Sunday, March 29, 2009

Teaching Evolution

I have evolved considerably as a teacher since my first school year back in 2002/2003. While I still champion (and always will) high standards and the cultivation of a solid work ethic in my students, my philosophical approach with respect to concept building and consolidation have changed remarkably. In physics for one I have introduced a light self-discovery approach that encourages the student to learn, via free inquiry and critical thought, the mainstays of the big idea. This is not to say that I have adopted a hands off approach - to the contrary I am very much an involved teacher - but I believe that it is important for the teacher to step back and guide rather than actively transmit. In other words the involvement from the educator should be more passive than active.

Judaic Struggle from within

I have struggled for most of my life to qualify my religious belief. I was born and remain proud of my Jewish identity, celebrate many aspects of the culture and relish in the study of its history. Indeed I continue as always to be a strong and passionate supporter of Israel and Jewish Nationalism. While at times I have flirted with benign forms of atheism and deism such indulgence has never held me for too long as the reasonable arguments of theism have been too persuasive. Although I place much credence in science I reject the view espoused by Dawkins, Harris, Russell, Hitchens et al that belief in religion and logic is ultimately inconsistent with faith in a higher power. In fact I have had no problem entertaining both frameworks in my personal psyche.

My struggle though is at a deeper level and involves the step of consolidating my theistic belief with that of Judaism as a revealed religion. My attempts so far have not yielded the progress that I would have liked. Ultimately it seems I cannot accept the idea of revealed religion having any grounding at all. I am not convinced that many of the events described in the Torah (including the critical revelation at Sinai) even occurred and as a person of science I cannot give credence to miracles passed on from ancient times that seem to defy the established well documented Laws of Nature. I realize that there have been numerous arguments made through the ages to substantiate these miracles including a deference to a bygone ‘Age of Miracles’ but such reasoning seems to carry a ‘magic quality suffused with superstition ’ that is more akin to a primitive tribalism than to post-enlightenment reasoning. It is this hurdle that ultimately caused me to reject Orthodox Judaism and its emphasis on the 613 Commandments despite the fact that I have great respect for such organizations as Aish Hatorah and the various Lubavitch groups.

In short I don’t believe that their overall worldview, with its strict emphasis on both the written and Oral Torah as direct instruments from God, can be bought into the mix of the science-soft theism maxim that makes sense to me. A part of me wishes that it would as this seems to simplify life but I cannot lie to myself and believe what at the very end I cannot justify.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In the News LIV

Israel negotiating release if Gilad Shalit
Like most 'compromises' with the thugs at Hamas it will come at a high price for Israel...

George W Bush backs Obama's economic plans
This shows great character by the former President...I doubt whether his opponents would have been so forthcoming if the situation were reversed.

Barack Obama gets down to some serious business...........Not'The+Tonight+Show'+(it+wasn't+that+difficult)
What did they say about Nero fiddling while Rome burnt?

Chavez continues on his march toward dictatorship
Surprise...surprise...he can't deal with the opposition
Meanwhile the Venezuelan ego met with another American useful idiot

AIG bonuses to be recouped by taxes
One stupidity for another........
Could AIG be Obama's Katrina?

Something real to fear
Russia's military buildup.
Meanwhile it seems as though Putin might have met Reagan as a KGB agent...

Pakistan faces more problems from the Taliban.
More proof of the growing threat of Islamofascism.

Security lapse blamed for attack on Sri Lanka Cricket team

Supporters of LTTE launch worldwide PR campaign again Sri Lankan government
Safe to say that the government is not amused...

White farmers in Zimbabwe take last stand
Why Whites continue to live in this ethnic cleansing environment is still anybody's bet?

Zuma charges may be dropped
Another thug and South Africa's next dictator will most likely walk free....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

50 Physics Ideas you really need to know

Joanne Baker's 50 Physics Ideas you really need to know is an excellent read and I urge all fans of Physics to get hold of a copy.

