Tag Archives: Education

Learning is a lifelong endeavor. Let’s learn about the world around us.

Celestial Movement: Know Less Understand More

The following are true and do not change perceptibly over an entire human lifetime.

  • The non-sun stars do not move relative to each other. Not now, not over thousands of years, not anytime we will ever know about. The stars remain a fixed spherical image we gaze out at from the inside.
  • The north star and southern cross remain in the same positions in the sky and do not move relative to an observer on Earth, even as Earth rotates. They mark the axis of rotation of Earth. Correct, they do not move at all. You could build a structure pointed at the north star one night and if the structure doesn’t move, it points at the north star day and night season after season year after year forever, whether you can see the north star or not, it’s there. (The structure would be called a gnomon, if you care).
  • All of the non-sun stars/constellations remain in the exact same latitude and therefore trace the exact same line through the sky each time Earth rotates, every day of our lives, no exceptions. The line a star traces through the sky at your location peaks at 90° – [your latitude] + [latitude of the star] always.
  • Earth’s rotational axis is not tilted. Earth’s orbital plane around the sun is tilted! When orienting celestial objects, we are forced to choose what we consider “upright.” Earth’s gravity cannot dictate “upright” for celestial objects. If you imagine Earth’s rotational axis as upright, the north star remains fixed as “north” or “up” and the orbital plane is then tilted 23° meaning Earth “moves north and south” as it orbits, or moves “up and down.”
  • The sun. slightly more complicated, but helpful because the sun is bright. What is a line of latitude? What does a line of latitude look like? The blindingly bright sun traces a line of latitude through the sky every day. On equinox days, the sun traces the 0° line of latitude (celestial equator) and on the solstices the sun traces the +/- 23.4° line of latitude. In between, the sun gradually traces lines of latitude from 0° to 23.4° to 0° to -23.4° and back to 0° again throughout the year. Each day the sun traces a slightly different line of latitude as Earth orbits.
  • Nobody is good at three-dimensional spherical-angle geometry! Nobody! Astronomers are not good at it. Nobody is! Then why does the current zodiac constellation represent the constellation behind the sun that we cannot see?? Because nobody is good at three dimensional geometry! Astronomers for millennia past and still today use the sun as a “pointer.” Nothing in the sky points like the sun. The sun is such a bright “pointer” that you cannot see what is behind it – but remember that the stars do not move relative to each other so if you have some idea of what the starry sky looks like, and you know the current zodiac constellation, you can reference the rest of the starry sky off of the sun itself. “Pisces is shining bright this month!” True statement – even though Pisces is only up during the day because looking forward the sun means looking toward the current zodiac constellation. We are currently in Pisces. “The sun pointer is moving toward the constellation Aries.” Another true statement. The line the sun traces through the starry background as we orbit is called the “ecliptic.”

Once you have some firm ground to stand on, you can start to remember some more basics and build. If you get confused, re-read the above and remind yourself that many things in the sky do not change!

  • Orion, the most widely-recognized constellation, is on the celestial equator. Therefore Orion rises directly east and sets directly west. Orion is “up” ~12 hours and “down” ~12 hours. Orion’s path peaks at 90° – [your latitude] above your horizon (directly overhead the equator). Also, Orion is visible from everywhere on Earth.
  • Orion is directly south of the border of Taurus and Gemini. The Taurus Gemini border marks the northern hemisphere summer solstice, so on the summer solstice the sun points near Orion. On the winter solstice, Orion is high in the sky at midnight.
  • Polaris, the north star, is located directly north at [your latitude]° above the horizon, always. Most people use the Big Dipper to find Polaris.
  • The two stars in the Big Dipper aligned with Polaris point to the ecliptic at Leo near its border with Virgo, so near the sun’s location at the autumnal equinox.
  • The Milky Way’s bright galactic center is among Sagittarius, specifically Sagittarius A. It is 29° south of the celestial equator so therefore peaks at 61° – [your latitude] in your sky (more visible in southern hemisphere). Being near the northern hemisphere winter solstice, it is most visible in northern hemisphere during summer.

