Dec 10, 2011

The Electric Universe (or Plasma Cosmology)

Warning:  Contents of this post challenge mainstream science, and the ideas are really “out there”.   A paradigm shift in how you view the universe may result if, like me, you believe them.  I share this on my blog because it may be a scientific theory of interest.  It is what I plan on teaching my own children.

As always, take what you want and leave the rest.  I have been addicted to a study of the electric universe over the last couple of months, and for those who have never heard of it, well, here’s your chance to become aware.  At the very least, it is an emerging scientific theory to be aware of.  This post is also long.  It takes an essay to present a case like this.  I’ve referenced some YouTube videos you can skip to if that’s more to your liking.

For me, finding this information was like finding the missing puzzle piece in my scientific view of the world.  From a Christian perspective, I believe that the world was created during a relatively short period of time.  From an LDS perspective (this is not a religious post, bare with me), I have been taught that the earth once orbited a different sun, and that as a result of the fall, the earth was sent to this solar system.

Mainstream science tells us that the solar system evolved over millions of years, and the Earth’s place within it has likewise been constant.

Mainstream science once told us that the earth was flat.  Then it was the center of the universe.  Now gravity, dependent on the mass of an object, governs the role of celestial bodies.  The only problem with that assumption is that, while it works perfectly within our own solar system, scientists have been at a loss to explain the phenomena we are now viewing in deep space.  If gravity is based on mass, then there must be massive objects, such as black holes, holding galaxies together.  Well, that was fine at first, but then black holes didn’t behave the way they should, and not only “dark matter”, but “dark energy” was hypothesized.  Given this “blank check” variable as they explain the universe, they have placed these mysterious, unseen elements anywhere they want to make the math work.  Now, only roughly 5% of the universe’s mass is the matter that we can actually see.  If you do a crossword puzzle and the last word just doesn’t fit, do you change the spelling of your word, or do you go back and see if you made a mistake somewhere else?

Here's an interesting video on mathematical vs empirical science:  (no offense to mathematics of course.  I love math)

In the Electric Universe, electricity, not mass, governs the universe.  Scientists who support this theory have recreated in the laboratory on a small scale exactly what we are seeing on a large scale in the cosmos.  Is science based on mathematics, or on the scientific method, a key element of which is experimentation?

For more information on the electric universe, is a central hub for the scientists involved in this study.  For media resources, check this page out:

Also, their “picture of the day” is an active, growing resource you can use with your kids.  The following is their hour-long introduction to the theory, entitled "Thunderbolts of the gods"

Immanuel Velikovsky is the original author to introduce the idea to society in the 50’s.  His ideas were VERY controversial, but nevertheless entertaining to read so the books did well.  His research was not based on science as much as ancient texts from around the world.  He suggested that the myths and legends should be taken literally, and that the world over, the legends could be explained by catastrophic events witnessed in the heavens.

Video introducing Velikovsky:

Velikovsy held that Saturn was once a star, and the earth it’s natural satellite.  Saturn entered our solar system and became Sol’s satellite.  For a brief period, Saturn, Venus, Mars, and the Earth were aligned in the same orbit.  Then something happened to disrupt that orbit and a “war in heaven”,  played by these planets, commenced.  Then each settled into their own orbits.  Yes, that sounds really far out, but as I have researched the ancient beliefs of different cultures, this story really does appear in the ancient texts, and the electric universe can explain the science behind it.

Take for example, the pagan celebration of Saturnalia, from which many of our Christmas traditions have sprung.  To this day, Pagans hold that Saturn once ruled in the sky, which was a Golden Age for man.  Then Jupiter overcame Saturn, and Saturn was forced to sleep for a time, falling from it’s place in the sky.  The Saturnalia celebration wakens Saturn for a week, in an effort to mimic that golden age (producing instead, in many cases, riotous behavior).  It is also a celebration to remember that one day Saturn will waken and return, creating a new golden age.

But it’s not just the Pagans.  Look at the ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Aztecs, and the various Asian religions.  It’s all there if you’re willing to dig for it.  Since Velikovsky, many scientists have looked into the electric universe, and his work is gaining popularity in the scientific world, especially as we learn more about deep space.

What about the LDS perspective?  Did you know that there are Saturn stones on the Salt Lake City temple?  Why? offers compelling answers.  Here’s a video appetizer:

Nothing about this scientific theory is contrary to the gospel.  In fact, Velikovsky is referenced in the CES Old Testament manual on the creation:

“Although the majority of geologists, astronomers, and other scientists believe that even this long period is not adequate to explain the physical evidence found in the earth, there are a small number of reputable scholars who disagree. These claim that the geologic clocks are misinterpreted and that tremendous catastrophes in the earth’s history speeded up the processes that normally may take thousands of years. They cite evidence supporting the idea that thirteen thousand years is not an unrealistic time period. Immanuel Velikovsky, for example, wrote three books amassing evidence that worldwide catastrophic upheavals have occurred in recent history, and he argued against uniformitarianism, the idea that the natural processes in evidence now have always prevailed at the same approximate rate of uniformity. These books are Worlds in Collision, Ages in Chaos, and Earth in Upheaval. Two Latter-day Saint scientists, Melvin A. Cook and M. Garfield Cook, have also advocated this theory in their book Science and Mormonism. A short summary of the Cooks’ approach can be found in Paul Cracroft’s article “How Old Is the Earth?” (Improvement Era, Oct. 1964, pp. 827–30, 852).”

