Some Strange Science Will Launch Into Space This Week for NASA

This Thursday, crystallizing proteins from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a dizzying virtual- reality system, ultratiny membranes and the “Refabricator” — a device that turns waste into 3D-printing filament, will all be shooting into space.

This weird science and so much more will launch Thursday (Nov. 15) at 4:49 a.m. EST (0949 GMT) on Northrop Grumman’s (formerly Orbital ATK) 10th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. The company’s Cygnus spacecraft will lift off on its Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, carrying about 882 pounds (400 kilograms) of research and hardware for these experiments, NASA officials said in a statement. In total, the rocket will launch about 7,500 pounds (3,402 kg) of scientific equipment and crew supplies like food and clothing to the International Space Station.

These experiments will be among the hundreds of scientific investigations currently happening aboard the space station. The launch will be visible along parts of the U.S. East Ccoast, and you can watch it live online here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV. [Launch Photo: Orbital ATK’s Antares Rocket & Cygnus OA-9 Soar to Space Station]

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket, preparing for Northrop Grumman's 10th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, is seen on the left in the Horizontal Integration Facility at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket, preparing for Northrop Grumman’s 10th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, is seen on the left in the Horizontal Integration Facility at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Credit: Patrick Black/NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus vehicle has been named in honor of NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy officer John Young. Young spent 835 hours in space over six missions as a NASA astronaut.

Aboard the Cygnus vehicle will be a device called the Refabricator as part of the In-Space Manufacturing Refabricator project. This is the first integrated 3D printer and recycler that will turn waste plastic into filament for 3D-printing aboard the space station. The filament will be used for repairs aboard the space station and also as a means of recycling waste. The device could also be used to fabricate things on board the space station.

Refabricator flight hardware as seen from the front, similar to how it will look when installed in the EXPRESS Rack on the International Space Station.

Refabricator flight hardware as seen from the front, similar to how it will look when installed in the EXPRESS Rack on the International Space Station.

Credit: Allison Porter, Tethers Unlimited Inc.

This technology could be very useful for long-term deep-space missions where astronauts will have to deal with waste, repair and resource issues on a regular basis. As the investigation’s research overview states, “Without a recycling capability, a large supply of feedstock would need to be stowed on board for long-duration exploration missions.” This investigation is sponsored by NASA’s Technology Demonstration Office.

The Effect of Long Duration Hypogravity on the Perception of Self-Motion (VECTION) study, another investigation launching to the space station, will explore how a microgravity environment might affect an astronaut’s ability to visually interpret motion, orientation and distance.

Here on Earth, our senses work together to let us know how far away we are from things, how fast they are moving, and how they are oriented. In space, gravity no longer plays a part in our vestibular system, a system that contributes to our sense of balance and orientation. The VECTION study aims to better understand how microgravity affects these senses using virtual reality.

In this study, astronauts will wear a virtual-reality (VR) system that will provide computer-generated visual clues to try to create artificial gravity using visual acceleration, Laurence Harris, a professor at York University in Toronto and principal investigator in this research, said at a news conference on Thursday, Nov. 8. After the VR simulation, the astronauts will report how far they perceive that they moved, how far away things were from them, etc.

“Many astronauts do feel disoriented or suffer from space sickness when they first arrive at the space station,” Harris said. So, to understand how a microgravity environment might affect astronauts at multiple points in their trip, they will participate in the VR simulation as soon as they arrive in space, once they’ve gotten used to the environment and once they’ve returned to Earth.

[“source=TimeOFIndia”]

Creative way to learn library history

Story image for CREATIVE from The Hindu

A lot of people seemed fascinated with my story last week of reading the library board minutes as a way of learning about the history of the library system when I arrived in 1983.

I will agree that it was not the most exciting reading — much of it was legal functions related to local government and requirements of the Ohio Revised Code, but mixed with those things were some wonderful stories of providing library service to the public.

Everyone wanted the “stories” of library history, so here are some I found interesting.

When Andrew Carnegie wrote his letter to Steubenville on June 30, 1899, saying that he would donate money for a new public library, he did not specifically say how much money he would provide.

The committee assumed that he would provide funds similar to the Pittsburgh-area libraries that he had already funded, and the $50,000 check that arrived was “surprising” as most of those libraries received three times more than that.

