Darwin and the Discovery of Evolution

The theory of evolution is often disparaged by its opponents as being “just a theory” — i.e., a speculative hypothesis with little basis in hard, scientific fact. But this claim carries with it the implied accusation that Charles Darwin was “just a theorist” — i.e., he was merely an armchair scientist and that his life’s work was nothing more than an exercise in arbitrary speculation. A look at Darwin’s pioneering discoveries, however, reveals the grave injustice of this accusation. Darwin was not “just a theorist” and evolution is not “just a theory.” In this talk, Dr. Keith Lockitch explores Darwin’s life and work, focusing on the steps by which he came to discover and prove the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017

From NASA:

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 Path USA Map

This unique map from NASA shows the path of the moon’s umbral shadow – in which the sun will be completely obscured by the moon – during the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, as well as the fraction of the sun’s area covered by the moon outside the path of totality.

The lunar shadow enters the United States near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins in the United States in Lincoln City, Oregon, at 10:16 a.m. PDT. The total eclipse will end in Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:48 p.m. EDT. The lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 p.m. EDT. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout the United States.

NASA has created a website to provide a guide to this amazing event with activities, events, broadcasts, and links to other resources.


How to View the 2017 Solar Eclipse Safely

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality (https://go.nasa.gov/2pC0lhe (link is external)).

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” (example shown at left) or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight. Refer to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers (link is external) page for a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products.
  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
  • If you are within the path of totality (https://go.nasa.gov/2pC0lhe (link is external)), remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.
  • Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

Note: If your eclipse glasses or viewers are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, you may look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun through them for as long as you wish. Furthermore, if the filters aren’t scratched, punctured, or torn, you may reuse them indefinitely. Some glasses/viewers are printed with warnings stating that you shouldn’t look through them for more than 3 minutes at a time and that you should discard them if they are more than 3 years old. Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015. To make sure you get (or got) your eclipse glasses/viewers from a supplier of ISO-compliant products, see the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers (link is external) page.

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse; you’ll see the ground dappled with crescent Suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.

A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime. More information: eclipse.aas.org (link is external)

This document does not constitute medical advice. Readers with questions should contact a qualified eye-care professional.

Mystery Science and Google Partner To Ensure Kids Experience the Total Solar Eclipse

New Site EclipseAmerica.Org Helps Elementary Teachers Get Ready for the Eclipse

San Francisco – August 3, 2017 — Mystery Science, creator of the fastest growing elementary science curriculum in America, and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG, GOOGL) today announced they are working together to help millions of children across the U.S. experience the Great American Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017. Millions of solar eclipse glasses are being distributed to community libraries in the STAR Library Education Network to be given away free of charge, thanks in part to the support of Google. In addition, Google has provided Mystery Science with fifteen thousand eclipse glasses to be shipped directly to schools. Mystery Science is getting eclipse glasses into the hands of elementary teachers as well as providing exclusive educational videos and lesson plans, available for free download today at EclipseAmerica.org.

“Going to the moon, exploring the surface of mars, or seeing a total solar eclipse across the US for the first time in a century are amazing moments that can inspire a whole new generation of explorers and scientists,” said Calvin Johnson, Program Manager at Google for the Eclipse Megamovie project. “Our collaboration with Mystery Science ensures that educators have the resources needed to drive and encourage the curiosity of students and push our understanding of the universe to another level.”

In the last year, over 1 million children experienced Mystery Science in their elementary schools, leveraging its open-and-go curriculum.

“Those who have been fortunate enough to experience a total solar eclipse usually describe it as a ‘moment of awe’,” said Keith Schacht, co-founder and CEO of Mystery Science. “The next Marie Curie or Albert Einstein is somewhere out there right now. Experiencing this eclipse might be a singular event that inspires a lifetime of curiosity.”

Why You Should Care About the Solar Eclipse

  • The August 21 event happening across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for many. The sky will go dark, the air will cool, crickets will chirp, and stars will become visible in daytime.
  • The last time a total solar eclipse crossed the United States was in 1918, nearly one hundred years ago. In historical perspective for most young adults, it means most of their parents and grandparents have never seen a solar eclipse.
  • In this modern era, where children spend so much time indoors and on digital devices, this is an opportunity to inspire them with one of the greatest wonders in the natural world. The solar eclipse provides a unique way to get them excited through a real world experience.
  • The next total solar eclipse to cross the United States like this one won’t occur until the year 2045. So don’t miss the 2017 eclipse, as this one might be your only chance.
  • It is extremely dangerous to ever look directly at the sun. This is why specially designed safety glasses are needed.

Unique Solar Eclipse Info on EclipseAmerica.org

  • Explanation video made for kids. Mystery Science creates engaging content that children love. Too often, scientific explanations are heavy on dry vocabulary and technical details rather than engaging content.
  • What time the eclipse will be in your city. Mystery Science knows that where you are physically on August 21 will dramatically alter your experience with the eclipse. So, they created a helpful Eclipse Time Checker where a person can type in their city and it will tell them when exactly to look.
  • Everything a teacher needs. Mystery Science created an open-and-go eclipse lesson. Mystery Science is used in 10% of elementary schools in the U.S. and understands what teachers will need to help their students experience this moment of awe.

Google’s Solar Eclipse Branded Glasses on Par with NASA Standards

According to NASA, homemade filters or sunglasses of any kind are not safe for looking at the sun during this solar eclipse. These Google solar eclipse glasses meet NASA’s standards and have extremely dark lenses as they were made by Rainbow Symphony. The Sun or eclipse should not be viewed with an unfiltered camera, telescope or binocular as it will result in serious injury to your eyes.

Pricing and Availability

Interested teachers in the U.S. can go to the EclipseAmerica.org today to request their free solar eclipse glasses from a local library or to be shipped directly to their school. In addition, anyone can download and use the open-and-go eclipse lesson from Mystery Science for free. Here are the three, easy steps for teachers to get started:

  1. Request your free solar eclipse glasses.
  2. Check what time you will need to go outside to observe the eclipse. The exact time varies depending on your location: Eclipse Time Checker.
  3. Prepare to teach the solar eclipse lesson to your students.

About Mystery Science:

Mystery Science helps teachers without a background in science teach incredible science lessons. Mystery Science is the fastest growing science curriculum in the U.S. with teachers in more than 10% of elementary schools, reaching more than a million children. The company’s mission to accelerate human progress by increasing the number of problem solvers in the next generation. They’re addressing this by fixing STEM education for children. Mystery Science has raised $2.9 million to date from Y Combinator, LearnCapital, Reach Capital, and 500 Startups. The company was founded by tech and science gurus including a former Facebook product manager, Keith Schacht, and an award-winning science teacher, Doug Peltz.

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