Fim

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As we come to the end of our conversation class, I would just like to thank all of you for the immense joy you gave me from being able to share my knowledge of the English language and American culture with you as you did with your native language and country with me.  It is so true that the teacher learns from the students as much as the students do from the teacher.  I had a great time teaching all of you and hope to work with you again some time in the near future.  Good luck to you all and may your English continue to improve.  Thanks again.  Good night : )

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Farewell Ana Carolina

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Goodbye Ana Carolina.  You brought great enthusiasm, an adventurous and curious spirit, a great sense of humor, an excellent taste in music, and a whole lot of Portguese ; )  All kidding aside, you were a fantastic student and welcome addition to the class.  Should you ever decide to return, wherever I teach, there will be a place for you in my class.  Good luck to you and thanks again for that great book!  Chau!

Astronomy

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This is a picture of the known, observable universe.  Don’t get too fixated; the universe is constantly expanding and growing.  However, if you look closely,top-center, you can see a unit of measurement, very small in size in the picture; almost unfathomably large in reality.  That’s right, to traverse the distance being measured there, it would take you more than one billion light years.  In other words, if you traveled at the speed of light, some 187,000 miles per second, it would take you more than a billion years to get from point a to point b–absolutely amazing!  And yet the size of the universe is only one of many seemingly incomprehensible facts about our home.  The universe is filled with paradoxes, oxymorons, enigmas, mysteries and unknowns.  Among them are the space/time fabric of Einstein, the black holes of Hawking, string theory of modern physics, and the big bang theory of Hubble, not even mentioning parallel universes and Drake’s Equation! (see below)  The endearing dichotomy of complexity and simplicity which rules the universe will never cease to amaze me.  You may not be as amazed as I am.  Although, I hope you have found this topic interesting.

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Do you believe?  According to the Drake Equation, there are more than 10,000 intelligent civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy alone, confounding given that we have yet to hear from one of them, or have we?   It’s hard to imagine that in a universe so vast, so alive and so infinite that we humans living on a tiny speck of dust are truly the only intelligent life forms in the universe.  Some groups spend their lives trying to prove that this isn’t so, such as ufologists and SETI.  There is even a famous scientific equation, the Drake Equation, which aims to prove that intelligent life exists on other planets through mathematical deduction.  UFOlogists try to prove this to us by showing us pictures of alien aircraft or pictures of actual aliens.   The only ones who seem to continually try to disprove this is the U.S. government, who ironically enough, might be the only ones who have hard proof that aliens exist.  It is purported that alien aircraft crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1951.  The site remains a tourist destination for many people.  No matter what your opinion may be, the discussion of intelligent life forms will continue as long as there is a sky to wonder at.

Earth Day

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Celebrating Earth Day, we are reminded of the perils our natural environment faces due to the catastrophic effects of global warming.  The above picture illustrates only one of the many environmental changes brought about since the earth has begun to warm, and the effects these changes have on the species living in them.  This polar bear is literally treading thin ice, and the less ice there is, the more real the possibility of its extinction becomes.  This is a devastating truth not only for Artic polar bears, iguanas, birds and frogs, but more frighteningly so for our own species, the human being.

There is a wealth of scientific data comfirming the existence of global warming and its origins from human activity which is undisputed. This is the subject of the Academy-Award winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, by Nobel prize winner Al Gore.  After viewing this in class, I hope you have become more informed about the topic of global warming, but more importantly, that you will become more active in contributing to its eradication.

Class trip

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This is not a hoax.  This band of marauders actually went to…

bn152 Barnes and Noble!  Check the photos here.

Origin of Aids

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AIDS: where did it come from?  The scientific community all agree that it started as a simian virus.  That much is not under discussion; however, how humans came to have it, that is under discussion and the topic is contentious. It is also the subject of a documentary entitled The Origin of Aids.

The Origin of Aids explores the possibility that the AIDS virus was transmitted to humans unknowingly by a Polish scientist, Hilary Kaprowski, while working on a polio vaccine in Africa in the 1950s .  It is alleged in the book The River, written by Edward Hooper,  that Kaprowski used the tissues from SIV infected monkeys in his polio vaccine trials.  It is further alleged that this caused the HIV virus to cross species during a vaccination campaign through a process called zoonosis.  Hooper uses compelling eyewitness accounts to support his thesis.

Kaprowski, meanwhile, vehemently denies that he used SIV infected monkeys during his experiments and has been partially vindicated by the academic journal Science, which claims that they are almost positive that Kaprowski cannot be held accountable for the transferrence of AIDS to human beings.  Many in the scientific community confer.

The documentary does tend to promote Hooper’s hypothesis rather than vindicate Hooper.  However, it is a good viewing nonetheless and does try to present arguments from both sides.  While some may call it a conspiracy theory, i believe the documentary is more than that.  It touches on larger themes of science including competition among scientists and the ethics of using animals for scientific experiments.

Goodbye River

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The one thing I dislike about teaching ESL is that you guys leave.   Goodbye to you Hudson.  You were a pleasure to teach to and learn from as our relationship was reciprocal.  There is always a place for you in our class.  You better keep in touch through the website!  Good luck to you in all of your future endeavors.

Listen to The River speak.

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