John Loudon McAdam

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Did you know that John Loudon McAdam was born today in 1756? He was a Scottish civil engineer. At the time, roads were either dirt and mud paths or made with very large and very expensive stone slabs; both kinds of roads easily broke and fell apart. McAdam developed a way to build roads out of rocks and crushed gravel that was inexpensive to build and maintain, and more durable as well. His method worked so well, it quickly spread throughout the world.

We hope that you have a smooth day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Traditionally John Loudon McAdam’s family name was actually McGregor, but it was changed during the 1600’s.

John Loudon McAdam wrote two books on road building: Remarks on the Present System of Road-Making and Practical Essay on the Scientific Repair and Preservation of Roads.

The process John Loudoun McAdam created for constructing roads is known as macadamisation. The raised and slightly convex shape of the road allowed for good drainage and the materials needed greatly simplified the process of building and maintaining the road. His process led to the modernization of road building and has been called one of the greatest advancements since Roman technology was introduced.

The word ‘tarmac’ is short for tarmacadam, a macadamized road bound together with tar.

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Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellinghausen

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Did you know that Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellingshausen was born today in 1778? He was an explorer, officer in the Russian navy, and a cartographer (a person who creates maps). In 1803 – 1806 he was part of the crew that completed the first Russian circumnavigation of the Earth. In 1819-1821 Bellingshausen was in charge of a journey to explore the Southern Ocean. They traveled around the ice fields of Antarctica twice and on January 28, 1820, he became one of the first explorers to actually see the land of Antarctica.

We hope that you have a precise day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
The name of the ship that made the first Russian circumnavigation was Nadezhda (hope).

In his naval career, the highest rank Bellingshausen earned was vice-admiral. He also served as the military governor of Kronstadt.

Bellingshausen was a prominent cartographer. He also published a book on his Antarctic travels, Double Investigation of the Southern Polar Ocean and the Voyage Around the World.

Some of the Antarctic features discovered and named by Bellingshausen and his crew include Peter I island, Zavodovski Island, Leskov Island, and Alexander Island. There are also many geographical features in the Antarctic region that are named after Bellingshausen and the other explorers in his expedition.

Puppis

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Did you know that the southern hemisphere constellation Puppis used to be part of a larger constellation, Argo Nevis? Argo Nevis represented the ship of Jason and the Argonauts from Greek mythology. However, that constellation was enormous. In 1752 Argo Nevis was split into 3 constellations: Carina, Vela, and Puppis. Puppis is also known as the Poop Deck or Stern. The stern is the back part of a ship. ‘Poop’ comes from the French word la poupe, which means stern, or back part of a ship.

We hope that you have a stellar day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Argo Nevis, was described by the astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Nicholas Louis de Lacaille was the French astronomer that divided Argo Nevis into 3 separate constellations in 1752.

There are 9 main stars in the constellation Puppis. The brightest star in the constellation is Naos, it is a blue supergiant star and the 62nd brightest in the sky.

Puppis is the 20th largest constellation in size. It is one of the 88 modern constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union.

Carina represents the keel of Argo Nevis. Vela represents the sails of Argo Nevis.

Léon Foucault

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Did you know that Léon Foucault was born today in 1819? He was a French physicist. Léon Foucault performed an experiment that made an early measurement of the speed of light and gave the scientific instrument, ‘gyroscope’ its name. One of his other experiment is displayed in many science museums or universities. As a pendulum swings slowly back and forth, the Earth rotates beneath it causing it to move in a ‘star-like’ path instead of a side-to-side line. Many museums have a circle of pins the pendulum knocks over each day to show the path of the pendulum.

We hope that you have unswerving day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Léon Foucault’s full name was Jean Bernard Léon Foucault.

Léon Foucault initially studied medicine, but switched to physics because he had a blood phobia.

Léon Foucault also discovered eddy currents, and how to tell if mirrors are perfectly spherical. The speed of light he calculated from his experiments was 298,000 km/s, about 0.6% error from the currently accepted value.

Léon Foucault also studied the light emitted from the sun and other sources. He found that if you applied a very thin, almost transparent, layer of silver on telescope glass, you could view the sun without injuring the eye.

