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Volume 1 – September 18, 2008

Letter from Anousheh

My friends, it has been 2 years! Wow TWO years, I cannot believe it! Two years since that wonderful September morning when my childhood dream came true. When I got onboard the Soyuz TMA-9 flight, I thought I’m embarking on a journey to Space, what I didn’t know was that it will turn out to be a journey into depth of my soul. When I started writing my blog for the first time, I expected a few family and friends to read it and perhaps respond to it, just to make me happy. What I received instead was an overwhelming rush of good wishes from millions of people around the world. The response was humbling and touched me in a way that I did not expect. I was elated and energized by it, but it was more and I couldn’t put my finger on it and then I realized. After reading and re-reading many of the entries, I saw that common thread that had struck a chord with me. And I actually read it on an email from my cousin that said, “It was as if you had given people permission to dream again!” What does this mean? Who am I to give people permission to dream? Well, I don’t think it mattered. I was there and that’s what happened. I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened.

Searching inside, I realized that what had kept me going all my life has been HOPE. Hope is a beautiful thing. Without it, life is meaningless.

I realized that people around the world have slowly lost hope. They feel too powerless, too tired to fight, too jaded to believe that things could change, and then they hear a story about a girl who went to America with very little except for a dream. And after many turns of events, she ends up realizing that dream - a lofty dream, an impossible dream, a dream of going to space! They looked at me, looked at my pictures, read my story and told themselves, “This could be me!” I had, in a strange way, given them hope - hope for possibilities to come. Hope for a change. Hope for a better tomorrow.

This realization has put an amazing pressure on me. Perhaps I shouldn’t call it pressure – a sense of responsibility is a better way to put it. It has made me relook at my life, my accomplishments and failures, and my thoughts and dreams. It has made me realize that I still have a destiny to fulfill and that I cannot just talk about my past accomplishments and think that I have done more than most get done in a lifetime. Instead it means that I can do a lot more. Conquer more impossibilities and help millions to overcome their complacency, their disbeliefs and their fears. Most importantly, to remind all the children and youth of the world that we were made to dream and imagine the impossible. It is in our DNA. We are explorers, discoverers, inventors, composers, painters, writers, builders! We are meant to have hope for a better future and to be the change we want to see in the world.

Winners of 2008 What If? Competition

Thank you to all of the participants of the 2008 What If Competition and congratulations to all of the winners. We received many great entries which made selecting the winners very difficult. I was thrilled to see the effort put forth by all of the participants. I will be launching a new competition in the next few months so stay tuned. Keep on building a better world with the power of imagination and hard work! Below are the winners and you see their pictures and entries along with the judges on my web site.

Elementary School 1st – 2nd Grade Winners:

1st Place:

Lucas Kramer, 2nd Grade, of Minnesota/U.S.A.

2nd Place Tie:

Kailee Renne Missler, 2nd Grade, Ohio/U.S.A.

Charles Snow, 2nd Grade, Florida/U.S.A.

Roshan Damodaran, 2nd Grade, Texas/U.S.A.

Elementary School 3rd – 5th Grade Winners:

1st Place:

Callie Spears, 4th Grade, Ohio/U.S.A.

2nd Place Tie:

Cole Ohlrich, 5th Grade, Ohio/U.S.A.

Ethan Ross, 3rd Grade, Pennyslvania/U.S.A.

Middle School Winners:

1st Place:

Joel Masters, Jonah Wilamowski & Chase Mills of Florida/U.S.A.

2nd Place:

Nathaniel Hubenthal & Zach Hubenthal of Florida/U.S.A.

High School Winners:

1st Place:

Guillermo Palacio, Fiorella Guedes & Gonzalo Pigni of Montevideo/Uruguay

2nd Place:

Ele Simmons, Garima Gupta & Jared Snow of Florida/U.S.A.



Large Hadron Collider Update

On September 10th, the world’s largest particle collider passed its first major test by firing a beam of protons around a 17-mile (27-kilometer) underground ring in what scientist hope is the next great step to understanding the makeup of the Universe. Run by CERN in Switzerland, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is described as the biggest physics experiment in history. The collider is designed to push the proton beam close to the speed of light, whizzing 11,000 times a second around the tunnel.

Why do we care?

Well the CERN experiments could reveal more about “dark matter,” antimatter and possibly hidden dimensions of space and time. It could also find evidence of the hypothetical particle – the Higgs boson - which is sometimes called the “God particle” because it is believed to give mass to all other particles and thus to matter that makes up the universe.

Here are some interesting links if you’d like to know more.

Large Hadron Rap

CERN

The U.S. at the LHC

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