Friday, March 12, 2010
Published March 12, 2010
Two extremely dense stars in an intimate dance are spinning around each other in just 5.4 minutes—making them the fastest known stellar partners in the galaxy, astronomers have confirmed.
To have such a speedy orbit, the stars must be moving at about 310 miles (500 kilometers) a second, the team calculates.
The whirling duo, known as HM Cancri, also has the tightest orbit of any known "binary" star system. (Related: "First Proof 'Tight' Double Suns Can Have Planets.")
Both stars are white dwarfs—the dense, white-hot remnants left behind when sunlike stars die. The stellar corpses are separated by no more than three times the width of Earth.
In such tight quarters, hot gases flow between the two stars, releasing huge amounts of energy."This is the most extreme example of one of these double white dwarf systems we have so far," said study co-author Danny Steeghs of the University of Warwick in the U.K.
Published March 11, 2010
But a new look at Titan's insides reveals even more oddities: Beneath the brittle crust of ice lies a layer of slush. Deeper still is an underground ocean over a solid core of rock and ice.
This new picture is based on measurements of Titan's gravity field. The measurements were made by clocking the speed of the NASA-ESA Cassini orbiter with extreme precision—gaguing how many five-thousands of a millimeter the craft traveled per second.
"The ripples of Titan's gravity gently push and pull the spacecraft. By studying the velocity changes we can calculate the gravity," explained study leader Luciano Iess, of Sapienza University of Rome.
Subtle differences in Titan's pull on Cassini suggest that the materials inside the moon are a mix of ice and rock with no clearly defined rocky layers.
Titan's Icy Insides
Until now, scientists had thought Titan's interior would look a lot like the inside of Jupiter's moon Ganymede: Both bodies are large, have similar densities, and are made of roughly the same materials.
Under Ganymede's thin, icy crust lies a well-defined upper mantle of warmer ice, an inner mantle of silicate, and a molten iron core. (Related blog: "Comets 'Melted' Jupiter's Biggest Moon.")
But the new gravity data suggest that Titan and Ganymede had very different evolutionary histories.
"It is really quite a surprise, and it tells us that [Titan] never got hot enough to separate out into a core, mantle, and crust," said Ulrich Köhler of the German Aerospace Center in Berlin, who wasn't on the study team.
Instead, Iess and colleagues think that Titan's ice and rock remained together in a relatively lukewarm mixture.
This mixture took a leisurely million years or so to settle toward Titan's center—"plenty of time for heat to escape" and for the moon to cool into its present state, Iess said.
The team's calculations support the idea that Titan today has a subsurface liquid ocean from which methane bubbles up through an icy crust, constantly shrouding Titan in thick smog. (Related: "Methane Rain Formed New Lake on Saturn Moon.")
The study's notion of a relatively warm, spongy ice layer beneath a thin, hard outer shell would also explain Titan's lack of major mountains.
"Large mountains can't exist on Titan," Iess said. "They would simply sink into the ice."
Findings published in this week's issue of the journal Science.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
You Imagination should be exercised daily. Your free Imagainarium membership is included in this Blog.
And Your Thought for the Day...
Space. What Doesn't Come with That? So by Definition, the Space Center just about covers everything....... Right?
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
We have a few openings on Friday's Overnight Camp for our Blog Readers and Frequent Flyers. The Special Price for our Blog Readers and Frequent Flyers is $38.00 per person.
Nearly all of the students attending are coming from Cherry Hill Elementary . They will be 5th and 6th graders so I'm limiting the age on this camp. You must be 5 - 7 grade to take one of the five spots.
If you're interested (We have 5 openings) please send the following information.
The first 5 to respond will get it.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
creature is small in stature but has the ability to terrify some adults just by being in its
presence. This creature looks sweet and innocent on the inside but can be carnivorous
in appetite for the taste of an adult. This creature has a name. It is called a 2nd grader.
I finished my last flight of the day. It was a long week. I was tired. I'm still working 70 plus hours a week but do my best to always look presentable. I mean one tries one's best - doesn't one? The last flight was a rough one. The kids were too excited. Running a mission like that can be as painful as sitting in the chair of an unskilled dentist sporting a mouth full of cavities and being told that there is no Novocain. The mission ended at 1:35 P.M. I rushed to help the staff ready the ship for the next missions and left the Voyager.
I stopped in the Briefing Room to check a few things. I glanced at the clock and moved toward the Briefing Room door. I decided to make a stop in the Discovery to grade a few of math papers from my advanced math morning class.
I was stopped in the Briefing Room's doorway by a class of 2nd graders all walking nicely behind their teacher with arms folded and halos somewhat firmly attached to their heads. The procession of ducklings stretched down the hall so I looked for a gap. There is always a gap in these school lines. Just look for the student with the attention
disorder. He is the one looking everywhere except at where the line is going. This student is usually several steps behind the person in front of him. He is also the one that has the little girl in spotless clothes and pearl white skin prodding him from behind telling him to move it or the teacher would be informed of his inattentiveness in no less than 1000 words once they returned to the classroom.
I glanced down the line looking for the gap. There it was, the boy whose eyes were
everywhere, looking with renewed interest at objects and bricks he's seen thousands of times before. Behind him was the girl with the curled up nose and the finger poking him in the back. Yes, I called it right!
I waited for the right moment and darted through the gap. My sudden movement startled the boy and drew his attention. He looked up into my face. I could see his eyes focus. Clarity returned to his face. He was back with us.
"Mister," he said as I walked beside him heading to my math class.
