We have just finished our second full week of classes. I'm teaching chemistry and Regents chemistry this year. Last Friday was our first lab, "Is a Candle Flame Matter?" It is based on Michael Faraday's 1861 Christmas lectures for young people. My favorite part of that one is taking a little scrap of window screen and placing it sideways in the middle of the flame. It reveals the flame has the appearance of a hollow bubble:
If anyone wants to investigate a candle too here is what I typed up. As usual, it's a first go; hopefully improve the instructions next time. Download 08_lab_The_Candle
Saturday Meg and I used Google Earth to fly over to Madagascar. I just started with GE at 12000 feet, pointed at my house, and spun the globe. We flew (virtually) over featureless blue water for about two minutes noting the longitude. When the latitude hit 50 degrees east with no landfall I knew I had mis-aimed. We finally hit land amidst excellent coral reefs. Stepping back to 20,000 feet we saw we were in an archipelago. Finally, zooming way back we saw we had flown right beneath the Cape and had hit Indonesia! We turned around and went back, finding S. Africa this time and from there setting out over the water to Madagascar. The real hunting began then, as Meg had never considered what her daily routine among the dirt roads on her peninsula might look like from the air. After 15 minutes we caught significant landmarks in the following order: the beach, the market, the Catholic church, the much smaller Lutheran church. Here is where Meg lived in the mid-nineties:
Finally on Sunday, I got all weepy at church. The minister directly addressed the bigotry that is spreading about the Park 51 Muslim Center. She tied our current situation in to the Old Testament lesson for the day, the one where Moses causes God to "change his mind" about the Israelites and their golden calf. The service closed with an excellent hymn to a Sibelius tune that I'd never heard before, from the chapter titled "National Songs". It had the lines:My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine...
Complete hymn text at Prometheusli.