Cassini and Huygens

Spacecraft Cassini Enters Saturn’s Orbit (AP). AP – The international Cassini spacecraft threaded a gap between two of Saturn’s dazzling rings late Wednesday and entered orbit around the giant planet, completing one of the mission’s most critical maneuvers more than 900 million miles from Earth. [Yahoo! News – Reader Ratings]

Over the next four years I’m looking forward to many exciting discoveries from the Cassini probe.  Cassini has already made observations that indicate to scientists that Saturn’s moon Phoebe is an ancient object formed at the beginning of the solar system like the Kuiper Belt objects, but, unlike them, Phoebe was captured by Saturn’s gravity rather than being swept out past the orbit of Pluto. Latest findings also reveal that the rotation of Saturn may be highly variable. Of course, I’ve always wondered how scientists could pin down the rotation period of a tiny ball of liquid hydrogen nested deep within a gigantic ball of gas.

Saturn’s moon Titan will get some special attention as Cassini will release the Huygens lander to take data from the surface. Scientists believe that the conditions on Titan represent those of the Earth of four and a half billion years ago.saturn

The bad behavior trap

As a teacher, it can be easy to find yourself in “corrective mode” in your classroom, getting after students when they are misbehaving or not attending.  The very best teachers I know are the ones who add “catching students being good” to the mix.

Children will seek out attention, and it’s often easier to get it by being bad.  To many children, attention is attention.  The students who really struggle in the school setting (the ones who teachers can make the most profound difference to) are most likely to go the easy route and get attention from bad behaviors because it is that much harder for them to get the positive attention.

Teachers who reinforce students when they observe appropriate behavior show students there is another way, and make it attainable for the children to get attention from positive behaviors – a habit which can stick with them for a long time.

Positive Rewards. When trying to change the inappropriate behaviors of children, it pays to ‘catch them behaving appropriately’. Inappropriate behaviors are a method of ‘getting attention’ so give the attention for the appropriate behavior and use this list of incentives to keep… [About Special Education]

Ronald Reagan

rreaganI was a teenager during the Reagan Revolution. I knew then that there was something extraordinary about our 40th president.

His policies were straightforward and completely consistent with his belief that people knew better how to run their lives than career politicians in Washington. His successes, the greatest economic expansion in our history and bringing an end to the Cold War, are nothing less than stellar. As a president, Ronald Reagan belongs alongside our greatest leaders.

As a man, Ronald Reagan was every bit as great. His relationship with Nancy exemplifies what it means to have a life-long love affair with your partner. And anyone who has met him seems to have a story about his graciousness, his simple kindnesses, and his disarming humor. But what always struck me most about Ronald Reagan was his infectious optimism.

It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams…. Let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope…. The crisis we are facing today… [requires] our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And after all, why shouldn’t we beleve that? We are Americans.” – Ronald Reagan, First inagural address.

Thank you Ronald Reagan, for your terrific service to our country and for being a model of great character with your kindness and optimism.

Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.” – Ronald Reagan

For openers….

How often is a novice chess player honored by having his analysis of an ongoing game published? As often as he likes … if he has a weblog….

The following are the opening moves of a game I’ve just started with an old college buddy who lives a long way away. We’re playing over email, allowing “infinite” time to play each move, and we’re allowed to consult computer chess programs to avoid blunders and generate some ideas. The game is not meant to be a masterpiece of strategy and tactics. The regular email moves are a conduit for us to pass along news and happenings to each other. It is a way for us to keep in touch.

Still, for anyone who might be interested, I submit the following analysis. By the way, should you come up with a great idea, that’s what the “comments” section is for. You should do the same for Bill. Oh yeah, that’s right. Bill doesn’t have a weblog. Too bad….

Todd Bill
1. e4 Nf6

Alekhine’s Defence. Not an opening I’m very comfortable with. Let’s see how it develops.

2. e5 Nd5
3. d4 d6
4. c4 Nb6
5. Nf3

Continue reading For openers….

What is a planet?

Old news, but I’ve been following the debate. In astronomy circles, the discussion about what can and can not be called a planet has flared up again with the discovery of Sedna last fall. Pluto, discovered in 1930, has always been an oddity. When it was discovered, it was thought to be about the size of Mercury and followed Bode’s Law, so it deserved “planet status.”

It wasn’t until about 70 years later that some other solid objects like Pluto were discovered beyond the orbit of Neptune. Quaoar, with an orbit that is much like that of the other planets, and most recently Sedna are not as big as Pluto (which itself is much smaller than was thought at its discovery), but they are thought to have more in common with Pluto than Pluto does with the other planets in our solar system.   Continue reading What is a planet?

Hello world!

And welcome to my new webspace.  In the late ’90’s, a personal webpage was a fun background, a few graphics, and your favorite links.  You got to dress up a little corner of the web.  For me, the hobby grew to include resumes, galleries of art, and categorized link pages.  Then, for fun, I took on the challenge of creating something original, a page with wide appeal, something that would cause Geocities to shut you down for a period every month because your visitors have exceeded your free bandwidth allowance.

Fun, prestige, sharing favorite links, and the challenge of generating lots of traffic.  I’ve played with all of those things.  Now, with my friends and family spread across the country, I envision this webspace as a dynamic vehicle to keep in touch with your close friends.  A way to interact.  So don’t be shy about posting comments to entries that speak to you.  Please feel free to drop me a “Shout Out.”  Friends, keep in touch.  Visitors, enjoy the “sites”!

Dr. Seuss. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” [Quotes of the Day]