Read Time v3 with an Accurate Mental Model

  • You are the observer in the center of the clock. Everything moves relative to the observer.
  • The sun position on the clock represents the actual longitudinal position of the sun.
  • Solar noon is noon on the clock. The two are one and the same. When the sun is directly overhead the observer, it is noon, and half of the day has passed.
  • Sunrise and sunset are depicted and labeled. Sunrise marks time 0:00 each day and sunset marks the day length. The day length changes gradually throughout the year with the seasons.
  • When the sun sets, the “official time” turns negative and begins to count down to sunrise. However, if you mark an event at +12:30 time v3 during an 11 hour day, +12:30 is visible on the clock even though the sun has set, the official time v3 is negative, and your event will be held in the dark. “+12:30” is still 12 hours and 30 minutes after sunrise and still a usable time.
  • The moon position on the clock represents the actual longitudinal position of the moon. Moon directly overhead on the clock, the moon is directly overhead the observer, “moon noon.” Moonrise and moonset are off to the side, just like the sun. I am adding small moonrise and moonset lines in the next version.
  • The moon phase is represented by the sun’s position relative to the moon and Earth, easily observable on the clock. Project the sun out to “infinity” and the sun points to the moon phase marked on the moon itself. Therefore the moon phase on the clock is determined just how it is in real life.
  • The locations marked on the clock’s Earth represent prominent geographical features approximately every 15° longitude. Therefore the sun passes one of the geographical features every hour. If you want to know the approximate time at a different location, just imagine the observer on the clock is at the location with everything else right where it is. Tilt your head if it helps or physically turn the clock on its side.
  • The sun pointing to the stars marks the seasons, just like in real life. The constellations on the clock are the constellations (official IAU) the sun points to throughout the year as Earth orbits. They are zodiac constellations on the ecliptic, for telling seasons, not the constellations on the celestial equator. The difference is minor (see below).
  • The stars pass overhead on the clock when those stars actually reach their peak to the observer. Star noon on the clock is star noon in real life.
  • Of note, the prominent constellation of Orion is on the celestial equator just south of the Taurus/Gemini border Orion borders both Taurus and Gemini. Therefore Orion is an excellent star reference to align the clock to real life.
  • The thin white line behind the equinox in Pisces shows 1,000 years of precession of the equinoxes. Yes, one thousand years, one millennium, 500 years in the past and 500 years into the future. The equinoxes do not move very much.

Understand Celestial Movement by Knowing Less


  • three buttons:
    1. 5040x with pause feature
    2. 21,600x with pause feature
    3. “sunrises / sunsets snapshots” time lapse
  • useful sounds?
  • add moonrise and moonset
  • The horizons showing day length are the only indications of latitude. I want to keep it this way. 2D, time is the 3rd dimension.
  • unify the new year globally making it the exact equinox. Focus locally, celebrate large events globally.
  • clock ticks in background on phones? battery life?
  • Digital doesn’t match graphic on some time lapses. Maybe only on past years?
  • digital font size correct for computers and phones
  • make “copy-able link” for the link generator
  • 90° and 270° ecliptic longitude are the solstices, correct?
  • astrolabe, Incan Inthuatana,
Fundamental Concept

Every movement of this clock is related to a naturally-occurring phenomenon. The sun, moon, and constellations are actually physically overhead the longitude physically shown on the clock. The only man-made concept is the unit of time: hours/minutes/seconds.

Within the constraints of being two-dimensional and using only concentric circle movement, the clock graphically displays celestial movement as accurately and with as much detail as possible in a way that promotes a practical mental model for the observer.

The horizons move to show the correct day and night length. They move in the correct direction to match the idea that the sun follows a longer path in the sky on longer days and shorter path on shorter days. In post-industrial time, noon is when the sun is directly overhead. This clock shows noon at the various world locations by being directly overhead the longitude. “Solar noon” is an industrial time concept.

The angle of the horizons does not directly correspond to the azimuth of the sunrise and sunset itself. For example, the sun being overhead a longitude location on Earth 100 degrees from your longitude when it rises does not mean the sun will rise 10 degrees north from east.

Two-dimensional is convenient for hanging on a wall, inexpensive to construct, can be displayed on a screen, and in reality people prefer 2D. 3D TVs never caught on. The outdoors is 3D enough.

Concentric circle movement is practical to construct and control. In addition, almost all the movement of the objects in the sky is due to the rotation of Earth.

Nature presents us with an infinity of detail that the clock could depict. Computers enable us to easily do this and most products show maximum detail. This clock selectively provides the user with just the basis required to comprehend celestial movement in order to inspire the user to abandon the technology for the outdoors and more fully appreciate natural reality.

The Observer

On this clock, all objects are referenced to the observer as though the observer is standing aligned to the rotational axis of Earth. “Aligned to the rotational axis of Earth” sounds like an unnecessary complication, but it means all the objects move (almost) continuously and you can tell time of day, day length, night length, moon phase, moon rise and set, seasons, constellation and star positions, and even approximate world times, all using an intuitive mental model.

The observer is at the center of the post-industrial clock.

Observer’s Imagination

Notice, the gnomon of a sundial is aligned to the rotational axis of Earth. The ancients knew how to think about this. If you want to be familiar with the movement of the Earth and the relative motion of the sky, you must align with the Earth. If you accept the one complication of aligning with Earth, all else naturally falls into place.

You might say gravity is the biggest obstacle to aligning yourself to Earth’s rotational axis. True. To eliminate the gravity problem, just imagine you are on the north pole. If you were sitting on the north pole during an equinox, you would see all the objects on the clock rotating around your horizon just like they do on the clock.

Rotation and Orbit

Notice “rotate” means an individual object rotates, and “orbit” means an object moves in a path around another object. Objects can rotate and orbit in different planes, but because of the way the solar system was formed, rotation is mostly closely aligned with orbit. One notable example of misalignment is the tilt of Earth’s rotation relative to its orbit around the sun.

The Sun, Horizons, and Time

The position of the sun determines all time-related items.

The rotational position of Earth is shown by the sun appearing to move relative to the observer. The position of the sun in relation to the eastern horizon and western horizon tells the time of day.

Day length is determined by the distance the sun must travel through the sky from the eastern horizon to the western horizon. Day length is shown by the position of the two horizons. Night length is the remainder of the 24-hour period as the sun returns to the eastern horizon. The horizons move because of the tilt of Earth and its orbit around the sun.

The sun points to the season on the backdrop of the stars. The 12 Zodiac constellations are used because they are aligned with Earth’s equator and are visible from most positions on Earth. The Zodiac seasonal periods are named based on when the constellation is aligned with the sun. Ironically, it is exactly during a particular Zodiac constellation’s season that the constellation is not visible in the night sky because it is directly behind the sun.

The stars move around the observer because of the rotation of Earth, like the sun. Because of the orbit of Earth around the sun, the stars actually appear to move slightly faster than the sun. In a way, the stars “chase” the sun across the sky. Because of this, the constellation that is low on the western horizon immediately after sunset indicates the next season. The constellation will “chase” the sun down, setting because of Earth’s rotation and then each successive night set four minutes earlier until it sets with the sun.

Moon phase is determined by the position of the moon relative to the sun. The position of the moon relative to the sun is immediately apparent on the clock giving the user an intuitive mental model of moon phase. The moon rises and sets independently of the sun, so there are separate horizons for the moon.

Relative to the Observer

The stars do not move relative to each other, so you can relate your favorite constellations to the Zodiac constellations to quickly know where they are if desired. The position of the Zodiac constellations on the clock are accurate relative to the observer. The observer need only adjust for latitude. If a constellation is directly overhead on the clock, it is directly south in the northern hemisphere or north in the southern hemisphere, or overhead on the equator.

Approximate world time is asking the question, “What time is it to other observers?” or “Where is the sun relative to other observers?” The user can look at the other cities on the clock and see where the sun is relative to them. If the sun is directly over another location on the clock, it is noon in that location. The sun is moving relative to other observers just like it is moving on the clock. If the sun appears directly to the side of another observer, it is near rising or near setting. If directly below, it is midnight to that observer.

Sun/Moon/Stars to Sundial to Pendulum to Quartz to Atomic Vibrations to Smartphones to Sundial to Sun/Moon/Stars

Progress is a cycle.

Pre-history: humans evolved with celestial objects ruling our lives and became familiar with them. The sun and moon are encoded into our genes in our circadian rhythm.

Thousands of years: humans quantified the movement of the sun with sundials, and used charts for the phases of the moon and seasons.

Industrial Revolution: humans used rudimentary machines to club our minds to submit to rigid schedules.

Post-Industrial Clocks: humans use advanced machines to conform technology to nature and re-connect with our natural selves.

Like this clock, the gnomon of a sundial is oriented parallel to the rotational axis of the Earth. If you called this clock an “indoor sundial” you are not too far off. However, “indoor solar, lunar, and celestial fully-automated schedule” would be more accurate. Therefore, is this new? No, but is anything new? Not according to the Bible,

Ecclesiastes 1

9  What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. 10  Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.

Life is a cycle and it is time to revisit some of our past. We now have the time and resources to do it.

Knowing what the sky looks like can certainly be done with charts, phone apps, websites, maps, but to develop a useful mental model, you need to periodically and quickly see something that is practically relatable to practical day-to-day events. This is our natural ability that was erased by industrial time. Industrial time is great for rigid old obsolete machines to cheaply give us rigid schedules, but computers enable machines to imitate nature and can enable us to re-connect with nature rather than brutally beating nature out of our minds with the incessant ticking of pendulums and gears. Computers can be better, let’s use them.

history, manufacturing, time, astronomy,

Living History

Draft, working on this post.

The following is a list of historical figures, selected primarily for having been interesting. Most either were extremely successful, crazy, won or lost key battles, or committed or were victims of atrocities. The goal is to learn history by knowing the context of their lives and their contemporaries.

Also, I want to quickly summarize their lives using geographical features and cities (rather than modern national borders).

551-459, Confucius

450-404, Alcibiades, Greece, Anatolia

381, King Dao of Chu, Early ruler in the warring states period.

375-316 “Olympias, Queen of Macedonia”, Alexander the Great’s mother

350,-285, Pytheas of Massalia, “Pytheas the Greek” Explored from Greece to Britain

367-283, Ptolomy 1, “Ancestor to Cleopatra, inherited Egypt from Alexander the Great”

312-63, Seleucid Empire figure?

247-181, Hannibal Barca, Carthage, Defeated by Hublius Cornelius Scitio Africanus

~-161, Maccabean Martyrs

215,-164, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Historical monster

106,-48,Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Lost to Julius Caesar

5-67, Paul of Tarsus, wrote much of the New Testament, “Reading from the Letter of Paul to … ”

69-155, Polycarp

100-165, Justin Martyr

202 Irenaeus

244-311, Diocletian, Ended the 3rd Century “crisis of emperors.”

298-373, Athanasius

437, Gunther, Scandanavia, Hungary?, Killed by Attila the Hun, Norse legend.

480-575, Saint Brendan the Navigator, See also Patrick and Brigid of Kildare

500-548, Theodora, “Mabbug, Cyprus, or Paphlagonia, Wife of Justinian, convinced men to stay during Nika riot, insisted on wearing royal purple.

573-634, Abu Bakr, Muhammed’s father-in-law, Sunni leader.

686-741,Charles Martel, Stopped the Muslim advance at Battle of Tours

752-803, Empress Irene, Byzantine Empress. Killed her own son.

885-954,Erik Haroldsson, King of Norway and Northumbria, “Erik Bloodaxe”

-986, Bjarni Herjolfsson, Overshot Greenland and landed on Labrador Coast / Newfoundland

-1014,Samuel of Bulgaria, Lost to Basil II. 99 / 100 of his men were blinded after loss, brutal.

1022-1066, Harold Godwinson, Harold II, Last Anglo-Saxon King of England. Beaten at Hastings, William the Conqueror.

1215-1294, Kublai Khan, Successor to Ghengis

1304-1377, Ibn Battuta, Major traveler. Berber. Never the same path twice.

1371-1433, Ma He / Zheng He, Explorer, huge fleet, did not conquer. He was a eunuch.

1450-1500, Bartolomeu Dias, Cabo de tempestade, Portuguese explorer

1485-1547, Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, 1st Marquess of the Valley of Oaxaca. Burned his ships and defeated the Aztecs.

1519-1589: Catherine de’ Medici – influenced by Il Principe (2nd book printed on press behind The Bible), married to King of France, instigated St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

1583-1634: Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein – Bohemian military commander influenced by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden

1635-1695, Michael Toussaint. Became Michael of Ruffine. First Ruffing.