A polite letter from the library board yielded another check for $12,000 but that was all.

Despite reductions in the building size and other expenses, the library was pinched for money, particularly for new books for the collection.

The city library association operated from 1848-1855, and a reading room operated in conjunction with the schools from 1876-1880; yet both earlier libraries had closed and their books were boxed and in storage.

Those collections were given to the new library when it opened in 1902, but the collection was indeed sparse and new books needed to be purchased.

In those days, most publishers were located in New York City, and libraries received new books packed in wooden barrels and shipped by the railroad.

So, how did the barrels get from the railroad depot to the library, some eight blocks apart?

Horse and wagon was the answer but as the library was being completed in 1901, they found that there was no delivery entrance or loading dock — a problem that has plagued the library its whole lifespan.

Poor Ellen Summers Wilson had to open the barrels and carry the books by the armload up the steps as she could find someone to transport them.

Later board minutes discussed the fact that the $4,000 in operating expenses allocated in 1902, no longer covered expenses by 1924 and the library closed for the winter as coal could not be afforded.

In 1957, a new gas-fired steam boiler was installed and the old boiler was literally cut off at the basement floor level and covered with concrete. In our current construction, we found the boiler still exists under the floor still filled with coal and it will be under the feet of staff in their new lunchroom.

As the library system began providing countywide service in 1936, branches and station-stops were developed around the county, and one of the county librarians complained that her little space had a screen door that was worn out and needed to be replaced.

The board debated the need for a new screen door and eventually hired a carpenter to construct a new screen door which delighted the librarian. The first day of use a child ran through the door tearing the screen from the new door and demolishing the frame. The librarian said to “forget it” she would just let the flies in the library.

In the 1930s, “station stops” were established by the library in rural stores to begin providing books to the public. This meant a collection of 50-75 books that rotated from stop to stop.

One stationmaster was pleased to report that she had distributed every book on her shelf, but failed to tell people they were library books and they needed to “return them.”

Her station was empty for a while, but finally word got around that the books needed to be returned — and all was well again after the philosophy of a public library was explained.

The 1930s and 1940s were a time for serious repair for the Carnegie building. Severe roof leaks stained the walls, and bricks and stone fell from the tower damaging the original clay tile roof,

A library patron in 1943 was pleased to return his books to the library, as well as the “brick” that fell off the building and landed on the steps at his feet.

The problem was solved in 1956 with the removal of the top of the tower and the replacement of the roof by today’s slate roof.

(Hall is the assistant director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.)

[“source=forbes]

Parties gear up for Florida challenges

Supporters of Republican candidates demand the ouster of Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes Friday in Lauderhill, Fla.

The razor-thin Senate race in Florida erupted into outright partisan warfare Friday as Democrats pressed for a recount and Republicans – including President Trump – accused local election officials of tilting the outcome against them.

Republicans offered no evidence that fraud was to blame for a diminishing lead in heavily Democratic Broward County in South Florida, where the still-unfinished counting of absentee and provisional ballots has narrowed Republican Rick Scott’s statewide lead to less than one-half of a percentage point.

The margin is expected to trigger a recount of ballots, which could begin as early as Saturday in counties across the state. But it has also prompted an uproar from Republicans.

“Rick Scott was up by 50,000+ votes on Election Day, now they ‘found’ many votes and he is only up 15,000 votes,” Trump tweeted Friday. ” ‘The Broward Effect.’ How come they never find Republican votes?”

In addition, protesters took to the sidewalks outside the county’s election offices in Lauderhill to demand the ouster of Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Broward, who has faced a string of accusations over the last decade over mismanaged elections.

“It’s a mob scene,” said William Scherer, a Republican attorney representing Scott and who worked for George W. Bush in the recount during the 2000 presidential election. “This is like deja vu all over again.”

A lawyer for Democrat Bill Nelson, Marc Elias, said in a call with reporters Friday that the canvass underway in Broward and elsewhere in Florida is a “feature, not a flaw, of our democratic system” to be sure all valid votes are counted. He accused Republicans of falsely claiming voter fraud simply because the margin had changed.

“The lead is just over 15,000 votes now, which seemed to cause the governor to hold an impromptu news conference to acknowledge the shrinking state of the margin,” Elias said.