"What can I do for you?" I responded trying to remember if I'd every seen this one
before. My mind drew a blank.
"You really look worn out," he said. His eyes never left mine. I was surprised by his frankness. I slowed down to avoid any further conversation with this child of darkness. I watched from behind as the class moved further ahead.
"Don't you know who that is?" Miss Perfect asked him with a finger in his ribs.
"That is Mister Williamson. He runs the Space Center. You shouldn't of said that.
At that moment I felt the wrinkles widen. I ran my fingers through my hair to try to return it to some form of order. That's when another hair from my head drifted down to the floor.
Gone - the rich head of hair. Now the forest is thinning.
Gone - the pearl white teeth. Now off yellow is the best I can hope for.
Gone - the memory known to be as sharp as a tack. Now I rely on a steady stream
of sticky notes.
Gone - the days my students wanted to be like me. Now they wonder if teaching
really can do this to someone.
It's OK. To be honest, I'm glad I'm where I am. There is a sense of accomplishment in looking worn out. It is the look of a honest life's work. So I wear my "wasted" appearance proudly but have a favor to ask you readers.
Let's not bring the subject up again. Now I'll drift back to sleep in my comfy office chair. Be sure to wake me up for my next mission and REALLY be sure to wake me up when its time to go home.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Click on the link below to read the rest of the article and see the video of the object.
Click Here(Near Earth Object)
Sunday, March 7, 2010
We had a good overnight camp on Friday. The Cherry Hill kids were well behaved and did well in the ships. The staff performed brilliantly as usual.
I was under the weather battling the onset of another cold, and with that another sore throat to take the place of strep throat from two weeks before and the Cold of all Colds I caught just after Christmas. There must be generations of germs lurking at the Space Center. You scrub everything with Lysol wipes only to find you’re getting sick again. I’m thinking more drastic action is required. Perhaps gasoline and a match might do the job :)
I want to thank the staff and volunteers for overlooking my abruptness during the camp. I can be sharp with I’m not feeling well. It’s not easy being hyped and all smiles when all you want to do is crawl into bed. I also should apologize to our programmers. I had a meeting with them Saturday afternoon. They attempted to show me their latest programming creations written in Cocoa for the Galileo. They spoke while I tried to listen. I did my best to look enthusiastic but couldn’t keep my eyes open the whole time. It’s kind of discouraging when you’re proudly showing off your the results of your hard work and your boss keeps drifting away into a stupor.
The Fire Alarm
Saturday morning around 9:15 A.M. Bracken kicked me out of the Briefing Room so he could lead his Odyssey crew on an away mission into the Voyager. I went next door into the school’s library where I had two pillows on the ready for a quick lay down (that’s where I go for the 5 to 15 minutes it takes for either the Odyssey or Phoenix to do their “Landing Parties”).
I layed down near the Library’s door, closed my eyes to recapture a few minutes of shut eye lost during the overnight camp. I usually only get 4-5 hours of sleep, add a full 12 hours on Saturday and I need a few minutes from time to time. Just as I bridged the gap between the real world and unconsciousness I was pulled back to complete alertness by the sound of the school’s fire alarm.
“Bracken!” I shouted, knowing what had happened. Bracken went overboard on smoke from the Voyager’s smoke machine. The smoke from a smoke machine can set off the school’s alarms if you don’t have the smoke detectors covered correctly.
I jumped up and ran into the school’s office. I punched in the code on the alarm box to silence the alarm and that was just the first step. As all the campers filled out of the school in their Space Center uniforms I picked up the phone and dialed Pleasant Grove’s fire department to tell them to ignore the alarm. If I didn’t catch them in time we’d have the entire fire dept, police dept, and most likely the community orchestra on our doorstep making for a very embarrassing explanation.
The next step in canceling an alarm was to call the alarm company and give them the school’s password. After that I was back in the office punching in the code to rearm the sensors throughout the school. After that, I unlocked the central fire panel and complete the three steps to reset the alarm in the building. The reset stopped the flashing fire strobes throughout the building.
I was not a happy Space Center Director. I gave Bracken a few of those special looks a boss has in his inventory of “I’m not happy about this situation” looks.
Bracken, in his defense, apologized and explained that he didn’t use any more smoke than I use during the day missions. Jon appeared with the cracked cover used to cover the detector in the Voyager. It appears the damaged cover let enough smoke through to trigger the alarm.
As much as I hated to do it, I had no choice but to let Bracken off the hook.
- The old Galileo is gone as stated in an earlier post this week. The cafeteria has room enough to hold the field trip classes for lunch. No more feeding them in the Discovery!
- I heard back from the Nigeria Space School. They are interested in sending some of their teachers to the Center to learn about our simulators.
- We had our largest classes in this week from Westfield Elementary. We needed to use the Galileo two days in a row for field trips.
- We did a few repairs on the front of the Odyssey. The new Galileo is having its torpedo launchers installed. Just another cool feature of this new awesome ship.
Well, We start a new week at the Space Center.
Are we ready?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Something new from the Space Center's Imaginarium and Center for Wonder Studies. Buy your Food Lift now at the Space Center's extensive Gift Shop. I have one and can't imagine returning to the old way of eating with a knife, fork and spoon. Come on, our traditional eating utensils were used for hundreds of years. It's time to modernize. We preach the 23rd Century. Well its time to take eating to the technological age.
Imgaination running amok at the Imgainarium. Mine sure does.
