As spring arrives, so do essays! Whether you are a young student just learning to craft an essay, or a college-bound senior, here are a few tips to consider:
Choose a topic that is not too broad for the length of your essay. A common mistake when writing an essay is not narrowing your topic. If your topic is too broad, it will be difficult to craft a thesis statement that accurately describes the content of your essay, and it will be difficult for your readers to follow. Obviously, if you are following a specific essay prompt, narrowing your topic is not much of an issue; however, if you are generating your own idea, or the prompt is open for interpretation, it might be more of a challenge. For example, if you are assigned to write an essay on any aspect of the Civil War, where do you start? Perhaps you have a page limit of ten pages, and to adequately depict the Civil War, you might need one hundred or more pages! This is where you must narrow your topic. Perhaps you could focus your essay on a Civil War general or a specific battle that was fought. Depending on the type of essay, you could compare and contrast a general from the South and a general from the North. A persuasive essay might set out to convince your readers why the South’s politics were better than the North’s or vice versa. Narrowing your topic before researching and writing will help you find a focus, which in turn will simplify and quicken the entire process.
Provide a clear thesis statement that answers the essay prompt. The thesis statement should tie together the central idea of the essay. Take note of this excerpt from IEW’s Teaching Writing: Structure and Style: “A thesis statement is a signpost for the whole essay, just as a topic sentence is a signpost for a body paragraph. Thus, a thesis is useful because it informs the reader of the intent of the essay, making it easier to follow. For the writer, a thesis gives a direction, which helps in the choice of topics and examples because they must support the thesis.” In addition to narrowing your topic, crafting a theses statement prior to the writing process will help direct your research and focus for the essay.
Avoid “fluff” added for length. Although it might be tempting to repeat information and add potentially useless information to lengthen your essay, don’t do it! If you are out of information, don’t just add fluff, but go back to the books and do a little more research. Readers (and teachers) can tell when fluff is added because you are out of information. Take a little extra time to research and add something to your essay that is relevant and interesting. This will strengthen your essay!
I hope these three tips will help as you “spring” into essay writing!
Congratulations to the student-authors who were published in this newsletter:
Upcoming Magnum Opus Magazine Writers’ Deadlines
Unit 9 - April 18, 2016
Fiction - May 23, 2016
Journalism - June 27, 2016
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Thank you to everyone who submitted his or her work to our Unit 8 newsletter! We encourage you to keep writing and submit again!
Changing Roles over the Years by Maria Nguyen, age 12
He was a father. He was a general. He was the president and even more. This is Ulysses S. Grant, a national hero. Truthfully Grant’s given name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. Yet his parents always called him Ulysses or “Lyss” for short. Intriguingly, he was later accidently enlisted in the army as Ulysses Simpson Grant. Grant never changed the mistake for fear that he would be teased about his real initials, H.U.G. When the Civil War ended, he was appointed to be the United States’ first four-star general. Altogether, Grant was always extremely respectable and exemplary in the eyes of thousands of people around the globe. For instance, after his death people all over the world accumulated money for the construction of Grant’s tomb, which summed up to a total of $600,000. To start with, important events took place in Grant’s life before the Civil War, as well as during the war when Grant showed many admirable traits as a general and after the war as he continued to show love and devotion to his country and his most beloved family.
Although Grant may be most remembered for his acts during and after the Civil War, many significant events took place in his life before the war as well. To begin with, Grant was born to Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant on April 27, 1822, near Point Pleasant, Ohio. As a young boy, Grant adored horses and amazingly was breaking and training them by the age of nine. When he became older, his father sent him to the US Military Academy at West Point. Successfully Grant graduated in 1843, yet as an undistinguished student. However, he did leave his mark at the school, as he was recognized as a skilled horseman. Following his graduation, Grant was later assigned to fight in the Mexican War. His trying experiences there would later guide him during the Civil War. Returning from the Mexican War, Grant married his beloved wife, Julia Dent, who would always be a constant encouragement to him. Grant was a devoted husband. To give an example, it was extremely difficult for Grant to be separated from his family when he was assigned far away to the west coast. He desperately endeavored to raise money to move them to his post, but he failed. Finally Grant could stand it no longer, so he resigned from the military, even though he had just been raised to a captain’s position. Before the Civil War, various situations evidently affected Grant’s life.
