Weekly Challenge 8: How Big is Big? The Earth Edition

 Posted by DrJeff on October 16th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

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This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Driving with Jordi.

Photo caption: the Hawaiian Islands, with the Big Island of Hawai’i at lower right. The Big Island was formed from five volcanoes including Mauna Kea. True color from the NASA Terra satellite, May 27, 2003.

The solution to this Challenge will be posted Monday, October 26, 2009.

It’s a new school year, and I couldn’t wait to get back into the routine of my morning drive with Jordi. I missed our daily conversations about Earth, space and everything else in his known universe while we navigate the fabled Washington, DC, Beltway to his school. Sure, we spent lots of great family time together over the summer at the pool club, and in New York. But there was something magical about taking 30 minutes of dull driving each morning and turning it into a free-for-all ‘Jordi where do you want to take the conversation today?’

To help you picture it, I’m always driving with my cup of coffee, glancing in the rear view mirror—waiting. He’s usually staring forward, transfixed. You’d almost think that my now 7-year-old is just zoning—except that he’s got that slight squint which tells me wheels are turning furiously inside. Then BOOM! He launches our great morning adventure with a simple, elegant, deep thought.

So last week, like always, just out of the blue—

“Daddy, how many Empire State Buildings tall is the tallest mountain?”

Today he wanted daddy to help him conceptualize the height of a really tall mountain. He wanted to use a familiar ruler.

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 7: Spaceship Earth

 Posted by DrJeff on September 15th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

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Photo caption: Computer-generated image of the Milky Way galaxy based on real data.

 

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge. It was requested by (teacher extraordinaire) Jami Lupold and her class in the great city of Houston, Texas, USA.

If you’re a teacher and your class has an idea for a blog post, slip me a note!

 

Last week I gave you a scare. It happened when I told you that you’re really on a spaceship hurtling through space. I was in the midst of describing all of Earth’s motions—it spins, it orbits the Sun, the Sun orbits the center of our galaxy carrying Earth and the Solar System along for the ride—and that’s when I saw panic on your face. You started to get a bit dizzy, so I turned on the “fasten seat belt sign” in light of all the conceptual turbulence ahead. To keep your mind off all the spinnin’ and revolvin’ I gave you an assignment to calculate Earth’s speed—your speed—due to these three motions. Does this all ring a bell? No? Why don’t you go and re-read the original challenge from last week, so you can refocus.

 

Good. Now that you’re back. Let’s get to the answers. Did I mention this week’s challenge was in our in-flight magazine in the seat pocket in front of you? By the way, I see you dug your fingernails into your seat, and your fingertips seem a bit blue. (Hope the answers don’t send you into a panic.)

 

And now the answers—


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Weekly Challenge 7: Spaceship Earth

 Posted by DrJeff on September 4th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

MW

Photo caption: Computer-generated image of the Milky Way galaxy based on real data.

 

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge. It was requested by (teacher extraordinaire) Jami Lupold and her class in the great city of Houston, Texas, USA.

If you’re a teacher and your class has an idea for a blog post, slip me a note!


 

You wanted to be an astronaut? Poof. Done.

 

You and your friends are on a spaceship called Earth—with all known life aboard. With you sitting there calmly reading this, and no obvious need to hold on to something for dear life, it might seem that the spaceship under your feet is carrying you on a nice steady trajectory through space. Uh … Nope. Right now you’re being carried along on something more akin to a cosmic-sized amusement park ride. Earth is rotating on its axis, it’s orbiting the Sun, and the whole Solar System (the Sun and its planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and Trans-Neptunian Objects) is orbiting the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way itself is moving relative to other nearby galaxies, the local group of galaxies is moving through a greater space, and all this is set against a backdrop of an expanding fabric of space and time across the entire universe. I know!!!! (© Craig Ferguson) Dizzy?

 

[Pleasant Ding] The captain has just turned on the seat belt sign. There may be some conceptual turbulence up ahead. But I’ll make the ride as smooth as possible.

 

OK, I think a Weekly Challenge requesting that you calculate all the spinning, and revolving, and free-flying is a bit much, so let’s concentrate on three things:

 

Here now the Challenge—

 

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 6: Today’s Special in the Cosmic Kitchen is …

 Posted by DrJeff on August 24th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

KitchenFinal

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge.

 

Welcome humans nice folks. We have assumed you are here for the answer to Weekly Challenge 6. Men in black team #26,342 is therefore now en route to your home. If you don’t know why, before reading any further we recommend (with great strength) that you read Weekly Challenge 6. Our team is rolling (very fast).

 

And now the answer—

 

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Weekly Challenge 6: Twilight Zone, the Missing Episode – “Today’s Special in the Cosmic Kitchen”

 Posted by DrJeff on August 17th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

KitchenFinal

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge.

 

On a recent tour of CBS, I got separated from my group, got pretty lost, and ended up in a dusty storage room filled with nightmarish props that really creeped me out. In the corner I found an old envelope marked “Rod Serling’ with a script inside. Wow. I decided to turn it into a BotU Weekly Challenge and introduce a new character kinda like, well, me. (It is my Blog.)

 

First a word from our Sponsor—

Come back Monday, August 24. for the solution to this Weekly Challenge.


