Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Discovery's Shuttle. Summer Çamp. Space and Science News. You Are Not the Person You Were. Thoughts

Hello Troops,

The Discovery Space Center in Pleasant Grove has a space shuttle of their own!  The Discovery shuttle rides atop a trailer surrounded with information on the Center and its programs.  The shuttle isn't a static display.  It is intended to be driven around our Utah County.  Be sure to give the Discovery Shuttle a honk if you see it along the road.  Let's do what we can to help our friends at Discovery make the people of Utah County aware of this new, awesome experience.

Where are the Summer Space Center Camps?

The Discovery Space Center
The Discovery Space Center is registering people for its summer space camps.  These camps are patterned after the summer camps the Space Center once offered.  You can choose an Overnight Camp, a 48 Hour Camp, an EdVenture Camp, a Leadership Camp or a Day Camp.  Prices have never been this low, so you'll want to book your camp right away.  Visit the Discovery Space Center's web site for more information:

The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center
The CMSEC hasn't posted a summer camp schedule as of today.  The Space Center closed for renovations last August.  It reopened for field trips only in February.  Mr. Williamson, the Space Center's founder and director, will be retiring from the Alpine School District on May 30th to take a new position as Director of the Farpoint Institute at the Renaissance Academy in Lehi.

Mr. Williamson's Farpoint Station, will be built during the 2013-2014 school year at the Renaissance Academy (charter school) in Lehi.  It will be part of a new junior high school building.  Farpoint will offer field trips, camps, private missions and multiple volunteer opportunities.  Visit Farpoint's website for more details on classes and Simlabs you can take now:

Space and Science News
How far away is the moon, in scale?
First, watch this video. Oh come on... it's less than 2 minutes. You'll like it, I promise 

In other words, if the Earth is a basketball, does a tennis ball get the size of the Moon right?
The Earth is 12,740 km (7900 miles) across, and the Moon 3474 km (2150 miles) in diameter, for a ratio of 3.7.

A standard NBA basketball is 24 cm (9.4 inches) in diameter, and a tennis ball 6.7 cm (2.6 inches), for a ratio of 3.6. Pretty good! I’ll have to remember that; it’s pretty useful.  So how far away would a tennis ball Moon have to be from the basketball Earth to be to scale? On average the moon is 380,000 km (235,000 miles) from the Earth, a distance of about 110 times its own diameter. A tennis ball would then have to be 110 x 6.7 cm = 7.37 meters (about 24 feet) from the basketball. That’s a lot farther than most people would think!

Herschel space telescope finishes mission

Europe's billion-euro Herschel space observatory has ended its mission to image the far-infrared Universe.

Europe's flagship space telescope has stopped working.  The billion-euro Herschel observatory has run out of the liquid helium needed to keep its instruments and detectors at their ultra-low functioning temperature.  This equipment has now warmed, meaning the telescope cannot see the sky.

Herschel, which was sensitive to far-infrared and sub-millimetre light, was launched in 2009 to study the birth of stars and the evolution of galaxies.  Its 3.5m mirror and three state-of-the-art instruments made it the most powerful observatory of its kind ever put in space.  The end of operations is not a surprise. Astronomers always knew the helium store on board would be a time-limiting factor.

The Voice of Alexander Graham Bell, Recorded in 1886

I thought this was exceptionally cool:

Voice of Alexander Graham Bell Heard in Recovered Audio Recording
The recording, a wax-and-cardboard disc, contains the voice of Bell counting aloud, rattling off different percentages and dollar figures, and stating his name, date and address.
And to think; we're still using discs 128 years later.  Alex, old boy, you were way ahead of the curve.
Innovation : Solar Butterfly

These "Light Birds" harness the solar energy and store the power for a rainy day – meaning times when there is an electric outage, the lamp blooms to full LED force giving you illumination during dark times.

Credit : Jang Eun Hyuk

The Supernova of 1006

In the spring of the year 1006, Earth's sky was drastically altered by the appearance of a supernova that was brighter than the entire combined night sky. Mentioned in historical records throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America, this supernova was likely bright enough to be visible during daylight hours, with some accounts even claiming it cast its own shadows. Now, 1007 years later, this exploded star doesn't look quite so impressive.

