‘Inside 360′: Behind the Scenes of the Mars One Mission

Amersfoort, 27th May 2015 – Mars One is proud to introduce Inside 360; a series of in-depth articles that present an inside look into the details and feasibility of the Mars One mission. The first article can be found on Mars Exchange. Subsequent articles will be added periodically.

Mars One has taken the first crucial steps in the process of establishing the first human settlement on Mars. In order to address the questions and concerns that have been raised, Inside 360 will foremost provide an in-depth explanation of the individual phases of the mission. Mars One is continuously improving their mission plans based on advice from advisers and suppliers, and Inside 360 will offer the rationale behind decisions made. The ongoing series will additionally feature interviews with Mars One team members and external experts about the different aspects of the mission.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

“Mars One is still in the early stages of organizing this human mission to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and CEO of Mars One. “We are looking forward to sharing our developments as well as the studies completed by our suppliers. This way, the aerospace community can share their feedback and we can implement suggestions that improve our mission design.”

Astronaut Selection: Inside 360 will describe the Mars One astronaut selection process and include an interview with Mars One’s Chief Medical Officer, Norbert Kraft, M.D., discussing the selection criteria. Dr. Kraft has researched crew composition for long duration space missions at NASA and has also worked for the Japanese Space Agency and collaborated with the Russian Space Agency.  Continue reading

The Paleo Diet Belongs in Caves: What You Really Need to Know About Diets

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

Diets provide a great opportunity to exercise critical thinking. Pick any diet and pick it apart. Do this as a mental exercise or, if you teach, with your classes. Chances are that many of your students’ parents have dieted or are dieting. In this article, I am picking on the currently trendy Paleo diet.

The Paleo diet persists. I have a strange theory about diets. The first part is that people don’t like to diet. They like to eat whatever they choose. I suspect that this is especially true of libertarians. The second part is that many people see their food as a health problem and would like to change their eating patterns.

Many years ago, the Grapefruit Diet was very popular. This was great for people who loved grapefruit but not so much for those who found them too sour or too messy. Then, there was the problem that grapefruits are like the proverbial Chinese dinner that left you hungry shortly after finishing it. “Have another piece of grapefruit” just doesn’t work for most people.

Skeleton and restoration model of Neanderthal (La Ferrassie 1). Exhibit in the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Japan.

Skeleton and restoration model of Neanderthal (La Ferrassie 1). Exhibit in the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Japan.

Anyway, my theory is that diets are successful not if they work but rather when they cater to people’s desires. If you could get away with an ice cream diet, you’d have the world doing it because “everyone likes ice cream.” I haven’t yet seen a broccoli diet even though it would probably work better than grapefruit.  Continue reading

Using GIS and GPS Technology as Teaching Tools?

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

Recently, I was at an education conference in Croatia, and one of the presentations was about using geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) technology as teaching tools. The presenters proposed that this technology can be integrated in a variety of ways to create interdisciplinary lessons and projects that are technology-based. Students can learn with the GIS and GPS rather than just learn about it so that they can become producers of knowledge about the physical world around them and not just consumers of information.

One of the connections the presenters made was to the sport of orienteering to promote the development of map-reading skills and navigation. Even though orienteering is usually done low-tech with a compass and a map, higher levels of technology can create a different experience for participants.

“Field-Map birdie” by Claudiusmm – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Of particular interest for me as a teacher of English as Foreign Language are the ways this type of technology can be used to create authentic (real-life) reading, writing, speaking and listening activities for students. The presenters made a specific point that students’ real life knowledge about nature gained with this technology can easily be represented through the medium of digital story telling, which itself integrates reading, writing, and speaking and uses critical thinking skills as students plan and develop their project.

If anyone has had experience with these types of projects, I’d like to hear about them. Post a comment to this article or email me at zimmerma@purduecal.edu

__________
A preliminary list of resources:
Alec Bodzin, GIS and GPS Links, Lehigh University, 2/12/15.
GIS in Education Resource Sheet,” Utah Rural Schools Association, n.d.
Jennifer Johnston, “Engineering Professor Shares Mapping Technology with Teachers,” MyVU, Vanderbilt University, 8/20/14.
Bianca Bowman, “Teacher Knowledge and Geospatial Technologies,” Conversations on Knowledge for Teaching 2015 Education Technologies: Now and in the Future, n.d.

Deus What?

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

Yet another “robot” movie has appeared, and another Terminator movie is scheduled for release. It’s the robots who should be saying, “I’ll be back.”

Having already written on robots and artificial intelligence, writing about the latest opus, Ex Machina, may seem anticlimactic. This movie certainly has some excellent optics. Just four characters make up the speaking parts. One more is important to the plot, and only ten are listed in the credits. This is a small movie when measured by personalities on screen. The special effects that make Ava look mechanical are almost astounding and, along with the scenery and sets, make this a large movie.

The premise that a lone genius can create an artificial intelligence that passes muster as capable of human thought is an enoromus stretch. That he also can fit it all into a human framework that can walk bipedally and can perform other human-like actions is beyond imagining. You really must suspend disbelief to watch this movie and seek its philosophical underpinnings.

