Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today, August 25th

     Today, Wednesday August 25th, in the year of our Lord 2010, much has transpired. Not in the sense that today has been full of activities. Not in the sense that today has yielded much productivity. But in a more global sense. Yeah yeah, Iran developed longer-range short-range missiles, Lindsey Lohan got out of rehab early, Jimmy Carter is on mission to North Korea to rescue those captive Americans but think beyond that.

     Today I began teaching the advanced general chemistry class. Normally this would be rather routine but I decided to take a step back. This class is made up of 54 students that either did really well on the chemistry diagnostic exam or are national merit scholars. That's right - over achievers. As such, I feel it is very important to help keep them grounded. If your college classes and your study groups and your homework assignments become your life for 4 years then frankly, I think you have missed part of your education. Don't get me wrong I am not advocating that you go party each weekend or that you wait till the last minute to do your assignments. I do think you should give your all in completing what is required of you. This can mean going above and beyond what you are assigned. Learning what is not required to further your education!

    Too many people see education as a means to and end. This is how I used to view college as well. However, this is flawed thinking. Your college degree does not guarantee you a good job, or higher pay. Sorry, there will be NO certificate on graduation day entitling you to a dream job, not even a good job. Education is just that - education. It can allow you to prepare yourself for the next step. It can allow you to become a more well rounded individual. It can give you a greater perspective. There are many good things that come with an education.

     Sorry, I got off on a tangent there. What I am saying is, I am attempting to allow my students to take a look at the bigger picture. I have decided one way of doing this is by sharing what happened on this day in history. Today, August 25th in the past things happened. Things you should be aware of. Things that will help put your busy life of homework, study groups, laundry, sleep, and reading into a larger perspective. While you may not be out there making history, some people are! Events are happening in the world. Events outside your microscopic myopia. Events that are contributing and can contribute to your education. Events that can help make you a more rounded individual. If you have some good ways of accomplishing this with students please let me know.

     I decided to find out what happened Today! Today, August 25th in the past. I decided to share these things with you since they are many and varied.

   I have received emails daily for a few years now that tell me what has happened each day in the past. Today, August 25th happens to be a very interesting smattering of events. More large events then most days. Both science and theology happened on August 25th!

Today, August 25th:

1835 "The Great Moon Hoax" - A tabloid publishes a story about finding life on the moon. This tabloid was only 2 years old and most didn't know they were a tabloid. They found, "evidence of life forms on the moon, including such fantastic animals as unicorns, two-legged beavers and furry, winged humanoids resembling bats. The articles also offered vivid description of the moon's geography, complete with massive craters, enormous amethyst crystals, rushing rivers and lush vegetation." Goes to prove that you should not believe everything that is written even when it sounds authoritative. Reminds me of polywater.

1776 David Hume dies - The man who said that any statement that is neither purely a relation of ideas (definitional or mathematical) on the one hand or a matter of fact (empirical or factual) on the other hand is meaningless. The man who awoke Immanuel Kant from his "dogmatic slumbers."
Of course the skeptical attempt to suspend all judgment about reality is self-defeating, since it implies a judgment about reality. The contention that all meaningful statements are either a relation of ideas or else about matter of fact is itself neither of these. Hence, on its own grounds it would be meaningless.

1875 The first man to successfully swim across the English channel - Just 27 years old, Matthew Webb swims the 21 mile English channel in just 21 hours and 45 minutes.

1944 Paris is liberated - Paris had been held since June 1940. It was liberated from their control - you guessed it - Today, August 25th! Big day for Parisians - and you only mowed your lawn today. . .

1939 The Wizard of Oz debuts - One of the first 25 films to be put on the National Film Registry, which is reserved for culturally or historically significant movies.

325 The Council of Nicaea concludes - This was basically the first church council since Acts 15:4-22. At the council they condemned the teachings of Arius which held that the Father God begat the Son Jesus and that Jesus was therefore inferior to God the father. This was corrected and Jesus was declared the same substance as the father (using the famous Greek word "homoousius"). This council recognized and established many foundational teachings regarding the Trinity. What was set forth here regarding the Trinity is still the standard on this doctrine. A very interesting study on heresies reveals much about the issues surrounding council. They also crafted the Nicene Creed. What was established by this council is believed by nearly every Christian denomination. Even those sects that do not like creeds or church councils. One thing I would not agree on is the section of the creed that says that Jesus descended into Hell. The best information you can find about this very much held and believed position yet hardly studied is Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Many churches and learned men hold that Jesus did indeed descend into Hell yet they take no time to find out why the believe that except for the fact that there appear to be a couple of verses that allude that this. Grudem sets the record straight. I will take more time in another post to go over this topic. 

1920 Klaus Ruedenberg was born - Today is Dr. Ruedenberg's 90th birthday. A special issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry A is dedicated to Dr. Ruedenberg on the occasion of this birthday. 
The many outstanding papers that are part of this issue document his seminal contributions to a broad range of quantum chemistry, including the evaluation of electron repulsion integrals; the free-electron network model for conjugated molecules; the origin of covalent bonding, including the central role of the kinetic energy in the covalent bond and the intrinsic identification of chemical bonding patterns in molecular systems; the orbital localization that has enabled a deep understanding of many chemical phenomena; the multiconfigurational self-consistent field method and the concept of the Full Optimized Reaction Space (FORS) to study chemical rearrangements and its application to the study of global potential energy surfaces and conical intersections; the first construction of systematic, eventempered sequences of orbital sets that approach the complete basis set limit; and the novel simultaneous extrapolation of basis set and level of theory to achieve nearly exact molecular energies and vibrational spectra." from J. Phys. Chem. A 2010, 114, 8489

Did you notice "THE ORIGIN OF COVALENT BONDING" !!!!! That's the concept that a bond is made by sharing electrons. This is one of the most fundamental concepts in chemistry! I have had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Ruedenberg give a number of different research talks including one on this topic. He can recount many stories about interactions with very well known famous scientists. It's amazing to hear from someone who starting working in the field of quantum mechanics less than 5 years after its birth! 

      Much happens on a regular day. Much happens that makes history. There are things going on out there that you may not even be aware of. Never forget that your world is not the only thing happening. Your world is not the world of everyone else! History happens and is made everyday. Don't forget that. Learn from the past and be educated by it. Today, August 25th history is happening.  

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