How Far is it From the East Coast to the West Coast?

How Far is it From the East Coast to the West Coast?

A little rocket science goes a long way.
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2,092 miles is the shortest distance from the East Coast to the West Coast. It would take you about a week or so to get there at 60 miles an hour. But how far would you drive to get from one coast to the other? In other words, how many miles do you actually go?

You might be thinking "There's no way he can refute that, 2,092 miles is 2,092 miles!" Well I can't, but one man can... Einstein and his special relativity!

BOOM! Half of the people reading this just slammed their computers shut and set them on fire. The other half of you bear with me, I promise it's worth the wait. (Unless you want to skip the explanation and see the end, I won't be upset.)

The speed of light is the speed limit of the universe, nothing can travel faster. Yet, an interesting paradox arises from this thought experiment: Imagine you are in a truck driving 30 miles an hour and you throw a ball at 40 miles an hour out of that truck. Relative to you in the truck, the ball is going 40 miles an hour. Relative to an observer on the side of the road awkwardly watching you throw a ball out of a truck, it is traveling 70 miles an hour, because the velocities add together. 

Now imagine the same scenario except instead of a ball, you decide to shine a flashlight out of your car. How fast is the light traveling to an observer (why is he watching you like that) on the side of the road? The speed of light. It doesn't matter how fast the truck is going, the light will not go any faster.

Trippy.

Now imagine the same truck, but with a flashlight in the bed. The flashlight is set up with two mirrors some distance from each other, so that the light bounces back and forth between the two straight up and straight down. You are in the back of the truck going 40 miles an hour and there is still that same random guy on the side of the road. 

When the light bounces from mirror to mirror, you see it go up and down in the truck. Since the truck is moving, however, Creeper Guy sees it very differently than you do. He sees it going in a triangle. In other words, he sees the light (traveling the same speed to both him and you) go a longer distance in the same amount of time.

Or is it the same?

Velocity is the distance you travel in a certain amou. If the velocity remains the same and the distance changes, it is physically impossible for the time to remain the same. In other words, time itself moves slower for you because you are moving.

If your brain isn't blown up yet, consider the consequences; If time slows down when an object is moving, and distance is the only other part of the velocity equation, distance must change as well. When you are traveling at any velocity, distance literally contracts, even if only by a small amount.

So how far is it from coast to coast? For someone standing still, it's 2,092 miles. For me taking a late night road trip in my space shuttle (any of you girls want to have dinner with me in space?) at 1,000,000 miles an hour, it's about 2,091.998 miles. How about if I could travel at 92% of the speed of light? Then it's only 819.89 miles across America.

One more fun experiment, this time with time dilation: You send your 45 year old parents on a surprise anniversary trip for two years in space, and their space shuttle goes 99.9% of the speed of light. When they get back from their two year journey, they are now 47. You, who was 20 years old when they left, are now a ripe 64.

Next year, just get them a blender.

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It's Time For West Virginia To Pay Its Teachers

Or else watch them continue to leave
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In case you haven't heard, teachers in West Virginia are taking a stand.

It's a big one – a statewide walkout on Thursday and Friday in protest of the feeble overtures proposed by the West Virginia State Senate in regards to teacher pay and benefits. Even with the protest looming, it appears that the highest offer the Senate is prepared to put forward is for a two percent raise. That's not even to mention the fact that lawmakers are scrambling to stop a hike in the benefits of PEIA for teachers.

If you aren't sure why teachers are outraged, consider this (among other reasons): in 2014, a goal was written into state code stating the intention for first year teachers with only a bachelor's degree to earn a minimum of $43,000 a year.

The current minimum salary for that level?

$32,675.

In fact, Governor Jim Justice's original proposal included just a one percent increase, a plan that over the next five years would have only increased teacher salaries by $2,000. Things don't get much better for teachers as their careers go on, either; West Virginia ranked 48th in the nation in 2016 in average teacher salary regardless of experience level.

It's no wonder, then, that West Virginia is in the midst of a significant teacher shortage problem. Numbers from as recently as 2017 showed the state with more than 700 vacant positions, a number which was rapidly rising and that the then-State Superintendent of Schools said represented a "crisis" stage.

Why does that matter?

Just take a look at the state's education rank in various measures of states, and see that the results indeed show West Virginia has consistently ranked near last in America if not in the bottom spot itself.

Some argue that West Virginia teachers are themselves the problem, and that we shouldn't reward them for the state's poor performance. Having grown up in the West Virginia school system myself, I won't disagree that there are indeed unsatisfactory teachers in the state, but there are also plenty of excellent educators here.

Even if the vast majority of teachers in the state were bad at their jobs, though, raising salaries would still be a must in fixing the system.

Simply put, there is no way that West Virginia can compete with other states when it comes to recruiting teachers. When I did my undergraduate work at West Virginia Wesleyan College, I trained with several aspiring teachers – many from West Virginia – who had tremendous potential. Many of them were prepared to take jobs elsewhere.

There is a treasure trove of potential teaching talent in our state, but much of that talent leaves or is dissuaded from training in teaching because of the abysmal pay the job offers in West Virginia.

If we are to compete on a national stage, to improve our state's struggling economy, it will be teachers at the forefront of the charge. They are at the front lines of the struggle, the first line of defense. Of course they educate students, but teachers have the power to transform lives.

