Saturday, August 15, 2015

Today's Laugh

What does the moon do when he needs a haircut?

'e clips.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Very Clean Refrigerator

I blame Maggie.

Today while cutting veggies, we were watching Good Eats.  Eventually Maggie commented on how clean Alton's chill-chest was.  "How can anyone keep a refrigerator that clean?"  I told her that if I had as many aides as he has, and if I were putting my refrigerator on national TV, ours would be that clean too.  At least for the camera.

A few hours later an uncovered glass of grape juice tipped over in the refrigerator.  Grape juice on every shelf.  Grape juice on the walls.  Grape juice pouring out the bottom of the appliance.  Grape juice all over the floor.

She had to go and comment on clean refrigerators.  You know the fates heard her.

An hour-and-a-half later, any qualms I had about having Not Accomplished Much today were gone.

Tomorrow we tackle the floor, including underneath the stove and fridge.  That grape juice sure was some motivation!

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Why Space Is Called "Space"

A long time ago in a county far, far away
we built a model of the solar system.

(This was before Pluto was demoted.)

Most models of the solar system put either
~the planets' distances in scale to each other, or
~the planets' size in scale to each other. 
But not both. 

So we went out on an isolated country road, and made ourselves a scale model of the solar system, with the planets' sizes in scale to their distances from each other.  We made 1 inch equal to 50,000 km.  This is awesome.  When you plunk down a couple grains of rice and a few lentils and a marshmallow or two across the space of nearly two miles, you really see why we call it "space."

The next time we laid out our scale model, several years later, I realized that the planets aren't lined up in a nice, neat row.  So our model shouldn't be in a row either.   That time, we placed our planets in two dimensions:  Pluto was about two miles to the west of the sun, Neptune 1.5 miles south of the sun, and Uranus a mile east of our 20" sun.  That really shows you the vast nothingness that's out there.  This project also gives you a really good grip on the difference between the inner and outer planets!

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If you're interested in trying this out yourself,
and if you don't want to bother with the arithmetic,
these are the numbers we used:

Sun  20" diameter
draw it in sidewalk chalk, or use a smallish laundry basket as your model

about 96 feet away
(I took 22 paces, which are about 4.5 feet each, 
calling a "pace" a set of right & left steps, 
but I have long legs)
Mercury   1/10" (we used a crumb of rice)

about 180' from the sun
(another 18 paces)
Venus   1/4"  (we used a dried pea)

about 250' from the sun
(another 15.5 paces)
Earth   1/4"  (dried pea)
with the moon 7" away
1/16"  (a pin head)

about 380 feet from the sun
(another 29 paces past the earth)
Mars    1/7"    (a small lentil)

Then we went back to the sun, and drove,
using the car's odometer to measure distance.
Sun is your zero point.

Jupiter   (3" -- a baseball)
0.25 miles from the sun

Saturn (2.5"  -- a racquetball)
0.2 miles past Jupiter
or .45 from sun

Uranus  (1" -- large marshmallow)
0.45 miles past Saturn
or .9 miles from sun

Neptune (also 1")
0.5 miles past Uranus
or 1.4 miles from the sun

Pluto (1/22 "  -- a pin point)
0.45 miles past Neptune
or 1.85 miles from the sun

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Have fun!