Come back Friday, August 21, for a new post “The Scale of the Solar System—A Voyage in Corpus Christi”

 

 

Submitted for your consideration, I invite you to accompany me to a Cosmic Kitchen where each entree is of galactic proportions, and ingredients are folded together with forces both unimaginable and seemingly limitless. As we enter the infinite spaces allocated for baking, a solar-system-sized pasta press has just been loaded with planet Earth, and an ejector plate has been inserted which has but a single hole in the center with an adjustable diameter. Chef Jeff has closed the massive door behind the planet, and now the only way out for Earth is through that small opening—for today’s special in the Cosmic Kitchen is Earth spaghetti.

 

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 5: Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency

 Posted by DrJeff on August 7th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

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This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge.

 

Nice to see you again! Now that you’re back from your interplanetary romp through the Solar System, let’s see those cool photographs you took for the Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency tour brochure.

 

[Hmmm …. silence.] You there?? Earth to my contracted photographer, you seem to be processing all this a bit slowly. I suspect you’re suffering from ‘rocket lag’. It’s perfectly understandable after traveling over 10 billion miles and visiting 7 worlds. I don’t think any photographer has ever been this dedicated. You’re clearly worth more than I’m paying you. So take a load off, and first re-read Weekly Challenge 5 to get back up to speed.

 

And now the answers—


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Weekly Challenge 5: Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency

 Posted by DrJeff on July 13th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Apollo--Apollo-module-orb-002

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge.

 

Photo caption: Photograph by Michael Collins in Apollo 11 command module Columbia, as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin return from the lunar surface in Eagle. With the exception of Michael Collins, the entire human race is in the picture. It happened almost exactly 40 years ago. Eagle blasted off from the surface at 1:54:00 pm EDT, July 21, 1969.

 

I decided to start a new business. I know space flight for us average folk is just around the corner. As a shrewd business person (hah) I recognize the market potential for interplanetary vacation travel. So I’m therefore happy to report that I’ve just established my new company—Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency, LLC, and I need some help from you all in designing my marketing material. I’m thinking images of alien vistas is the way to really entice clients.

 

Last night I happened to look up at the Moon as it was rising above the trees (read why HERE) ,and I thought to myself “Wow! If I didn’t live on Earth, a picture of that would certainly make me want to visit Earth!”

 

So I started imagining the view from the surface of other worlds. In particular, I’m thinking of a tour package to moons of some of the planets, with stays at the Best Western Satellite Hotels, each located a comfortable distance from the regional spaceport. (Sorry, the Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels only wanted to build on the planets.)

 

I’m hiring you as my interplanetary photographer. I’d like you to travel to some moons and get me some cool pictures for my brochure. For each shot, I’d like something comparable to what I saw when I looked at the full Moon from Earth.

 

Here now the Challenge—

 

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 4: You Want Me to Do What With a Bathroom Scale?

 Posted by DrJeff on July 8th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

For Post

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Teachable Moment in the News.

 

Ok, I know you’ve been perplexed for a week. You’ve been patiently waiting for me to read my bathroom scale on top of my 210 mile high mountain that apparently even the U.S. Geological Survey knows nothing about (I checked at their web site.) Wait! You say you have no clue what I’m talking about?? Hey, you’ve got to read Weekly Challege 4 FIRST! None of this lazy stuff going right to the answer.

 

Go read Weekly Challenge 4, think about it for a while, and come back. I’ll wait right here for you.

 

And now the answer—


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Weekly Challenge 4: You Want Me to Do What With a Bathroom Scale?

 Posted by DrJeff on June 29th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

For Post

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Teachable Moment in the News.

 

As I write, NASA engineers at Kennedy Space Center are working mightily on space shuttle Endeavour to repair a hydrogen leak that scrubbed the June 13, then June 17 launches. Endeavour is headed for the International Space Station. NASA reports that the next flight opportunity is July 11—WHICH MEANS I’ve got plenty of time to get ready for my way cool experiment.

 

I’ve heard a lot about weightlessness, and astronauts having a great time floating around. The shuttle flies at an altitude of 210 miles (340 km) when rendezvousing with Space Station. (For a cool take on this read my earlier post The Business Trip.) So I wanted to find out first hand what’s going on up there. Since they don’t have a spare seat, I looked far and wide to find an amazingly tall mountain whose peak rises to the shuttle’s orbital altitude. See my mountain in the picture? Mt. Everest is only 5.5 miles (8.8 km) high. MY mountain is 210 miles (340 km) high. It took me some time but I finally found it south of the Land of Make-Believe, down a not too well traveled path. Still, you’d think someone would have noticed it.

 

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 3: What Can You Do With a Humongous Piece of Xerox Paper?

 Posted by DrJeff on June 23rd, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

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This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Dr. Jeff’s Jeffism.


Last week on BotU, your challenge was to take an imaginary, truly humongous piece of xerox paper—but with normal xerox paper thickness—and figure out how many times you’d need to fold it in half so the folded thickness is the height of you, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Mount Everest. For those that really wanted to challenge themselves, I invited you to keep folding so it would be thick enough to reach the Moon, the Sun, the nearest star, and beyond.


How’d you do?


BUT WAIT! If you haven’t yet read Weekly Challenge 3, DON’T LOOK AT THE SOLUTION HERE JUST YET! First read Weekly Challenge 3, or I’ll take back my paper.


First, a word from our sponsor—

You Want Me To Do What With a Bathroom Scale?

Weekly Challenge 4 to be posted Monday, June 29, 2009


Other Posts coming soon:

A Voyage in Corpus Christi

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, History Tells How Far You Are

Lessons of Earth

MESSENGER: Target Mercury


And now the answers—


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