Just a quick note that I'll write more about later. The Old Galileo is gone. Last night the purchasers arrived during our 2:00 - 6:00 P.M. field trip. They dismantled the Galileo and removed it piece by piece from the cafeteria (causing damage to the door and door frame I might add).
It is the end of an era. Kind of sad in a way. We wish the old ship well in its future escapades throughout the galaxy and we are happy we have the new Galileo to take its place.
On a brighter note, with the new Galileo gone we can start feeding our field trip students in the lunchroom again. There's room to put down two more tables. No More Using Discovery as a Lunchroom! No more muck on the carpet! No more spilled milk!
I'm smiling about this.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
We have openings for this Friday's Overnight Camp that just came up. The Camps starts at 7:00 P.M. and ends Saturday at 10:00 A.M. Normal cost is $43 per person. Cost for our Blog Readers is $38.00 per person. The Camp is open to anyone between the ages of 10 and 14 years old.
If you'd like to attend please send the following information:
It is very short notice. I'll need your response no later than Friday morning, 9:00 A.M.
By Richard Harris
March 3, 2010
The magnitude 8.8 quake in Chile this weekend apparently changed the length of the day — and shifted the way the Earth wobbles, according to scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Not that anyone noticed. Here's why scientists figure that the Earth changed the way it rotates: It turns out our planet doesn't spin like a perfect top; it actually wobbles a bit.
"The consequence of that is that the rotation pole actually moves, and it moves over the area about the size of a tennis court," says Richard O'Connell at Harvard University. This is called the Chandler wobble. And back in the mid 1970s, O'Connell wrote a paper that showed how big earthquakes keep kicking the Earth and by so doing keep the Earth wobbling.
The Earth's Wandering, Wobbly Axis
Now we know that earthquakes aren't alone in keeping that wobble going. It's also propelled by sloshing ocean waters and by huge air masses like typhoons. All this shifting around can also change the speed at which the Earth spins. And that of course affects the length of a day.
So how much difference can an enormous quake make? Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory figure that the shift caused by Saturday's quake in Chile should have shortened each day on Earth by about a millionth of a second. They also figure that the Earth's wobbly axis should have shifted by about 3 inches within that tennis-court-size area where it tends to wander.
But did it? It's Brian Luzum's job at the U.S. Naval Observatory to keep tabs on the Earth's rotation and orientation. And he says even the best instruments in the world can't measure a change in day length as small as a millionth of a second.
The Wobble Doesn't Show Up In Data
It is possible to measure the Earth's wobble pretty precisely. But considering how many things affect that wobble, it's hard to see the effect of the quake as well.
"So on a day-to-day basis, we actually will see changes on the order of 2 to 3 inches happening every day, and to try to pick out this signal in and among all the other signals, is just not really feasible," Luzum says.
The one hope was that the quake changed the wobble so abruptly that it would show up on the data.
"That's what you'd like to see to give you that eureka moment, but when we do look at the data, no such jump exists," Luzum says.
Theory says it happened, but the observations thus far aren't good enough to back that up.
Melting Ice Also Moved The Earth
But if these planetary effects are trivial on a day-to-day basis, they can really add up over geological time. Adam Maloof at Princeton University notes that ice has been melting over the past 12,000 years, as we come out of the last ice age. That's changing the Earth's orientation by about an inch, each and every year.
"You can imagine that as the ice melts you are redistributing the mass on the surface of the Earth," Maloof says. "So all this water that's caught up in the ice in poles is melting and moving into the oceans at lower latitudes."
And if you go way back in time — like to a period 800 million years ago — this kind of movement was dramatic. Over the course of a few million years, the land mass at the North Pole shifted monumentally: It slid south by 50 degrees.
"That's basically like taking Paris to the equator," Maloof says.
Nobody knows why this happened, though Maloof says one idea is that a huge volcanic plume, like the one that created the Hawaiian Islands, developed near one of the poles and that lopsided mass forced the Earth to rotate.
"It would have had major ramifications for sea level, climate, landscape, equilibrium, all sorts of effects like this," he says.
As for the effect of one quick catastrophic event: It's fair to say the Chilean quake touched hearts around the world more tangibly than it changed the spin of our planet.
Once again we battle ignorance in a never ending quest to move our civilization into the last frontier of space. Today's battle may be our most difficult yet. Arriving at 9:30 A.M. comes the dragon of we feared most of all. A creature we knew existed but dared not speak its name. It is the beast called Massivo - the beast with over 32 heads! Today we see our largest classes yet at the Space Center. Westfield Elementary School in Alpine will be coming with two sixth grade classes of 36 and 37. Tomorrow we have the same.
Classes this big are difficult to control in the classroom and even worse when they're crowded into the Starlab. Their missions take longer to tell because of the extra time it takes to load them into the ships. We open the Galileo for all classes larger than 32. Running the Galileo during the school day is a beast unto itself. The Galileo competes for the crew's attention with the explosion of noise coming from Central School's cafeteria at lunchtime.
With educational budget cuts, and a legislature terrified of raising taxes, our class sizes will grow next year. Classes larger than 32 will become the norm making the teacher's job of individualized education impossible. Education suffers thus shortchanging our kids future. Its called stack 'em deep and teach 'em cheap.
We will make do at the Space Center as we continue to provide the best field trip in the State of Utah (at least according to the majority of teachers and students that attend).
I want to thank you volunteers and staff for your continued support of the program. I want to thank your parents for their support by letting you work and the miles driven each month transporting you back and forth. We couldn't do what we do without you and all the donated hours given to the Center and our visiting guests.