Ultimately Ulysses S. Grant proved to be an amazing and prestigious general during the Civil War. Near the beginning of the war that started in 1861, Grant was accepted as a colonel. Later on, however, President Lincoln raised him to a brigadier general. Even more so, Lincoln was later convinced Grant should clearly be raised to one of his major generals after he triumphed in a major victory. One time, when a Confederate general asked for Grant’s terms for surrender, Grant confidently replied, “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.” Following his now famous reply, people began praising him as the Unconditional Surrender Grant. Showing much talent as a major general, in October 1863, Grant was put in command of all the Union forces in the West. As Grant continued to have numerable successes in the West, many other Union generals in the East met miserable failures. Not surprisingly, in March 1864, Grant, who was now significantly popular, was chosen to lead and direct all American armies. His victories continued. Grant led a series of campaigns that effectively wore out the Confederates and helped to end the tedious war. Finally, on April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia. Grant will always be remembered as an admirable leader during the years of the Civil War.
After the war, Grant continued to be a blessing to his country and his beloved family. In May 1868, the Republicans nominated Grant as their candidate, and soon after, he became America’s youngest president at age forty-six. Unfortunately, Grant swore in as president at a challenging time. It was the middle of the Reconstruction, a plan to bring the eleven Southern states back to the Union. Although many people desired vehemently to punish the South, Grant believed in a peaceful reconciliation within the divided country. During daily life as the president, Grant was really gentle and shy inside, despite the fact that he spoke intelligently in public. For example, one of his favorite pastimes was simply reading books. He also enjoyed talking about many different subjects, but his favorite topic was horses. Furthermore, he took little part in Washington social life, except in official appearances, of course. Grant was a family man. He reserved warmth and affection for his family instead of for the public. After serving two terms as president, Grant resigned from that high and central role. Afterward, he spent his time diligently composing a book of his memoirs, which eventually sold out for more than 450,000 dollars, to provide for his family. He started this when he unfortunately was diagnosed with throat cancer. Tragically, Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885, at the age of sixty-three, and more than a million people traveled to this exemplary man’s funeral ceremony. To conclude, even when the war had ended, Grant continued to serve America faithfully as the president, and yet he also enriched his role as a father.
Although Grant may not yet have been famous before the Civil War, he still achieved many things during that period in his life. Undoubtedly, Grant revealed prestigious characteristics as a worthy general during the war, and he also continued to prove to be a blessing to his nation and family after the Civil War as well. Yet in conclusion, the most significant trait of Grant was his heart and devotion to his family. For example, early in his marriage, he refused to be captain on the west coast in order that he could live with his family. Furthermore, during his presidency he not only did his duties as the president but also spent treasured time with his wife and children. He indicated that even if a man is a national hero, he must never neglect the precious time with his family. Grant’s role for his country may have changed over the years, from a soldier to the president, but throughout it all he was a dedicated father and husband.
A Quick Mind, a Little Bit of Brawn, and Nerves of Steel by Michael Bowen, age 13
The mysterious depths have left many of the human race spellbound at the secretive underwater world, since wonders never before known to man lie beneath the ocean’s depths. SCUBA diving, which stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, is a magnificent way to explore this shadowy world. While completely understandable, many are frightened at the thought of leaping into the unknown. Unfortunately, some people are just too fearful to seriously pursue or enjoy diving. An old Japanese proverb once said, “Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” Fear is a diver’s worst enemy because it leads to panic. Panic is frequently deadly. Controlling this fear, the student diver will have conquered a key part of the certification training. Diving opens a portal in the oceans depths where man can go for recreation and even pursue his or her life’s vocation. This is the very reason Jacques Cousteau pioneered diving. For those who really want to pursue SCUBA diving, it is a challenging and rewarding adventure.
Certification is the first step towards unlimited diving services. SCUBA diving generally seems like a very exciting and adventurous activity because a whole new underwater world is opened. That first breath breathed underwater will change one’s life forever. Unfortunately, without a certification, diving can be hazardous. For this reason, becoming a certified diver is necessary. The whole family can participate. Kids 10-years-old and up can become certified, but certification for minors possesses some restrictions. While becoming certified, one will learn about SCUBA equipment. The SCUBA gear one will learn about includes masks, fins, regulators, B.C.D.s, or buoyancy control devices, and the cylinder, or air tank. Attending a dive class, which is also available online, the student would be able to start and finish the knowledge development portion of one’s certification. Once the paperwork and knowledge development is completed, one must complete multiple confined water dives, each with an instructor, while learning basic underwater skills, like learning to clear one’s mask of seawater. After the basic and complicated skills have been mastered, four open-water dives must be completed over a two-day period. One will see colors never seen before on land. When the final dive is completed, the instructor will sign the student off, meaning that one has met course requirements to the satisfaction of the instructor and the student. Since one is now certified, a range of doors are opened. Some are doors of beauty and mystery, others of danger and adventure.
