Alternate Universe

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufailA Universe is a set of photons that interact together, and which do NOT interact, generally, with photons of other universes which have other characteristics.  This might better be said to be the spason of the universe that interact determine the characteristics of the universe, but since they determine the properties of the photons. This then amounts to the same thing.Theoretical physics has brought us the notion that our single universe is not necessarily the only game in town. Satellite data from WMAP, along with string theory and its 11- dimensional hyperspace idea has produced the concept of the multiverse, where the Big Bang could have produced many different universes instead of a single uniform universe. The idea has gained popularity recently, so it was only a matter of time until someone asked the question of how many multiverses could possibly exist. The number, according to two physicists, could be “humongous.”

Andrei Linde and Vitaly Vanchurin at Stanford University in California, did a few back-of- the- envelope calculations, starting with the idea that the Big Bang was essentially a quantum process which generated quantum fluctuations in the state of the early universe. The universe then underwent a period of rapid growth called inflation during which these perturbations were “frozen,” creating different initial classical conditions in different parts of the cosmos. Since each of these regions would have a different set of laws of low energyphysics, they can be thought of as different universes.
Linde and Vanchurin then estimated how many different universes could have appeared as a result of this effect. Their answer is that this number must be proportional to the effect that caused the perturbations in the first place, a process called slow roll inflation, — the solution Linde came up with previously to answer the problem of the bubbles of universes colliding in the early inflation period. In this model, inflation occurred from a scalar field rolling down a potential energy hill. When the field rolls very slowly compared to the expansion of the universe, inflation occurs and collisions end up being rare.

Using all of this (and more – see their paper here) Linde and Vanchurin calculate that the number of universes in the multiverse and could be at least 10^10^10^7, a number which is definitely “humungous,” as they described it.

The next question, then, is how many universes could we actually see? Linde and Vanchurin say they had to invoke the Bekenstein limit, where the properties of the observer become an important factor because of a limit to the amount of information that can be contained within any given volume of space, and by the limits of the human brain.

The total amount of information that can be absorbed by one individual during a lifetime is about 10^16 bits. So a typical human brain can have 10^10^16 configurations and so could never distinguish more than that number of different universes.

Given some of science’s current ideas about high-energy physics, it is plausible that those other universes might each have different physical interactions. So perhaps it’s no mystery that we would happen to occupy the rare universe in which conditions are just right to make life possible. This is analogous to how, out of the many planets in our universe, we occupy the rare one where conditions are right for organic evolution.

The possibility of a multiverse comes from both string theory and inflation theory, the idea that our universe underwent a rapid expansion just after the Big Bang. Inflation theory does a good job of explaining why space is fairly smooth on large scales, but researchers can’t explain what started the expansion and what stopped it. These problems have led physicists to consider the possibility that inflation could occur at other places and times, generating new universes in addition to our own.

The idea of a multiverse is highly controversial. One problem is metaphysical: the universe seems big already, without having to contend with a potentially infinite number of others. Yet perhaps a bigger problem is scientific. If observations are limited to our own observable universe, how can scientists test whether a bigger multiverse exists? The answer to that has been that, from time to time, another universe in the multiverse might collide through ours, leaving a “wake” in its path. But figuring out precisely what such a wake would look like hasn’t been easy.

Now, however, Kris Sigurdson of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and others say they have calculated the detailed features of a cosmic wake. They have considered the possibility that our universe collided with another before our inflation period, because, they say, the latter would have erased the wake’s evidence. Even though this happened more than 13 billion years ago, the wake would have been preserved in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which was formed some 380,000 years into the universe’s existence.

The focus of the prediction is in the polarization of photons in the CMB. Photons have two transverse polarization states, and any that come from a certain region in the CMB might be mostly in the same polarization state, or in a mix of both. Sigurdson and colleagues calculate that, providing the wake was big enough, it ought to imprint the CMB with a characteristic “double peak”: two close rings where the photons sway towards a single polarization state.