I want to thank the staff for always going the extra mile even on very little pay.
Now, its to work
Oh, I almost forgot to include this from the Space Center's Institute of Wonder. Another picture from the Imaginarium.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I thought at some point in my life I could honestly say that "I've seen it all." Well Perhaps today is that day........Ridiculous.
Of course wouldn't we all want a potty that flushed automatically and gave you a good cheer at the end? You know, a good self esteem boost issued periodically throughout the day?
P.S. this was one of those Facebook ads found on my page. Is Facebook zeroing in on my age or did they pull this from my years at BYU.....hmmmmm?
Saturday, February 27, 2010
I’ve got an unusual request to send out to our faithful blog readers. Don’t think I’ve lost my timid grasp on reality and don’t think I’ve converted to the dark arts when I ask this one thing....... how do I break the spell of three black cat crossings?
A black cat darted in front of me two weeks ago on my walk to work. It ran into the road, stopped, and watched me pass before going on its way. I thought nothing of it, except to remember a passing black cat meant bad luck. Not being of the suspicious kind, and not having a pinch of salt to toss over my shoulder to break the feline curse, I lodged the uneasiness into my brain’s X File and changed musical selections on my ipod.
Later that afternoon the same black cat appeared in the road on my walk home. It darted right in front of me. The whole thing was repeated the next day making a total of four black cat encounters. I felt and smelt a change in the air. The morning’s cool was scented with the smell of stale bread.
The Fates on Olympus High were bored and the Space Center was their remedy. Don't you hate being the Fates cure for boredom? I know we aren't the only ones they like to pester.
“OK Fortuna, let's see if we can work this out,” I said in sincerity. “Our small string of good luck shouldn’t have caught your eye. Look at everyone else that's had a long trail of success lately. The stock market has gone up. Play with them. Look at the Olympics! Many of those athletes are blessed with good luck. Wouldn’t they be better amusement for your scheming than a collection of unremarkable mortals in Pleasant Grove Utah with a few space ship simulators? Hardly worthy of your time, is it?”
The smell took a more acidic smell. I knew we’d had our chips. The Fates, like the fictional Death Eaters, were swarming. The trumpets from Olympus High were sounding the alert to gather the Gods. Fortuna was entertaining and this was a show not to be missed.
The next Tuesday I woke with a high fever and strep throat. The first card was played. I went to work, called my Doctor and pushed through the day rationing my swallowing.
The field trip arrived. We were one flight director short. An alarm clock failed to ring, or so we were told. I had a Galileo crew and no one to take the mission. A second card was played. Bracken Funk, a mere mortal with super human characteristics, was there to help in the Voyager. He’d had his gall bladder removed three days earlier and was living on a pain killers. I told him he would have to jump in and fly the Galileo. He jumped to his feet and went into action, clutching his side all the while.
I struggled through my crew's training, then started the mission. Part way through Midnight Rescue, just as the crew beamed the repairman off the satellite, the Voyager’s main projector bulb blew out. The large Tactical Screen went black. I heard the third card hit the table. Fortuna was proud of what she’d accomplished in just a few short hours. I ordered the spare projector pulled from storage. It was quickly mounted and the mission progressed. The crew was unaware of any problem. I told them, using the cover of my Tex character, that the intruder blew out the Tactical screen with his phaser. It fit perfectly into the story.
At the end of the mission the principal entered the control room.
“Two things,” she said irately. “One, I found this card out on the carpet.” She tossed the fourth card onto the bench beside me. “Clever,” I thought. The Fates used the principal to do their dirty work.
“Secondly, I’m assuming this is yours,” she said producing one of the Magellan’s Star War’s Blasters. She politely chewed me out for leaving it out so one of the school’s students could find it. She reminded me of the school’s ban on all types of weapons. Normally that isn’t a problem. Our phaser looks like phasers, not any kind of real weapon, but the Magellan's phasers are dark and could be mistaken for something sort of real, and I mean sort of with a stretch of the imagination. I apologised and promised it wouldn’t happen again.
A day later my Lincoln Battlestar’s “Service Engine Soon” light came on and the engine started doing funny things. A mechanic described it as ‘chugging’ the last time it happened. I popped the hood to see what my mechanically useless eyes could find. There, near the something or another, I found a fifth playing card lodged tightly near the battery. Its removal changed nothing. It was just a memento from my band of Olympic admirers that I hadn’t been forgotten. Luckily I walk to school, so I left the car in the garage. Mrs. Houston’s son Matt came to pick it up to work on it.
And now we fast forward to today. For a reason unknown to any of us, Fortuna and the Fates lost interest in us for a couple of days. Things at the Center were fairly normal until this afternoon.
The phone range at 1:00 P.M. It was a dad wanting to confirming his son’s 2:30 P.M. mission in the Voyager. I told him the Voyager already had a 2:30 P.M. mission booked by another group. That’s when it all hit the fan. Of course, according to them, it was our fault the reservation was wrong. I had a mother fit to be tied and a crying boy heard loudly and clearly over the phone. I was sure she’d written the time incorrectly in her planner but arguing the point was pointless. I went to Bracken, my miracle worker, and asked if he would be gracious enough to stay this evening and run a special mission just for their group. He said yes. I looked down and found the Jack of Hearts on my planning book. I took the card, ripped it into dozens of pieces and tossed them into the trash. I know you’re thinking that was bold and foolish thing to do but it was done, the Fates be damned.