Diving for recreation in the vast southern Pacific, one will be awed by sights not easily forgotten. Underneath the turquoise waves lie vibrant reefs, full of color, wildlife, and even a range of old shipwrecks dating back to the 1900s. One such dazzling reef is the Blue Corner. Once below the surface, the visibility is excellent. The seabed is especially beautiful. Quickly, one will be surrounded by a cloud of friendly reef fish. Further on, vivid, colorful corals will appear. This is also an excellent site for photography because the water is clear, and the background is unique. Close at hand are shoals of barracuda, multiple eagle rays, and various sea turtles. Occasionally, one will see a gigantic, distrustful purple wrasse. Over all, this reef is bulging with color and wildlife. Another amazing place to dive while exploring the south Pacific is Truk Lagoon, which will reveal an underwater museum of Second World War Japanese Naval Cargo ships. During the Second World War, Pacific Theatre, the Japanese Imperial Navy used this lagoon as a naval, air, and ground base. Truk was instantly on the target list when the U.S. launched an island hopping campaign against the Japanese. Soon after a naval and air bombardment, the Japanese retaliated, and a major naval and air battle erupted. Incredibly when the smoke cleared, sixty ships had been sunk, and three hundred aircraft had been shot down. Twenty wrecks were recovered out of the sixty ships that sunk. Wreck divers continue to thank the Japanese Imperial Navy for their noble sacrifice of twenty ships which created this diver’s paradise. Altogether, Truk Lagoon and the Blue Corner make up only a small dot of the vast adventurous dive destinations in the massive southern Pacific where divers go for excitement and adventure.
Being a certified SCUBA diver, one can experience careers which are enjoyable as well as dangerous. Shipyard divers work and repair some of the largest cargo vessels that sail the seven seas. The divers thoroughly inspect the ship’s hull, propellers, and rudder to confirm that they are in decent working order. If the vessel encounters serious mechanical problems, then the underwater repair team sets about their task. The worst cases are sent to the dry dock, where major maintenance is completed. Multiple careers are available at nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants utilize river water for processing. Regularly, their intake systems need consistent repair and inspections. Divers accomplish these jobs also. Besides repairing intake systems, divers can specialize in nuclear reactor diving. Inside the nuclear reactor, divers confirm that the interior of the container of the reactor is not rusting. One perk of the job is the remarkable radiation tan! Oil rigs also produce multiple jobs for divers. The rigs require constant inspections, repairs, and replacements, which is a grizzly task underwater. This opens doors for underwater construction teams as well as for underwater welders. These teams will often replace and repair the miles of pipeline since they run for a long distance underwater. This can potentially be a very dangerous job, due to the sharks that are fairly aggressive at some oil sites. In the Gulf of California, divers must be very wary because 60-foot squid often silently loom in the deepest depths but come to the surface at night. Many businesses exist in the diving community. Many career options can lead from beauty and splendor to danger and adventure.
Diving is an excellent pastime because it allows one to explore places never previously seen. Worlds never formerly seen appear. Certification is the first step towards the freedom of diving for recreation and profession. In oceans all around the world, numerous opportunities exist to dive among shipwrecks and on reefs, where the sea life is incredible and the colors are magnificent. Challenging and difficult, professional diving can be perilous to the average person who is not prepared to meet the obstacles of a professional job. Although it can be risky, it is an enjoyable way to spend one’s working days. Certainly for any kind of diving, whether it be for profession or for fun, one must have a quick, cool mind, a little bit of brawn, and nerves of steel.
"Become a Certified Scuba Diver FAQ." PADI Scuba Diving Certification FAQ. PADI, n.d. Web.
27 Nov. 2015.
"Divers Academy International." Commercial Diving Careers. Divers Academy International, n.d. Web.
27 Nov. 2015.
Koelzer, William. "Chapter 5 & 6." Scuba Diving: How to Get Started. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book,
1976. 37-60. Print.
Trainito, Egidio. "Micronesia- Blue Corner." Dive the World:The Most Fascinating Diving Sites.
Vercelli, Italy: White Star, 2007. 249-53. Print.
"World's Best Wrecks." Scuba Diving. SCUBAdiving.com, n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.