For some students, a good teacher or teachers will offer the first secure attachment and stability they've had after a childhood of broken relationships and family structures. Countless people changing the world today attest that they were inspired to do so because of something one of their teachers did. And in a society where we often value our children as most precious, our children spend almost as much time in school with their teachers as they do outside of it with parents and other family figures.

It should come as no surprise, then, that evidence suggests both personal and societal economic growth is tied to quality of education. That's imperative if we want to fix things in West Virginia, where the economy is arguably worse than anywhere else in the nation.

Meanwhile, Governor Justice has stated that he doesn't want to raise taxes. something that certainly factors into the minuscule pay increase he proposed for educators. Nevertheless, he continues to frequently claim his intent to raise the state from a perpetual state of being "50th" in America, particularly in education.

Instead of doing good on that claim, Justice and other Republican state lawmakers have shown utter disdain for education, essentially spitting at the state's teachers. The truth is, tax increases would be necessary to offer competitive pay for teachers in West Virginia. It's also true that taking on additional taxes isn't easy for citizens in an impoverished state.

But if we want to improve that impoverished state, we have to be willing to invest in education, and that starts with paying teachers.

I commend the educators of West Virginia for taking a stand; now, it's time for parents, students, and other citizens to stand up with them. Call and write lawmakers, protest, tell them that enough is enough.

Teachers are the backbone of the education system, and if we fail to support them, we will watch West Virginia continue to flounder at the bottom of the barrel Justice claims he so desperately desires to rescue us from.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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7 Positive Measures From Our President

What We Have Failed To Recognize
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Donald Trump’s Presidency has been a very controversial year between Americans. The media has very clearly depicted him as failing to govern properly causing a seemingly majority of citizens to have negative feelings towards him and his actions. While some of what he may say or propose regarding the good of the country can seem unjust to the public eye, he has been otherwise successful in his Presidency. Unfortunately we as the public have not heard much of his successes. Here are 7 of Trump’s most important proposals since he has held the Office.

1. Raising Import Taxes

This makes it more difficult for foreign-manufactured products to be shipped to the United States. This in turn forces more jobs to be brought back into America, ultimately reducing the unemployment rate. The American Unemployment Rate has shrunk down to 4.4% under Trump’s Administration.


2. Defeating Isis/Putin

ISIS has been an active terrorist group ruling the world for approximately nineteen years. Vladmir Putin has been in power in Russia since 1999- the same year ISIS was founded- and currently serves as the President. Putin is in power in part because of the last remaining part of ISIS: the al-Assad regime. Trump’s militant mindset has been put forth towards the elimination of al-Assad, which will result in the destruction of ISIS and likely the end of Putin’s power.

3. Enforced Barack Obama's Red Line Against Chemical WarFare In Syria

Trump previously had stated his disagreement with U.S troops being involved in the Syrian conflict. After as-Assad unleashed chemical warfare toxins harming innocent civilians (most to his concern being the women and children) he declared his attitude towards the conflict had changed. He claims attacking innocent women and children “crosses a lot of lines, beyond a red line,” and had a big impact on his mentality towards the situation. President Trump responded saying he was left with a responsibility: to be at the aid of the innocent and the destruction of the enemy.

4. Recognized Israel's Capital As Jerusalem

This has been a controversial debate for a number of years; many presidents have vowed to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As we have seen over the years, none have followed through, yet each has continued to make the same promise. The difference with this Presidency is that Donald Trump followed through on the promise; on December 6th Jerusalem was finally recognized as Israel’s capital.

5. Shows Support And Concern For Shootings And Victims

Any humane president has shown sadness and disgust towards shootings and death tolls resulting. No president has made any progress towards ending the seemingly endless stream of mass shootings in this country. Donald Trump has made an effort to show victims and their families his condolences. Every president who has withstood mass shootings during their term of office has done the same thing: visited cities and victims of the events, offering prayers and condolences. Trump has done these things and addressed the issue at hand: calling attention to the mental health problem in the country.

6. Disassembling The Administrative State

One of the numerous things Trump had made a priority in the beginning of his Presidency was the reduction of the Administrative State of our country. Since his swearing in of the Oval Office, it has been recorded by the American Action Fund that his efforts have saved Americans $70 billion of imposed costs. Americans have been saved this amount by the reduction of regulatory costs as a result of his actions thus far. Furthermore, he has promised for every new regulation he will eliminate two previously existing ones.

7. Proposed Welfare Bill

Donald Trump has called for Welfare reform throughout his time in office with the claim that people are taking advantage of the system. Citizens with food stamps more often than not buy less essential unhealthy foods rather than the more filling substanent foods. On top of that, it is widely known that many on welfare get more taxes back than those working regularly. President Trump seeks to stop this. His welfare goals are to fill families’ mouths with healthier foods and get more of America up and working, claiming “it is out of control!,” referring to the unemployed population. In planning to achieve this goal Trump has recently proposed a “Food Stamp Item Box,” which families will receive monthly. This plan will merge the SNAP benefits with the provision of American-grown foods. The baskets families will receive would contain a variety of things: shelf-stable milk, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned goods including fruits and veggies, and then meats such as poultry and/or fish. Along with the baskets, families would also be granted a debit-card to be accepted at participating grocery stores. The proposed reform would serve approximately 42 million with possibility of saving $214 billion over ten years.

Cover Image Credit: Lexi Hanna

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