At 3:00 P.M. the ships were well into their afternoon missions. In the school's front door appeared another group. The mother apologized for being 30 minutes late. They’d driven down from Bountiful for a birthday party and had gotten lost in American Fork. I told her she didn’t have a reservation. We we already had a group in the Odyssey. I checked the reservation book. She wasn’t there. Her son explained he emailed a reservation on February 3rd. He admitted he hadn't gotten a confirmation. I showed them an email I sent telling him the Odyssey wasn’t available. He said he didn’t get the email. There was nothing I could do for this group. They left very disappointed. Many of the boys were angry, considering their Saturday was ruined with all the travel time from Bountiful to Pleasant Grove and back. It was Fortuna’s sixth card.
“Well played, well played,” I mumbled to myself as the group left.
The seventh card struck half way through the Voyager’s 2:30 P.M. mission. The left Security Computer failed in the middle of the mission. It was a frantic rush to get that computer swapped out with a spare during the few minutes between the Saturday afternoon mission and the special mission Bracken was running for the upset earlier group. We got the computer in place shielded by a sheet of black plastic when it became apparent it wasn’t seeing the network. After several minutes we realized I’d not plugged the ethernet cord into the computer. We took the desk apart, connect the ethernet cord and put it all back together again while the crew trained for their mission.
Fortuna’s final card for the day hit the school instead of the Space Center. At 5:30 P.M. Roger, the school’s custodian, showed me the school’s large walk in refrigerator’s compressor was bad. The temperature in the fridge was 55 degrees! All the food for next week’s school lunches would spoil. We spent an hour on possible solutions, finally settling on moving as much of the food into the school's side by side refrigerators. They are at the school as I type working on other solutions.
I’d had enough of Fortuna’s cards. I drove home. The phone was ringing as I walked into the kitchen. It was Bracken.
“This is Bracken. The Voyager’s sound system just died in mid mission. What do I do now?”
I sat in my chair. “So, this is how we are playing this out,” I mumbled. I told Bracken to swap mics and cables with another ship. He did. The sound system was resurrected.
It is now 8:00 P.M. on Saturday night. We are done for the week. I’m waiting to hear from Bracken on the day’s final report.
I’m hoping the Fates and Fortuna will take next week and realize we are all such small fish in the grand scheme of things and leave us alone. Someone else - perhaps even you - deserve their attention. I wish them on you. In fact, as I close this post, I’m going to leave my laptop open to my email contacts page. Perhaps your name will tickle their fancy. Beware of black cats and be cautious if the smell around you resembles moldy bread. If so, don’t call me! Pass it forward my friend. Pass it forward.
P.S. I must thank the following for going above and beyond the call of duty this week and saving everyone’s bacon.
Bracken Funk. What can I say. He’s a trooper, working right out of surgery. An inspiration to everyone at the Center.
Alex Anderson. Great Set Director and all around member of the Indispensable Club.
Jon Parker. Another member of our illustrious Indispensable Club. He is always willing to stay and do whatever needs to be done to keep the Center up and running AND he always finds time to keep my water bottle full of ice cold water. Thanks Jon.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I remember Julie well. She is an exceptional student and lifetime fan of the Space Center. She wrote this essay for her Honor's Inquire Class and sent it along to me to share.
I want to thank Julie for her kind words, and praise her for her goals and dedication to the exploration of Space. Space is the final frontier. It is our future. It draws us to it. You feel its appeal every time you step outside and stare into the night sky wondering what's out there and if they know we are here.
The Space Center does its part using science and science fiction to inspire people to dream big then achieve. The future begins in our imaginations. Our goals is to get those dreams and ideas out of our minds and into the real world using education and good old hard work.
And Now Julie's Essay...
Space = The Passion and Focus of My Life
Julie Anna Sanchez
Ever enchanted by the beauty of the sky, my life has taught me to dream of beyond. From some of my earliest memories of watching the stars at night, to the time when I discovered my passion, to my quest to become a rocket scientist, I have focused myself upon the deep beauties and mysteries that space holds for me.
I can remember that as I was growing up, my parents would take me out of the city to look at the sky where there is little light pollution to block out the stars. I was enchanted by the sky even then, and on long trips in the car at night, I would squish my head as close to the window as possible in order to watch the sky as we drove. I would look for shooting stars, and I always made a wish on the first star that I saw each night.
In my early childhood, I was able to visit the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City. I loved watching the productions about the universe, and the museum upstairs was my favorite part of the experience because I was able to interact with science on a personal level. I have a natural ability to understand math and science. My parents tell me that I learned my multiplication tables when I was three years old; they were trying to teach them to my older brother and I just picked them up by watching them practice with him. Math and science were always my favorite subjects, and I couldn’t get enough of them.
In the fifth grade, my school was privileged to take a field trip to the Christa McAullife Space Education Center located in Pleasant Grove, Utah. The Space Center is a place where children are put into Star Trek type simulators and they set off on a “dangerous” mission. It is the most interactive learning environment I have ever seen; we learned about space, ethics, hard work, responsibility, current events, and teamwork all at once. I became enthralled with the Space Center and returned for summer camps and overnighters as often as time and money would allow. My experience as a 5th grade Damage Control Officer on the bridge of a starship was the turning point of my life. Before my visit to the space center, I was a nerdy child who liked math and science. After my visit to the space center, I was a gifted child whose life ambition was to do something in the space field. I had an outlet for all my hopes and dreams. I reached for the stars and the moon with the belief that one day I would touch them. I had found my passion.
