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Comment Re:Any way to see them coming? (Score 4, Informative) 119

Vaporizing them isn't going to help much and it takes too much energy. It also has the risk of generating *more* space junk, just smaller. However, there is a proposal to use lasers against the growing cloud of space junk in orbit. This plan, however, isn't to vaporize them. The plan is to use the small momentum generated by photons to cause the junk to deorbit. http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-04/29/laser-space-junk

Comment Re:This is a joke, right? (Score 1) 203

Ah. But your initial comment did not flesh these ideas out. Are you saying, as suggested in the initial comment, that *all* science fiction books are irrelevant to this teacher's needs, or are you saying, as in your second comment, that you would recommend science fiction books that are either classics or have at least a modicum of hard science in it? And incidentally, I would take exception to the mocking tone you have at this teacher's initial list. This person has come to Slashdot asking for help. It's obvious that they feel their knowledge in this arena is somewhat deficient. Pointing that out and laughing at them for asking for help in a field in which you might excel suggests arrogance at the level of hubris.

Comment Re:IMHO (Score 1) 203

Ah. Perhaps I should have been more clear, then. It's obvious that much of science fiction, like most of anything, is sad trash. However, wisely chosen, a good science fiction story can do all of these things. After all, this is why the original poster is asking for suggestions, is he not? To expand their own horizons to what might be out there that is interesting and engaging, and at the same time relevant, hopefully at least moderately accurate and thought-provoking.

Comment Re:IMHO (Score 1) 203

In my opinion, certainly appropriate for school. School isn't just for facts, figures, reading, writing and arithmetic. At its best, it's for inspiring. For igniting that light in the mind that asks "Why?" That is especially important in today's day and age, where it seems like everything is caught up in where your next paycheck is coming from, or if the next financial, political, geologic, hydrodynamic, or celestial disaster is just around the corner. After all... when's the last time many of us went out and even flew a kite with our children, letting them wonder and ask the questions about what keeps the kite up in the sky? I know it's been a very long time for me.

Comment Re:IMHO (Score 1) 203

And that's exactly why sci-fi books *are* appropriate. They might be light on, or even distort the facts. But at this age, interest and drive and passion for a subject is at least as important as the facts. They'll never get to the higher, nitty-gritty of science if they don't reach for it. Science fiction can give that interest, if, of course, chosen wisely and well.

Comment Re:This is a joke, right? (Score 1) 203

Now hold on. One of the tasks of teachers is to foster *interest* in science, as well as teaching science itself. Science fiction, along that line, is a very good mechanism for fostering that interest. Much science has been inspired, directly or indirectly, by science fiction, and many, many scientists have been ushered along that path by science fiction as well. Don't discount the power of story and narrative. The kids can learn the technicalities of science later. But they'll never get there if they don't have the passion for it.

Comment The Martian (Score 1) 203

I highly recommend The Martian, by Andy Weir. As an initial warning, there is some... "gritty" language in there, but I think that's keeping with the realism of someone who has been accidentally abandoned on Mars. A gripping read, science that is absolutely spot-on, and some genuinely funny moments as well. All available for the low, low price of less than a buck. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009IEXKXI

Comment Re:They are even dumber than they seem. (Score 1) 936

Finding a live dinosaur does not in any way disprove evolution. It would simply mean that some very few dinosaurs lived through the extinction event. These Christians really need to take a class in evolution. That way they would know what they need to disprove.

Unfortunately, humans are very, very good at confirmation bias. Selective memory and biased interpretation can turn nearly any fact into any opinion in a very few steps. It is difficult to teach ideas to ideologues of any stripe (Christian, Atheist, Republican, NPR listener) because of this fact. And before you nod with an arrogant smirk, you do it. I do it. We all do it unless we're trying very, *very* hard not to... and then we still usually do it. It's ingrained. It insidious and subconscious and we really can't avoid it. The best we can do is be on our guard.

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