A Soldier amidst the Storm by Malachi Williams, age 14
Two Nazi guards roughly escort their prisoner down the hall of cells. A metal door opens, and the captive is thrown into his putrid cage. Locking the door, his captors turn and leave. The prisoner rises, examining his wounds from rough transportation. The fate of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is determined. Thousands await their deaths at the hands of Adolf Hitler. If the Allies can soon put an end to this dictatorship, many can be spared. Bonhoeffer envisions the horrible treatment of the Jews. Could this evil rampage in Germany ever be stopped? Throughout multiple countries, which include Poland and France, Hitler has already confirmed his rule (“Countries”). Life was different before World War II. Bonhoeffer sighs. The pastor remembers his childhood when his family was always together. In later years, Bonhoeffer had ministered and supported those being persecuted by the Nazis. Finally he took part in a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler and defy his orders, helping the defenseless Jews and eventually became a prisoner for his “anti-government” beliefs and actions. Tears of gratitude roll down his dusty cheeks. Thankfully God accompanied him through times of trouble and peace. Bonhoeffer is perhaps the greatest soldier for Christ amidst the storms of his lifetime.
As winter ended in 1906, the childhood of Dietrich Bonhoeffer began in Breslau, Germany. Bonhoeffer, who was born on February fourth, was the sixth among eight siblings. His parents, Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer, conveniently decided to homeschool their children since Paula was a licensed teacher and preferred to be their main educational informant (Metaxas). Amidst his days of studying at the house, Bonhoeffer and his siblings were also taught from the Bible, mainly by means of their governess (Metaxas). Related to theologians and pastors herself, their mother encouraged these teachings. Bonhoeffer secretly desired to become a theologian, but he kept his dream to himself for fear his passion would be discouraged by his family. In 1912, the Bonhoeffers moved to crowded Berlin because Karl was offered a job. During his first two years there, Bonhoeffer began attending traditional school. Reluctantly, he attended the Friedrich Werder Gymnasium (Metaxas). All was well, until in 1914, Germany declared war on Russia (Benge). Bonhoeffer’s two eldest brothers, Karl-Friedrich and Walter, signed up for the military. Because much of Germany’s food supply was donated to the army, many citizens began starving. Bonhoeffer found himself wandering the dull streets of Berlin, searching to find food for his family (Benge). In 1918, the years of battle and piercing hunger slowly ended, but only Karl-Friedrich Bonhoeffer returned home alive. Although the family was shaken by the devastating blow of Walter’s death, they eventually moved forward with their lives (Metaxas). In 1920, Bonhoeffer mustered up enough courage to announce that he wanted to be a theologian. His family was shocked. Bonhoeffer proved to be a smart student, and they had assumed that he might want to major in music, which he was very talented in. His friends laughed at him. His siblings mocked him. He was not deterred (Metaxas). Little did Bonhoeffer know that his childhood years would not be the last time that he would receive criticism for his love of the Bible.
During his maturity into adulthood, Bonhoeffer continued pursuing his unique ministry in theology. Diligently working at his studies, the young student finally received his degree at a university in New York, to which he applied near the end of his college term in the year 1930 (McElroy). Arriving back in his homeland, Bonhoeffer was ordained as a pastor on November 15, 1931 (Benge). Although the minister’s days of proclaiming the Gospel had barely begun, evil lurked over Germany like an assassin hidden behind the black mask of night. Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933. Three months after assuming leadership, Hitler enforced one of his first crooked laws – the Aryan Paragraph. The new policy allowed only those of Aryan or European descent to own a business. The jobs of countless Jews were stripped from their grasp as the Nazis and government officials carried out the orders of their rigid leader. Germany’s struggle had begun. Hitler charged decrees in order to destroy the Jews and mold the body of Christ into a church led by himself. In opposition to the evil commands, Bonhoeffer presented a speech, entitled “The Church and the Jewish Question,” at a pastor’s meeting (Benge). Many rejected his beliefs. Bonhoeffer came to hate all of the violations of Germany’s corrupt government and joined the Young Reformation Movement to support the Jews (McElroy). The pastor later founded a secret seminary in the town of Finkenwalde. Bonhoeffer successfully enrolled, taught, and administered the graduation of many students before the Nazis put an end to the school. As the German crisis worsened, he realized that he would have to change his tactics. He had preached and encouraged although most silent citizens were either too afraid or still supportive of the Nazis. Bonhoeffer knew he must continue his ministry, but the time had come to plot against Hitler’s regime.
