High School SMILE Meeting
13 December 2005

Bill Colson [Morgan Park HS, mathematics]            Stamps
Bill called attention to a set of commemorative stamps that honor Richard Feynman and other scientists.  For details see the USPS website http://www.usps.com/communications/news/stamps/2004/sr04_076.htm and the Friends of Tuva website:  http://www.fotuva.org/online/frameload.htm?/online/stamp.html.  Be sure to obtain this stamp before 08 January 2006, when postage rates increase.

Bill also pointed us to the "Things You Never Knew Existed" Catalogue [http://www.thingsyouneverknew.com/] by Johnson Smith Cohttp://www.johnsonsmith.com/. It has a lot of great stuff,  including stuff we have seen/used in SMILE. Roy added that the Oriental Trading Co catalogue [http://orientaltrading.com] is also a good source of materials.  Thanks, fellers!

Earl Zwicker [IIT]             What is Zulu time?
called attention to a recent answer to the question "What is ZULU time?" by meteorologist Tom Skilling.  It appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Monday, 12 December 2005 on the weather page under the heading Ask Tom Why. The earth's surface is divided into 24 time zones, each representing a longitudinal width of 15 degrees.  Each time zone is represented by a letter  For the time zone of the Prime Meridian the corresponding letter is Z, which is identified with the word Zulu in the phonetic alphabet .... Able, Baker, Charlie, .... ZuluTres Simple! For additional details see the WGN Weather Bloghttp://wgntv.trb.com/news/weather/weblog/wgnweather/.
Thanks, Earl!

Carl Martikean [Proviso Math and Science Academy]         Biochemistry and Other Things
had been discussing motion with his freshman class and asked them to plot the motion described by the first two stanzas of Paul Revere's Ride by J W Longfellowhttp://eserver.org/poetry/paul-revere.html. Here is the first stanza:

"Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year."
The meter changes from a gallop in the first stanza to more of a march or walk in the first part of the second stanza. Carl showed both Distance versus Time and Velocity versus Time curves that described this motion.

Carl then passed out samples of Mozzarella cheese that he had made from regular pasteurized whole milk (see   http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=550085.). There is also a recipe for Ricotta --  in Italian it is called ricotta because it is made from recooked whey, a byproduct of preparing basic cheese.  Junket Rennet tablets (http://www.junketdesserts.com/junketrennettablets.aspx) are located in the ice cream section of the supermarket. Four liters (a gallon) of milk makes about one kilogram (two pounds) of cheese, taking about 5 hours -- most of the time be spent between steps, waiting.  Natural lactic acid production by lactobacillus serves to lower the pH  in commercially made cheese. Citric acid can be used to speed up the process and to serve the same purpose -- it can also be found in the supermarkets, either as food grade coffee pot cleaner or in the Kosher food section as sour/sauer salt: http://www.spicebarn.com/citric_acid_sour_salt.htm.

Carl also pointed out that (1) European cheeses are often made from non-Pasteurized milk, which is not legal in the USA, (2) Cheese was traditionally developed to preserve milk products --- cheese lasts but milk curdles, (3) low-fat cheeses are made from skim milk, and high-fat cheeses from high-fat milk -- there is no mystery!, and (4) the most common widely milked domestic animal on earth is sheep -- and not cows or goats.  Porter Johnson remarked that cheese in many European countries is marked by  fat content: 10 means 10% fat content; 40+ means more than 40% fat content, etc.

Your samples were not bad, Carl!  Thanks.

Ron Tuinstra [Illiana Christian HS]              Virtual Cadaver
Using the projector attached to his laptop computer, Ron ran a graphics package that does virtual dissections to display images involving human anatomy. The graphics were developed from actual dissections of the cadaver of a 68 year old male who died of a heart attack -- and a prototype female is under preparation. The software package is being marketed mostly for college classes, but Ron makes very good use of it for his students. Various functions permit manipulations such as 90o - 180o - 270o rotations, zoom in and zoom out, etc. Ron then gave us a more detailed demo using the tissue selecting function to examine the skeleton. Bones can be identified, or can be added to or removed from the image. This Virtual Dissector software package can be ordered for about $500 (site licenses are available) for installation from the Touch of Life Technologies website http://www.toltech.net/. Ron also ran the Virtual Moon Atlas package, which may be obtained free from the NASA website: [http://www.ap-i.net/avl/en/download].  The planetary configuration could be recovered for any date. Ron displayed them for 29 February 1940, Porter's official non-birthday. The heavens were portentous on that date!

What powerful visualization tools for understanding human anatomy, as well as for astronomy! Thanks, Ron.

During a lull in the activities during setup, Porter described an actual conversation between a Biologist (B) and a Physicist (P).

