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Jeffrey Zirul
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Jeffrey Zirul

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Great collection of posts.  Interesting and thoughtful.  Take a moment to learn something... 
 
A Year in Review

At the beginning of 2013, Google+ was a place where I’d occasionally write about topics from the textbook I was finishing.  Rather spontaneously it became a blogging platform where I’ve been making daily posts.  My posts have gotten more popular than I ever anticipated, due in large part to all of you who have plussed, shared, commented, and followed all of my ramblings about the universe.  

So a big, big thanks to all of you.   

As I’ve gone back through my writings this year, I’ve found ten posts that I’m particularly proud of, listed below. I’ll have all new posts starting tomorrow.  Until then, I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year.


Private Time  (http://goo.gl/ktblMk)  
There is no cosmic clock.  Everything in the universe (including us) has its own private time.

Astronomy Rocks  (http://goo.gl/DCJXny)
There is a legend of a Viking sunstone.  It could have been used to determine the position of the Sun on a cloudy day.

Alas, Poor Ceres  (http://goo.gl/aR4a00)
The elimination of Pluto as a planet upset many, but the same thing happened to Ceres a century earlier.

Primeval Atom  (http://goo.gl/jxhDJQ)
The big bang really happened, and here’s how we know.

Hot Rocks  (http://goo.gl/odaZVV)
It’s easier to find asteroids when you view them at infrared wavelengths.

Snapshot  (http://goo.gl/2vEUnF
How do we understand the evolution of stars, when we can only observe them for a moment in time?

Universe in Your Hands  (http://goo.gl/aPCBxZ)
The history of the Universe is in the palm of your hands.

Isaac Newton, Jedi Knight  (http://goo.gl/5TdqiL)
Newton had a pragmatic approach to science, and it inspired the way we do science today.

Pale Blue Dot  (http://goo.gl/1Z1KFf)
Voyager 1 entered interstellar space this year, and we humans put it there.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away  (http://goo.gl/HkxzHt)
The most distant galaxy is so far way that its distance depends upon how we define distance.

Happy New Year!
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Homeopathy explained succinctly.
 
Properly diluted
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Is this the "new" literacy?  Does it make sense to give our students some experience in coding?  I believe it can be useful as an exercise in organization and meta-cognition.  What do you think?
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that is a pic of my brain when I'm trying to figure out some of the astronomy HW.
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Thoughtful piece on the development of good practices around technology and learning.  I particularly like the explicit differentiation between reading tasks, and the suggestions about how to start developing the habits to promote good digital skills.
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I have been questioning the role/use of assessment in my own classrooms for quite some time.  I'm searching for a new way of allowing students to develop some interest and pursue it in the name of science.  I have always asked far more questions than given answers.  I mindfully model asking good questions to my students, I get excited when they ask me a question I don't know the answer to.  We bunny-trail for a while looking for more information.  In the end, it's about looking for information in order to ask better questions.  Isn't that what learning is actually about?
 
The “Pursuit of Ignorance” Drives All Science: Watch Neuroscientist Stuart Firestein’s Engaging New TED Talk  http://www.openculture.com/2013/11/the-pursuit-of-ignorance-drives-all-science.html
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"Assessment is for teaching" - Prof. Patrick Griffin.
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This is exciting, and very impressive!  When was the last time you ran something for 5 years straight?  I say, penny for NASA FTW!
 
A five-year, 48,000-hour trial of NASA's next generation ion thruster has now officially broken the record for the longest ever space engine test. The NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) is set to be a lightweight and versatile alternative to traditional propellant-based thrusters, used to steadily accelerate spacecraft to high speeds and into deep space.

Measuring the change in momentum produced by the ion thruster, project scientists calculated that a traditional rocket system would consume 22,000 pounds (10,000 kilograms) to achieve the same effect. NASA's next-gen thruster uses only a fraction of the amount of fuel, consuming only 1,900 pounds (860 kilograms) of its fuel over the duration of its testing period.

NEXT is powered by Xenon, a heavy noble gas. When bombarded with electrons, Xenon ionizes and produces a small amount of thrust. Over a long period of time, the Xenon reaction can be used to accelerate a spacecraft to extremely high speeds. Xenon-based engines like NEXT are currently being used on NASA's Dawn spacecraft, launched in 2007 and tasked with exploring two of the largest objects in the asteroid belt. Because of the ion thruster's greater fuel efficiency, engineers were able to fit many more science instruments onboard the craft.

The value of ionic propulsion systems to current space exploration is incredible. Once in the realm of science fiction, these engines are now being used widely in military and scientific applications while NASA continues to lead the way in propulsion research through its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. With a Penny for NASA, we might not be far away from warp drives!

Contact your representatives and show your support of NASA through our website: http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action/

Read more about NASA's Xenon engine test here: http://www.space.com/22916-nasa-ion-thruster-world-record-test.html


#NASA #Penny4NASA #Space #Science #NEXT #Engineering #IonDrive  
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This sounds like a great/interesting idea for my physics class.  Is anyone currently doing this?
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I'm having some trouble reconciling the idea of an "Open" course with a "free" one.  I get the spirit of a MOOC, open access to all.  I also get the fact that I have to eat and pay bills, so I need a revenue stream.  Teaching for free just isn't going to cut it.  Requiring students to purchase material I have authored seems to me to be walking that fine ethical line.  Where do you stand?
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Questioning, learning, experiencing, teaching. Life is good!