Respect Literacy: Blogs are the New Book

Like books, personal blogs seem to have an innate ability built-in to the medium to bring out the best in people.

Do not confuse blogs with social media.

I have been keeping this list of my friends’ websites for several years now. Many are small business sites (pillars of society), none are vanity-driven, and all of the information is thoughtful, meaningful work by people who care. All of it is good. It represents the cream of 100+ years of electronic communication. That’s a strong statement and it’s true.

If you became literate and started reading books 500 years ago after the Gutenberg Press, you got ahead. If you understand the power the internet brings to people by enabling blogs, you get ahead.


What do Brazil, Russian, India, China, and the United States have in common? We all have capital cities that are geographically isolated from the populace by sheer size.

BRIC-US account for five of the seven largest countries in the world by area.

Brasília, capital of Brazil. Brasília’s population of 4.3 million is just 2.1% of Brazil. Distance to other major population centers: 16 hours to Rio de Janeiro / São Paulo, 30 hours to Salvador, 28 hours to the mouth of the Amazon River, more than 30 hours to Recife, Natal, or Fortaleza.

Moscow, capital of Russia. Moscow’s population of 12.5 million is 8.5% of Russia. Distance to other major population centers: 8 hours to St. Petersburg, 45 hours to Novosibirsk. Notable quiz question: how many cities in Russia are there with population over 2 million? Just two: Moscow and St. Petersburg. Wow.

New Delhi, capital of India. New Delhi’s population of 26.5 million is just 2.0% of India. Distance to other major population centers: 24 hours to Mumbai, 36 hours to Bangalore, 28 hours to Kolkata.

Beijing, capital of China. Beijing’s population of 21.5 million is just 1.5% of China’s population. Distance to other major population centers: 12 hours to Shanghai, 22 hours to Guanzhou, 28 hours to Xinjiang.

Washington DC, capital of the US. DC’s population of 6.2 million is 1.9% of the US population. Distance to other major population centers: 7 hours to Boston, 10 hours to Atlanta, 11 hours to Chicago, 21 hours to Houston, 39 hours to Los Angeles.

Social Programs

What happens if you administer education out of Brasília? Favelas. Brasília does not care.

How is Beijing on human rights? Xinjiang, what do you think? Concentration camps. Reeducation. Dystopia. Beijing does not care.

What are the chances of a fair election against Putin? Alexei Navalny, would you say Moscow meddled in your election? Dictatorship. Moscow does not care.

How is Washington DC doing on health? Multi-generational obesity epidemic feeding a bloated, confusing wealth care system that even the nurses don’t respect. We have a disease management system that profits from chronic illness and lobbies DC to continue poisoning Americans with high-fructose corn syrup, GMOs, sedentary lifestyles, and television advertisements for unnecessary pills whose side effects require more pills. Washington DC does not care.

Political Science

Want to give me a dissertation on why some large isolated capitals are okay and not others? Want to lecture me on why Washington DC is actually just fine? I am not a poli-sci major because I studied when I was in college and stuck with a real degree. Poli-sci graduates, your four years education is a bunch of details that cloud your common sense.

Common sense: sending tax money directly and automatically to a capital isolated from more than 90% of the population by more than an 8-hour drive is a horrible idea.

Follow the Money

What happens if I send my tax money along with millions of other people to a city completely separated from the population it “represents,” specifically designed to distribute tax money? Corruption. Cesspool. Swamp. Career politician = dictator.

In the US, people got frustrated and elected a reptile to fight a swamp full of reptiles. The professional thieves in DC have now ejected the foreign reptile and they think their swamp is safe to continue misrepresenting Americans and selling out to corporations.


Hell no. Europeans from Dublin to Madrid to Berlin to Athens are not stupid enough to send 20-30% of their income directly and automatically to Brussels. They are paying attention. We need to.

Drain the Swamp

Sounds like I support the storming of the capitol, doesn’t it? Sounds like I support Trump maybe?

Absolutely not. Debacles both of them.