Space rapidly became my focus, even approaching the level of an obsession. I watched, read, or viewed as much material as I could find about my chosen field as I possibly could. I watched Star Trek, read Isaac Asimov, researched space in Encyclopedias, and learned as much as I could about NASA. Many of my research papers for school had something to do with Space; I’ve written about Werner von Braun and the Russian Space Program. I got my own telescope for my birthday, and I started to find fascinating objects in the night sky.
I had begun researching space careers. Astronaut, astronomer, rocket scientist, and astrophysicist - I had so many choices. I gradually learned that some of these fields were not for me. I realized very soon into my explorations of space that I didn’t want to be an astronaut. However, I do want to build rockets, I want to work at mission control, and be in charge of an experiment or project in space. I want to be a part of the very large team of space explorers. Most people I meet never seem to understand this. When they learn of my love for all things in the heavens above, they immediately assume that my goal is to become an astronaut. When I tell them that I don’t actually want to be the one to journey into the beyond, but rather work on the project here below, they get confused or think that I’m a coward. People, it seems, can’t fathom the idea of a space nut who doesn’t want to be an astronaut. Yet, here I am. I dream of adventure, challenges, and marvels. For me, rocketry is the end, or beginning, of all my hopes and dreams.
I continued to attend the Space Center, finally achieving the rank of Fleet Admiral and becoming a member of the Order of the Federation. I also attended Astro Camp in Ogden, Utah and a telescope camp at the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City, Utah where I assembled my own telescope (a six inch Dobsonian Orion Telescope). I was able to visit the Marshall Space and Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and I continued to visit the Clark Planetarium regularly. In all my visits and encounters with people who work with space, I became even more determined to become a rocket scientist myself.
During my secondary education, I took as many math and science classes as I possibly could. I attended the Math Circle at the University of Utah, and mathematics quickly became my best subject. For a brief time, I envisioned myself becoming a math teacher, but after a summer working at a space camp, I knew that my passion is space and that any job in a field not related to the celestial sphere would not be the best choice of career for me. I worked at an amazing place called iWorld’s Simulations, located in Murray, Utah. It was a spin off from the Space Center in Pleasant Grove. I worked closely with the children in the story telling process. The next summer, I attended the Summer Mathematics program for High School Students at the University of Utah. I learned about number theory and cryptography. The summer after I graduated from high school, I worked at Astro Camp. I had an amazing summer where I learned even more about space, because I was teaching it. We also visited many space/aerospace places such as Hill Air Force Base and ATK. We talked to astronauts, designed amusement parks, and ran simulators where the kids got to experience what it would be like to be an astronaut. Now heading into college, I know that Space is my future.
I know that I am going to touch the heavens one day. I want to work on the Constellation Program established by NASA. I want to design a rocket so powerful and awesome that when I look at it, I simply say, “Wow.” I want to be a part of an effort to colonize the moon, and eventually travel there myself to continue working on rocketry from a new perspective. My life focuses on space, and this highlight and obsession brings me great joy.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
One of Life's Little Secrets. Perhaps What Einstien was looking for. The One Natural Law that Governs all Others.
What you see here are the Two Rings that Rule Them All. I challenge you to become the Lord of these Rings. This Challenge will take you to far away places as you overcome enormous obstacles in your quest to see your dreams fulfilled. And in that final and last Goodnight, you'll rest knowing you did everything you could to make the world a better place because you were here.
Now, Go Take on the Day. And while you're doing that I've got two classes of Space Knights soon to arrive on yellow steeds to take on the Evil and Dark Lord Chancellor of New Earth.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I’m happy to report the following mission calls.
1. Bradyn Lystrup (Current Voyager Flight Director) received a call to serve an LDS mission to Boston.
2. Taylor Thomas (Galileo Flight Director) received an LDS mission call to the Chile Santiago Mission.
3. Spencer Robinson (Space Center Maintenance) received an LDS mission call to serve in the Macon Georgia Mission.
4. Kevin Roberts (Phoenix Flight Director and Magellan Supervisor) received an LDS mission call to serve in the Independence, MO Mission.
These are four outstanding young men. Congratulations!
Spenser Dauwalder, a Voyager Supervisor, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from Coca Cola. One of the reasons for receiving the award was his work at the Space Center. Spenser travels to Georgia in two weeks to compete for an additional $20,000 scholarship from Coke.
Spenser has been accepted into Westminster College. He begins his studies in September. He will be leaving the Space Center this summer.
Good Luck Spenser!
A Nigerian Partnership
I received an email this week from a Space School in Nigeria. Their outreach director found us on the internet. He is interested in some form of partnership. He is particularly interested in our simulators. I’ve included the email in this post. I’ve also included a few pictures from their school and program.
I got the link to your site through one of the documents mailed to me by a
friend.After going through your site I saw that The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center is poised and well positioned to partner with us.
I am a Scientific/Outreach Officer at African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education-English, located inside Obafemi Awolowo University Campus,Ile-ife, Nigeria (ARCSSTE-E is affiliated to the United Nations). We are into capacity building in the area of space science and technology as well as outreach activities for the schools. I am writing to inquire if your centre will be interested to collaborate with us in reaching out to the young ones in the area of space science and technology.
We have been doing this for the past few years and I believe your input based on your numerous experience will further assist us in achieveing our
objectives. I am actually very interested in the simulation aspect of your programmes which I believe must have thrilled your visitors.
As a space enthusiast and a staff of ARCSSTE-E I love to inspire people about space science and its benefits.I interact with young people almost
on daily basis and have found out that the natural tendency explore [the
universe] have been part of all of us.