The wire suspending a Foucault Pendulum needs to be very long; they are usually 39-98 feet long. The largest Foucault Pendulum is located in the Oregon Convention Center. A Foucault Pendulum makes a full rotation each day, clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere. To avoid affecting the motion, a tradition way of starting the pendulum is to move the pendulum bob to its starting position and secure it with a thread; then to use a flame to burn through the thread.

Cassini’s Grand Finale

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Did you know that today is the last day of Cassini’s Grand Finale? The Grand Finale started back in April, when scientists maneuvered Cassini to travel between the planet’s surface and its rings. Cassini has orbited the planet 22 times now. Scientists chose Cassini’s final plunge as a way to prevent Cassini from accidently crashing into and contaminating one of Saturn’s moons. Today, Cassini will dive into Saturn’s atmosphere and eventually burn up like a meteor. A spectacular end for an extraordinary mission. Thank you Cassini!!

We hope that you have remarkable day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
During the Grand Finale, Cassini is also expending as much fuel and propellant as possible.

During the Grand Finale, Cassini has skimmed the surface of Saturn as well as the inner edge of the rings. Aside from close-up images of the rings and planet, Cassini has sent back data that helps scientists understand Saturn’s gravity and magnetic fields as well as how quickly Saturn is rotating. It also has given scientists a better idea of how much and what kind of material the rings are composed of.

As Cassini plunges into Saturn’s atmosphere it will continue to collect and broadcast data, for as long as the spacecraft can.

For more information visit:

Cassini’s Grand Finale

Why Cassini Matters

 

Moons of Saturn

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Did you know that Saturn now has 62 known moons? The largest is bigger than the planet Mercury and the smallest is about the size of a sports arena. Cassini helped scientists learn more about Saturn’s moons and even discovered a few new moons! Some fascinating discoveries include: the moon Enceladus has all the components needed for life (liquid water, heat, and a ‘food’ source). Cassini and the Huygens probe also found that liquid ethane and methane ‘rains’ and collects in lakes on the surface of Titan!

We hope that you have captivating day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Cassini also found that jets and fissures on Enceladus spray water vapor and simple organic compounds into space (this spray eventually forms the E ring around Saturn). The geysers of water suggest that there is a subsurface ocean on Enceladus.

Clearer images from Cassini identified moons of all shapes and sizes. Some are lopsided like potatoes, some are rough and textured like sponges, and some are either disintegrating and forming rings or being formed from particles collected from the rings.

One of the moons, Iapetus is snow-white on one side while the other is dark as coal. Cassini found that the dark coloring comes from one of the outer moons – Phoebe. Dust and debris from Phoebe creates one of the rings; some of this dust settles on to the side of Iapetus. It does not spread evenly because Iapetus does not rotate as it orbits Saturn; the same side of Iapetus always faces Saturn as it orbits.

For more facts visit:

Moons of Saturn

Saturn’s Rings

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Did you know that in 1610 Galileo Galilei was the first person to see Saturn’s rings? The images and scientific data sent back by the Cassini spacecraft have helped scientists to make many new discoveries about Saturn’s rings. We’ve discovered that the rings of Saturn are about 175,000 miles across, but only 3,200 feet thick. Some of the ice and rock particles that make up ring are smaller than a grain of sand and some are as large as mountains!

We hope that you have an all-around awesome day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Saturn’s rings are labeled with letters, from A to G.

Cassini was able to collect data about Saturn’s Rings during Saturn’s equinox, which only happens ever 15 years. The different angle of light showed that the rings of Saturn are not warped, but that they are also not as smooth a previously thought. Data during the equinox also showed that when the Sun was not shining on the face of the ring, the ring particles dropped to a temperature of -382 F.

Cassini also showed that much of the material for Saturn’s E ring comes from the water and ice jets on the moon Enceladus. While some moons supply the material for rings, Cassini also showed that some moons steal or absorb particles from the rings.

There are some moonlets orbiting in the rings. Some are large enough to make a ‘gap’ in the rings. Cassini also showed that the moonlets leave a rippling wake in the ring particles as they pass, similar to a boat moving through water.

