# Thursday, November 6, 2003

H2G2

The Tertiary Phase of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio play is being produced, and a fourth part is going to follow. We have the primary and secondary phases, and I really hope the two new parts will turn out as good as these.

Eclipse

There will be a total lunar eclipse during the weekend. The maximum will occur on Sunday, November 9th, at 2:18 GMT+1. The moon enters the earth’s penumbra at 23:15 GMT+1 (the day before) and the inner umbra at 0:32 GMT+1. I talked about lunar eclipses in my 6th grade physics class today. It took the students a while to understand the differences between a new moon and an eclipse, which occurs at full moon. But when they finally got it, one girl asked, “But why isn’t there an eclipse every time the moon is full?” I think the question indicates that she really understood how the eclipse works. I told the students that they should ask their parents to watch at least part of the eclipse with them – I know it will be fairly late for eleven-year-olds, but it’s the weekend, they can sleep in on Sunday. I’m really looking forward to the next lesson (on Monday) to see how many of them actually stayed up and watched.

We also “built” a model of our solar system (just the sun, the earth and the moon) in class today: a marble was the earth, a pinhead represented the moon (about 10 cm away from the earth), and the sun was a swiss ball. We had to go out into the schoolyard in order to have the sun and the earth at the proper distance. I sent one girl all the way across the yard with the sun. After our little experiment was done, she quickly came back to the rest of the group. I told her she was moving faster than the light because it takes photons eight minutes to travel from the sun to the earth. I think she was quite amused by that.

Science is fun!

Archimedes’ Laboratory (site available in English, French, Italian) is a “geometric puzzle site [that] is designed for open-minded people with a fair amount of curiosity and humility. To solve the perplexing and tricky puzzles that you will find in the following pages, you need a very high IQ, not the usual and controversial Intelligence Quotient, but the ‘Inveniens Quaerendo’ (Latin, discovering by trying) ability. Intelligence is not what you feel or what you know, but a problem solving skill. ”