What are the fifty ideas? I have listed them below (not in order of importance)

Mach's principle
Newton's laws of motion
Kepler's laws
Newton's laws of gravitation
Conservation of energy
Simple harmonic motion
Hooke's law
Ideal gas law
Second law of thermodynamics
Absolute zero
Brownian motion
Chaos theory
Bernoulli equation
Newton's theory of colour
Huygen's principle
Snell's law
Bragg's law
Fraunhofer diffraction

Doppler effect
Ohm's Law
Fleming's right hand rule
Maxwell's equations
Planck's Law
Photoelectric effect
Schrodinger's wave equation
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle
Copenhagen interpretation
Schrodingers cat
The EPR paradox
Pauli's exclusion principle
Rutherford's atom
Nuclear fission
Nuclear fusion
Standard model
Feynman diagrams
The God particle
String theory
Special relativity
General relativity
Black holes
Olber's paradox
Hubble's law
The big bang
Cosmic inflation
Dark matter
Cosmological constant
Fermi paradox
Anthropic principle

Pretty neat......Now how can I make use of all these ideas for a science literacy program?.........I wonder....

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Left's Love Affair with Violence

The following is a list of organizations, endorsed by many on the left, that that have been responsible for mass genocide.

Chinese Communist Party
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Khmer Rouge
Vietnamese Communist Party
Baath Party of Syria
Baath Party of Iraq
The National Socialist Party of Germany (Nazis)
Workers Party of Ethiopia
French Jacobins
Castro Regime
Worker’s Party of Korea

The following is a list of organizations, endorsed by many on the left, that that have been responsible for terror campaigns specifically directed at civilians.

PLO – Fatah
Japanese Red Army
Italian Red Brigade
Black Panthers/Black Liberation Army
Baader Meinhof Gang
Action Directe
Basque ETA
Mau Mau
Red Army Faction (RAF)
ANC – Military Wing
Anarchists of the 19th and 20th centuries
Symbionese Liberation Army
17 November Group
Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Shining Path

Saturday, March 07, 2009

In the News LIII

Dow has dropped 1500 points since Obama's inauguration
Many in business are seeing the President's actions as a war against Capitalism...for me its just silly economics...Keynesian style.

Jihad on facebook
Islamofacist outreach continues...what is worse is that the facebook administrators have done such a poor job in stopping it...

Gorbachev sets the record straight on Putin: Worst version of Communists
His actions in support of Iran and his clamping down of criticism in Russia add further weight to this assertion. For more om Putin's 'war' with the Ukraine read:,2933,505135,00.html

Rush Limbaugh is in the News once again: Rahm Emanuel may have indirectly given him a publicity boost
I am not a fan of Limbaugh (he is but he certainly has a way of giving it to his opponents......

Chavez - destroying the Venezuelan economy one-step at a time (while cheerleaders in American and Canadian left look on with approval).

Monday, March 02, 2009

40 Greatest Chemists of All-Time

Just my Opinion....

1.Dmitri Mendeleyev - Russian - Devised the Periodic table of elements. Predicted that several more elements would be discovered.

2.Antoine Lavoisier - French - Showed that air is a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen. Disproved the old Theory of phlogiston and determined the nature of combustion. Lavoisier wrote the first modern book on chemistry and explained the law of conservation of matter.

3.Henry Cavendish - English - Showed that water could be produced from two gases. Discovered hydrogen.

4. Amedeo Avogadro - Italian - First to distinguish molecules from atoms. Developed Avogadro's Constant (The number of particles of a substance in a mole). Studied the effect of combining volumes.

5. Jons Jakob Berzelius - Swedish - Developed the symbols for many of the chemicals. Calculated the atomic weights accurately of many of them and discovered Selenium, Silicon and Thorium.

6. John Dalton - English - Developed an atomic theory of matter and explained the laws of partial pressure.

7. Robert Boyle - Irish - Studied gases and showed how Pressure and volume at constant mass were indirectly proportional to one another.

8. Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and Jacques Charles - Both French - Studied gases. Showed that gas volume at constant pressure increases with Temperature.

9. Friederich Wöhler - German - Father of Organic Chemistry. He was the first chemist to synthesize an organic compound, Urea.

