Random thoughts on a Friday

A few random thoughts that have traveled through my brain today...

  1. Next week I am giving two presentations at the Minnesota educational technology (TIES) conference. One is on administrator blogging. One of the new bloggers from our Principal Blogging Project, a principal who works in one of the wealthiest, high-achieving suburban school districts in the country, was going to Skype in with a webcam and talk to the audience for 10 minutes about his experiences as a principal new to blogging. He just e-mailed me to cancel - one of the reasons, he was chagrined to admit, is that there isn't a single webcam in the entire district. Yikes!
  • After reading David Warlick's post (and the accompanying comments) on 'fencing in the learning,' I am struck by how many different reasons we educators can come up with for not putting kids' needs first. As David said long ago, instead of asking What should we reasonably expect our education system to achieve in the next ten years?, we should be asking What should today's children reasonably expect from our education system over the next ten years? Like David, I too think that our children have every reason to expect a lot more. If you haven't yet read The Rise of the Creative Class, check out the first few chapters and then think about this issue again after doing so. Or, alternatively, go watch Consuela Molina's video on digital kids in analog schools. I'm not just picking on K-12 here; it's just as bad, if not worse, in academia.
  • Sometimes people are too touchy. Let the little stuff go, I say.
  • Don't we have bigger things on which to expend our mental energy?

  • If my 6-year-old can learn how to Skype me, and if a blog post is literally as easy as sending an e-mail, and if editing a wiki can be as simple as clicking on the Edit button, can someone remind me again what the learning barriers for adult teachers and administrators are to using these kinds of Web 2.0 tools?
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    Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

    It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

    • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
    • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
    • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

    Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

    It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

    17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)

    In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.

    Image from the study.

    As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

    Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

    "The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

    It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

    Image by authors of the study.

    Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

    The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

    “In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

    Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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