In the end, it’s the same old story that we’ve seen since Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein. Man should not play god, and creating new life is extremely dangerous. The movie plays on the morality of choosing to be god and on people’s fears of the unknown, especially when created by a “mad scientist.”  Continue reading

Textbooks, Emoticons, Assessment, Technology

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Universities seek alternatives to expensive textbooks by Leslie Corbly in Deseret News National 4/25/15
With the increasing cost of textbooks, schools are adopting policies to allow open source textbooks that can be offered free online to students. Research shows that interactive digital texts not only cut costs but improve student engagement.

Some bilinguals use emoticons more when chatting in non-native language in Science Daily 2/17/15
The use of the emoticon (which many people love to hate) by language learners was studied by a research team and compared to the use of nonverbal communication and found a correlation ;-)

New Tablet-Based Interactive ELL Test in Language Magazine 2/20/15
This new tablet-based assessment, which can provide data about ELLs, raises the question about how much information we want a private company to have about our students and whether and how it should be disseminated. These issues are not addressed in the article.

Teachers Mixed on Common Core, Support Blended Learning by Dian Schaffhauser in The Journal 2/9/15
A poll conducted by the Association of American Educators showed that more than 90% of teachers in the US report that they use technology in the classroom and that 67% of them are in favor of blended learning and that students should be required to take at least one online course before graduation. I assume they are talking about high school.

Technology changing teacher’s role in Science Daily 2/16/15
In what should come as no surprise to anyone, a recent Finnish-Swiss-Belgian study showed that “the use of technology changes the role of the teacher from a traditional knowledge provider rather into a facilitator guiding the students’ learning processes and engaging in joint problem-solving with the students. In addition, technology offers a range of new types of learning possibilities.”

The End of Dark Energy

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

Dr. Peter A. Milne and his associates have found an unexpected and, to the cosmological community, startling result from their surveys of supernovae. This result illustrates both the consistent and varying nature of science at the same time.

Dr. Peter Milne

Dr. Peter Milne

We know from a great many astronomical observations that the universe has been expanding for a little short of 14 billion years and continues to expand. Because of gravity, everyone expected that this expansion was slowing over time with theories and measurements suggesting that this expansion would eventually coast to a very dilute universe drifting apart at ever slower speeds.

In the 1990s, some astronomers separately discovered that the universe is expanding ever more rapidly instead of the expected opposite slowing of expansion using measurements of he brightness of very distant supernovae. They received the Nobel Prize in physics for this work in 2011.

Stars can explode. One common explosion is called a nova. A much more cataclysmic and extremely brighter explosion is a supernova. Supernovae shine with a brightness that can exceed that of all of the hundred billion or so stars in its galaxy. For this reason, we can see them in distant galaxies that are barely visible in our best telescopes. A supernova is a rare event occurring about three times a century in a galaxy the size of our Milky Way. With hundreds of billions of galaxies, however, it’s not too hard to find hundreds each year using modern astronomical equipment.

A special sort of supernova created when the two stars in a binary star system go through a specific series of interactions is known as a type 1a supernova. Because of the steps required to reach supernova status, the brightness of these type 1a supernovae has been considered to be a constant that can be used to estimate distances to very distant galaxies. Brightness declines with distance in a very precise manner.

There remains the possibility that acceleration of very distant bodies in our universe away from each other is a basic property of our space-time structure not detectable at smaller distances of only millions or even tens of millions of light-years, that “dark energy” is just an attempt to recast a phenomenon into understandable terms, just as the caloric theory of heat was long ago. -HK

The measurements of these supernovae were the reason to believe that the expansion of the universe was accelerating. We are seeing these very distant supernovae with light that started its journey over ten billion years ago when the universe was very young. Dr. Milne has discovered that type 1a supernovae are not all the same but fall into two categories of different brightness. Furthermore, the supernovae from the early universe are, on average, less bright than those in the more recent universe.

The lower brightness of the distant supernovae may well be due to less inherent brightness instead of greater distance. This finding destroys a fair piece of that Nobel Prize discovery. Dr. Milne still attests that the universe’s expansion is accelerating, just not so fast, but the vast number of recalculations being done to account for this new discovery will take some time.  Continue reading

Digital Privacy, ELL, Smartphones and GPA, Language and Smell

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Bill Would Limit Use of Student Data by Natasha Singer in the New York Times, 22 Mar. 2015
Singer looks at some of the issues raised by the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, a bill to place limits on how “companies that operate school services — like online homework portals, digital grade books for teachers or student email programs —” can use or disclose “students’ personal information to tailor advertisements to them” and “bar them from collecting or using student data to create marketing profiles.”

Digital curriculum targets ELL learning gap from eSchool News, 19 Mar. 2015
Middlebury Interactive Languages has developed English Language Learner programs which “are modeled after Middlebury Interactive’s world language courses and, like those programs, integrate research-based learning techniques, cultural awareness and project-based activities into blended learning classrooms.”

Increased Smartphone Use Equals Lower GPA Among College Students by Brian Heaton from from Government Technology, 17 Mar. 2015
This study from Kent State University about the effects of smartphone use on grades is sure to cause a stir. Even controlling for certain “known predictors, the group still found the relationship between cellphone use and GPA was ‘statistically significant and negative.’”

Does speaking English limit our sense of SMELL? The ability to identify and describe odours depends on the language you speak by Richard Gray for Mail Online, 30 Mar. 2015
While this article is not technology and educated related, it does look at the science of language from a different perspective as researchers describe the relationship between the language we speak and our sense of smell and our perception of colors.

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