10. Carl Scheele - Swedish - Co-discover of oxygen with Joseph Priestley. Also discovered chlorine, manganese and molybdenum.

11. Marie Curie - Polish - Isolated radioactive elements radium and polonium.

12. Josiah Gibbs - American - Founder of Chemical Thermodynamics.

13. Jacobus van't Hoff - Dutch - Thermodynamicist. He was one of the earlier chemists to speak about the 3-D nature of molecules.

14. Frederick Sanger - English - Biochemist. Revealed the Amino sequence for insulin. Worked out methods for determining the molecular structure of nucleic acids. Two time Nobel Prize winner.

15. Humphry Davy - English - Showed the connection between electrochemistry and the elements. Discovered the elements Potassium, Sodium, Barium, Calcium and Magnesium amongst others.

16. Joseph Priestley - English - Oxygen co-discoverer. See Scheele.

17. Henri Le Chatelier - French - Developed principle that every change in a stable chemical equilibrium will result in a shift in the direction of the equilibrium to reduce the effects of the change.

18. Frederick Soddy - English - Introduced the isotope theory of elements.

19. Svante Arrhenius - Sweden - Established modern electrochemistry.

20. Germain Hess - Swiss/Russian - Introduced Hess's Law for determining the heat of reactions.

21.Wilhelm Ostwald - Latvian - Discovered Dilution law. Invented process to make nitric acid by oxidizing ammonia. He also developed a theory of colour.

22. Daniel Rutherford - Scottish - Discoverer of Nitrogen.

23. Friederich Kekulé - German - Organic Chemist. Described the ring structure of benzene.

24. Stanislao Cannizzaro - Italian - Established the use of Atomic weights in Chemical formulas and calculations.

25. Linus Pauling - American - Applied Quantum Theory to determine Chemical Structure (especially of proteins). Showed how electrons effect the formation of molecules.

26. Johannes Brønsted - Danish and Thomas Lowry - English - Independently introduced the Brønsted - Lowry definition of an acid as something that donates a proton and a base as something that accepts a proton.

27. Leo Baekland - Belgian/American - Father of the Plastics Industry.

28. William Ramsay - Scottish - Co-discovered Argon with Lord Rayleigh. Was first to identify, helium, neon, krypton and xenon.

29. Henri Moissan - French - Isolated fluorine. Invented the electric furnace. Discovered carborundum and produced artificial diamonds in a laboratory.

30. Theodore Richards - American - Performed extensive work on atomic weights to reveal the existence of isotopes.

31. Dorothy Hodgkin - English - Crystallographer. Used x-ray crystallography to reveal the structure of such molecules as penicillin and insulin.

32. Thomas Graham - Scottish - Developed Graham's Law of Diffusion. Founder of Colloidal Chemistry.

33. Fritz Haber - German - Invented the process to make ammonia from nitrogen in the air. Known as the Haber process. Invention allowed Germany to continue making explosives after World War I ban in spite of the blockade on the importation of nitrates.

34. Irving Langmuir - American. High Temperature chemist. Work lead to the development of the tungsten lamp. Also studied gases. Research in this field would have practical implications with respect to the use of atomic hydrogen in welding torches.

35. Peter Debye - Dutch - Worked as well on molecular structure. Pioneered x-ray powder photography.

36. Harold Urey - American - Isolated Heavy water and discovered deuterium.

37. Paul Flory - American - Leading figure in the field of Polymerization. Studied properties of plastics, ribbers and fibers.

38. William Perkin - English - Chemist noted for his work on dyes. Invented mauve.

39. George Washington Carver - American - Agricultural chemist. Research involved the synthesis of products from peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans.

40. François Raoult - French - Developed law which relates vapor pressure of a solution to the number of molecules of solute dissolved in it.

Top Ten Dicken's Novels of All-Time

Just my Opinion...........

1. David Copperfield
2. Oliver Twist
3. A Tale of Two Cities
4. Great Expectations
5. Pickwick Papers
6. Nicholas Nickelby
7. The Mystery of Edwin Drood
8. A Christmas Carol
9. The Old Curiosity Shop
10. Bleak House