Space Travel And Teaching Conservative Thought

Grind for July 11th, 2019
“Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.” – Voltaire

Out Of This World

The Headline

NASA’s new atomic clock could change the way humans explore space

The Grind

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab have created a new atomic clock that could transform the way we navigate deep space.

The Deep Space Atomic Clock uses the structure of mercury atoms to measure time down to the nanosecond and contains an electromagnetic bundle of charged ions that protects the atoms from the effects of vacuum.

The clock is expected to be up to 50x more stable than the clocks we use on GPS satellites.

The Details

Traditional clocks keep time using quartz crystals, which vibrate at a precise frequency when voltage is applied. After six weeks, most clocks are off by about 1 millisecond.

That margin of error is unacceptable for astronomers, who navigate through space by measuring the time it takes for a signal traveling at light speed to reach a ship and return to Earth. At that speed, an error of just 1 millisecond translates to185 miles.

For deep space missions, astronomers need clocks that are consistent to better than one billionth of a second.

To produce accurate measurements and maintain stability, the Deep Space Atomic Clock uses the known vibration of quartz crystals and applies that frequency to mercury atoms, whose electrons respond with a precise “jump” in energy.

“The fact that the energy difference between these orbits is such a precise and stable value is really the key ingredient for atomic clocks,” explains scientist Eric Burt. “It’s the reason atomic clocks can reach a performance level beyond mechanical clocks.”

If the electrons’ response is different than expected, the clock knows it is wrong and will adjust itself. According to the experts at NASA, it would take 10 years for the clock to be off by 1 microsecond and 10 million years for it to be off by 1 second.

The Deep Space Atomic Clock was launched into space June 25th from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was carried into orbit onboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Not Fair

The Headline

Portland State University rejects course on conservative political thought

The Grind

Officials at Portland State University rejected Political Science Professor Bruce Gilley’s proposal for a permanent course on conservative political thought on the basis that it failed to meet a new “diversity standard.”

Gilley told reporters that his colleagues had advised him to lie about course content to officials and then teach whatever he wanted.

“I’m at a stage in my career…where I don’t want to play these games anymore,” said Gilley. “It’s wrong.”

The Details

In his application, Gilley defines conservatism as “an approach to political life that emphasizes prudence, tradition, and incremental change” and explains that “fixed group-based identities are both logically and empirically problematic for political communities.”

In terms of diversity, Gilley said the course would focus on the “diversity of intellectual, personal, individual, and character-based (rather than group-based) characteristics” of students.

The course syllabus includes one week each on British, European, American, and black conservatism.

The overall purpose of the course is “to consider the main theories of conservatism and how they have been applied to political practice,” says Gilley. “An emphasis will be placed on understanding the internal logic and the different strands of conservative political thought and the ways that it has responded to contemporary challenges.”

The Takeaway

In my opinion, Gilley’s course idea is a mature and progressive approach to conservatism. But in the era of safe spaces and snowflakes, the mere consideration of conservatism on a college campus is treated with disdain.

Gilley’s proposed course is the only one to be rejected since Portland implemented its diversity standard in 2016.

The standard is a “political litmus test,” argues Gilley, designed to weed out conservative thought. In 2017, Gilley was attacked by a “hate mob” after he defended some aspects of colonialism in an essay.

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