Math Question


Chichén Itzá was a Mayan city in what is now Mexico. The picture below shows El Castillo, also known as the pyramid of Kukulcán, which is a pyramid located in the ruins of Chichén Itzá.

The temple at the top of the pyramid is approximately 24 meters above the ground, and there are 91 steps leading up to the temple. How high above the ground would you be if you were standing on the 50th step?


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Big History Project

The Big History Project was started by Bill Gates and David Christian to enable the global teaching of Big History. Big History “is the attempt to understand, in a unified way, the history of Cosmos, Earth, Life and Humanity.” It is a course that covers history from the big bang through to the present in an interdisciplinary way. The Big History Project “is dedicated to fostering a greater love and capacity for learning among high school students”


Gates became interested in big history when he heard a series of 48 lectures by Christian published by The Teaching Company under the name “Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity”. For Gates, “he really blew me away. Here’s a guy who’s read across the sciences, humanities, and social sciences and brought it together in a single framework. It made me wish that I could have taken big history when I was young, because it would have given me a way to think about all of the school work and reading that followed. In particular, it really put the sciences in an interesting historical context and explained how they apply to a lot of contemporary concerns”.

After Gates and Christian met to discuss the lectures, the genesis of the Big History Project occurred. They founded the project, and developed a team to achieve their stated goal, “to get big history taught to as many students around the world as possible”.


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Modern population boom traced to pre-industrial roots

We might wind up being back in a situation where a growing part of the population is basically providing labor to sustain a minority,” Stutz says. “You could certainly point to the sweat shops in the developing world. Another potential example is the growing income inequality that’s been well-documented in the United States over the last couple of decades.”

The paragraph above is the shocking closing of the following article:


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A Future Where Knowledge is Obsolete

On a Ted Talk on NPR, Sugata Mitra, a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, believes in the title of this post. He hopes to build a School in the Clouds. Warning: the cloud reference refers not to H2O density but rather electronic waves through the atmosphere. From the Internet.

Professor Mitra detailed the history of the classroom tracing it back 300 years to Victorian England. There and at that time, bureaucrats ( his reference) decided that in order to operate factories efficiently, there was a need for human robots (my term) who could plug into any job anywhere in the British Empire.

Reading, handwriting and simple arithmetic were required along with discipline: following directions in an orderly way. That’s it. And so here we are, 300 years later, teaching pretty much the same stuff to a new generation who will most probably never set foot in a factory.

I recall a high school history class during which we were forced to memorize the kings of England in succession. Why? Jeopardy? I recall being punished in grade school by having to work out long division problems with divisors in the thousands. Apparetly she hated math and wanted us to as well. When did I last need to divide on paper!

His school in the clouds idea- computer assisted education- makes perfect sense for today’s tech- savvy kids. However, it will be years down the road because adults, especially the +60 people will yell and scream! How can ‘education’ be like that! Who ever heard of THAT! Why, in my day…

No, rather than moving to an entirely new paradigm in education, we will continue on for decades in the factory school tradition from Victorian England.


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Dad, What’s Science?



by | 08/29/2014 · 10:15 PM

Solar system inside a searing gas bubble

(CNN) — Ever feel like you live in a bubble?
You do. We all do.

Our whole solar system appears to, say space scientists, who published work last month corroborating its existence.

And, oh, what a bubble it is: About 300 light years long (about 1,764,000,000,000,000 miles), and its walls are made of hot gas. How hot? About a million degrees.

Photos: Never-seen images of the cosmos
Life beyond the planet NASA: Voyager has left the solar system
It’s called the “Local Bubble” or “local hot bubble” and is shaped a little like a peanut.

Scientists believe it was formed by supernovas, the largest explosions in space, as NASA calls them, that occur when a large star blows up.
One supernova blasts out more energy in less than a second than our sun gives off in a million years, NASA says. A single explosion can outshine an entire galaxy.

‘Like popcorn’

They usually occur about twice a century in the Milky Way Galaxy. But about 10 million years ago, a slew of them exploded right near our solar system.
“Supernovas went off like popcorn,” NASA says.

In a universe about 13.8 billion years old, that’s a recent event. Humans did not yet walk the Earth 10 million years ago, but monkeys did.
Those supernovas may have sent our evolutionary ancestors running scared, but they weren’t enough to annihilate them.

Galactic hole

Fast forward 10 million years to the 1970s and 80s, when humans first began noticing what they’d later postulate was the bubble.
They were aiming more advanced telescopes at what’s called the interstellar medium.

Between the planets and the stars of our galaxy is not just empty space. There are gasses, dust, ions — and more — sweeping around.
When astronomers poked around in our solar system for it, they found little to nothing. It was like we were living in a virtually empty hole, one that has only a single atom per every liter of space.

Around the same time, sensors launched outside of Earth’s atmosphere revealed an abundance of something else coming from all directions — x-ray radiation.

The idea that we live in a bubble was born:

So much interstellar medium was gone, because the exploding supernovas have blown it away, and and left us surrounded with their remnants of radiating gas.

Doubt, corroboration

But some scientists, in recent years, cast doubt on the Local Bubble model, saying the radiation could be the result of “charge exchange” — passing solar winds stealing electrons and thereby emitting x-ray radiation.

Scientists from the University of Miami in Coral Gables picked up the gauntlet and developed a sensor to measure charge exchange radiation and fired it out of Earth’s atmosphere atop a small NASA rocket two years ago.
It only took about five minutes for the detector to take a reading. Analyzing the data, the scientists determined that only 40% of the background x-ray emanates from within our solar system.

The rest of the glow, they say, must come from the searing gaseous walls of a big bubble we live in.


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How Earth-Like of us Humanoids

imageI had a lightbulb moment while watching a close up on TV of a vibrating string during a musical performance. It’s really all about air, isn’t it?

I wonder if the air swirling around Bach back in the 1600’s was slightly different than our 21st century air vibrating in today’s concert halls? Further, how would Bach or for that matter Berg sound in an atmosphere that was slightly altered? More nitrogen, less oxygen and vv?

Then again, I recall that aboard Voyager was a recording of some music from us humanoids. Should aliens find that and understand how to play it, how will it sound to them, assuming that they can indeed hear? Did the space engineers include instructions for air-mixture proportions?

Alll of these questions while algae blooms around the inlet pipe for my city!


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