Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nuclear Detonations: 1945 - 1998

I first saw this site through Matt Rosenberg’s Geography Blog – and I think it could be used in a number of our Social Studies classrooms in our middle and high schools. I’m not too sure about using it in the elementary school.

The site hosts a short video by Isao Hashamoto, a Japanese artist who created a time-lapse animated map of nearly every nuclear detonation (2053 of them) recorded between 1945 and 1998.

Hashamoto stated:
"This piece of work is a bird's eye view of the history by scaling down a month length of time into one second. No letter is used for equal messaging to all viewers without language barrier. The blinking light, sound and the numbers on the world map show when, where and how many experiments each country have conducted. I created this work for the means of an interface to the people who are yet to know of the extremely grave, but present problem of the world."
While the work does not include the North Korean tests (estimated at two) that have been held in the 21st century, it is a significant and accurate piece of work.

This is a shocking and disturbing visual image, especially when we get to the early 1960s and the height of the Cold War era.

Possible topics of discussion for our students would be where were the detonations held – and why?

Other questions come to mind as well that could prove worthwhile for discussion/exploration.

For example: What happened to the people who lived on Bikini Island – which became a test site – as well as what long term effects happened to the land there? What are the long-term effects of nuclear blasts in the American West, especially Nevada, where nuclear testing took place for years – and the underground water table? What about testing sites in the former Soviet Union states?

And, perhaps, more importantly, what is the probability of nuclear weapons being used either by terrorist organizations, Iran, Israel, or North Korea?

An excellent article titled “The Growing Nuclear Club” by Kathy Sutcliffe appeared on the Council of Foreign Relations website. The article discusses current and potential members of the “Nuclear Club”. Another good visual to use is from Doomsday Clock.

Yet, it is also important to remember the conditions that formed the basis of the development of the atomic weapon (a race between the U.S. and Nazi Germany in World War II), as well as the reason for the continuing development of weapons and delivery systems (the Cold War, spies, selling of state secrets – a whole variety of interesting topics of discussion).

Do you know where your local Civil Defense shelter is???

This all could lead to wonderful exploration, critical thinking, as well as use of all aspects of Social Studies (from history to sociology, geography to environment and economics).


Site for nuclear detonations
Matt’s Geography Blog
Bikini Island
International Atomic Energy Agency


Screen Shot of Video/Geekosystem
Bikini Relocation/Bikini Atoll
1954 Nuclear Explosion at Bikini Atoll/atomic archive
Civil Defense Guy/Civil Defense Museum

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Subtle Change in Declaration Draft

Even the best of us can make mistakes – including that renown Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.

In a press release on July 2, research chemist Dr. Fenella France and Librian of Congress James Billington pointed out that Jefferson had made, then soon caught and corrected, a slip in wording.
While listing the grievances against King George III, Jefferson had written: “He has incited treasonable Insurrections of our Fellow Subjects, with the allurement of Forfeiture and Confiscation of our Property.”

He realized his error almost immediately, as evidenced by the fact that the still wet ink was smudged. France thinks that Jefferson wiped over the original word with his hand, then wrote “Citizens” over the brown smudge he had created. Although the discovery was made last year, it was only revealed recently. The word was found through the use of digital imaging technology and other scientific tests. The camera also revealed erased text and fingerprints from the Founding Fathers who handled the document. France called it a “spine-tingling” find.

France stated: "This has been a very exciting development".

The rough draft includes other corrections made by the committee (Including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams) on Jefferson’s work – a lined through word here, notes in the margin, smaller writing in the spaces between the lines… all the work of an editorial committee.

But the smudge is different – corrected by the man who made it, before it went before the committee. Oddly enough, the sentence did not make it into the final version of the Declaration of Independence.

There is now a debate being generated among historians as to whether it was a Freudian slip by a man who had been born under the rule of an English monarchy, or if it was taken from a draft of Virginia’s constitution, which includes the word “subjects” – or any of a number of other possible reasons.

According to Librarian of Congress James Billington:
“It shows the progress of his mind. This was a decisive moment. We recovered a magic moment that was otherwise lost to history.”
What does this show us? How about… we are human and make mistakes???

Of course, this inspired me to read the original draft to compare it to the final draft – just out of an interest as to what other changes might have been edited in, as well as trying to find other ‘smears’. While I have neither the original document nor the scientific equipment for analyzing it, I can ‘suppose’….


AOL News
The Huffington Press
Library of Congress (Look at page three of the draft document)
Yahoo News


Library of Congress
Yahoo News Slideshow

Monday, July 12, 2010

County-Level Migration Map

How cool is this???? A migration map based on 2008 IRS information that highlights the number of people moving into or moving from any county in the United States.

Red lines on the map show movement from one county to another (the map even shows the county they go to) while black lines show movement into the county.

You can enlarge the map to focus on a specific area – although then you lose the complete US perspective. The width of the lines of migration (the black and red lines) indicates number of migrants – wider means more people moving.

Hovering over one of the lines of migration that lead to a county of your choice with your mouse shows the number of individuals moving into or from the county, as well as the per capita income for each group.

You can even ‘share’ the map showing migration patterns by clicking the ‘share’ button.

This could be an interesting tool to see migration patterns, especially when you look at the Northeast, major Midwestern cities, and Los Angeles. The information on this map could lead to interesting discussions on why people move, where they move, and the effect on the culture, economy, and politics of where they move from and move to.

Think of the possibilities!!!

. Many thanks to Forbes for hosting the site and to Matt Rosenberg who publishes the blog for this fantastic site.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jaywalking Independence Interview

July 4th has passed, but one wonders just how much Americans know of the origins of that rather significant date of history.

There is a lot of hoopla going on today concerning creative thinking, group work, and numerous other strategies in education, but there are some basic facts that every student should know and be responsible for.

The origin our our nation, our freedoms, our basic rights is something that falls under the category 'you should know this'.
Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" - where he interviews citizens on a topic, asking them factual based questions - the answers to which are readily evident to the audience - often leads to funny, often embarrassing replies. Of course, seldom are all of the interviewee's (especially those who answer the questions correct) shown, for what would be the humor in that - and Jay Leno is a successful comedian.

Here is a clip from YouTube showing the "Jaywalking" for some July 4th questions. Interesting, humorous, embarrassing. I can't help but wonder how our students would do....


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,...
What an inspirational document - one every American should read and ponder at least annually - yes, reading and discussing even the list of grievences as well. That document, the Declaration of Independence, is in the news today on this, it's 234th birthday.

Some sites of interest:

The Declaration set to song, as published in the LA Times.
An interesting commentary by Stephen Henderson at the Detroit Free Press.
A comparison of the original draft, reported copy, and final copy at the US site.
And, of course, the wonderful primary resources available at the Library of Congress.
Happy birthday to the Declaration of Independence and all that it stands for. May we as a people study it, embrace it, and try to understand it.