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Thursday, March 7, 2013

News from Afghanistan. Is the Big Bang Theory Correct? A Posted from our Sister Program in Pennsylvania

Hello Troops,
Our Foundation's proposal to restart the Space Center's after school volunteer program, computer classes, merit badge classes, private missions and camps has been submitted to the Alpine School District Building Rental Committee.  I don't know the turn around time for a decision.  Any news will be posted here on The Troubadour.

I received an email from Brooklyn Welch, one of America's finest, serving her country in Afghanistan as an army field medic.  Brooklyn grew up with the Space Center in her blood; a camper, then a volunteer.  Please take a minute and read her thoughts on the life of Afghan children. 

Mr. W. 

Friends and Family,
We've been stationed at a much bigger fob for a while building guard towers. This has allowed us to interact with a lot of the local children on an almost daily basis. They've taught us some pretty valuable lessons through our broken conversations. When they first came up to talk to us, they greeted us with vulgar language and hand gestures ( obviously taught to them by previous us soldiers), and all around hassled us as we went about our day. We, being the mature
soldiers we are, obviously returned those gestures and language, not about to be outdone in insults by an 8 year old Afghan boy. We traded insults for quite a few hours that first day, until finally one of us went up to the kids and just started talking to them like they would a kid back home. Instantly all the kids stopped throwing insults, and instead shouted questions about life in America, or as a soldier. We started making trades with the kids, and having them run to a local
village to get us nan ( handmade Afghan bread), or kabobs. It's been nice to be able to get to know the local population since we've been here, but it sure made us feel pretty stupid for all the insults, when with a few kind words, we made friends instead.

As we've started to get to know each other, I've learned a lot of interesting things about the culture here. The kids that have been talking to us range in age from 3 up to about 13. They spend their days tending to their herd of goats or sheep, and the oldest boy was very proud to tell us that he had saved up to buy himself 2 goats, and is planning to expand his flock as he grows older. We found out that a
goat her costs about ten dollars, so we all pitched in a few dollars so he could buy his 3rd goat.  I think my mom would just about worry herself to death before she would let me run off at just 3 or 4 years old to tend to my flock all day, miles from home, but that's just common practice here. We also able to learn about the school system in Afghanistan. Pretty much all the local kids, girls included ( which
made us all proud of the work that's been done here in Afghanistan) attend school for one hour a day. In school they only have one subject, English. Had we not come to Afghanistan, those girls would never have been given the chance to go to any kind of school, but they can now. As I've interacted with the kids, its been pretty obvious though that girls and boys have very set places in society here. At
first the kids wouldn't barter with me at all, and instead told me to go get "the man", but they've warmed up to me since. I did entertain them quite a bit when, although all the boys were shouting " no, girls can't use sling shots," I shot a board they had set up as a target with my newly acquired slingshot.
     As we've started to prepare for going home, I've come to realize there are a few things I will miss about this place. The kids, although often with very poor manners, are absolutely adorable. And, there's not a whole lot cuter than a little three year old girl, following a goat around with a stick.  I'm also going to miss the nan. I've gotten pretty addicted to it in my time here. American bread just isn't the same without the extra dirt mixed into the bread here lol

Thanks for all the support while I've been here,

  Space News
Conformal Cyclic Cosmology:   
You've all heard of the Big Bang theory (and I'm not talking about the TV show).  It is the most widely accepted theory of the beginning of our universe.  It essentially states that our universe was created from an infinitely dense, unimaginably hot point, before expanding outwards at incredible speeds in only a fraction of a second (we call that inflation).  

However, not all cosmologists agree with it. Studying the cosmic microwave background radiation, Sir Roger Penrose, who hails from the University of Oxford, has detected several "concentric circles" that he believes were created through black hole collisions during a previous ages in our universe's history.  
This discovery may indicate that our 'current' universe is just one of an infinite number of universes that have come before.  They are created with a Big Bang, they expand, their stars die out and black holes clean everything up like giant cosmic vacuum cleaners.  Take a moment to read the theory for yourself.
 A Posting from Our Sister Center, Dream Flight Adventures, in Pennsylvania.
Of Roots and Branches
by Admiral Starblayze
Come one, come all.  Pull up a chair while I spin a yarn about the roots behind Dream Flight Adventures™ and the other branches that have grown out of it.  When I was just a wee little lad I had the special chance to attend a field trip at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, not too far from my hometown.  It was a magical experience that captured my imagination and never let go.  It was that moment and the events that followed that eventually led to the creation of Dream Flight Adventures today. 
But I was not alone in experiencing the Space Center's magic.  Over 300,000 other kids took a similar journey.  Some were inspired to become teachers, others scientists.  Some have become actors, and some have gone on to work for NASA.  And don't forget the large group of kids who grew up and have started families of their own, telling their own children about the wonders that await them in the far reaches of space and their own imaginations.
As for me, I couldn't get enough of the magic, so I decided to make more of it.  I've spent most of my life learning the skills and jumping through the hoops necessary to create these magical experiences and to share them with a new generation of children, including my own.  That's where Dream Flight Adventures™ came from, in a nutshell.  The full story is much more interesting, but also much longer, and I'm afraid I don't have enough popcorn at the moment.
But did you know that there are others out there who are recreating this magic too?  Oh yes!  There's a new Space Education Center and museum that will be launching in the coming months.  
Aware of the understated power of everyday people, the Space Education Center is filling its rocket tanks with the fuel from KickStarter.  There's also an arts center that is adding a splash of simulator magic to its repertoire.  Both of these—as with the Christa McAuliffe Space Center—are based in Utah, so be sure to pay them a visit the next time you're out west.
As for the rest of the world, who knows where the next magical installation will be?  Maybe it'll be in your own community, and maybe it'll be you who helps make it happen.  It's a magical journey!  We love every minute of it, and we hope you'll join us for the ride!
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