The prediction is not strictly the first to arise from multiverse theory. In 2007 researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz, US, also suggested that a cosmic wake could imprint itself on the CMB; then, earlier this year, a group led by Hiranya Peiris of University College London found hints that this prediction was true. But these predicted features were too vague, say Sigurdson and colleagues, and might have existed in the CMB anyway.

Evidence for string theory?

“[Our] features represent the first verifiable prediction of the multiverse paradigm,” write Sigurdson and colleagues in their preprint, which they uploaded to the arXiv server last month. “A detection of a bubble collision would confirm the existence of the multiverse, provide compelling evidence for the string theory landscape, and sharpen out picture of the universe and its origins.”Physics World was unable to speak to the researchers about their preprint because they are submitting it to a journal that employs an embargo policy.

If the prediction is correct, it should be possible to test it in upcoming data from the European Space Agency’s Planck space observatory and future CMB missions, say the researchers. Yet Bennett, the principal investigator on NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, another CMB space observatory, thinks the detection of a cosmic wake would nonetheless be “extremely unlikely”. He says the amplitude of a wake would have to be just right: too small and we wouldn’t see it; too big and it would probably have had severe consequences for our universe’s structure. The number of collisions would also have to be “fine-tuned”, he says.

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Saudis Turn Mecca into Vegas

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Historic and culturally important landmarks are being destroyed to make way for luxury hotels and malls, reports Jerome Taylor

SAUDI ARABIA/

A general view is seen of the Grand Mosque during the Muslim month of Ramadan in the holy city of Mecca August 20, 2011.  Saudi Arabia has begun the biggest expansion yet of the Grand Mosque, to raise its capacity to 2 million pilgrims, the state news agency SPA said. 

REUTERS/Hassan Ali

Behind closed doors–in places where the religious police cannot listen in–residents of Mecca are beginning to refer to their city as Las Vegas, and the moniker is not a compliment.

Over the past 10 years the holiest site in Islam has undergone a huge transformation, one that has divided opinion among Muslims all over the world.

Once a dusty desert town struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of pilgrims arriving for the annual Hajj, the city now soars above its surroundings with a glittering array of skyscrapers, shopping malls and luxury hotels.

To the al-Saud monarchy, Mecca is their vision of the future–a steel and concrete metropolis built on the proceeds of enormous oil wealth that showcases their national pride.

Yet growing numbers of citizens, particularly those living in the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, have looked on aghast as the nation’s archaeological heritage is trampled under a construction mania backed by hardline clerics who preach against the preservation of their own heritage. Mecca, once a place where the Prophet Muhammad (s) insisted all Muslims would be equal, has become a playground for the rich, critics say, where naked capitalism has usurped spirituality as the city’s raison d’être.

Few are willing to discuss their fears openly because of the risks associated with criticising official policy in the authoritarian kingdom. And, with the exceptions of Turkey and Iran, fellow Muslim nations have largely held their tongues for fear of of a diplomatic fallout and restrictions on their citizens’ pilgrimage visas. Western archaeologists are silent out of fear that the few sites they are allowed access to will be closed to them.

But a number of prominent Saudi archaeologists and historians are speaking up in the belief that the opportunity to save Saudi Arabia’s remaining historical sites is closing fast.

“No one has the balls to stand up and condemn this cultural vandalism,” says Dr Irfan al-Alawi who, as executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, has fought in vain to protect his country’s historical sites. “We have already lost 400-500 sites. I just hope it’s not too late to turn things around.”

Sami Angawi, a renowned Saudi expert on the region’s Islamic architecture, is equally concerned. “This is an absolute contradiction to the nature of Mecca and the sacredness of the house of God,” he told the Reuters news agency earlier this year. “Both [Mecca and Medina] are historically almost finished. You do not find anything except skyscrapers.”

Dr Alawi’s most pressing concern is the planned £690m expansion of the Grand Mosque, the most sacred site in Islam which contains the Kaaba–the black stone cube built by Ibrahim (Abraham) that Muslims face when they pray.

Construction officially began earlier this month with the country’s Justice Minister, Mohammed al-Eissa, exclaiming that the project would respect “the sacredness and glory of the location, which calls for the highest care and attention of the servants or Islam and Muslims”.

The 400,000 square metre development is being built to accommodate an extra 1.2 million pilgrims each year and will turn the Grand Mosque into the largest religious structure in the world. But the Islamic Heritage Foundation has compiled a list of key historical sites that they believe are now at risk from the ongoing development of Mecca, including the old Ottoman and Abbasi sections of the Grand Mosque, the house where the Prophet Muhammad (s) was born and the house where his paternal uncle Hamza grew up.

There is little argument that Mecca and Medina desperately need infrastructure development. Twelve million pilgrims visit the cities every year with the numbers expected to increase to 17 million by 2025.

But critics fear that the desire to expand the pilgrimage sites has allowed the authorities to ride roughshod over the area’s cultural heritage. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone.

The destruction has been aided by Wahabism, the austere interpretation of Islam that has served as the kingdom’s official religion ever since the al-Sauds rose to power across the Arabian Peninsula in the 19th century.

In the eyes of Wahabis, historical sites and shrines encourage “shirk”—the sin of idolatry or polytheism–and should be destroyed. When the al-Saud tribes swept through Mecca in the 1920s, the first thing they did was lay waste to cemeteries holding many of Islam’s important figures. They have been destroying the country’s heritage ever since.

Of the three sites the Saudis have allowed the UN to designate World Heritage Sites, none are related to Islam.

Those circling the Kaaba only need to look skywards to see the latest example of the Saudi monarchy’s insatiable appetite for architectural bling. At 1,972ft, the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, opened earlier this year, soars over the surrounding Grand Mosque, part of an enormous development of skyscrapers that will house five-star hotels for the minority of pilgrims rich enough to afford them.

To build the skyscraper city, the authorities dynamited an entire mountain and the Ottoman era Ajyad Fortress that lay on top of it. At the other end of the Grand Mosque complex, the house of the Prophet’s (s) first wife Khadijah has been turned into a toilet block. The fate of the house he was born in is uncertain. Also planned for demolition are the Grand Mosque’s Ottoman columns which dare to contain the names of the Prophet’s (s) companions, something hardline Wahabis detest.

For ordinary Meccans living in the mainly Ottoman-era town houses that make up much of what remains of the old city, development often means the loss of their family home.

Non-Muslims cannot visit Mecca and Medina, but The Independent was able to interview a number of citizens who expressed discontent over the way their town was changing. One young woman whose father recently had his house bulldozed described how her family was still waiting for compensation. “There was very little warning; they just came and told him that the house had to be bulldozed,” she said.

Another Meccan added: “If a prince of a member of the royal family wants to extend his palace he just does it. No one talks about it in public though. There’s such a climate of fear.”

Dr Alawi hopes the international community will finally begin to wake up to what is happening in the cradle of Islam. “We would never allow someone to destroy the Pyramids, so why are we letting Islam’s history disappear?”

Prophet’s (s) Wife’s House

The house of the Prophet’s (s) wife Khadijah was destroyed and replaced with a public toilet block. After lengthy negotiations the site was briefly excavated with artefacts found dating back to the Prophet’s  (s) time.

Expansion of the Grand Mosque

In order to accommodate the ever growing pilgrim numbers, the authorities have begun a £690m expansion. Houses have been pulled, and it is likely the old Ottoman and Abbasi columns will also go.

The Prophet’s (s) Birth House

The building where the Prophet (s) once lived lies just a few hundred yards  from the Grand Mosque. Currently a library, the fear is that it could suffer the same fate as his wife’s house when the mosque expands.

Royal Mecca Clocktower

In order to build the clock tower and its surrounding skyscrapers–most of which house luxury hotels–the Saudi authorities approved the destruction of an entire mountain and the Ottoman Ajyad Fortress that lay on top.

Also under threat

Bayt al-Mawlid

When the Wahabis took Mecca in the 1920s they destroyed the dome on top of the house where the Prophet Muhammad (s) was born. It was then used as a cattle market before being turned into a library after a campaign by Meccans. There are concerns that the expansion of the Grand Mosque will destroy it once more. The site has never been excavated by archaeologists.

