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W. W. Norton
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Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, University of Basque Country/JHU By Stacy Palen I was poking around, looking for something completely different when I came across this nice little vignette from "Physics Today" published in 20061. It’s the story of the discovery of dark matter, told by Vera Rubin... Continue reading
Most elementary schools in the US no longer teach cursive writing, and many educators, psychologists, and others have lamented the change. Philadelphia-based health and science writer Markham Heid summarizes some of the research showing the benefits of longhand writing and adds an argument of his own in this September 2019 essay in elemental+, a Medium blog. Markham Heid–"Bring back handwriting: It's good for your brain"–elemental+, 12 September 2019 Heid’s argument is stated very clearly in the title of his essay. What advantages does he say handwriting offers? Summarize them. Which of the advantages do you find most persuasive? Why? Explain... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
By Stacy Palen I long ago stopped keeping track of the number of moons around Saturn and Jupiter. It often feels like there is a contest going on among astronomers—who can find the most moons around “their” planet! In early October, a report hit the news of 20 new moons... Continue reading
The NCAA is in the news again, and it’s not even March or bowl season. What’s going on? A new law in California gives student athletes the right to be paid for the use of their names and images, and the NCAA is strongly opposed to it. Veteran journalist and LA Times editorial writer Scott Martelle has a few things to say about the controversy in this October 2019 column. Scott Martelle, "NCAA's response to California: Don't stop our exploitation" Martelle makes it clear from the very beginning that he opposes the NCAA’s objection to California’s new law allowing college... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Stocktrek Images, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo By Stacy Palen Fast radio bursts have been known since 2007. Recently, China’s FAST telescope has detected a repeat of one first discovered at Areceibo in 2012. This article poses several explanations for fast radio bursts. Questions: 1) Study the picture of the 500-m telescope... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
We already know this. People spend a lot of time—maybe too much—on their phones and other devices, and it’s a troubling trend. But who is ultimately responsible for changing the habits and fixing the problem? Does the responsibility lie squarely with individual users to make changes? Should designers and developers of apps and devices make modifications to their products to make them less addictive? Both? Neither? San Francisco-based New York Times writer Nellie Bowles explores these questions in this October 2019 article. Nellie Bowles, "Addicted to screens? That's really a you problem" Bowles’s essay about screen addiction focuses on the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls By Stacy Palen In July 2019, I received a few queries about a “black supermoon.” Since I had no idea what that was, I decided to track it down. It comes from a group of click-bait articles like this one, which are apparently taking off from a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
What if your very life depended on trusting people that you had learned explicitly to hate, feat, and distrust? Yikes! What a terrible question, right? You may not be able to answer it easily, but most likely you will never find yourself in such a dramatic situation, so no worries. Writer and former publisher of the Jewish Journal Rob Eshman talked with someone who did face that question, and he writes about their conversation in this October 2019 Los Angeles Times essay. Eshman, “The Yom Kippur lesson I learned from a Muslim man” Early on in his essay, Eshman mentions... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
B.O'Kane / Alamy Stock Photo By Stacy Palen This week in Physics Seminar, we had a psychologist come and talk to us about a number of studies that indicate how stereotypes impact the performance of underrepresented groups. Generally, this refers to women and minorities (although other categories also intersect). The... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen I teach at an open-enrollment university with a very large number of non-traditional students: nearly all of my students have jobs with large time commitments. Many of them are parents of young children. More than half of them are married. This semester, something interesting has been happening... Continue reading
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech By Stacy Palen Sgr A* is flaring to twice peak historical levels, possibly because of gravitational disturbance from S0-2. This particular article from Vice News provides a good opportunity to help students see when they are being “click-baited,” since “Nobody Knows Why” is a bit of a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen Where has this been all my life?! Really. Just go watch the video. You’ll want to show it in your class! Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen Remnants of the lost city of Cahokia. Credit: Steve Moses/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) In this article from Scientific American, a climate scientist talks about why she is not reassured by the idea that “the climate has changed before.” This is an opinion piece, but it is worth... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen This set of nifty (free!) posters came through my inbox over the summer. We printed some of them to hang around the Physics Department, and the College of Science more generally. In addition to raising awareness of the contribution of women, they raise awareness of the contribution... Continue reading
Credit:Tony Tallec / Alamy Stock Photo By Stacy Palen Here in August, just as we are getting ready to go back to school, this Teen Vogue article that came across my desk was a useful reminder that people care deeply about their names. I have a name that is not... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen Summary: Hayabusa2 has been investigating the asteroid Ryugu. This is a sample-return mission, which has implications for Solar System formation and may cast light on the origins of life on Earth. Article: Japan (Very Carefully) Drops Elastic Explosives Onto an Asteroid 1. Consider what you know about... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
Credit: Vadym Drobot / Alamy Stock Photo By Stacy Palen Everyone has their favorite sky maps, planispheres, and apps. I am no exception! Here are two resources that I go back to again and again as I prepare for class or for observing sessions. Sky Maps is my favorite source... Continue reading
By Stacy Palen It’s that time of the semester when we are talking about galaxies, galactic structure, and supermassive black holes. Fortunately, Chandra has our back and has released a new image of a superbubble in NGC3079. The picture is sufficiently spectacular that I want to let you know about... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen Credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Once in a while something new happens. In the case of an article published in The Atlantic, astronomers observed an object that had properties like those of a supernova explosion, but much too fast. That led to some detective work across... Continue reading
By Stacy Palen On May 18, 2014, Hokule’a left Oahu for a 3-year voyage that would take her and her sister vessel, Hikianalia, around the globe. The journey covered 47,000 nautical miles with stops in 26 countries, and ended in Hawaii on June 17, 2017. The vast majority of the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen Perhaps I should not have been surprised to find out that many of my students see Bill Nye (the Science Guy) as a personal hero, but I was. It’s probably got something to do with the bow ties…or the lab coat…or something. I was too early for... Continue reading
By Stacy Palen As I was working on the first draft of Chapter 3 for the fourth edition of Understanding Our Universe, I ran across this wonderful summary article about ‘Oumuamua by Steven Spence of GotScience Magazine. You probably remember that ‘Oumuamua is the first interstellar object that we’ve observed... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
Image Credit: Emmanuel Masongsong/UCLA EPSS/NASA By Stacy Palen In January, geologists updated the model of Earth’s magnetic field, a year ahead of schedule. 1. Study the map titled “Magnetic Motion.” How much time separates each pair of red dots between 1900 and 2010? Answer: The dots indicate 10-year time intervals... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen Don’t forget to remind your students about the Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower, coming in the beginning of May. The peak occurs around May 4-5. This is the last chance for most of us to remind Spring semester students to go out and watch a meteor shower! This... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls By Stacy Palen Don’t forget to remind your students to watch for the Lyrid Meteor Shower this month. The peak occurs around April 21-22. This meteor shower comes as Earth passes through the debris left behind by Comet Thatcher. Particles lost from the comet continue to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy