Place in Space
Orbiting the earth are more than 2,280 satellites that are working 24/7, tracking the weather, redirecting voice and data communications, and sending GPS information to and from anywhere on the globe.
- Low Earth Orbit (LEO) the ISS, Hubble, earth observation satellites
- Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) GPS satellites
- Geosynchronous Orbit (satellite and the earth have same orbital speed)
- High Earth Orbit (HEO) weather satellites
A satellite’s “place in space” is determined by three things: its distance from the surface of the earth (the farther away, the slower the orbit), the eccentricity of its orbit (either circular or elliptical) and its inclination (whether it orbits parallel to the equator or at an angle).
For instance, a weather satellite might be positioned in a geosynchronous circular orbit to constantly monitor cloud cover, precipitation, and storm systems in a particular region, while communication satellites that cover regions over the north and south poles would follow a highly elliptical orbit inclined at a 90-degree angle.
A cool website Stuff in Space has located thousands of satellites, both active and non-functioning, as well as large pieces of space debris that are carefully monitored by NASA’s initiative Astromaterials Research and Exploration.
Unmanned spacecraft traveling away from the sun to explore the outer planets of the solar system are powered by nuclear energy, specifically Plutonium-238 built into a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG).
Elements such as Uranium and Plutonium are considered “radioactive” due to an imbalance of protons and electrons. The process of radioactive decay occurs as an atom of these elements naturally seeks to stabilize itself by releasing subatomic particles into the environment.
Alpha, beta, and dangerous gamma radiation is emitted as heat energy that can be converted into electricity within the generator.
Raging Storms on Jupiter
The wind on Jupiter, and on other planets within the solar system, is caused by temperature changes within the atmosphere that force high pressure (warm) air to flow in the opposite direction of low pressure (cold) air. Jupiter’s colored stripes and circular storms are caused by winds that rage at speeds of 200-300 mph.
Jupiter’s banded outer surface is a pattern of alternating “zones” and “belts”
Within the light colored zones, wind blows toward the east and the circular storms swirl in an anti-clockwise, or cyclonic, direction. The zones appear lighter in color due to an upward flow of wind that causes ammonia ice clouds to form
The belts are darker as molecules of carbon, methane, and nitrogen mix with the mostly hydrogen atmosphere. Winds blow toward the west and downward, causing storms such as the Great Red Spot to spin in a clockwise direction
A “republic” is a form of government that empowers its citizens to vote and elect officials, an idea that America was founded on when the Revolutionary War was fought to secure independence from the monarch of Great Britain.
In reference to a political party, the word “republican” has had different meanings through the years. The Republican Party that exists today was created in the late 1850’s and was prevalent in the northern states that were in favor of abolishing slavery.
Abe Lincoln was the first Republican President, and the Civil War was fought during his administration in an effort to prevent the southern states from creating a separate form of government.
In the years following the war, the first of the civil rights amendments were written.
- 13th Amendment abolished slavery
- 14th Amendment safeguards the legal protections and equal freedoms of Americans
- 15th Amendment secures the right to vote
The responsibilities of the executive branch are delegated to the President, the Vice President, and the offices of the Cabinet. The Constitution empowers the President to select a team of close advisers to manage the numerous agencies and programs that influence the lives of Americans every day.
During the first presidential administration, George Washington established four Cabinet posts: Secretary of State, Treasury, War, and the Attorney General.
- The War Department evolved into the Department of Defense in 1949, with control over the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force
- The Attorney General, at first a part-time position, now heads up the Justice Department, created in 1870 to advise on legal matters within the federal government
Eleven other Cabinet level positions have been added during the twentieth century, the most recent being the Department of Homeland Security created in 2002.
In July 1863, on a battlefield in Southwest Pennsylvania, 28,000 Confederate and 23,000 Union soldiers lost their lives fighting the Battle of Gettysburg. The 3-day war was a decisive victory for the North and the turning point of the Civil War.
In November of that year, President Lincoln traveled to Pennsylvania to consecrate the soldiers’ resting place in the Gettysburg National Cemetery, delivering the Gettysburg Address to a crowd of 15,000. The President’s two-minute speech was said to have been unremarkable within the events of the day, but his words are some of the most famous in American history. Lincoln’s humility and his devotion to the cause of uniting the northern and southern states have endured long after his death less than two years later.
