Pacemaker No-No!

So I learned that this is called a Van de Graaff Generator.


It generates very high voltage electricity. 


The guy setting it up asks me:

Do you have a pacemaker?


I respond in the negative and ask what’s the danger zone on this thing.


He says: 

You probably wouldn’t want to get within 10 feet of this!


Good to know. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

(Please note that blog is not to be taken as medical advice.)

Interplanetary Travel – Coming Soon

Awesome presentation on Interplanetary Travel by Charlie Kuehmann, VP Materials Engineering at SpaceX and Tesla. 


Interplanetary travel and colonization is one of the most exciting possibilities for mankind.  

 

It’s all just beginning (we’ve only been in orbit for about 50 years). 


One of the keys Charlie mentioned at SpaceX and Telsa is how quickly we learn. 


It’s okay to fail, as long as we learn quickly and progress from it.  


The progress with reusable rockets at SpaceX is impressive. 


Can’t wait for more to come soon.  😉


(Credit Video: Andy Blumenthal)

That Decisive Qualitative Edge

So I am reading this book called “Israel’s Edge.”


It’s basically about their elite genius program, “Talpiot,” in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  


Each year the program accepts only the top 50 out of 100,000 graduating high school students for a 9-year commitment. 


There are the mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists that help give the IDF the cutting edge in military R&D and other innovations. 


These are the brain trust behind Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and Trophy tank active protection system and many more both military and industrial advances. 


This program was born after the almost disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur War where Israel misjudged the intelligence and the advances in their enemies capability and almost lost the war. 


I like the philosophy of General Yitzhak Ben-Israel who understands the importance of challenging the status quo and looking differently at critical situations and avoiding confirmation bias:

My method is not to look for supporting evidence. I look for refuting evidence…you see one white swan, then a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. You still can’t conclude that all swans are white…nature builds us to be inductive, to make generalizations from past experience…this standard way of scientific thinking can be limiting and destructive.”

Instead we must be continuously curious, think outside the box, be creative, and innovate. 


Especially, where we don’t have a quantitative advantage like with Israel surrounded by many enemies, then we must rely on a very sharp qualitative edge. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Cool Atom Puzzle

Thought this was a pretty stunning puzzle of The Atom


With sections for: composition, atomic model, thermonuclear fusion, periodic table, radioactivity, positron emission tomography, fission of uranium, nuclear reactor, and atomic scientists. 


Wow that’s a lot of information for a Puzzle and one very nicely designed at that. 


Congrats on putting this 1,000 piece beauty together. 


These things make me realize how very much I still have to learn–and in this case, it starts with all these small things. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Thought this was a pretty stunning puzzle of The Atom


With sections for: composition, atomic model, thermonuclear fusion, periodic table, radioactivity, positron emission tomography, fission of uranium, nuclear reactor, and atomic scientists. 


Wow that’s a lot of information for a Puzzle and one very nicely designed at that. 


Congrats on putting this 1,000 piece beauty together. 


These things make me realize how very much I still have to learn–and in this case, it starts with all these small things. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Radio-Activity

So earlier in the week, I had a great opportunity to visit the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR). 


It was fascinating to see the reactor, control room, and all the cool experiments–not things you see every day, right? 


For safety, we had to wear devices that measured radioactivity and also go through machines that checked us afterward. 


When one person in our group went through the scanner, it went off with a red alert, and the poor individual obviously got really scared–like OMG is there some contamination on me or something.


But they went through again and it turned out it was just a false positive, thank G-d. 


I guess these really can be dangerous substances to work around, but still so marvelous how the scientists harness these neutron beams and direct them to all sort of fascinating scientific experiments. 


Being around all this science makes me think whether if I could do it all again–wondering aloud–whether I would pursue an education in one of these amazing scientific disciplines and work in the lab like a “mad scientist”–exploring and discovering new things and figuring out the mysteries of the universe and how the world really works. 


What a fun, fun field to work in!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal and Art by 4th grader, Phillip Kenney)

Sleepy Education USA

Education.jpeg

Education is fundamental to learning, development and preparation for career and life. 

We’ve always believed that if you invest in anything, invest in education!

However, despite initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Every Child Succeeds Act, scores in the fundamentals like reading, math, and science all lag behind other advanced industrialized nations.

As of 2015, the U.S. ranked a stinking 38 out of 71 nations in K-12 education

Yet, it is seemingly the complete opposite, with college education, the U.S. has about 75% of the top 25 schools. 

However, the comparison is flawed because university rankings are based not on student academic performance, but rather on research performance, including things like journal articles published and Noble Prize winners. 

When academic proficiency is tested for American adults, the rankings again lag and are at best mediocre. 

While there are many dedicated and good teachers, still too many teachers and unions continue to fight testing and reform so that progress of our education system continues to fail our children and our nation.

We need to end education by memorization, and focus instead on hands-on learning (by doing), critical thinking and problem-solving.

Sleeping through a lecture may not mean a student is missing squat in the current failed education system. 

(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)