Battle of Los Angeles: the Real Story

Few students of history spend much time examining the Battle of Los Angeles. Some people might have visited the Fort Macarthur Museum and seen the reenactment. Others might have dismissed it as an act of mass hysteria. However, there are individuals who feel that the events that took place February 24-25, 1942 involved extraterrestrial forces from another world. Read More →

Christiaan Huygens: Early Astronomer

Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) was a Dutch polymath who is well known in some circles to this day. While he spent some time in France and England, Huygens lived the latter portion of his life in his native Holland. Having commented on religion while living in many different countries, Huygens espoused a personal philosophy similar to many aspects of modern science.

The modern pendulum clock was among his more illustrious inventions. Horology is the study of measuring time, and it became something of an obsession for him. Nevertheless, he’s also well remembered among astronomers for discovering the moon Titan. His contributions to the field of optics made modern telescope construction possible as well.

While his calculations regarding stellar distances weren’t always accurate, they were always interesting. Huygens made a screen facing the sun and from measurements taken with this device, he figured out that the sun was approximately the same intensity as that of Sirius. By taking the angle and diameter of the hole, Huygens surmised that Sirius was 30,000 times further away from the Earth than the sun is. However, Sirius is actually around 500,000 times further away. Huygens didn’t realize that Sirius was several times brighter than the sun. Strangely enough, his calculations were accurate for the data he was working with.

Learn History with Timeline Eons [App Review]

  Free App Download

Printed timelines can only cover so much history, but the new Timeline Eons app for iOS covers literally billions of years worth of history starting with the Big Bang. And it does it in a really cool way. The Today in History option can help users to keep tabs on important events, though individuals can actually program in anniversary reminders if they purchase the full version. Even the free version has plenty of functionality though. Mobile device users can experiment with three trial events, though they’ll probably be more interested in the fact that they can browse all of Earth’s history for ten days.

Parents seem to think that children rot their brains on the Internet, but Timeline Eons actually has a few functions that could be useful for history projects. Coverage of topics like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Battle of Britain should provide ample material for anyone cramming for a test. The only real drawback here is that some teachers might be a bit reluctant to accept citations from a mobile phone app, but most students can cite software these days anyhow.

People with an interest in paleontology might get the most out of the app, considering that it covers just about any geological age one can think of. I think students can benefit from this app in a very big way for sure.

Free App Link

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Are Robots the Future of Space Exploration?

Mashable recently posted about the upcoming We Robot 2012 conference and naturally I had to check it out to see if anything space related is included. Alas it’s not but it got me thinking about the future of space exploration in terms of robotics/artificial intelligence (AI). This topic is of course always hotly debated but one worth exploring nonetheless. Read More →

Claudius Ptolemy- Great Astronomer or Plagiarist?

Many amateur astronomers today may not even recognize the name of Claudius Ptolemy, but the field of astronomy owes this man’s work a huge thank you. That is… according to some scholars. Others, however, think he was nothing more than a common thief.

His work, Almagest, is the oldest surviving star chart. In his 13 volume work Ptolemy puts forward a mathematical model to fit his observational data that was much more sophisticated than any known at that time. Almagest still holds the record for the longest used scientific text ever. Almagest was considered so important that the text was translated into Arabic 500 years after it was written. The translated book was found in the great libraries of Cordova and Toledo, Spain. Many consider Claudius Ptolemy one of the greatest astronomers of history.Ptolemy’s theory saw the earth as the center of the universe. All of calculations of how the planets moved were based on this fact. Read More →