Bonhoeffer participated in a secret conspiracy to stop Hitler and free those who were imprisoned under his gruesome rule (Benge). Acting as an agent for the Allies behind enemy lines, the pastor used his position to further the conspirators’ cause and to influence other nations so that they might support the rebellion. Geneva, Switzerland, was one of the places that Bonhoeffer visited most often to appeal on the conspiracy’s behalf. While the pastor did internationally work on multiple missions, he also assisted in many tasks within Germany as well. “Operation 7” was an assignment that involved safely transporting seven Jews to Switzerland, where they would be protected from Nazi persecution (Benge). After much planning and preparing, the refugees successfully crossed the border. Unfortunately, the money that was used to pay for “Operation 7” had been tracked to Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law, Hans, who was also a part of the conspiracy. The Nazis were trailing them. On April 5, 1943, two men in a black sedan parked at the Bonhoeffer home. Upon searching the minister’s room, Bonhoeffer was arrested and taken to Tegel Prison (Metaxas). Although he was now in the steely grasp of the government, he continued his pastoral duties by ministering to and praying for the prisoners and even the guards. Bonhoeffer was transported numerous times until he found himself confined with others at a schoolhouse in Schönberg, two years later. The inmates enjoyed the change from living behind the cold bars of a prison, and slept peacefully that night. Sunday morning, the men requested that Bonhoeffer preach to them, and the minister obliged (Metaxas). He boldly stepped to the front of the room and began sharing the Word of God. During his sermon, two men in civilian clothing entered the makeshift prison and ordered Bonhoeffer to come with them. The prisoners sorrowfully bid their pastor farewell, and the escorts led their confident, calm captive out of the school. From there, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was driven to the Flossenburg concentration camp, where he was found guilty of treason (Benge). Though his part in the conspiracy against Hitler and his policies had long come to an end, Bonhoeffer had encouraged and shed the radiant light of truth on those whom he met as a prisoner for Christ.
The minister awakes from his reflections on his childhood, ministry, and conspiracy with a start, hearing the creak of his cell’s rusty door. Guards enter and haul him to his feet. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s time has come. Once again they cross the building and enter the dawn of April 9, 1945 (Benge). With his hands tightly tied behind him, he kneels beside the ominous gallows and prays. He remembers the words he spoke to one of his inmates in the schoolhouse before he left. “This is the end, but for me it is the beginning of life” (Metaxas). Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life is that he remained obedient to God, even unto death. Because he faced the storms and struggles towering before him, he honored his King and completed his mission.
While nuclear power is cascading over the power industry, is it the best option? What are the pros of nuclear power? Before determining whether a nuclear reactor is the best option for power generation, comparison of several aspects of power generation is required. Areas of comparison consist of efficiency, safety, and fuel availability. Efficiency factors include how well a machine does its job, how much potential energy is turned into usable power, and how well the machine functions. The aspect of safety is how dangerous the level of hazard is when it is operating. Another vital aspect is fuel. How easy is it to produce or find fuel which powers the machine? How common is the fuel? Is the fuel stable? Scrutinizing these three aspects will allow accurate assessment as to whether nuclear power is the best power option or if there exists a more suitable replacement. Based on these factors, nuclear power is probably the best option for generating power because of its remarkable attributes.
Starting off the list of requirements is efficiency. Before deciding if a nuclear reactor is the most efficient, a comparison of the competition must be completed. Conveniently, there are dozens of power generation methods to choose from. When drawing from the leathery hat of options, the best option for efficiency comparison is hydroelectric. The competition can now start. Before delving into the comparison, a knowledge of how a hydro generator works is needed. Hydroelectric generators use huge turbines that are inside dams (Hydroelectric Power). On the side of the dam that holds back water, there is a large hole called a reservoir (Hydroelectric Power). Water gushes through the reservoir down a canal inside of the dam, and the splashing, flowing, and sloshing water runs over a turbine (Hydroelectric Power). The turbine then spins a hefty generator which produces electricity (Hydroelectric Power). Powered by water, it is quite an efficient machine. Now the comparison can be made. In terms of efficiency, the hydroelectric scores extremely high because of how many generators can be installed and arranged in a single dam. The fuel is readily available and power generation is reasonably efficient. However, the nuclear reactor wins because it can run a single house for several years on fuel the size of a pencil eraser (Electricity Supply). Imagine what a hundred of those fuel pellets could do. The drastic difference in how long and how much power can be produced from each of these options is what sets the nuclear reactor above others in terms of efficiency.