So there, in a nutshell, is a different approach to cosmology, the king of sciences.  I am now a believer in this theory, and this is what I will be teaching my children.  Like evolution, they cannot avoid learning about and being aware of the mainstream sciences, but I am so excited to have a concrete resource to teach them which supports creational science.  I’ve been looking for this my whole life.  I hope that this can be of some interest to you as well.

Tamsyn Spackman

Dec 2, 2011

Christmas Update

Merry Christmas everyone!  It seems that my last post was made October 15th.  Well, I'm still here, and I've been busy working on two large projects, both of which will be ready for release soon.  One will be a surprise, the other is that I have been recording "Mother Play" with a good friend of mine.

"Mother Play" was written by Fredrich Froebel, who invented Kindergarten.  The music is charming, with an "art song" feel to it.  The original music consisted of unaccompanied duets which many teachers found hard to implement into their curriculum.  The book was widely distributed, but rarely used.  This is unfortunate as Froebel himself considered the music, and especially the moral lessons which accompany them, to be his crowning achievement.

In an effort to make the lessons more musically accessible, a new book, "The songs and music of Friedrich Froebel's Mother play", was published in English in 1895.  These songs have piano accompaniments, and we loved them so much that we decided to record them too.  Watch for our release soon!

Part of this project has been to make these Public Domain files more accessible.  Today I compiled information for the first song, "Play with the Limbs."  More updates will soon follow.

See the "Mother Play" page here.

Oct 15, 2011

Rainbow Castle for the international crowd

Recently one of my reviewers in Germany told me that she loved the Rainbow Castle game, which is part of "Beginning Rhythm", except that she could not use it  with her child because Germany uses a different notation system than America.  I forgot to compensate for that when I made the game.  In Northern and Central Europe, there is a variation of using the letter "H" to represent the white note below "C".  ("B" is the black note right below it.)  It was this notation system that Bach used to sign his name into many of his compositions with the notes "B-A-C-H."

In countries that use fixed do, the note names are simply 'Do', 'Re', 'Mi', 'Fa', 'So', 'La', and 'Si'."

I have now updated the "Beginning Rhythm" program to include game boards that accommodate these notation systems, as well as game boards for solfege with "Ti".

You can download international gameboards here for free.

For the entire game with the playing cards, I refer you to "Beginning Rhythm."  I have mostly added these files as an update for those who already have the game.

Oct 5, 2011

Rhythm Guessing Game

Perhaps I have been watching a little too much Sesame Street with my children...

In this video, we play a rhythm "guessing game", where a rhythm is spoken, and the student "guesses" where a certain rhythmic element is.  It's a listening exercise.  Watch this video with your student or child...

There are many applications for this kind of game.  As shown, it is best for the younger beginning student.  An older child, even if a beginner, may tire of it quickly.  Here are some extension activities to keep them engaged:
  • Notate the whole measure with rhythm sticks or note cards.
  • Mix and match different rhythmic elements, as in the last example, to make the game more challenging.
  • Don't tell them what rhythmic elements you are going to use.  Make them guess!
  • Have the child create a measure for you to guess.  (A memory game in and of itself.  Kids often do better than adults!)
  • Rather than clap the rhythm, play it on a percussion instrument.
  • Do longer sequences.
If you are interested in the templates used in the video, they are part of the Beginning Rhythm package, but you can easily make your own rhythm cards by hand on index cards.  You can also use Popsicle sticks or coffee straws for stick notation.  Just do it, and have fun!

Sep 21, 2011

So what's this comunnity tab at the top?

Ah yes, that tab that has sat dormant all summer while I worked on the e-book.  Well, it's an experiment.  I want a chance to get to know my readers, and for you to be able to get to know each other.  In short, a forum.

There are many ways to contact me, such as commenting on a post, commenting on facebook, and personal e-mail.  Those options will always be there, and I will try to answer questions any way that you feel comfortable with.

However, to get feedback from several people, and to start your own topic, you need a forum.

Why Blog Frog?  Well, for one, it's free for me on my end.  (I'm cheap.)  But more than that, I love how Blog Frog gives you a chance to promote your own blog while participating in other forums.  By being a member of a community, your most recent posts will show up.  When you comment, people have the option of seeing who you are and what your blog is.  That is, if you are into that kind of a thing.  You can also create an anonymous profile linking to no blog at all.  There are options.

Here are the first two discussions:

Getting Started

Getting to know you

Below is Blog Frog's standard tour video to give you an idea of what it is all about.

Sep 20, 2011

The music of life

Music is everywhere.  We hear it all the time, but finding it is the challenge.  Music is defined by as

mu·sic ( n.)