There is one fundamental aspect about America that feeds the corruption. The professional politicians in the swamp of Washington DC know it. Direct income taxation. Americans’ income gets siphoned directly from our paycheck before we even see it to get mad about paying it. The professional bureaucrat thieves from DC set it up that way purposely. Even state sales taxes do not have such an insidious arrangement – we see the price we pay and then the state sales tax gets added and we notice it and bitch about it. Even foreigners visiting the US complain about sales taxes.

$3.9 Trillion

$3.9 TRILLION per year quietly, voluntarily, automatically gets directed from Americans to far away Washington DC to fund the embarrassing circus of corruption that we show the world. It needs to end.

To put $3.9 trillion in perspective, which is just the income tax revenue of the US government in Washington DC:

$3.9 trillion would rank fourth in the world as a country’s GDP behind only the US (of course), China, and Japan. That means $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of Germany. $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of the UK. $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of any individual European country. $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of India.

$3.9 trillion sent to one city causes corruption: Washington DC really is a swamp.

The Solution

There is only one way to fix Washington DC. The bad news is it is difficult. The good news is it is straightforward and effective. We must repeal the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Do this and America survives. Do it not and we continue to directly fund the DC swamp.

Defund DC. Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment.

The money does not disappear. DC does not disappear. The money gets directed to local and state governments where real people are paying attention. The taxes get managed by people who are not separated from their constituents by a continent that allows them to thieve at will. The taxes get managed locally by mildly shady local politicians who have to consider what their neighbors think. Local politicians are shady but get the job done. Career politicians are criminals.

Republicans, you want to drain the swamp? Do it. For real.

Democrats, you want representative socialism? Do it – but pay attention. Administer it from Boston Massachusetts, Austin Texas, Saint Paul Minnesota, Columbus Ohio.

Bernie followers, you want free universities? The systems are already in place. California public universities are already free. In-state tuition is already low in most states. Make it lower, but do it from that list of capital cities that are within a morning’s drive from all of their people who pay for it and benefit from it.

The US Versus BRIC and MORE Government

What separates the US from the BRIC countries? One thing has historically made the US the world leader and not among a list of huge countries that remain in the third world (BRIC). The one thing is our public schools. Our public schools are locally-funded and give the vast majority of Americans at least a chance at college prep. Our public schools are effective local government.

You want to tell me the US is becoming a third world country? I know. That’s the point. This is why and this is how to fix it.

You want to complain about the US and compare us to Brazil, Russia, India, or China? Sign up your 7-year-old for an exchange program to swap with a kid in any of those countries. Millions of 7-year-olds around the world would be signed up for the exchange. The exchange 7-year-olds would show up ready to wear the most restrictive uniform you could find, no cell phone, and starve his / her way through school for a chance to be educated in America. Their parents would put their 7-year-old on a plane tomorrow not to be seen until they are 18 if their kid had the chance.

Local funding works. Fund local social programs. Organize locally.

Replace DC.


Canada is probably the best example (besides the US so far) of a successful large country with a geographically isolated capital.

Australia finishes out the global top seven and might be a good counter-example but most of the population is on the east coast together with the capital. The Aussies have to stay united or they risk becoming a province of China.

Look down the rest of the list beyond India. Of BRIC-US, except for India, each is more than 3x the size of Argentina, the eighth largest country in the world. BRIC-US countries are huge. Our scales do not compare to any other countries in the world.

Argentina is the largest country in South America besides Brazil. Buenos Aires contains 34.7% of the Argentine population. If you include Córdoba and Santa Fe provinces, you already account for 49% of the Argentine population. Easily more than half of Argentines live within 8 hours of Buenos Aires. The rest of Argentina is Patagonia.

Kingdom of Denmark is high on the list only because of Greenland.

France is the largest country in Europe by area besides Ukraine. Paris contains 18.8% of the French population. Paris is not in the geographic center, and still the furthest major city is Nice at the southeastern extreme of the country, only 9 hours away. The European portion of France is the 48th largest country in the world by area. India is 6x the size of European France and Brazil is 15x the size of European France.