When attention is turned to safety, it becomes difficult to find a suitable competitor to compare with the nuclear reactor. The obvious contender is wind power. Many will agree that wind is the safest method of power generation. Unsurprisingly, a wind turbine is easy to build. It is just a sizable fan attached to a generator perched on a tall tower (How Do Wind Turbines Work). Many will also loudly and profusely argue that nuclear reactors are not safe at all. “What about Chernobyl? It blew up and now that area is uninhabitable!.” While there was an accident, the reactor did not blow up. Inexperienced scientists were working in a flawed reactor (Mahaffey). When some problems arose, nobody knew how to fix it or what to do, so the site went into chaos. That is what happened; the thing literally dug its own grave. Returning to the question of which is safer, it is a close call considering each machine’s attributes. Wind turbines are extremely safe. They produce no fumes. The only real danger is if the turbine falls over. That could still be a catastrophe. After observing the safety of each of the machines, it is a difficult decision, but in the end, the nuclear reactor wins by a narrow margin. The wind turbine, an exceptionally safe machine, just cannot compare to the nuclear reactor. As long as the reactor is closely monitored, no unexpected problems should arise.
Fuel availability is the last thing to consider in the long race of which device is the best form of power generation. Finding a comparison is not difficult. Obviously, fossil fuel machines are the best comparison when evaluating fuel economy. Most fossil fuel generators operate by burning fuel that produces heat, which is then used to boil water to generate steam that is directed up and past a rigid turbine (How Do Coal-Fired Plants Work). As the hot steam passes over the turbine, the turbine rotates (How Do Coal-Fired Plants Work). The turbine, attached to a generator, slowly but surely spins, which produces the electricity that everyone so dearly, desperately, and longingly loves (How Do Coal-Fired Plants Work). Coal fire would win in a challenge against the nuclear reactor if it were not for the fossil fuel machine’s fatal flaw, smog. By burning all of the fuels to evaporate the water, tons of carbon dioxide is released into the environment. All things considered, it is a close call between nuclear and fossil fuel. A nuclear reactor’s fuel is much more exotic, expensive, and energetic, but fossil fuels are cheap and easy to find. In short, the nuclear reactor wins again because its fuel is one of the most potent in creation. While it is quite expensive, it offers great returns in power production. All in all, fossil fuels would win if they did not consume tons of coal and other resources to keep running and functioning. Nuclear reactors produce little to no pollutants and run smoothly, which is what catapults them to the top of the fuel economy tower.
In conclusion, nuclear power is one, if not the safest, way of generating electricity. In the end, the nuclear reactor rises to the top but has to climb a long and trial-filled mountain first. The nuclear reactor was compared with a hydroelectric dam to find out which was more efficient. The nuclear reactor rose to the top because it was simply more efficient than a hydroelectric dam. When the wind turbine challenged it to a duel of dynamic safety, it was a close match. However, the nuclear reactor won. With proper maintenance and tender care, a nuclear reactor will not have any accidents, any meltdowns, or any problems. Finishing the list is fuel. Fuel for such machines must be easy to find, non-toxic, and stable. While the nuclear reactor does not do tremendously well in this category, it still wins when compared with fossil fuels, which consume thousands of pounds of ashen, coarse fuel. In the grand scheme of things, one still might ask: “So what?” The most significant aspect of this phenomenal piece of technology is that it is the safest form of power generation in current use. However, even with all of its huge accomplishments, it still hides many untold possibilities.
"Electricity Supply." - Nuclear Energy Institute. NEI Nuclear Energy Institute, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.
"How Do Coal-Fired Plants Work?" Duke Energy. Duke Energy, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.
"How Do Wind Turbines Work?" ENERGY.GOV Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.
U.S. Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.
"Hydroelectric Power: How It Works." The USGS Water Science School. USGS Science for a Changing
World, 7 Aug. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.
Mahaffey, James A. Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters:
From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima. New York, NY: Pegasus LLC, 2014. Print.
Sir Isaac Newton:
A Scientist for God by Taryn Perry, age 16
One day, Isaac Newton set up to do research outside since
it was an unusually nice day. As he worked, an apple fell from
a tree overhead. Newton wondered what caused the apple
and other objects like it to fall to the earth. This moment began
his journey researching about gravity.
While this is a nice story, it is just that, a story. It is generally believed to be a myth and inaccurate. Although there are no proven records of why Newton began researching gravity and other physics subjects, most sources agree that from a young age, he was highly interested in mechanics and studying the world around him. From there, he went on to make some of the greatest physics discoveries ever. What many people overlook, however, is that Newton was a devout Christian, and it was his love for learning about God that led him to study the workings of the universe.
As a young boy, Newton was interested in learning about the world and how it worked. He liked to build models and draw pictures. He even made a working mill that ground wheat into flour. Newton attended Grantham Grammar School. Rather than studying, however, he enjoyed making his own mechanical devices. Also, spending much time reading the Bible, Newton would copy verses. In 1661, he enrolled at Trinity College at Cambridge University with the intent of becoming a minister. He studied theology and mathematics. Instead of becoming a minister, however, Newton returned to Cambridge to pursue his Master’s degree. In 1669, he became a mathematics professor there. With a solid background in math, he was able to progress and make many scientific discoveries and theories.
