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Volume 4 – December 12, 2008

2009 the International Year of Astronomy

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) launched 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) under the theme, The Universe, Yours to Discover. IYA2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the first astronomical observation through a telescope by Galileo Galilei.  It will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, with a strong emphasis on education, public engagement and the involvement of young people, with events at national, regional and global levels throughout the whole of 2009. UNESCO has endorsed the IYA2009 and the United Nations proclaimed the year 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy on December 20, 2007.

Among the Global, Cornerstone Projects one can find "she is an Astronomer", "100 Hours of Astronomy","Galileo Teacher Training Programme", and many more interesting and diverse projects.

One of the global, Special Projects is the popular  "the World at Night"  where anyone regardless of age, gender and background could enjoy the breathtaking photographs of the night sky from every corner of the world.

For more information, please visit: http://www.astronomy2009.org/

Traveling Exhibition

Just in time for 2009 International Year of Astronomy, the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office has announced that 40 public libraries will host "Visions of the Universe: Four centuries of Discovery". The exhibition was conceived and put together in association with the Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and will travel to 40 public libraries.

The exhibit vividly illustrates 400 years of growth in our knowledge of not just planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies, but also the size and scale of the universe in both space and time.   For more information and location please go to:  http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pressreleases2008/november2008/ppovisions.cfm

What If Competition Update

To day, we have 5 teams registered. The teams in alphabetical order are:

  1. Anthony, Egg Harbor Township, NJ
  2. Moon Walk, Leesberg, GA
  3. Queen Homeschool, Sesser, IL
  4. Stroud, Elk Grove, CA
  5. Team Bayless, St. Louis, MO

If you are planning to participate, register soon! The deadline for registration is: February 1st, 2009.

For more information go to: www.whatifprize.org

Large Hadron Collider and the Future of Search Engines

Two British high tech start-up companies, Imense and iLexIR, have started using GridPP to enhance their softwares. GridPP, a massive global computer grid funded by STFC, was designed to analyze the huge volume of data generated by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).  In this joint venture, dubbed Camtology, a  technology originally designated for physicists' use is being applied to create a much more powerful and efficient search engine. One that would recognize images and texts, rather than rely on file names and keywords to produce results.

Dr. Liz Towns Andrews of STFC has said it best: "This is an excellent example of what happens when the possible wider applications of new research and technologies are considered.  In this case, the Grid, that addresses the computing challenges faced by physicists analyzing the vast amounts of science data generated by the Large hadron Collider, is also solving the problems faced by Imense and iLexIR." Dr. Liz Towns Andrews is the director of knowledge exchange at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

To learn more go to:  http://www.labnews.co.uk/laboratory_article.php/3992/2/lhc-technology-set-for-a-googlewhack

Flat Children visit LHC at CERN!

You may have already seen flat children visiting the set of  Tonight Show,  or at the Acadmey Awards, but if you haven't seen or heard of them, here is their story. The Flat Stanley Project , inspired by the book Flat Stanley, is a project where initially kids make a paper version of themselves. Then they send the  paper doll/drawing in the mail to be photographed in places they wish to visit themselves, all while learning about letter writing. 

Of all the the children wonder-places and amusement parks, there are those who send their flat selves to be photographed at CERN or other labs. Sarah Demers, working in Atlas control room at the LHC, has met travelers from all over the world, but her recent visitor, Flat Johnny, came in the mail. She gave him a tour of ATLAS, and took pictures.  Later she said: "I don't know how much the kids know about CERN. I didn't delve into the physics too much, I told [Johnny] one of the things I like most about my job is that I get to work with people from all over the world."

For more information visit:  http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/breaking/2008/12/08/flat-children-visit-labs-by-mail/ 

Winter Wonderland in Space!

It's the season for Winter scenery and beautiful snow globes here in the Northern Hemisphere. To wish you a happy new year and a wonderful Winter holiday, we invite you to look at this beautiful snow globe, courtesy of Hubble Telescope:   http://weblogs.marylandweather.com/2008/12/wintry_snow_globe_from_hubble.html