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Name: Julia
Status: educator
Grade: 9-12
Location: MA
Country: N/A
Date: 12/25/2004


Question:
Do you have a short lesson plan I could use with my 10th graders on calculating the sun earth distance? I have read the one sheet write up, however, how can I teach the calculations in 50 minutes or so?


Replies:
It takes explaining Kepler's Laws of planetary motion and a bit of algebra, but Leon Lederman's book entitled "Symmetry--and the Beautiful Universe has a great two page explanation of the measurement of the mean Earth--Sun distance, otherwise known as the astronomical unit (AU). Chapter 7 pages 144-145. See also footnote 5 on page334. An additional, gem is this book is his biographical thread of female mathematician Emmy Noether (the most important female mathematician in history in his estimation). Her story is really quite amazing. She is on a par with Gauss, Euler, and Hilbert in his estimation. I would wager that not one physicist/chemist or even athematician would recognize her name even though her mathematics is the basis of understanding the laws of conservation and relativity. The book "Symmetry" is pretty much a tribute to this remarkable mathematician who belies the fable that mathematics is a "man's" game. (Chapter 5)

Vince Calder



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