This supernova remnant was first identified as the 1006 object back in 1965. While these remnants belong to what was briefly the most impressive guest star in human history, second only in relative brightness to our own Sun, these days the remains are mostly visible only in the X-ray spectrum.

 The expanding debris cloud from the stellar explosion, found in the southerly constellation the Wolf (Lupus), still puts on a cosmic light show across the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, the above image results from three colors of X-rays taken by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory. Now known as the SN 1006 supernova remnant, the debris cloud appears to be about 60 light-years across and is understood to represent the remains of a white dwarf star. Part of a binary star system, the compact white dwarf gradually captured material from its companion star. The buildup in mass finally triggered a thermonuclear explosion that destroyed the dwarf star. Because the distance to the supernova remnant is about 7,000 light-years, that explosion actually happened 7,000 years before the light reached Earth in 1006. Shockwaves in the remnant accelerate particles to extreme energies and are thought to be a source of the mysterious cosmic rays.   From i09

Very Little, if Anything, Remains of the Person You Once Were.  Very Freaky......

There is some debate about this, but the conscience is that hardly anything of that person you once were still remains, except for the memories that person created.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Farpoint Station Log Update. Space and Science News. The Imaginarium

Farpoint Station.  Destination Kepler 62e.
Station Log:  04282013

I met with Fleet Command at Earth's Renaissance Station Friday afternoon.  We had a good discussion on the organization of the soon to be constructed Farpoint Station and its final deployment at Kepler 62e.

The designing and building of a Fleet Station and her starships is a monumental task.  We are in the beginning stages of that process which starts with Fleet Command giving final approval.  Fleet accountants step in next and work out the layers and layers of financing, with the number one question being, where will the money come from for a combined Fleet / Fleet Science Station like Farpoint?

Fleet architects are the next ones to get involved.  They will design the starships assigned to the station, and the station itself, whose location from Earth will be encapsulated in its name - Farpoint; making Farpoint Station the furthest Fleet Station from Earth.  It will sit at the border between explored and unexplored space.  Farpoint will be built in space, in sections at Earth's Renaissance Fleet Station.  Finished modules will be transported by cargo carrier into orbit of Kepler 62e and assembled.   

The Troubadour will be there every step of the way, reporting on the imagineering, design, fund raising, construction and deployment of Farpoint Station.  No other space center starship / starbase has been documented so throughly.  We want YOU to be invovled, every step of the way.  Are you ready for the journey?

Space and Science News

          Potential Diabetes Breakthrough


The hormone, called betatrophin, causes mice to produce insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells at up to 30 times the normal rate. The new beta cells only produce insulin when called for by the body, offering the potential for the natural regulation of insulin and a great reduction in the complications associated with diabetes, the leading medical cause of amputations and non-genetic loss of vision.
The researchers who discovered betatrophin, HSCI Co-Director Doug Melton and postdoctoral fellow Peng Yi, caution that much work remains to be done before it could be used as a treatment in humans. But the results of their work, which was supported in large part by a federal research grant, already have attracted the attention of drug manufacturers.  Read More

The Imaginarium
Are you making the ordinary, extraordinary?  If not, you don't deserve to see what follows......

A boy, his imagination, and a need for a garden walkway.

A cool bridge.  This is an example of making the ordinary, extraordinary.

A soon to be built building in Dubai.
Design on steroids!

Working with minatures.

An amazing fire pit.
Imagination : A

You'll need to do this one sitting by a window.

Kingdom Wars
(Star Wars in Latin)

Story of my life as a math teacher :(

Typical science class

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Teaching at Renaissance. The Staff Wanted to Remove Me from My Head, A Post from the Past. Space News. The Imaginarium

Hello Troops,
I met with the director of Renaissance Academy yesterday and discussed several issues regarding the Farpoint project.   We discussed my teaching assignment at the school and the time commitment required to run a classroom and create the simulator / STEM curriculum.  The last time I taught full time and started a Space Center was way back in 1989/90 when the originial Space Center was built at Central School.  That was a rough year both mentally and physically; I was burning the candle at both ends.  This time around should be better; I've got plenty of help from a talented board of directors and the support from the old Space Center staff and volunteers.

