Angry Birds, Pulsejet-powered R/C cars, and Supernovae

I’ve read some really interesting articles and watched some really interesting videos in the last few days.  Take a look:

What If Angry Birds Didn’t Grade With SBG? << Bowman in Arabia

This article was a blog post about a grading system many of my teachers are using this year.  It used the analogy of Angry Birds to prove the reason SBG should be used instead of traditional grading.  Angry Birds always grades on a basis of three stars.  This in itself brings to mind SBG, which is also based in three standards.  However, the biggest commonality between the two is the capability to retry.  In traditional grading, one’s single grade is their single grade forever.  When the ability to retry is introduced, full understanding is much more reachable, and the knowledge gained from a class lasts for much longer.  With this analogy, I not only understood the idea better, but came to like it even more.

RC car w/ a pulsejet

This video was a project by a group to build a remote controlled car powered by a pulse jet. Watching it was actually pretty cool, considering the fact that the power given to such a small system was so large. However, I did have a reason to watch it. The question I was answering was whether this vehicle or the mousetrap car I built (see last blog post) had more power. I answered by saying that it was probably our mousetrap car, since though the energy used by this jet is huge, the mousetrap releases a very large amount of energy in a much shorter time. Thus, if the mousetrap’s time of release was equated to that of the R/C car, the energy would probably be greater, even though it didn’t exert the energy for nearly the amount of time that the R/C car did.

The first video is a quick outline of the work of the group of scientists who just won the Nobel Prize.  Their research addressed the really interesting topic of the acceleration of the expansion of the universe, which involves dark energy and other similar concepts.  The second video goes deeper into the way they completed this research.  The actual process was really interesting.  Their discovery was that there were certain white dwarfs that were given mass by a close by star, until a certain constant point which resulted in a supernova.  The fact that this mass was the same between all the supernovae meant that all the supernovae were the same, and thus could easily be compared.  However, according to the second video, this wasn’t what the Nobel Prize was awarded for.  The award was for what the scientists did with this discovery.  They were able to actually discover and expand on this idea of the acceleration of the expansion of the universe, contrary to previous discoveries that proved the exact opposite.  I would definitely like to follow this story, especially since the British Space Program is now studying Dark Energy, and planning on launching a telescope for this purpose within the next decade.


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