P: Please tell me something about the human brain.
B: Well, actually there are several brains functioning more or less independently in the human body, with linkages.
P: Wait, wait! You already told me too much!
Chris Etapa [Gunsaulus Academy, science]           Waves
showed us various activities that demonstrate wave motion. She obtained the first one at the recent NSTA convention in Chicago. It illustrated how the vibration of insect wings produces sounds. An ordinary pencil eraser was placed at either end of a craft stick, with a semicircular piece of heavy paper attached. The configuration could then be decorated to look like an insect. When a rubber band was stretched around the erasers along the length of the craft stick and the apparatus was swung in a circular motion from an attached string, a sound was made as the rubber bands vibrated while moving through the air. This is a model of how insects make sounds by vibrating their wings in the air.  Porter mentioned that, in our rural past, children could get virtually endless and totally free enjoyment by putting a June bug on a string! For a detailed description see the June Bugs website:  http://www.cmstory.org/exhibit/plum/june.htm.

Next was a simple apparatus. To a tape of length about 50 cm, she attached (hanging vertically) about 30 plastic straws at equal intervals. By flicking the straws appropriately, she produced a clearly visible transverse wave propagating down the tape.  It is a variation of the rather pricey Bell Wave Machine [http://www.physics.ucla.edu/demoweb/demomanual/harmonic_motion_and_waves/waves/bell_wave_machine.html], except that this version is practically free!.

Finally Chris had eight of us stand  in a line at the front of the room with arms interlocked. She shoved gently at one end of the line to produce motion, which was transmitted down the line to each member in turn. This is a "human model" of how seismic waves are transmitted through the Earth during an earthquake.  Longitudinal, transverse, and shear waves were illustrated by these august performers!

Neato! Thanks Chris, and thanks to your valiant team.

Erik Jurgens [Joliet Township HS, physics]             Projectile Motion Made Visible
It can be obtained from K-Mart® for about $10. A similar toy can be found at the Dollar Store®. It is a plastic air gun -- about 60 cm  long and 5 cm in diameter --which shoots a Nerf™ projectile. Erik attached a streamer (about 2 m long )to the projectile. When the gun is fired, the path of the projectile is made highly visible, thanks to the streamer which traces out a smooth, roughtly parabolic path.  An excellent invention, Erik!

Marva Anyanwu [Wendell Green School, science]            Teaching the Metric System
Marva asked us to write down in proper format the expressions for three hundred millimeters [300 mm] and thirty-six kilograms [36 kg] on a sheet. Then she gave us each a list of eight questions to answer, as well as an answer sheet. Here are the questions and answers about the metric system [http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/#metric]:

  1. Q: What is the official name of the modern metric system and what is its abbreviation?
    A: The official name is International System of Units. Its abbreviation is SI (Système Internationale d'Unités).
  2. Q: How many basic units are there in the metric system? What are they?
    A: The metric system consists of seven base units: meter (m), kilogram (kg), second (s), Kelvin (K), Ampère (A), mole (mol), and candela (cd).
  3. Q: Which metric units are preferred for expressing clothing and body units?
    A: The centimeter (cm) is preferred for measuring clothing and body measurements.
  4. Q: What is the difference between temperatures in degrees Celsius and Kelvin?
    A: The degree Celsius is meant for ordinary temperatures (with 0oC as the freezing temperature of water and 100 oC as the boiling temperature of water at sea level). The Kelvin scale is a scientific scale for temperatures above absolute zero ( 0 K is about - 273 oC).
  5. Q: Which is larger, a quart or a liter ... and how many milliliters large is it?
    A: A liter is larger than a quart. It contains 54 milliliters (mL ) more than a quart. A liter contains 1000 mL. A quart contains 946 ml.
  6. Q: Which metric system prefix means one-millionth?
    A: The metric system prefix for one-millionth is micro.
  7. Q: What is the difference between mass and weight?
    A: Mass is the quantity of matter, measured in kilograms (kg). In everyday language, mass is usually called "weight", as in "my weight is 68 kg" or "I weigh 68 kg". However, in correct scientific language, the word weight is reserved for the force of gravity, which is measured in Newtons (N). [It is more correct, technically, to state "my mass is 68 kg". However, in everyday life, the word "weight" is used.]
  8. Q: What are the short forms for metric units called?
    A: The short forms for metric units are called symbols. [It is not correct to call them abbreviations.]
We discussed the questions and answers for a few minutes.  Porter made these comments about everyday life in a metric country, based upon his two years of experience living in The Netherlands in the 1970s and 1980s:

Very nice!  Thanks, Marva.

The following people are scheduled for our first SMILE meeting of the Spring semester, Tuesday January 24, 2006, at 4:30 pm in room 152 Life Sciences building:

Happy Holidays! See you next year at our first meeting!

Notes prepared by Ben Stark and Porter Johnson.