27 December 2015

Find me at https://christianphysicist.polari.us/

I have moved by blog to https://christianphysicist.polari.us/

I will not be posting any more here.

I hope to have my current blog content transferred to the new address soon.

22 December 2015

Gratitude (Dec. 16-22)

  1. Proctoring my final exam without incident
  2. Starting to pack for our upcoming trip
  3. Helping my wife paint more of our kitchen cabinets
  4. A great deal on the electronic version of The Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis
  5. Out of the Silent Planet, which I finished on Dec. 17
  6. Buying my ticket for Star Wars Episode VII
  7. A group of colleagues and friends who are going together to Star Wars Episode VII
  8. My wife's conversation with a distant but good friend
  9. Good discussion about the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke 
  10. Learning about a student's research in atmospheric science
  11. Learning about a colleague's education in Romania
  12. Finishing work early 
  13. Participating in the Commencement Ceremony (Dec. 18)
  14. Seeing Star Wars Episode VII
  15. Birthday brunch
  16. Discussion of hope in the Christmas story at The Well
  17. Our friend who gave us a ride to the airport (Dec. 21)
  18. Safe and punctual flight from Rapid City to Mesa
  19. Spacious and comfortable hotel room in Mesa
  20. Wine and cheese dinner in our room (Dec. 22)

21 December 2015

Ransom, Sagan, and Seeing Earth from Malacandra

In the first book of C. S. Lewis' space trilogy, Dr. Elwin Ransom views Earth through a telescope on the surface of Malacandra, also known as the planet Mars.

"It was all there in that little disk--London, Athens, Jerusalem, Shakespeare.  There everyone had lived and everything had happened..."  (Out of the Silent Planet, Ch. 15)
Carl Sagan, a man of much different spiritual beliefs than Ransom or Lewis, had a very similar meditation on a photograph of his world from far away.
"That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar', every 'supreme leader', every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam." (Pale Blue Dot)
Today, a telescope called HiRISE orbits Mars aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Normally used for high resolution imaging of the Martian surface, it was turned toward its home world on Oct. 3, 2007.  The resulting image is the closest one we have to what Dr. Ransom would have seen:

17 December 2015

Gratitude (Dec. 9 - 15)

  1. First Underground Science Research Forum meeting
  2. Physics Lunch Club at Ruby Tuesday (Dec. 9)
  3. Sharing some of my experiences at the AAPT Workshop at our weekly staff meeting (Dec. 9)
  4. The many amazing trees at the Parade of Trees
  5. SPS winning a prize at the Parade of Trees
  6. The many amazing and fun gingerbread "houses" also featured at the Parade of Trees
  7. One of the gingerbread houses was created partly using laser engraving
  8. Cookies and cider at the Parade of Trees
  9. Proctoring the final for another class went without incident
  10. Good discussion at the Men of the Wobbly Table (Dec. 11)
  11. Dinner with friends at Pizza Ranch
  12. Making our own special brunch at home on our anniversary 
  13. Talking with my parents about the Christmas gift we gave to them
  14. Walking to the Potluck at The Well
  15. Discussion of hope and advent candles at The Well
  16. Playing with the pets' of our hosts for the Potluck
  17. Good food at holiday social held by my wife's department
  18. Helping to clean up after the holiday social
  19. Getting an estimate for the cost of a potential future project in my lab
  20. The flexibility to work from home during bad weather
  21. Talking with a good friend via Skype (Dec. 15)
  22. Cleaning up and organizing the living room in preparation for putting it back in order

10 December 2015

Gratitude (Dec. 2 - Dec. 8)

  1. Physics Lunch Club at Ruby Tuesday
  2. Getting my bike to a shop that is better than where I have been taking it
  3. Putting snow tires on my bike in time to ride in the snow
  4. Sufficient bus service to get to work while my bike is in the shop
  5. Selling our artificial Christmas tree
  6. Final band rehearsal before the concert
  7. Good meeting with Independent Study student
  8. Starting drafting my final exam 
  9. Time on Friday night to relax and watch some TV
  10. My new Fitbit
  11. Lamb korma
  12. Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation streaming online.
  13. Productive phone meeting in my lab
  14. Future plans for my lab
  15. Helpful and generous colleagues
  16. Progress on our living room curtains
  17. My final class of the semester went well
  18. Much laughter and fund at the Physics Gift Riot
  19. The piece of magnetic field viewing film I received at the Gift Riot
  20. Giving away two books at the Gift Riot
  21. My wife stealing an adult coloring book at the Gift Riot

04 December 2015

Gratitude (Nov. 25 - Dec. 1)

  1. Good weather on the drive from Sioux Falls to Mondovi, WI
  2. Staying for Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle
  3. Thanksgiving dinner with my sister and her fiancee's family
  4. My sister is engaged!
  5. Reconnecting with old friends 
  6. Thanksgiving with my family
  7. Playing Apples to Apples with my wife, sister, mother, and father
  8. Good weather on the drive from Wisconsin back to Sioux Falls
  9. A safe trip from Sioux Falls back to home despite unpleasant weather
  10. Time to rest and relax during Thanksgiving weekend
  11. Good conversations by phone with friends and colleagues
  12. Time to prepare for class during the drives between home and Wisconsin
  13. Gifts from my family
  14. Giving gifts to my sister
  15. Giving gifts to my parents
  16. Giving gifts to my aunt and uncle
  17. Pie from the Fryn Pan in Sioux Falls
  18. Family pictures
  19. Visiting with my grand aunt, who shares my birthday
  20. Modifying my class slightly based on what I learned at the AAPT Workshop

27 November 2015

Gratitude (Nov. 18 - Nov. 24)

  1. Punctual and affordable shuttle ride to the airport
  2. Good flight from RAP (Rapid City) to MSP (Minneapolis)
  3. Good food and place to work during my layover in MSP
  4. Good flight from MSP to DCA (Reagan Washington Airport)
  5. DC Metro ride from DCA in Virginia through Washington, DC to Greenbelt station in Maryland.
  6. Complimentary shuttle from Greenbelt to the hotel
  7. Good night's sleep in hotel
  8. Breakfast buffet
  9. Time in morning to relax and get work done before the workshop starts
  10. Texting with my wife throughout the trip
  11. Being able to (barely) walk to Baskin-Robbins from the hotel
  12. Many great conversations with the leaders of the AAPT Workshop
  13. Many great conversations with my fellow physics teachers
  14. Advice to start with only one thing rather than the entire firehose of ideas from the workshop
  15. Free books, flash drive, and websites from which to draw future ideas
  16. Active engagement ideas and materials for my upper level courses
  17. A little time to walk along the National Mall on the way back to the airport
  18. The Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial
  19. Hearing from the founder of the Physics Education Program at Ohio State, from which I benefitted as a graduate student
  20. Discovering that Physics Education Research has a history dating back more than 40 years.
  21. Nice conversation with a fellow passenger returning from a HR conference.
  22. Good dinner in the Minneapolis airport on the way home.
  23. Encouraging, entertaining, and useful presentation on software for enabling group work.
  24. Lunch with colleagues before the presentation
  25. Encouraging, entertaining, and useful presentation on common group dysfunctions and how to deal with them