Both campaigns filed lawsuits Thursday. Scott accused Broward and Palm Beach county election officials of fraud, but offered no evidence beyond procedural errors and Scott’s dwindling vote margin.

Nelson’s suit seeks to re-examine absentee and provisional ballots when signatures on the ballots don’t match voter registration records. In Georgia last week, a federal judge ordered local election officials to stop throwing out ballots based on signature issues.

The Scott campaign lashed out at the suit. “Their desperation has driven them to ask the federal courts to allow voter fraud,” Scott campaign manager Jackie Schutz Zeckman said.

But reports have poured in from voters complaining that their ballots had been improperly rejected; one came from Patrick Murphy, the former Democratic congressman from Palm Beach who tweeted: “Just saw notice from @PBCounty that my absentee ballot wasn’t counted due to ‘invalid signature’ match. Should be +1 @NelsonForSenate @AndrewGillum. Must overhaul these ridiculous barriers to voting.”

In the Senate race, Scott had a lead over Nelson Friday afternoon of just more than 16,000 votes, or 0.19 percent, according to The Associated Press. In the governor’s race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, D, trailed former congressman Ron DeSantis, R, by more than 36,000 votes, or 0.45 percent.

Under Florida law, a statewide machine recount is conducted when the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent.

[“source=forbes]

9 Takeaways You Need To Know About Education And Tuesday’s Election

Education issues in the elections.

With the midterms on Tuesday, we’ve devoted our weekly roundup to focus on education’s role in the election. Here are our nine takeaways of key issues and trends to watch:

1. Teachers are flexing their (political) muscles

With just days to go, both of the major teachers’ unions have devoted their considerable resources to the election.

The American Federation of Teachers has its members on the ground, making calls and knocking on doors, for more than 100 key Senate, House and gubernatorial races.

While the AFT is focused more on national races, the National Education Association (the largest U.S. teachers’ union with nearly 3 million members) is primarily targeting state and local races.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. This has been a year packed with teacher activism. There were walkouts and demonstrations in five states. What did they want? Their main concerns were better pay and working conditions. Arizona, West Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky and Oklahoma are also states with some of the lowest education funding rates in the nation, as well as very low rates of teacher pay.

For education advocates, conversations on funding education are long overdue.

In a report, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities called the last 10 years, “A Punishing Decade for School Funding.” Twenty-five states are still providing less total school funding per student than they were in 2008, according to this report by the AFT.

2. Keep an eye on the governor’s races

Education is the No. 2 issue in campaign ads for governors, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. It falls to 15th when you look at federal races, says Travis N. Ridout, the project’s co-director. This, he explains, is reflective of the importance of states vs. the federal government in setting education policy.

There are 36 gubernatorial races on Tuesday. Seventeen of those, because of retirements and term limits, will see a new governor in office. And 12 states will elect governors who appoint the state school chief (often called a superintendent).

New Mexico and Maryland are two states where the governor will have to make tough choices right away: rewriting the formula used to determine how funds are distributed to schools.

3. Follow the money

Voters in Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Colorado, Missouri and Utah will see education funding measures on the ballot. All told, these could add $2.6 billion for early childhood, K-12 and higher education. That’s according to the Center for American Progress.

“We’re seeing voters are looking to find ways to increase state funding for public education,” says Jessica Yin of CAP. (You can read the full report here.)

Colorado is considering the biggest increase in education funding: $1.6 billion. Amendment 73 proposes to create a Quality Public Education Fund through tax hikes for corporations and individuals who earn more than $150,000 a year.

4. ‘Non-traditional’ funding sources

Three states are looking at new sources of education revenue.

Michigan is mulling whether to legalize recreational marijuana. If approved, 35 percent of excise taxes on weed in the state would go towards K-12 education, with the rest of the revenue devoted to local governments and road repairs. Voters in Missouri are considering a similar measure. If passed, the proposal would legalize medical marijuana and funnel tax revenue towards veteran healthcare and early childhood education.

(The idea to fund education by taxing marijuana sales has appeared on state ballots before. Voters in Nevada, Oregon and Colorado approved similar measures, since as early as 2012.)

Maryland, meanwhile, is looking at casino revenue to support early education, career and technical education, dual enrollment programs and more. The measure is anticipated to generate at least $750 million in supplemental funding from 2020 to 2022.