… But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our power to add or detract …
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
A healthy diet is most important when we need the energy to get through a busy day. We might think that specialty or convenience foods are helpful, but all the nutrients we need are in the recipes we’ve been cooking for years:
- A medium sweet potato contains 500% RDA for Vitamin A
- 100% of the vital B vitamins are in combinations of everyday foods like fortified cereal, eggs, orange juice, chicken, fish, and beans
- All the minerals we need come from healthy snack foods such as salads, whole grains, nuts, yogurt, and dark chocolate
- And these same foods contain protein and carbs for energy and a clear-minded focus through the day
Fruits and vegetables lose some of their nutrients when they’re canned or frozen, but processing fresh vegetables when they’re in season means they can be enjoyed at reasonable prices all year.
At sustainabletable.org you can search for seasonal produce and where to find the nearest farmer’s market.
Health experts have found that both positive and negative emotions have an influence on our health … and that laughter really is the best medicine.
When we’re feeling angry or threatened, our adrenal glands respond by producing adrenaline and cortisol, chemicals that are usually beneficial as they provide a boost of energy and alertness so we can confront danger or get safely away. Unhealthy levels of these stress hormones could have a harmful effect, elevating heart rate, suppressing the immune system, and making it difficult to rest and get enough sleep.
In contrast, positive thoughts, and a healthy focus on diet and exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, a neurotransmitter that counteracts the effect of stress by lowering blood pressure, easing pain, and causing our brain to register feelings of happiness and well-being.
DNA and Aging
The spiral, ladder-shaped molecule of DNA is a familiar sight. In recent years, scientists have been researching the correlation between DNA and the aging process, specifically whether the shortening of telomeres at the base of a DNA molecule could result in various types of cancer.
Cancer occurs when parts of a chromosome known as a gene become damaged, interrupting the cells normal functioning and causing it to grow out of control. The cause could be environmental or simply a misalignment of the nitrogenous base pairs that occurs during DNA replication.
But our cells have built-in mechanisms for repairing DNA. When DNA replicates, for instance, the parent DNA is able to alert itself when the sequence of base pairs are lining up incorrectly. Enzymes target the site and repair the strand of DNA before it divides into the new cell.
When cell damage occurs from other factors (for instance, stress, unhealthy habits, and environmental toxins), enzymes within the cell nucleus that continually scan the genetic material will locate and cut away the broken pieces and rebuild the strand with the correct sequencing.
Researchers have found that numerous mutations usually have to occur within a strand of DNA before the cell becomes cancerous. They point to this as the reason that cancer occurs more often in the elderly, or as the reason that we age at all.
During the Hindu month of Kartika, when the the moon begins a new phase and the night sky is darkest, the celebration of Diwali begins. There are different stories and legends associated with this 5-day festival, but each one is about light, representing goodness and prosperity, triumphing over darkness, signifying evil. This year, Diwali is celebrated from October 19-23.
During the day, families gather in prayer and to feast on traditional desserts and savory vegetarian foods. Though it’s an official holiday, stores are open as Hindu women shop for the brightly colored silks produced in the region. At night, lanterns and candles appear in each home and fireworks light up the sky.
One of Islam’s most spiritual traditions takes place this year from August 30 to September 4. The annual journey known as the Hajj was established by Muhammad in 628 AD in honor of the prophet Abraham.
The Hajj is a demonstration of unity and equality as Muslim men and women of every race travel on ancient trade routes to Mecca where they pray together and perform symbolic rituals at the site of the Ka’aba.
Five Pillars of Islam
As Muslims observe the daily prayer ritual they’re reminded of the responsibility to their community while focusing on their own lifelong spiritual journey
The books of the Torah tell the stories of the Hebrew people, the prophets and their descendants that first received God’s laws and traveled to the “promised land” of modern-day Israel. The Torah was written in the Hebrew language, and Hebrew was spoken by the Israelites for centuries, eventually being replaced by Aramaic when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians in 587 BCE.
In the 18th century, the Jewish Enlightenment resulted in a revival of many of the ancient traditions of Judaism. At that time, Hebrew was only being taught in synagogues in order to study the original text of the Hebrew Bible. A Jewish scholar named Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922) worked to bring the ancient Hebrew language into the twentieth century, and today it’s one of two official languages spoken within Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.