Have you thought about attending school at Renaissance?  It is a kindergarten - ninth grade charter school.  Imagine being a student at a Space Center school.  Imagine going into the simulators for missions lasting months instead of hours.  Imagine taking the mission back into your classroom and working through the issues and problems with your teachers.  Imagine attending junior high at a school with a small student body, where you can get one on one attention.  Renaissance Academy is putting students on its waiting list right now.  So, if you're not happy at your present school, consider making a change. Who knows, maybe we can fill the school with fantastic Space Center fans.  Perhaps you'll end up in my classroom.  Wait a minute, that may be a reason NOT to go to Renaissance  :)

What does The Troubadour have for you today?
  • A Post from the old Troubadour.  The Staff Strike Back!
  • Space and Science News
  • The Imaginarium
Let's get to reading.....

An Old Post from the Original Troubadour
Back Story:  This story sprang from my imaginationWriting it was my way of diffusing a nasty situation that had developed at the Space Center between the staff and myself.  The Phoenix needed new computer controls.  The Phoenix Staff (Megan Warner, Dave Daymont, Alex Anderson) were pushing for new controls.  I ignored their wishes and made the decision to use the Odyssey's controls instead.  I made the decision without consulting them.  I was definitely in the dog house.  I faced a staff rebellion.  OK, perhaps rebellion is a bit dramatic; let's go with an obvious cold shoulder and many many heated discussions.   
The Troubadour.   September 7, 2007
It was rather chilly at the Space Center. The temperature at my desk was a good ten degrees lower than the rest of the room.    It wasn’t an atmospheric abnormality that caused the difference but rather a human generated Arctic breeze, like a cold front from Canada, powered by the bitter looks and icy purpose from many of the staff pushed in my direction by the toss of a head or the glance of an eye half covered with a dropped eyebrow. Accompanying the evil eye was a wrinkled nose associated with a putrid smell.
Lately I’ve been afraid to leave the safety of my extended desk. It was my fortress of solitude. I sat at my chair wearing my winter coat and double stitched long johns.    I watched for a drop in foot traffic, hoping to make a dash for the toilet or quench my thirst with an icy Diet Coke from the faculty room.
Friday afternoon I saw a chance to escape; it happened before the overnight camp. I quietly moved from behind my desk toward the door. I took all precautions before making my move. I looked both directions - the coast was clear. I got down on all fours and put my ear to the carpet, listening for approaching footfalls. I heard nothing but found a quarter and two M&M’s.  I stood up, reached for the “Enforcer” (a baseball bat) and walked to the edge of the desk . I licked my finger and held it over my head to detect searching for an approaching cold front.  Feeling nothing, I made my move. I speed around the desk and sprinted for the Briefing Room Door. I rounded the Phoenix simulator's corner and stopped dead in my tracks.  The air air was so cold my breath was visible.  In the doorway stood Megan and Alex.  Behind them stood Dave, Stacy, Matt, and what appeared to be a mob of smaller humans, all wearing black Space Center t-shirts.
“Going somewhere?” Megan asked with an insincere smile. I took two steps backward, then stopped when I felt a chill from behind, indicating my escape was blocked by a human glacier.
“Get Him,” she shouted. Alex moved quickly, diving forward and taking me down with a thud. The back of my head hit the carpeted floor, dislodging several of my senses “Bring Him,” was the next thing I heard in a dazed trauma. I was half carried - half pushed down the hall to Discovery.
“Put him in the docket,” I heard Dave say. My head was clearing. I was able to make out my surroundings. It was the Discovery Room - but different. I was led to a roped off area. At the front of the room I saw a large statue of a blindfolded woman holding the Scales of Justice in her outstretched hand and a sword pointed in my direction in the other.  Along the far wall, half obscured in darkness, sat a jury of twelve staff and volunteers.  I was placed in the defendant's box guarded by two armed members of the Programming Guild. I heard mumbling.   Mr. Daymont emerged from the darkness wearing black legal robes. The white wig of an English Barrister rested awkwardly on his head. I leaned forward to tell him to take the stupid thing off but was cut off when he placed a finger to his mouth, motioning that I should remain quiet.
“I’m your defense attorney,” he whispered. 
“Nice wig,” I replied, forgetting his admonition to stay quiet. 
“Get Serious,” he said while looking sternly around the room trying to find a
sympathetic face. “You are in a lot of trouble, and I don’t think I can get you out of it. Luckily my brother is one of the judges.”
“Its about the new Odyssey controls being installed in the Phoenix, isn’t it,” I asked, already knowing the answer to my question.  He looked at me like I was stupid and nodded his head. “I knew I should of consulted the Phoenix staff and others but ...”  He stopped me from continuing.
“That ‘but’ you were about to add will be your defense, and possibly save you from Madam Guillotine."  He moved from my cage, took two steps forward, and sat at the defense table. I peered across the dimly lit room, trying to recognize the prosecutor. A lamp turned on; it was Megan Warner. Her table was covered by Space Center law books, legal pads and pens.  Only then did I realized my decision to replace the Phoenix Controls with Odyssey Controls had upset so many people. Mr. Mark Daymont sat alone at my defense table, pouring over copious notes while shaking his head in disbelief. I heard a hissing sound as he took in air through clenched teeth.
The room grew quiet. The hour had arrived. Deep in my heart I felt I had made the right decision but executed it poorly. Now it was time to pay the piper. Would the staff let me keep my head Coming from the windows came sound of wood sliding across wood, followed by the sound of a loud CHOP. The ‘Madam’ was being prepared. A few minutes later, two of our newer volunteers entered the room carrying platters of watermelon, freshly cut on the Guillotine outside. Dave Daymont nodded his head, giving them permission to distribute the fruit to the spectators.  Mark Daymont’s head dropped to the table amidst the sound of slurping.  He was admitting defeated before the trial began.
“This is good. Look very few seeds,” Kyle Herring said as he studied his slice. There were a few grunts of agreement from those around him.
“Sometimes the best of intentions can go wrong,” I thought. I leaned back in my seat thinking what I would say in my defense. My thought was interrupted by the sound of the gavel. Everyone sat up and faced he front. The trial of the century was about to start......
Space and Science News