For more facts:

Saturn’s Rings

Cassini Spacecraft

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Did you know that on October 15, 1997, the Cassini spacecraft started its 7-year journey to Saturn? During it mission, Cassini took more than 450,000 images of Saturn and Saturn’s rings and moons and collected 635 GB of scientific data. It completed more than 294 orbits of Saturn, 162 ‘flybys’ of Saturn’s moons, and travelled 4.9 billion miles! After 20 years of fascinating discoveries, Cassini will finish its mission on September 15, 2017. As it finally plunges into Saturn’s atmosphere, Cassini will continue to do what it has always done, collect exciting new data and help us understand the solar system we call home just a little bit more.

We hope that you have an unprecedented day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
The Cassini-Huygens mission was a joint endeavor by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency.

Cassini also carried the Huygens space probe, which studied Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, in more detail.

The last portion of Cassini’s mission has been called the ‘Grand Finale’.

For more information about Cassini and the Grand Finale, visit:

Why Cassini Matters

Cassini Mission timeline and milestones

 

Mary Watson Whitney

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Did you know that Mary Watson Whitney was born today in 1847? She was an American astronomer. Although she was very talented and had a great understanding of math and astronomy, it was difficult for Mary to find opportunities to learn or teach; at the time, not all universities accepted women as students or professors. Nevertheless, Mary Watson Whitney persevered in her studies and earned her master’s degree and eventually became a professor and director of the observatory at Vassar College. She was an enthusiastic mentor for the students she taught.

We hope that you persevere at school today. You can do hard things. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Mary Watson Whitney was part of the “Hexagon” a group of six astronomy students mentored by Maria Mitchell at Vassar. They were astronomy students, but also felt that they were pioneers and would help to shape the future of higher education for women.

Mary Watson Whitney’s nick name in college was “Pallas Athene, our Goddess of Wisdom”.

When she was about 20, her father and brother passed away. Mary became the acting head of the household and looked after her mother and younger sisters.

In 1869, Mary Watson Whitney and some of her classmates travelled to Burlington, Iowa to view a solar eclipse.
Benjamin Peirce, a mathematician, invited Mary Watson Whitney was lectures to his on advanced mathematics and celestial mechanics at Harvard. Since she was a woman, she could not attend as a student, she attended as his guest. Until Mary knew what kind of reception the students would give her, she would wait outside in the college yard, and enter with Benjamin Peirce. As her classmates were friendly, she felt later that she could arrive on her own.

As she could not register as a former student at colleges, such as Harvard, Mary Watson Whitney gained experience and more education abroad in places like Zurich.

While she was the director, the Vassar Observatory published more than 100 astronomy articles. She studied double stars, variable stars, asteroids, comets, and more.

Star Trek

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Did you know that the first episode of the television show Star Trek was broadcast in 1966? When Star Trek was first presented, it was not very popular; the television show was cancelled after 3 seasons. Over time, it has become one of the most popular and culturally influential television series of all time. The Star Trek franchise now includes 5 additional television series, thirteen movies, video and board games, books, toys, fan conventions and more.

We hope that you boldly go and explore at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
The first episode aired, “Man Trap” was not actually the first produced.

Star Trek has been described as a ‘Space Western’. In some senses, it was a ground-breaking show. Despite its futuristic setting, the show addressed social issues such as racism, sexism, and global war. It was the first American television show to feature a scripted interracial kiss and featured women in non-traditional roles of leadership and science. Star Trek has been mentioned by many scientists, both male and female, as an inspiration and influence in their decision to pursue a career in science.

During the second season of the Original Star Trek series, the show was in danger of being cancelled. Fans of the show started a letter writing campaign to save the show. NBC received more than 100,000 letters of support for “the best science fictions show on the air”. The show was renewed. When the show was threatened with cancellation during the third season, fans tried another letter writing campaign, but to no avail. The decision to cancel Star Trek has been ranked as one of the top 5 ‘TV blunders’.

Isaac Asimov served as an advisor on some of the Star Trek projects. Initially, Asimov wrote a critical essay regarding the scientific accuracy of the show. Roddenberry responded respectfully explaining the production limitations of producing a weekly series. Asimov wrote a follow-up essay stating that despite the scientific inaccuracies, Star Trek was an engaging and intellectually challenging science fiction show. After this exchange, Roddenberry and Asimov became friends.