Newton was a great scientist. Part of his genius can be traced to the way he approached scientific phenomena. Constantly contemplating challenging things, Newton was able to think more efficiently than simply waiting for sudden inspiration. He developed a theory about gravity and explained how the planets orbit the sun. This theory also led to an explanation of how the gravitational pull of the sun and moon causes tides. In 1687, Newton published Principia, one of the greatest scientific books of all time. In it he described the physics of the heavens and the earth. Using a mirror rather than combing lenses, Newton was able to create the first reflective telescope. He also developed a new branch of mathematics called calculus. Another famous scientific discovery came from Newton’s prism experiment. By using prisms, he was able to split white light into many different light colors. Newton then theorized that objects reflect different colors of light, giving them their distinct hues. Consequently, he published the book Opticks, which further explains the results of his prism experiment and his theories from it. In 1705, Newton was knighted by Queen Anne; it was the first time anyone had been knighted for scientific discoveries. Newton truly paved the way for scientific discoveries.
What most people overlook is that Newton’s highest priority was studying the Bible. Science was just one way he learned about the Creator. By studying science, Newton believed he was learning about God. However, Newton spent more time reading the Bible, taking notes, and writing religious tracts than he did exploring science. Fascinated by the book of Daniel, Newton spent significant time later in life, reading and writing about it. He wrote two Bible based books: The Prophecies of Daniel and Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms. His strong mind was amazing at interpreting scriptures. Perhaps it was Newton’s devotion to God and to Bible study that made him one of the greatest scientists of all time.
There is little doubt that Newton was a genius, as he made many advances in physics. But most importantly, he was a devout Christian. Even the purpose of his endeavors in the scientific field was to learn more about God. From Newton’s early life of toying with mechanics to making some of the greatest scientific discoveries, Newton didn’t lose sight of God’s hand. He himself said, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being” (Hummel). His scientific discoveries convinced him all the more of God’s existence and supremacy.
World Book Encyclopedia, 2010.
Hummel, James E. “Newton’s Views on Science and Faith.” Christian History Institute. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.
Lamont, Ann. “Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727): A Scientific Genius.” Creation.com. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.
Tiner, John Hudson, Exploring Planet Earth. Green Forest, Arizona: Master Books, Inc., 2009. Print.
Wile, Dr. Jay L. Exploring Creation with Physics. Anderson, Indiana: Apologia Educational
Ministries, Inc., 2004. Print.
The Art of Hacking by Colby Duke, age 15
When castles were the best defense the Middle Ages could offer, numerous bloodthirsty warlords, kings, and dukes tried to invent new ways to destroy them, expanding the art of siege warfare. Slinking in and out of the shadows, saboteurs, assassins, and spies were used to destroy targets, gain information, and even kill important leaders. What surprises most naïve people is the fact that hacking utilizes similar techniques as siege warfare because in more ways than one, computers are basically castles. In fact, some methods are almost identical in execution. The typical hacker uses three stages to attack an enemy computer. He probes, which is called “footprinting,” breaks into, or enumerates the computer, and finally takes or destroys whatever he wants (Oriyano). Generally, hacking is viewed as wrong or illegal (Geier). This, however, is not the case. Ethical hacking, or “white hat hacking,” occurs when a hacker helps other companies by breaking into them (Oriyano). While this may sound strange, it helps the dependent companies tremendously by allowing the hacker to help them find weaknesses that other non-ethical hackers would try to exploit (Geier). Because these evasive ethical hackers are hard to find, a large job market, in addition to generous pay, is open for most ethical hackers (Oriyano). In the words of Heather Brookes, “The hacker community may be small, but it possesses the skills that are driving the global economies of the future.” The art of hacking, similar to siege warfare, can be used for honest purposes as well as malicious ones.
The footprinting and scanning stages are vitally important when trying to gain information about a target. In the Middle Ages, one could not attack a castle without knowing where it was located. Similarly, to begin the footprinting stage, one generally must locate a target, which most of the time is his employer’s company. The confident attacker would open a search engine such as Google, and simply search for his target. If he is lucky, a website for the company he is trying to hack will appear. Immediately, the ecstatic hacker will copy the website’s address and then ping it. A ping is similar to a sonar squall because it sends a wave of packets to the address, which then bounce back to his computer. The packets contain data, such as IPs, or Internet Protocol addresses of the target (McClure). Now the difficult part begins. With the IP found, the hacker gains more advanced information about his target (Oriyano). Downloading as rapidly as a teenager runs from chores, this new data should include lists of open ports. These ports provide small entry points in computers’ firewalls, similar to gates in a castle wall. This allows data to be sent or accessed from other computers (McClure). As they allow him to scout out the target’s defenses, the ports that were identified will help him find irregular low security computers, such as computers missing passwords or high grade firewalls, almost identical to a castle with walls in disrepair. Now he will start to search for a weak target.
