COME TO THE NERD SIDE.

 

Hey, Mathletes, it’s National Pi Day – the one day a year (3/14) when we take time to reflect on the mysterious and endlessly cool constant that circles around us. You can actually scroll through the first one million digits of Pi on PiDay.org, and you don’t have to be a math nerd to be amazed by the infiniteness of Pi.

 

For me, Pi Day is just plain fun, but Pi is vital to scientists and engineers at jet propulsion laboratories.

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Geospatial information scientists use Pi to make measurements, like perimeter, area and volume, of features on Mars.

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They use Pi every day to command rovers on Mars ~taking images, turning the wheels, driving around, operating the robotic arm, and even talking to Earth. Pi also helps them to calculate the width of laser beams in the study of ice.

At first, Pi Day was gimmicky, but now it’s a gone-rampant big deal. Have you signed up for a Pi-mile race yet?

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Pi is everywhere ~ in The Simpsons and Star Trek, The Matrix, and, of course, the novel, Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. In Person of Interest, Finch, as a substitute teacher, talks about the digits of Pi. He gives an answer to the question “When are we ever going to use this?”  A jam-up answer.

 

There’s even a new literary form called a ‘piem.’ It’s a poem where the length of each word is the same as the number in the Pi sequence. For example, here’s a baudy little ditty written by British mathematician Sir James Jeans in the early twentieth century to remember the first fifteen digits. (Hey, poets, write a piem, leave it in the comments. You know you want to.)

How I want a drink,
Alcoholic of course,
After the heavy lectures
Involving quantum mechanics.

There’s plenty of Pi-tunes out there but have a listen to this English singer and songwriter. Kate Bush is known for her expressive four-octave soprano voice and idiosyncratic lyrics.

 

What are you doing
that’s chic-unique
for National Pi Day?

Baking, I hope.

Toni 3/14/18

♥World famous physicist Stephen Hawking died today. RIP, a mysterious and endlessly brilliant mind.

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SO MUCH HISTORY YET TO BE MADE

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Happy International Women’s Day 2018!

iwd_long March 8 is International Women’s Day.  It was established in the early 1900s and was originally known as International Working Women’s Day.

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A day to take pride. A day to salute the garment workers ~ women pioneers who marched for safer working conditions and equal rights.

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Women are more empowered than ever but there’s still plenty of work to do. As you read this post today, women around the world continue to suffer as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and discrimination.

But unlike any other day, it’s a day to take stock.

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In 1917, Russian women held a strike for ‘bread and peace’ in defiance of political leaders and changed the course of history ~ the government gave women the right to vote.

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In their book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, husband-and-wife Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn argue that the key to economic progress in the world lies in unleashing women’s potential. Here are a few of their suggestions for how we can help.

Make girls smarter. Many pregnant women living in poverty don’t get enough iodine, so their fetuses’ brains do not develop properly. Their children routinely lose ten to 15 IQ points—particularly the girls. The solution: Iodize salt, at the cost of a couple of pennies per person per year. To contribute, go to Helen Keller International.

Support a woman’s business. With a micro-loan of $50, a woman can start a business, producing income she can use to feed her children, and send them to school. To make a loan, go to Mercy Corps or BRAC, two groups helping women around the world.

Keep a girl in school. A girl who gets an education will have fewer children, earn more money, and be able to help her younger siblings. One excellent support program operates in Cambodia, where uneducated girls are at great risk of being trafficked into brothels. For $10 a month, you can keep a girl in school through American Assistance for Cambodia. For $13,000, you can build an entire school that will revolutionize a life forever.

I say, why not find an opportunity in your own backyard? Be a mentor, a resumé coach, a tutor, donate food and clothing. Help take better care of the women around you. Inspire, challenge, help, support, share. Change the course of history.

There is still a mountain to climb.

Do what you can.

Speak up.

Offer your hand.

All you have to be is anybody.

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Toni 3/8/18

Learn more from Agnes Meadows at Loose Muse.

Use your voice via social media:
– #MakeItHappen
– #womensday
– #IWD2018
– #internationalwomensday
– #PaintItPurple

Whatever you do – celebrate women, call for equality – and ‘Make it happen’.

Why purple?
From 1908, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in Great Britain adopted the colour scheme of purple, white and green to symbolize the plight of the Suffragettes. Purple symbolised justice and dignity – two values strongly associated with women’s equality. The three colours were used for banners, flags, rosettes and badges to show solidarity.

 

 

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WHAT WE SEE DEPENDS ON WHAT WE LOOK FOR

On a morning like every other, Jim Baichtal and his geologist buds meet for coffee. On a rock outcropping, natch. They’re on the shore of Tongass National Forest in Alaska, on the hunt for fossilized remnants of prehistoric marine reptiles.

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It’s May, extremely low tide ~ prime conditions for monitoring the area.

A sip of coffee, an offhand remark.  

Hey, Jim, what’s that?  Say, how ‘bout a donut over here?  So, ya’ think it’s anything?

They take a closer look. It isn’t a fishbone or a branch. They give it a kick, it doesn’t move.

It. Is. Indeed. Something.

It’s a complete intact section on an exposed layer of rock in a place where the tide only occasionally leaves it uncovered.

 

The tail of a thalattosaur fossil found near Kake in Southeast Alaska in May 2011 is shown in this publicity photo released to Reuters July 28, 2011. Alaska scientists have discovered the fossil of the thalattosaur, a prehistoric, long-tailed sea creature that went extinct at the end of the Triassic period.

 

Jim and his buddies discover the entombed bones and vertebra of a Thalattosaur, an enigmatic marine reptile that swam in the tropical waters surrounding the supercontinent Pangea about 200 million years ago.

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Jim and his team know there is a very good chance that more of the skeleton is still intact inside the gray calcareous shale near the tail section. They cut the top slab layers above the fossil, removing each section as they work their way down. A slab containing the original discovery is recovered and a second fossil-bearing slab comes free just as the tide comes in.

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What the geologists do next is try to unravel what’s happened ~ to read and interpret the fossil message.

The Thalattosaur fossil?  It’s at the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks where the staff will process the slabs with x-rays, hydrofluoric acid, and micro-sandblasters.  It’s too much of a treasure to lose, says Baichtal.

Speaking of treasure….

 

In the next decade, half of America’s teachers will retire. What we do to recruit, train, and retain our new teachers will shape public education in this country for a generation. All of us are where we are today because we had great teachers in our lives.

We can make our schools better. And we can learn how from geologists. They go to a place that has a history of fossil finds. They know what to look for, observe with intent, talk, talk, dig deeper, then read and interpret the message.

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Teachers need time to collaborate and sit in the corners of each other’s classrooms.  In a teacher-as-stranger role. They can target strategies that work, and then talk about how and why they do. Teacher-as-geologist.

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We need to take a cue from those geologists.  Give teachers time (not guns) to observe, reflect, and interpret The Message.  So, Betsy*, listen up. The Message is about the future of our kids.  It’s too much of a treasure to lose.

Toni 3/6/18

 

*Betsy DeVos, US Secretary of Education, does not hold any degree in Education or ever worked in schools (either as a teacher or administrator), never attended a public school or sent any of her children to one.

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