiment on the multiplication of force. This will be followed by me teaching them how to build a pneumatically controlled Canadarm. And if there’s time, we’ll build a McDigger. The McDigger is a front-end loader using a medium sized McDonalds® French fries container. The construction of both of these toys appears in my book.

When I am not presenting, I’ll take in a couple of speakers, but most of my free time will be spent at the Web Site Booth. It is here that we show educators how to find resources of interest to them and how to navigate through our web site.

An attention-getter is the iron balls. We wrap one of the balls in aluminum foil and we strike the balls past each other. The result is a huge spark and a very loud noise. It’s an exothermic reaction and loads of fun.

I’ll post again following the conference.