Monthly Archives: October 2006
From the Hubble Web site: “These are the most recent NASA Hubble Space Telescope views of an unusual phenomenon in space called a light echo. Light from a star that erupted nearly five years ago continues propagating outward through a cloud of dust surrounding the star. The light reflects or “echoes” off the dust and then travels to Earth.
Because of the extra distance the scattered light travels, it reaches the Earth long after the light from the stellar outburst itself. Therefore, a light echo is an analog of a sound echo produced, for example, when sound from an Alpine yodeler echoes off of the surrounding mountainsides.
The echo comes from the unusual variable star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon), located 20,000 light-years away on the periphery of our Galaxy. In early 2002, V838 Mon increased in brightness temporarily to become 600,000 times brighter than our Sun. The reason for the eruption is still unclear.
Some early prep work was necessary to hot-glue the breadboards to the paint rollers, and perhaps solder the connectors onto the battery leads. But intrepid students could easily figure that part out for a longer classroom activity. I just love this photo from the web site of one student “walking their robot” and leading it with a flashlight.
Get the one-page assembly instructions here and get those kids building robots. Once they’ve mastered this initial version, begin asking questions like, “okay, now how would you build another version that steers?” or “How would you make it go faster, or climb steeper hills?” or “how big could you make it and how much would it carry?”
What a great beginning.
It should come as no surprise to anyone with any Physics background at all that it takes more energy to move more mass around.
“The obesity rate among U.S. adults doubled from 1987 to 2003, from about 15% to more than 30%. Also, the average weight for American men was 191 pounds in 2002 and 164 pounds for women, about 25 pounds heavier than in 1960, government figures show.”
Using those weight figured combined with statistics on 2003 driving habits, it is pretty straightforward to conclude that about 39 million gallons of additional fuel are used each year for every pound of average weight increase across the US.
So relative to our svelte 1960 profiles, at a gas price of $3.00 per gallon the US is consuming around an extra $3 billion of oil for automotive fuel a year simply because we are getting fatter. And then there’s the issue of airline fuel costs as well, an effect already reported by the CDC.
So if we could just manage to curb our waistlines, we can decrease our dependence on foreign oil. Maybe we could even manage it by driving less and walking more. What a virtuous cycle that would be.
High School dropouts earned an average of $19,169 a year, and those with advanced college degrees earned an average of $78,093.
So high school is worth about $502,000
College is worth an incremental $1.2M
Graduate school is worth another $1.4M