I have been priviledged to help design instructional materials from locally resourced materials on space science education for students right from primary to the tertiary level. I have also designed and constructed space education kits for students on excursion as well as those that come for workshops and seminars.I also create and use animations to drive home
space points in some of our programmes. I have helped to fabricate mockups (Ariane, Space Shuttle, Galileo satellite, ISRO, astronauts, etc.) and have acted as the curator for our mini space museum.
I believe it is crucial for the children to have the right foundation [in space science and technology] and get it right now hence the need to reach out to them in a proper manner that is globally accepted.
I have included few pictures of some of our centre's activities in the area of space science education outreach, some objects in our space museum as well as a computer generated image of our new space museum (under
Monday, February 22, 2010
Yes friends, I've finally found the entrance to that place you go to when you aren't being a good boy or girl, when you're not eating your peas and carrots, when you're not brushing your teeth AND most importantly - not turning your homework in on time. You know, THAT place. Didn't have the courage to explore any further. The entrance was enough for me. I think it was the disturbing smells and the faint sounds of ........ unhappiness.
P.S. I'm zeroing in on the OTHER place. Haven't quite gotten there yet. I still have aways to go; 12 KM in fact. A bit leery to continue though. That 'No Exit' is giving me cause for concern. Perhaps I'll walk up to the gates and peer in. You know, check out the landscape. I'll let you know when I get there. Got my lunch packed and a full thermos. My walking shoes are in good shape so...... I'm off.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
This is it. The Trailer is released for the new mission under development for this summer's Leadership Camp.
Thanks to everyone on our staff who wrote, filmed, starred, edited and..and... well the staff did the whole thing. Not bad for a bunch of high school students! Yes, the Space Center has the best staff and volunteers in the worl......no, I'm going to say GALAXY!
See YOU this summer. Sign up for camp now. Ages 10-14 Overnight Camp, EdVenture Camp, Ultimate Camp, Day Camp. Ages 15-17 Leadership Camp.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
It was Monday evening. I was laying in bed enjoying my nightly dose of British Comedies, laughing at something Rene said in Allo’ Allo’ when a swallow brought pain. The next morning my throat and the Olympic flame in Vancouver had one thing in common - FLAME! I knew that pain. It was the pain all teachers know - Strep Throat! Most likely passed to me from some small human visitor to the Space Center who sneezed in my face or covered his stations with droplets of mucus swimming with the bacteria.
I called my doctor who was kind enough to squeeze me in for a check up. My temperature was 102.5 degrees.
“There’s a nice pus pocket,” he said in reference to one of my tonsils. I nodded. I didn’t need him to tell me my throat was seething in strep.
“Hows your gag reflex?” he asked.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, mine is 15,” I replied. Meaning I start gagging as the cotton swab passes my front teeth. “I’ll be quick about it then,” he replied.
Out came this elongated swab on a wooden stick nearly long enough to be used as a fireplace match. I closed my eyes thinking that if I didn’t see it entering my mouth I wouldn’t start gagging. It was a good strategy. I was find until the cotton came in contact with the pus pocket.
“Sorry, Sorry, Sorry but I need to be sure to get enough,” he explained in believable sympathy.
He put the swab into the autotester, put in a drop or two of some magical liquid and, as if by magic, a red + appeared in the window. I left with a prescription of some form of penicillin I couldn’t pronounce but was gratefully for nevertheless. I didn’t spare the gasoline as I raced to Smith RX in Pleasant Grove to fill the prescription. I couldn’t get that first pill into my mouth fast enough.
Now, a confession of my stupidity. I had this strange delusion that once that adsuthflwohgjriuieoeillin (or whatever it was) entered my blood stream those little strep bacteria would sound a full scale retreat. I sat in my car waiting for relief. I drove back to the school, worked on a few things, drove home and still nothing. I wondered if Smith’s Drug had pawned a bad batch of the stuff on to me. Either that or my medicine was years past its sell by date.
I woke up Wednesday morning feeling just as bad. Then the worry set in. I just knew, using my imagination as proof, that my doctor had misdiagnosed my infection. Instead of strep, I convinced myself I had that flesh eating staff infection that kills in a day or two. It had taken root in my tonsils and was in conference, planning a break into the main artery that supplied my brain with blood. I could almost hear the oooAhhhh’s from the little marine bacteria as they gathered along the artery wall, waiting for the breech and invasion. Yes, all of this was passing through my mind as I sat at the Kitchen bar struggling to swallow spoonfuls of cottage cheese.
I continued to take my dkgjrufkdlmvnfjejecillin and went to work. All day I waited to hear the faint sound of a bugle as millions those little staffs got the order to “ATTACK”. Strangely enough, around 6:00 P.M. I started feeling a bit better. I was able to eat a semi normal supper of soup and ice cream. At bed time I felt good enough to laugh at Rene in Allo’ Allo’, my 10:30 P.M. nightly stop on Channel 7.
This morning found me feeling somewhat better. The fever is gone but my throat still hurts like the dickens. The good news is that I’m getting a bit better as each day passes.
I want to thank the staff of the Space Center for being kind enough to help me work through this illness. I’ve not taken a sick day in all my 27 years of teaching school. The reason is simple. During my actual teaching years taking a sick day was more painful than coming in not feeling well. You should try planning for a sub. You wouldn’t like it either. And, to be honest, I was always lucky enough not get ill enough to required absolute bed rest.
So, why don’t I take a sick day today? I’m not teaching school any longer. Well, If I take a sick day, then we have to cancel a field trip. Can you imagine calling a teacher and telling her that her field trip was canceled - on the morning of the trip!?