After an eager hacker completes the footprinting stage, he will use the data found to begin the enumeration stage. This stage involves breaking into the target’s computer, like a grim warlord planting spies inside his enemy’s castle. Before attempting the break in, the hacker would start banner grabbing (McClure). This method includes simply connecting to the target computer and viewing the output. One could learn the model, operating system, and more from this method. Next, a NULL session would need to be established. Basically, a NULL session involves logging in to a computer remotely as a guest user. Guest accounts cannot access many files, as they are not the owner. Because they can access some important system files, however, the guest account can be used to break into an administrator’s, or owner’s, account (Oriyano). This can be compared to having a spy or turncoat inside the castle, so they could steal plans and sabotage unguarded defenses. Unlike a guest account, an administrator’s account requires both a username and a password (McClure). These are difficult to obtain. However, thanks to the recovery feature of Windows, the computer stores all of its account’s passwords and usernames in a folder called system32. The hacker should use an application called PsExec, which opens a command window remotely on the system. He opens the system files. He scans for folder system32. He installs the program stealthily. Extracting with ease, this program quickly saves the passwords onto your computer, similar to a dauntless spy dropping military plans to another outside the castle. In order to crack the passwords, or hashes, one needs to create a rainbow table. In a nutshell, a rainbow table is a table of all possible passwords and their hashes. Because the rainbow table stores its password list in an easy to read file, the excited hacker can then match his hash with one of the hashes in the table, allowing him access to the passwords. Locksmiths in Medieval times also had a similar method; they would create a large amount of keys or lock picks, so spies could unlock and open virtually any castle gate. Now that he has the passwords, the final attack on the computer begins.
The hacker has complete access to the computer. The castle’s gates are wide open. The computer and all of its files are his oyster to pick. Finally, his hard work has paid off. Now he just needs to figure out what he wants to do. There are plenty of options. If he were an ethical hacker, normally he would contact the eager company with the information he gained because this is generally what he is being paid to do (Oriyano). However, if he were not an ethical hacker, he could cause all types of trouble inside. If he were incredibly malicious, the hacker could install malware and viruses to destroy the computer or spy on it. By using its current Internet connection, he could find all other computers it was connected to, just as if one were viewing a map room in a captured castle. One unique method for using hacked computers is to attach them to a botnet, which is a network of computers called bots. They either willingly or unwillingly have stealth community programs installed (McClure). These could help hackers destroy other computers, generate a profit for a hacker, or more. How could a botnet create a profit? For starters, hackers could hire out botnets to accepting companies, similar to hiring mercenaries out to other kingdoms in the Middle Ages. Ranging in many different sizes, some botnets can be as tiny as ten computers, or can reach the ten thousands. In all, industrious hackers can do just about anything they want with their new computer.
An ethical hacker can save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars when they finish their task. After they complete the job and are paid, they will find a new target and repeat the entire process: footprinting, enumerating, and attacking. Generally the pay, which can range from a few hundred to several thousand USD, is delivered once the victorious hacker’s report has been received (Geier). However to receive the pay, the hacker must have never attempted anything illegal, such as viewing company files he was not supposed to or selling his finds to other companies (Geier). If his suspicious employer found out, he could be immediately sent to jail for up to twenty years. Subsequently, if he were perfectly legal and accomplished what the company wanted him to do, he would be rewarded in phenomenal pay (McClure). Most importantly, everyone in that company would be safer because the fastidious company would know where to increase its security (Oriyano). New defenses will be made. Finding other obstructed obstacles in their way, non-ethical hackers will have a much more difficult time breaking into that company’s files and computers, as they will have to change few of their attack strategies (Oriyano). As refined as the art of siege warfare, ethical hacking is essential in these modern times to protecting companies from malicious attack.
Geier, Eric. "How to Become an Ethical Hacker." PCWorld. PCWorld, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
McClure, Stuart, Stuart Mcclure, Joel Scambray, and George Kurtz. Hacking Exposed 7: Network Security
Secrets & Solutions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999. Print.
Oriyano, Sean-Philip. CEHv8: Certified Ethical Hacker Version 8: Study Guide. Indianapolis: Sybex, 2014. Print.