Ottoman and Abasi columns of the Grand Mosque

Slated for demolition as part of the Grand Mosque expansion, these intricately carved columns date back to the 17th century and are the oldest surviving sections of Islam’s holiest site. Much to the chagrin of Wahabis, they are inscribed with the names of the Prophet’s (s) companions. Ottomon Mecca is now rapidly disappearing.

Al-Masjid al-Nawabi

For many years, hardline Wahabi clerics have had their sites set on the 15th century green dome that rests above the tomb holding the Prophet (s), Abu Bakr and Umar in Medina. The mosque is regarded as the second holiest site in Islam. Wahabis, however, believe marked graves are idolatrous. A pamphlet published in 2007 by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, endorsed by Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, stated that “the green dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet’s  (s) Masjid.”

Jabal al-Nour

A mountain outside Mecca where Muhammad (s) received his first Koranic revelations. The Prophet (s) used to spend long spells in a cave called Hira. The cave is particularly popular among South Asian pilgrims who have carved steps up to its entrance and adorned the walls with graffiti. Religious hardliners are keen to dissuade pilgrims from congregating there and have mooted the idea of removing the steps and even destroying the mountain altogether.

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The Horizontal Expansion

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

big-bellyIt’s been just over a week since the Holy Month of Ramadan ended, however the effects of the holiday can already be seen on the waistlines of countless denizens of Kuwait. The grandiose feasts that marked the end of each fasting day are the culprit behind the weight gain. Deep-fried appetizers, calorie-laden entrees and sugary sweet desserts are the usual Ramadan suspects that cause the unwanted weight gain. For many, it’s now a race to lose the weight prior to the upcoming Eid al Adha holiday.  Clearly, putting on the weight is much easier than getting it off.

Ever since the Holy Month ended the streets and parks of Kuwait have been inundated with joggers, rollerbladers and cyclists clamoring for space on the scorching cement. With temperatures still topping off at over 100 degrees-Fahrenheit, it is difficult for those working out to keep the momentum up for long. The evidence can be seen on the faces of the fallen fitness enthusiasts littering park benches and nearby patches of grass as they gasp for a breath of air.

Exercising outdoors in Kuwait is not for the faint-hearted and can prove lethal for anyone with preexisting health issues. Fortunately, there are countless fitness centers that cater to both men and women. The segregated fitness centers allow men and women, respectively, to exercise in private without worrying about members of the opposite sex gawking or otherwise interfering with an intense workout. The downside of having a gym membership in Kuwait is the cost. Most fitness memberships cost several hundred dollars per year. And the poshest ones often run into the thousands of dollars.

Perhaps the high cost of gym memberships in Kuwait is the reason that “mall walking” has become the newest fitness rage to hit Kuwait. Mall walkers, from all walks of life and a variety of ages, can be seen at just about every mall in Kuwait. However, “The Avenues” mall is one of the most popular for mall walking, which is not surprising given that it is one of the largest malls in the region. The frosty air-conditioned temperature of a shopping mall makes it the perfect exercise venue. Mall walkers can be spotted easily with their spiffy track suits, pristine walking shoes and tiny handheld weights.  The best part about mall walking is the added bonus of being able to stop and shop while you work up a sweat.

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Community News (Volume 13 Issue 36)

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Settlement reached at Lilburn Mosque

LILBURN,GA–A settlement has been reached between the city of Lilburn and the federal government over allegations that the city violated the “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000” when it rejected the Dar-E-Abbas Shia Islamic Center’s requests for rezoning so they could expand a mosque.

Just last week the Lilburn City Council approved the expansion of the mosque.

It was the third time that the Dar-E-Abass Mosque tried to get a rezoning plan approved.

Neighbors said they didn’t want the expansion because it would bring more traffic and destroy their residential neighborhood.

The Muslim congregation wanted to expand from its current building to create a much larger facility.

