### Twinkle, twinkle

#### Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

By Julia Kregenow and Jason Wright
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
I know exactly what you are

Opaque ball of hot dense gas
Million times our planet's mass
Looking small because you're far
I know exactly what you are

Hydrogen, helium, carbon and more [Note that these have to be pronounced as quick triplets for proper scansion, i.e. "hy-dro-gen, hel-li-um, car-bon-and, more"...]
With such power you shine far
Twinkle twinkle little star

Classed by their spectroscopy
Oh, Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me
Bright when close and faint when far
I know exactly what you are

Smallest ones burn cool and slow
Still too hot to visit, though
Red stars dominate by far
Twinkle twinkle little star

Largest ones are hot and blue
Supernova when they're through
Then black hole or neutron star
I know exactly what you are

Our Sun's average as stars go
Formed 5 billion years ago
Halfway through its life so far
Twinkle twinkle little star

(new verse! 7.23.12)
Sunspots look dark but they're bright
Slightly cooler so less light
Temporary surface scar
I know exactly what you are

(new verse! 7.23.12)
Cooling off and growing red
Then its end is not so far
Twinkle twinkle giant star

(new verse! 7.23.12)
Outer layers float away
Planetary Nebulae [pronounced "NEH-byoo-LAY"]
Wispy gas is gossamer
I know exactly what you were

(new verse! 7.23.12)
Interstellar medium
Gas and dust are spread afar
Twinkle twinkle little star

Forming from collapsing clouds
Cold and dusty gas enshrouds
Spinning, heating protostar
I know exactly what you are

(updated 7.23.12)
Two stars make a binary
Or a triple if there's three
Some are solo just like ours
Twinkle twinkle little stars

Often forming multiply [pronounced "MAHLT - eh - PLEE"]
Clusters bound by gravity
Open type or globular [pronounced "GLAH-byoo-LAHR" to make the rhyme work. Note this is a slight variant on the standard pronunciation "GLAH-byoo-ler"]
I know exactly what you are

Two hundred billion stars all stay
Bound up in the Milky Way
Dusty spiral with a bar
Twinkle twinkle little star

Stars have planets orbiting
Rocky or gassy, moons or rings
Earth's unique with life so far
I know exactly what you are.
Lyrics copyrighted Julia Kregenow and Jason Wright, 2011. For educational purposes only. If you reproduce these lyrics in whole or in part, please credit this original source (http://mamasdukesofhazard.blogspot.com/2011/06/twinkle-twinkle-little-star.html). Also please make note of [pronunciation hints] embedded within, to retain the intended meter and rhyme.

mama mia said…
May I share this with science teachers at my school? any chance J. Swift could perform this and post to you tube so we could hear? love this!
Jason said…
As a co-author of the lyrics, I think it's great if you use it for educational purposes.

Julia and I are looking into making an annotated poster out of the lyrics.

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…