New Detailed Photos of the Star Betelgeuse in the Orion Constellation.

Come on Betelgeuse:  Supernova already.....

Astronomers have released a new image of the outer atmosphere of Betelgeuse -- one of the nearest red supergiants to Earth -- revealing the detailed structure of the matter being thrown off the star.

... Betelgeuse is easily visible to the unaided eye as the bright, red star on the shoulder of Orion the Hunter. The star itself is huge -- 1,000 times larger than our Sun -- but at a distance of about 650 light years it still appears as a tiny dot in the sky, so special techniques combining telescopes in arrays are required to see details of the star and the region around it.  Read More
 The Effects of Space Travel on the Body

Smart Skin for Robots

Nanoscientists have developed an array capable of sensing touch with the same sensitivity as a human fingertip. The technology could be used to create smart skin for robots.
The arrays use around 8,000 touch-sensitive transistors known as 'taxels' which are capable of generating piezoelectric signals independently of one another -- that means when the taxels are put under mechanical stress they emit electricity.  Read More

Astronomy Picture of the Day

This gorgeous spiral galaxy, known as the Bubble Galaxy, is located more than 35 million light-years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation of Leo. Practically a hop and a skip away (in cosmological terms!) The galaxy, known formally designated 'NGC 3521,' is one of the more brightly lit objects seen in our night sky.
One of the more interesting aspects of NGC 3521, is the bubble-like apparition that surrounds the core of the galaxy. This shell was likely created after a series of mergers took place between the primary galaxy and several smaller satellite galaxies, leaving behind a stream of stellar material in a tidal tail, which in turn, has encased the galaxy
The pinkish region near the galactic center is home to several clusters of stars, whose formation sparked after the mergers took place, igniting a star-burst phase, giving birth to a plethora of hot, high-mass blue-white stars. 

The Imaginarium.
Sit back and enjoy the imaginative work of others, then go and make the ordinary, extraordinary.

Imagination in design

The room was designed by Hobus Homes. You can see more images of the room (and several other ones that are just as cool) here:
A Sad Story Indeed

Bake at 120 degrees

We've all been there.

Just because its creative and no one has done it before doesn't mean it should be done.
Use your brain

Is this on purpose?