Opponents believe the mosque’s owners are trying to skirt the city’s rules separating commercial and residential zoning. The attorney representing the mosque has said he believes the opposition is based on religious bias.

The dispute has resulted in a lawsuit and an investigation by the Department of Justice. Opponents insist religion is a non-factor.

As terms of the settlement, The city of Lilburn has agreed not to impose different zoning or building requirements on Dar-E-Abbas or other religious groups, and to publicize its nondiscrimination policies and practices.

The city also agreed that its leaders, managers, and certain other city employees will attend training on the requirements of RLUIPA.

ICNA Relief distributes school supplies

BOSTON, MA–The current economic downturn has hit hard on families and those especially affected are the children. But ICNA Relief USA is lending a helping hand by giving away free school supplies across the country.  It is expected to donate 15,000 back packs this year in over thirty communities. Almost all of the give away events held at Islamic school.
The one organized in Boston, however, reached out to the local neighborhood. The group gave out about 100 backpacks.

Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, prayer leader at a local mosque, was happy with the turnout. “People see a little simple event like this and they figure it just flowered,’’ he said. “But things like this don’t happen on their own.’’

Islamic Science Rediscovered premiers in California

SAN JOSE, CA–Long overlooked or often misattributed, the remarkable contributions of Muslim scholars in science and technology have quietly floundered as no more than common footnotes of world history.

Visitors educated in the Western world will be surprised to learn of discoveries and inventions in the Muslim World which predate by years, sometimes centuries, discoveries thought to be developed in the West.

Designed to unearth the scientific know-how of an Islamic Golden Age that is all too strange and unfamiliar to Western culture, Islamic Science Rediscovered demystifies this grand civilization and introduces visitors to the vast influence of its discoveries and inventions on contemporary society. It is being held at the Tech Museum in San Jose.

Did the Wright brothers soar in the sky first? Was Leonardo da Vinci the first to describe “machines of the future”?

Centuries before Orville and Wilbur Wright took flight, Abbas ibn Farnas was soaring over the hilly Spanish countryside in a one-man glider – a thousand years before the famed Wright flight in North Carolina.

Al-Jazari busied himself laying the foundations of modern engineering and writing the Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices in 1206, where he described fifty mechanical devices along with instructions on how to build them, more than 200 years before Leonardo da Vinci became revered for his technological ingenuity.

This global touring exhibition celebrates the contribution of Muslim scholars to science and technology during the Golden Age of the Islamic World (circa 8th to 18th centuries CE) and the influence of their discoveries and inventions on contemporary society.

Amazing ancient Islamic inventions are brought to life by more than 40 stations with interactive and sensory exhibits and videos to recreate the ingenuity.

Islamic Relief USA Prepares for Irene Response

WASHINGTON, D.C.–  As Americans on the East Coast braced for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, Islamic Relief USA staff and volunteers in the Washington, D.C. area were preparing for a potential emergency response to what is expected to be a powerful and damaging storm system.

Islamic Relief USA’s emergency aid workers have provided emergency assistance in the United States in the past, most recently this spring in Alabama after tornadoes leveled neighborhoods, killing hundreds of residents and leaving thousands homeless across seven states. Dozens of Islamic Relief USA volunteers and staff members quickly mobilized, traveling to Alabama to partner with the Salvation Army and the Red Cross to assess damage, assist at shelters, and collect and distribute food, clothing, cleaning supplies hygiene kits and other necessities.

In another major response effort, in 2005, Islamic Relief USA dispatched emergency response teams to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history. Islamic Relief USA distributed food, cleaning kits, tents, sleeping bags, toys, clothes and hygiene kits to residents of Biloxi and Jackson, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La. Islamic Relief USA converted a mobile home into a health clinic serving residents of East Biloxi, and teams also worked with two local housing organizations to house victims of Hurricane Katrina and repaired homes in Jackson to provide an adequate housing for evacuees.

