Virtual Teacher Newsletter  No.84 ­ January 30th 2004 ­ MARS STUFF




1. Welcome

2. Mind Candy

3. WWWinfo Dictionary

4. New Printables -  404

5. Technical Stuff -  SMALLER FASTER BETTER

6. Web Site Focus ­ TRAILER WORLD


8. Great Sites

9.  Readers' Requests/Comments

10 Next Issue

11. Code of 'Netizens'

12. Tips


1. WELCOME EVERYONE. Starting the new school year with

some great stuff - the MARS stuff.  How fantastic.

The ultimate, 'OH Cool Factor', leading to a great sense of wonder. 

The ideal opportunity for less teacher talk more finding out and

integration of the internet with the curriculum.

How do we make laptops more than just a 2,000 dollar pencil?

Hereıs a great start with Mars links below.

And where are future computers going, read about the new

10ghz chip and BIOLOGICAL nano transitors. Amazing.



A puppet is the artist's soul set free."

-Frank Ballard, Puppeteer, Designer/Director, Teacher


Does it matter whether we know today or tomorrow how much

a child has understood? For my part, so sure do I feel of the

effect that I am willing to wait indefinitely.²

Marie L. Shedlock, The Art of the Storyteller , published in 1915.


Do we want human beings teaching our children, with all their

faults and follies and limitations, but with all their depth and

grandeur as well?


From the ISIS Speech


ŒŠ.So here are five steps we should take, starting right now.


Do away with these incessant tests; they only tell you things

you don't need to know, and make the children do things they

don't need to do.


Abolish the league tables, which are an abomination.


Cut class sizes in every school in the country. No child

should ever be in a class bigger than twenty.


Make teaching a profession that the most gifted, the most

imaginative, the most well-informed people will clamour to join;

and make the job so rewarding that none of them will want to

stop teaching until they drop.


Make this the golden rule, the equivalent of the Hippocratic oath:

Everything we ask a child to do should be worth doing .


If we do those five things, we will not bring about a golden age,

or an earthly paradise; there are more things wrong with the

world than we can cure by changing a system of schooling.

But if we get education right, it would show that we were

being serious about living and thinking and understanding

ourselves; it would show that we were paying our children

the compliment of assuming that they were serious too; and

it would acknowledge that the path to true learning begins

nowhere else but in delight, and the words on the signpost say:

"Once upon a time Š²


Philip Pullman

April 2003


3. WWWinfo - Dictionaries



The earliest known "404 error" card in its original error form.



Learning curve for education internet project

ŒEvery student and teacher in NSW, from kindergarten to TAFE has an email address waiting in the wings of a $33 million state-wide system bracing for its biggest test  - the new school year. Œ


Smaller Faster and Better

By Fred Lawrence

ŒSemiconductor researchers have known since the 1950s

that the quantum-confinement effects of tunnel diodes boost

circuit speed and current handling while reducing component

count and power consumption.

Now some researchers say a new CMOS-compatible tunnel

diode process could extend the lifetime of existing silicon

fabs by leapfrogging the next node in the semiconductor

road map (as defined by Moore's Law). Silicon-integratable

tunnel diodes might also provide enough current density to

allow telecom radiofrequency components to be moved off

separate-and costly-gallium-arsenide chips and onto silicon,

allowing one-chip solutions for broadcasting that can

boggle the mind.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has fabricated a standard

CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) transistor

with a gate length of 10 nanometers, six times smaller than

the smallest CMOS transistors currently in production.

Smaller transistors mean more of them can be placed on a

chip, and thereby boost the chip's processing capability.

This breakthrough could lead to a chip with 1 billion transistors

at a similar size to current chips which hold 100 million transistors.


The 10-nanometer transistor relies on a design known

as the Fin Field Effect Transistor (FinFET), which adds

an extra gate to the traditional single-gate transistor design.

The double gate effectively doubles the electrical current

that can be sent through a given transistor, and a thin vertical

silicon fin helps control leakage of current through the transistor

when it is in the off stage

These new chips can run at 10 GHz and more with little or no

trouble. Look out Intel! Although a search on Google brought

up some of this technology, it is far from current, but interesting

reading, none-the-less.


Is it alive?

One source tells us (Science (vol 302, p 1380)) that a functional

electronic nano-device has been manufactured using biological

self-assembly for the first time.

Israeli scientists harnessed the construction capabilities of DNA

and the electronic properties of carbon nanotubes to create the

self-assembling nano-transistor. The work has been greeted as

"outstanding" and "spectacular" by nanotechnology experts.

Braun's team began their manufacturing process by coating a

central part of a long DNA molecule with proteins from an

/E. coli/ bacterium. Next, graphite nanotubes coated with

antibodies were added, which bound onto the protein.

After this, a solution of silver ions was added. The ions chemically

attach to the phosphate backbone of the DNA, but only where

no protein has attached. Aldehyde then reduces the ions to

silver metal, forming the foundation of a conducting wire.

To complete the device, gold was added. This nucleates on

the silver and creates a fully conducting wire. The end result

is a carbon nanotube device connected a both ends by a

gold and silver wire.

The device operates as a transistor when a voltage applied

across the substrate is varied. This causes the nanotubes to

either bridge the gap between the wires - completing the

circuit - or not.

Out of 45 nanoscale devices created in three batches, almost

a third emerged as self-assembled transistors. They work at

room temperature and the only restriction for future devices

is that the components must be compatible with the biological

reactions and the metal-plating process.

The team have already connected two of the devices together,

using the biological technique. The same process could allow

us to create elaborate self-assembling DNA sculptures and circuitry.ı

January 27, 2004

Tech-Note ­ 12


This is the Borg ­ Star Trek has arrived.