She’s standing there with her kids bouncing off the ceiling in excitement, lunches are delivered from the cafeteria and everything is set to go and suddenly its called off. Where will I put her? Every day on the calendar is booked with field trips. Those two classes would be out for the year! That is something I can’t do.
The solution is to train our younger flight directors to run the daytime field trip missions so I have someone that can fill in for me. Believe me, I’m working on that. That is a story for another post.
Anyway, I’m feeling somewhat better and happy to see everyone again. Please do me a favor though. When you come in to work, volunteer or go on a mission sometime during the next day or two, please do not step away from me in horror. I may look like warmed over death but doesn’t that sum up my appearance most days?
Strep Throat has got me down. Hopefully I'll be back to 100% in a day or two. Until then I ask the staff and volunteers to be understanding and the campers to be kind. Until I'm feeling up to writing more I share this with you. Watch this and never have to take a history class again :)
P.S. the creator says it was all done with a pen and 21000 pages in a flip book! Now that IS having too much time on your hands.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I sat in a large oak chair surrounded by our troupe of Troubadours called from their rehearsals to hear news from the north. Once gathered I begged attention and spoke.
"My Friends, sickness has been our companion these past few weeks. We all remember our Sainted Sheila once stood on death's door." Lady Sheila stood from her chair to acknowledge my words. She nodded in appreciation to her fellow Troubadours for their visits, prayers and the candles lit in the Castle's chapel for her recovery.
"Are we not glad she is with us and in good spirits? How fortunate we are the door did not open. Our Lady Lorraine, again here present, still recovers from a terrible undeserved blight but assures me, and all assembled, that she is better each and ever day. I fear Misfortune has called upon us and found a home. The proof of which came in a parchment delivered on the Friday."
I cleared my throat to continue to speak. A few of our younger Troubadours, having forgotten their manners, were quickly silenced by Lady Brittney so I could continue.
"Master Bracken has taken to his bed in the village of Logan four days by carriage to the north. This news came by his own hand, written on parchment, and delivered to the castle by a herald, sleepless these past two nights. The parchment is written in Master Bracken's own hand, shaken I can see from pain."
I stopped talking to try to read Bracken's marks. It became apparent I couldn't. I needed more light than the Great Hall's fire could provide. "Let us all vacate the Hall for the intimacy and natural sun light in the library," I suggested. All stood, exited the Hall, and ascended the stone staircase to the warm library above.
Once seated, our band of wintering Troubadours fell silent about me as I read Master Bracken's own words:
I awoke with great pain radiating from my lower side giving such discomfort as to cause me to sound an alarm. A doctor was presently called. His lateness in arriving due was the fault of a peasant suffering from a similar complaint. My suffering steadily increased as I awaited the physician. My Grandmother administered herbs. They took no effect. I thought of using spirits but thought the better of it not knowing how it would affect my condition. To occupy my mind I took quill and parchment to write this letter. I stop now, the physician has arrived.I stopped reading. The sun’s disk was being consumed by the far away hills. Lady Lorraine lit a candle and held it close so I could continue.
“Oh do proceed,” Lady Emily commanded. It is true she and Bracken were good friends and masters of our trade.
“Yes, please do,” Lady Stacy added from behind the younger members of our troupe who sat on the stone floor before me.
“I shall presently continue once my failing eyes grow accustom to the light,” I said.
“Tis a wonder he has eyesight at all considering his advanced age,” spoke Master Merryweather just out of arms reach to my left.
“Yes, tis true Master Spencer but pray you not forget your desire for payment from the Nobleman’s purse. Your apprenticeship is nearing completion. Statements such as the one just spoken might give me pause in offering a recommendation on your behalf.”
“I beg forgiveness,” the young master quickly added.
“Shall we continue?” I inquired, to which all spoke to the affirmative.
The physician bid adieu after bleeding me from my right foot. The pain, he testifies, is the result of bad blood, come from my long journey’s from the Castle to this village. I am under orders to remain until well enough to travel. I send this news by noble herald in hopes of receiving a parchment in return to cheer my dark mood. Yours in Service. Bracken.I folded the parchment as all stood to depart to their rooms and continued rehearsals for our travelling summer season soon to start before the summer solstice.
“Wait,” I said. My words startled Master Zac, causing him to stumble over the outstretched legs of young Master Luis who had fallen asleep during the reading. “I beg your pardon but I've forgotten other news. Presently return and pray I don't forget my head on the morrow.”
Our troupe reassembled. Once settled, I turned their attention to Master Bradyn.
“Master Bradyn received a letter from the Lord Bishop Commanding him to leave our troupe in April. He will be taking Holy Orders and joining a band of travelling Friars for the northern city of Boston. I’m sure all will join me in applause for our fellow Troubadour as he prepares to embark on this service to the Lord’s children.”
On my command all stood, young and old alike, to applaud Master Bradyn’s righteous desires. Master Braydn jumped to the top of a nearby oak table and bowed deeply as if stood before the Lord of the Manor himself.
“Now return to your rehearsals," I said in dismissing the gathering. "Light your fires for the night grows cold. A runner will summon you for dinner in the cookhouse. Tonight we feast on rabbit and bread. I shall see you all presently.”
The room emptied. I remained to stand by the large window overlooking the castle’s courtyard. Twilight blew the shadows away leaving an increasing darkness in their wake. It would be night soon, then supper and bed. The sabbath dawns on the morrow.