1. The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre.
2. Vocal or instrumental sounds possessing a degree of melody, harmony, or rhythm.
           a. A musical composition.
           b. The written or printed score for such a composition.
           c. Such scores considered as a group: We keep our music in a stack near the piano.
4. A musical accompaniment.
5. A particular category or kind of music.
6. An aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds: the music of the wind in the pines.

Today's I want to emphasize number six.

One of my favorite experiences in my 20th century music class was the day we took a break from the textbooks and went on a "field trip."  We were instructed not to talk, but only to listen as we followed our instructor.  Where did we go?  We walked out of the classroom, past all of the practice rooms, and outside.  We walked past the gardens surrounding the building, and around the sidewalk by the road.  Finally we re-traced our steps and went back to our classroom.

What did we hear?  Among other things:

  • Footsteps
  • People breathing
  • Doors opening and closing
  • Professors teaching students
  • Students practicing
  • The wind
  • Birds chirping
  • Cars driving
  • People talking
What was the form of the "unique musical composition" that we had just heard?  Many possible suggestions were validated by the professor.  The underlying theme that was heard throughout the "piece" was footsteps.  One student wore flip-flops that day, and to her embarrassment, but the edification of all, the steady beat of her walking was considered by some to be the pulse of our number.

May I suggest that you do a "sound walk" with your students?  Preface it by telling them that they are going to hear a musical number that no-one has ever heard before, and will never hear again.  As a parent, you have the luxury of trying it in several places.  Take a minute here or there to say "It's sound walk time."  It may be at the grocery store, on a nature walk, driving with the windows rolled down, or walking through your neighborhood.  When they are done, they can draw a picture of what they heard, or of what made the sounds that they heard.

In a busy place, you can play the game, "I hear with my little ear..." (an alternative to eye spy).  "I hear with my little ear the humming of a machine."  "Its it the air conditioner?" "No."  "Is it the elevator?"  "Yes!"

Music can also be made with anything.  My favorite percussion group is "Stomp!"  They are world-class musicians that make music out of ordinary things, from basketballs bouncing, playing cards, and dicing cucumbers.  I have shown excerpts of Stomp Out Loud to my students many times.  Recently I discovered that they partnered up with Seasame Street to make a DVD called "Let's Make Music", which I love and highly recommend for the little ones.  Your local library may have it.  Here's a little trailer.

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What is the take-home message of this post?  Find ways to discover music in your everyday life, and encourage your children to do the same.  Get out the kitchen pots and pans and experiment with the different sounds that they make.  Does a metal bowl sound better when you hit it with a wooden spoon, or a metal one?  When you are driving in the rain, point out the steady beat that the windshield wipers make.  Slap your hands on the wall and have some fun.  Take time to listen.  You don't have to go to the symphony to hear and experience live music.

Sep 17, 2011

Egyptian Pyramid

This is a fun little printable to teach your student/child the rhythm pyramid.  The rhythm pyramid shows several notes in layers that all have the same time value.  A whole note has the same time value as two half notes.  Two half notes have the same time value as four quarter notes, and four quarter notes have the same value as eight eighth notes.  Each level of the pyramid has the same time value, but there are fewer notes on every level.  That's the rhythm pyramid.

My children are learning about Egypt this week, and so I made this printable to coincide with our lessens.  The bottom half is the puzzle base, and the top half are cards meant to be cut out.  You can laminate the sheet and use it again and again, or you can print it on cheaper paper, and have the children cut and paste the cards into the puzzle.

Have fun!

Egyptian Pyramid

Sep 16, 2011

Laminating posters at home

A friend of mine recently showed me how to laminate at home without a laminating machine.  She uses a simple hot-iron, and it works beautifully for posters, lap-booking, small manipulatives, and anything else that you might want to laminate.  She buys a big roll of THERMAL laminate, like the one pictured here from, and irons it, as shown in the video.

Another project I did with this laminate is to make magnets for the kids to play with.  I printed out a tangram and laminated one side with the hot iron.  Then I placed it on a sticker-magnet and cut it out, and the kids had magnetic tangrams to play with on a couple of cookie sheets that I bought at a second-hand store.  Unfortunately the printer did some automatic sizing that made the tangrams be too small for our tangram puzzles.

We also got a free phone-book the bay before our trip, which had a free magnet advertisement on it.  It was actually the perfect size for tangrams, and fits snug in our tangram puzzles.  The only problem is that I got too hasty and put the parallelogram on the wrong side.  :p

I also forgot to take a picture before our trip, and so a triangle is missing, and in the tangram I printed, my baby sucked on the red triangle at the bottom.  Well, now you know that we're human, but I'd still rather share the picture.  :o)

I also like to laminate with my laminating machine shown in the video.  I buy 200 8.5"-11" sheets for $20 at Sam's Club, sized perfectly for printouts.  The sheets are thicker and come out looking more professional than the homemade laminate does.  However, I usually don't need professional, I just need durable, and the hot iron does the job at a much lower cost.  I also LOVE not having to go to the craft store to do posters.  The last time I did that with three little kids there was a lot of chaos.  Never again!

Have fun laminating!  If you homeschool and have never laminated before, I HIGHLY recommend it!
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