6. WEBSITE FOCUS - Here's another great way to start the year ­

have them all so motivated that they will even learn - algebra

really or Latin declensions. Take the bunch to "TRAILER WORLD",

(to be said in a deep resonating voice).

Here you can view the new and often overlooked world of

the trailer.  An artform as significant as the novel, painting or

indeed the crib summary.  But then again folks it is one of the

greatest forms of manipulation of the last century and in this one. 

At stake is persuading the masses to spend a great deal of

money on tickets and merchandising, to see the latest hugely

expensive movies.

Why would you bother???

Because its fantastic, brilliant, enjoyable and brilliant.(2 brilliants

in one sentence, I don't often do that).

Here in short - school/lesson/period suitable bites, you can see

Hollywoodıs, the World's, latest formulas, ideas and special effects.

In 3minutes - hey isn't that the attention span of your average

teenage boy ­ Trailers were made for Teachers - you can see

every thrilling, exciting explosive current visual and audio idea.


Take a look, ask a question or 10.

What sound effects are used?

What action sequences are there?

How does it grab your attention?

Do they use gorgeous girls to get attention?

Are there any car chases, skids or crashes?

What dialogue is used?

What songs are used?

Find the common properties, find the similarities, find the formula.  

AND - make one of your own.



The latest NASA exploit provides a jumping off point for an

amazing array of splendid questions relating to almost everything:

What are the conditions necessary for life to exist?

Is there life on Mars?

Was there life on Mars?

What makes up our atmosphere?

What makes up the Martian atmosphere?

If we found one, could we bring home a Martian pet and keep it

on earth?

Is it possible that we are entirely wrong about the conditions

necessary for life?

What would Martians think of Earth?


'...a big part of he reason the Earth seems so miraculously

accommodating is that we evolved to suit its conditions. 

What we marvel at is not that it is suitable to life but that it is

suitable to our life - and hardly surprising really. It may be that

many of the things that make it so splendid to us ­

well- proportioned Sun, doting Moon, sociable carbon, more

molten magma than you can shake a stick at and all the

rest - seem splendidly simply because they are what we were

born to count on............Other worldıs may harbour beings

thankful for their silvery lakes of mercury and drifting clouds

of ammonia. They may be delighted that their planet doesn't

shake them silly with grinding plates or spew messy gobs of

lava over the landscape, but rather exists in a permanent

non-tectonic tranquility.  Any visitors to earth from afar would

almost certainly, at the very least, be bemused to find us

living in an atmosphere composed of nitrogen, a gas sulkily

disinclined to react with anything, and oxygen, which is so

partial to combustion that we must place fire stations

throughout our cities to protect ourselves from its livelier

effects." pp223-4

Is there Life on mars?

Life in the Universe

About the Earth


How old is the Earth?


What parts of the Earth are inhabited by humans? Why?

Here we are going to Mars to explore a new planet BUT

What do we know about planet Earth?

ŒyouŠwonıt be surprised to hear that we donıt understand

it completely and what we do understand we havenıt

understood for long.² pp15)

³Of the small portion of the planetıs surface that is dry

enough to stand on, a surprisingly large amount is too

hot or cold or dry or steep or lofty to be of much use to us.

³ Human beings can live in  ³only 4 percent of the whole

surfaceı area of the earth. pp217


All excerpts above are from Bill Brysonıs

"A Shorter History of Nearly Everything" Double Day ISBN 0385 408188


Besides all these thought provoking questions there are

wonderful sites available  covering the NASA space flight itself.

Latest Pictures from mars

Animation of Mars landing - this appears to be the landing

which was shown on TV - the simulation flash movie was

prepared well in advance of the landing, obviously, so what

we saw was a simulation not the real thing, obviously, 

who was there on Mars with a Camera shooting these images?

Who was there on mars shooting the landing video?

Is there dust on mars?

How long is the Martian Day

Is Mars THAT red?

What is Martian gravity like?

Is there any air there?

Compare the simulation to the actual pictures of mars.

What pictures did TV news bulletins used?

Was there a camera crew waiting on mars to film the landing?




Career Voyage


Some Great Maths Questions


Global Positioning - Just type in the coordinates and there you are.


Indigenous Weather  knowledge



Enjoy the festive season and thanks for all the great ideas, etc. 

Marg A

Teacher Librarian

Roma Middle School

Roma QLD 4455


Hi Cathy

Thankyou for your wonderful newsletter!!!!

Carolyn Draper


merry christmas Cathy

thank you for your wonderful newsletter - is send it out to all

teachers at Sydney Girls High School.  have found some excellent

sites on your recommendation.

best wishes

wendy herbert



Thanks everyone who sent Merry Christmas emails,  glad

you are enjoying the newsletter ­ if you do enjoy it send in

some ideas and thoughts and great sites so I can spread

them around. 

Ciao Cathy

 - ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

11. Code of the 'Netizens'

This Newsletter is not free, despite the misleading advertising

above. The Fee is now due. Each week you must help one

colleague on the Internet who has less knowledge than you.

Help that person even if you have to visit their classroom or

do a little research and get back to them. Trust me, this will

help a lot of people get their computer classrooms running better.

OK I'm trusting you!!!


12. TIPS

1. Double click on highlighted URLS to open in browser.

2. Send in your Questions, Questions will be published with

Answers, send in your Answers, if you have expertise to share.

3. Nominate a brilliant site for review and inclusion in this


4. Nominate a fantastic school site for review and inclusion in

this newsletter.

5. Make contact with other schools using fantastic programs.

6. Prepare and innovative article for this newsletter.

7. Tell 2 colleagues about this newsletter.


The opinions expressed here are purely those of the editor,

Cathy Brown. All other small print clauses apply. Such as:

Use at your  own risk. Nothing in life is guaranteed. If it doesn't

work for you send me an email.

Editor: cathy brown


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