“Muslim Americans are interested in helping fellow Americans when disasters strike,” said Adnan Ansari, Vice President of Programs at Islamic Relief USA. “We always receive an overwhelming response from the community in times like these.  People want to help in any way, whether by volunteering to provide crisis care, conduct damage assessment or serve the residents in shelters, or through their checkbooks.” 

Ohio school cancels Muslim goodwill event

CINCINNATI,OH- Complaints and a request from the archbishop have led a Cincinnati Roman Catholic high school to drop plans for a Ramadan dinner to build goodwill with Muslims.

Kirsten MacDougal, president of Mother of Mercy school, says Archbishop Dennis Schnurr received “emotionally charged” emails, mostly from outside the area, and asked the girls’ school to cancel its Friday night plans. The event instead will be held at a church parish center.

Mosque asked to consider another park for ‘Eid

BOONTON,NJ–The mayor and the aldermen of Boonton have denied a second request from Jam-E-Masjid Islamic Center to apply for the use of Canalside park for Eid prayers. Instead they have asked them to use Tourne County Park.

“With Tourne Park, no one is there on a Tuesday,” Alderman Anthony Scozzafava said. “You’d have the whole place to yourself. You wouldn’t be disrupting traffic or business or anything.”

About 500-600 people are projected to participate in the Eid Prayer, the Islamic Center representative said. Some participants would work together to car pool or simply walk.

With such an large number of people, Boonton Police Chief Michael W. Beltran suggested that four or five officers would have to oversee traffic.

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Community News (V11-I49)

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistani American doctors urged to develop homeland

NEW YORK, NY–Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon Saturday urged medical doctors of Pakistani descent to make their full contribution to American economic and political life as well as play their part in the development of their motherland, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Speaking at the annual dinner of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani descent of North America (APPNA), he lauded the services rendered by Pakistani-American doctors, and hoped that their fast-growing organization would emerge as a major force in the country.

The dinner, held in Uniondale on the Long Island, a New York suburb, was largely attended by APPNA members from all over the United States. Also present were U.S. Congressman Ed Town and Nassau County executive Tom Suozzi.

The newly-elected President of APPNA’s New York Chapter Dr. Asif  Rehman welcomed the guests and enumerated the association’s support- activities in Pakistan, especially during the 2005 devastating earthquake in northern Pakistan and in easing the suffering of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Swat.

In his remarks, Ambassador Haroon traced the development of U.S.-Pak relations from their inception, saying Pakistan had always given diplomatic, political and strategic support to the the United States without any quid pro quo.

He especially referred to the support provided by Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But he regretted that Pakistan was forgotton when the Soviets were forced to pullout of Afghanistan.

“Still, we have remained good friends of the United States,” the ambassador added.

Lilburn mosque plan denied

GWINNETT, GA–The Lilburn City Council voted down a plan last Wednesday night that would have allowed for a major expansion of a local mosque.

The mosque is on Lawrenceville Highway at Hood Road.

Residents argued the development would go against zoning laws designed to protect neighborhoods.

“It doesn’t matter what it was going to be, it didn’t belong in that area. It wasn’t zoned for that,” said Ilene Stongin-Garry, who’s against the expansion.
Attorney for the mosque said denying the project is a violation of the congregation’s first amendment right.

“They want to expand as other churches, as other religious institutions have been able to expand in your community. To deny them this right in unlawful,” said Doug Dillard, the mosque’s attorney.

Dillard vows to fight on, he’s going to take the case to federal court.

Arabic classes in more high schools in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL–The Chicago public schools will expand its Arabic-language program to three more high schools, thanks to a three-year federal grant of 888,000 U.S. dollars announced earlier this month.   Already, Arabic is offered at three Chicago high schools and is also offered at seven Chicago elementary schools and about 2,000 students take Arabic in Chicago’s schools, according to official sources.

The new federal grant will fund the expansion to three additional high schools in Chicago that have yet to be identified, the sources said.

The expansion will be enhanced by the use of technology-based instruction using the safari-blackboard virtual technology that will allow a teacher at one school to simultaneously offer a virtual class at another school as well. The teacher will change schools every two weeks so students will have personal interaction with a teacher.

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