Who’s Who of Electrical Engineering, and Physics, and Science

1564-1642: Galileo Galilei, Italian, father of observational astronomy, phases of Venus, Jupiter’s satellites, observed Saturn’s rings

1596-1650: René Decartes, French, philosopher, logical method

1623-1662: Blaise Pascal, French, fluid dynamics

1629-1695: Christiaan Huygens, Dutch, Saturn’s rings, pendulum clock

1642-1727: Isaac Newton, published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687

1646-1716: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, French, differential and integral calculus, especially modern conventional notation

1700-1782: Daniel Bernoulli, Swiss, fluid mechanics, probability, statistics

1745 – 1827: Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta, Italian, the battery

1766-1844: John Dalton, English, chemist, physicist, meteorologist, atomic theory of chemistry

1775 – 1836: André-Marie Ampère, solenoid & electrical telegraph

1776-1856: Amedeo Avogadro, Italian, equal volumes of gases under equal pressure and temperature contain equal numbers of molecules

1777 – 1851: Hans Christian Ørsted, Danish, electromagnetism

1789 – 1854: Georg Ohm, German, direct relationship between voltage and current

1791 – 1867: Michael Faraday, English, various, electric motor

1824-1907: William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, thermodynamics, measurement of absolute zero temperature.

1831 – 1879: James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish, electromagnetic radiation

1846 – 1914: George Westinghouse, American, AC electric power

1847 – 1931: Thomas Edison, American, light bulb, various, DC electric power

1856 – 1943: Nikola Tesla, Serbian-American, AC electric power

1879-1955: Albert Einstein, physicist. Born in Germany. 1895 moved to Switzerland. 1896-1901 stateless. 1901 obtained Swiss citizenship. 1905 wrote the Annus Mirabilis papers. 1907-1915 developed general relativity. 1933 cancelled trip to Germany forever and renounced his citizenship at German consulate in Antwerp. 1939 sent the Einstein-Szilárd letter to FDR. 1940 settled in the US and became a US citizen.

The Case for Portuguese

Portuguese language is a must to operate in Brazil. Brazil is awesome. If you want to live in Brazil, that is reason enough. Here are some other reasons to learn Portuguese:

  1. Portuguese is the most common language in South America. Brazil is only one country, while most of the other countries speak Spanish, but South America is really split in two equal parts by population and land mass. The Portuguese half is one large diverse country, while the Spanish half is split into many different countries.
  2. Portuguese is rare for Americans. After almost 4 years of going to Brazil now, I have met only 3 other non-Brazilian Americans who speak Portuguese. I have met maybe 5-10 who went to Portuguese language training by the US government for specific jobs, but they are on government career paths and do not seem likely to remain in Brazil once their assignment is complete. If there appears to be no demand, I would argue that zero supply prevents companies from seeking it because of the extreme rarity.
  3. You get a two-fer. Spanish comes along with it. This is true. Portuguese and Spanish are indeed similar. I recently attended a history lecture in Rio where the French lecturer did not speak Portuguese and he assumed everybody would understand Spanish. I understood his Spanish better than the Portuguese from Lisbon! Expose yourself to some Spanish along the way and you will see what I mean. After I visited Colombia for 3 weeks, I had to buy a Portuguese-Spanish dictionary to separate the languages in my head.
  4. Learn it “all the way.” You have to live at least 6 months in the country immersed in the language. Commit. Until you do this, the language is not really useful.
  5. Portuguese is easier than Spanish. I really believe this. People say Portuguese pronunciation is more difficult. I disagree. Portuguese has maybe two sounds we don’t have in English, the nasal -ã and -ão. They do not roll their ‘R’s. The Portuguese grammar is closer to English also in my opinion. Not so many ‘lo’ and ‘la’ and ‘le’ for no reason like in Spanish, less use of reflexive verbs, and overall fewer syllables.
  6. São Paulo. São Paulo is the business capital of Brazil, and by far the largest city this side of the Atlantic. São Paulo speaks Portuguese.
  7. Don’t forget Portugal! I have heard it’s nice! I have never been, but Brazil and Portugal are not the only Portuguese speaking countries. See the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
  8. Learn a language, any language! Once you really learn a language as an adult, your next one will come so much easier. It becomes less of a magical impossibility and more of a travel task of a few weeks or months to get practically conversational.

I scored “Advanced Low” on the ACTFL Speaking. I think “Intermediate High” in a language would be good enough to get started working in a foreign country. At my level, I can easily communicate, network, and socialize, but I should still improve to continue here. I scored Intermediate High on the ACTFL Writing.