5. A “blue wave?”

Many Democrats are predicting an anti-Trump blue wave that will lead their party to take the House. Democrats only need 23 seats to take control. The numbers, however, seem less favorable to Democrats when it comes to taking over the Senate.

So what does that mean for education policy?

Democratic control of the House could bring a new push to update the Higher Education Act. This is the main federal law governing approximately $120 billion in annual federal financial aid spending through grants, loans and work-study. It also covers anti-sex discrimination rules found under Title IX. The legislation was first passed in 1965 and last updated in 2008.

In the past year, both parties submitted their own bills with — wait for it — major differences. The two sides are currently are at an impasse, particularly on guidelines for federal student aid and regulations of for-profit colleges. A Democratic majority in the House could allow for enough bipartisan cooperation to pass a renewal, says Bethany Little, a principal of the Education Counsel, an educational consulting firm.

6. The DeVos factor

The controversial U.S. Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, has been mentioned in $3 million worth of political TV ads and dozens of Facebook ads, overwhelmingly Democratic, according to a new analysis by Politico.

In races and states where public education is a big issue, her work advocating for vouchers and charter schools, scaling back civil rights protections for students, and siding with loan servicing companies over student borrowers could motivate many voters, even though DeVos’ name isn’t on the ballot.

7. Key Race: Arizona governor

David Garcia, a professor at Arizona State University, is running on the Democratic ticket against incumbent Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.

Ducey is campaigning on how he ended the teacher walkouts this spring: by signing a bill that promised a 20 percent raise to teacher salaries. NPR has reported that the legislation does not require that every teacher get a 20 percent raise.

The race could be a nailbiter. Garcia has attacked Ducey’s record on education but has faced a “crush of spending from incumbent Ducey and his allies,” reports Bret Jaspers of member station KJZZ.

Arizona will also be voting on the future of school vouchers. Proposition 305 will try to expand the state’s voucher program from special-needs students to all students in the state.

Republican Ducey is a firm supporter of charter schools in the state, saying he’s skeptical of the “profit motive” of charter institutions.

8. Key Race: Wisconsin governor

Democrat Tony Evers, the current superintendent of public instruction, is up against Republican incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, with education as the spotlight issue of the race.

About 40 percent of voters there put K-12 education as one of their top two issues, according to polling by Marquette University Law School.

Public education has experienced a bumpy road in Wisconsin since Walker took office in 2011. Funding for K-12 schools saw a $749 million cut during Walker’s first two years in office. Last year, the state boosted funding by $649 million, a figure Walker has frequently cited in his campaign ads.

Although Wisconsin wasn’t a part of the 2018 wave of teacher walkouts, teachers there did express their brooding discontent in 2011. Teacher unions in the state lost collective bargaining rights when Walker passed an anti-union act.

(Following its passage, median salaries dropped by 2.6 percent and median benefits by 18.6 percent, and many teachers left their jobs, according to the left-leaning Center for American Progress.)

Evers is proposing increased investment in all levels of education, from early childhood through higher ed. Polling suggests Evers has an edge with independents, but according to Shawn Johnson of Wisconsin Public Radio, “Wisconsin’s Republican Party has a proven record of getting its voters to turn out.”

9. One key congressional race

Keep an eye on this one: West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional district. It’s an open seat in an impressively red district that’s currently held by a Republican, and yet Democrats see a chance to flip it blue.

Polls suggest a competitive race between two state lawmakers: Democrat Richard Ojeda and Republican Carol Miller.

Ojeda is a state senator, army veteran and former high school teacher. Miller is a member of the state House of Delegates and a small business owner.

As state senator, Ojeda has been a fierce advocate for education, including better pay for teachers. He became the face of teacher walkouts in the state earlier this year, to the point where some protesters chanted his name, reported Politico.

For her part, Miller has focused her campaign on economic growth, particularly for the coal industry, gun rights and combating the opioid epidemic.

Miller is a pro-Trump candidate, riding on the tailcoat of the president’s success in the region. Ojeda, on the other hand, has vocalized regret for voting for Trump in 2016. (In 2016, 73 percent of voters in the district voted for President Trump.)

[“source=ndtv”]