Apollo 15, Michigan and the Moon

Left to right: Scott, Worden, Irwin

41 years ago today, the Apollo 15 mission blasted off with its crew of Commander David R. Scott, Command Module Pilot Alfred M. Worden, Lunar Module Pilot James B. Irwin. All three astronauts on the all-Air Force crew attended the University of Michigan.

Wikipedia explains that Apollo 15 began on July 26, 1971 and concluded on August 7th. It was the ninth manned mission in the Apollo program, the fourth to land on the Moon and the eighth successful manned mission. It was the first of the “J missions” – long duration stays on the Moon with a greater focus on science and also the first mission where the Lunar Rover was used.

Contrary to what you may have heard, there’s probably not a UM flag on the moon though.

Check out the video below from the UM School of Engineering and be sure to watchtheir proof in the lunar vacuum of Galileo’s theory that objects released together fall at the same rate regardless of mass below!

Michigan vs Michigan State Football Rivalry

Michigan State vs University of Michigan Football

It’s rights for the title of the state, state champions, who’s the best in the state, it’s huge, big for the fans, big for the alumni and big for the players and coaches.
~Ryan Van Bergen, UM Defensive End

This Saturday at 12 noon the University of Michigan Wolverines head to Spartan Stadium in East Lansing to face the Michigan State University Spartans . The Paul Bunyan-Governor of Michigan Trophy is awarded to the winner of the game between the Wolverines and the Spartans. U of M holds the series edge at 67-31-5, but the Spartans won again last year, 34-17 comeback to hang onto the trophy for the third straight year. For the 2nd year in a row, both teams are in the AP Top 25, with the Spartans at #23 and UM ranked #11. This game is always a fierce rivalry , but mLive explains that in 2011 it takes on another aspect due to the new Legends & Leaders division structure of the Big Ten12:

…all you have to do beat out five other teams to win your division and you’ve got a shot at the Rose Bowl. Nebraska isn’t what we thought they were, and Iowa just isn’t that good. The winner of Saturday’s game takes control of the Legends.

If you’re looking for tickets, stubhub has them for $188 – $499.  The Sports Bank has a brutally honest preview that leads with Spartan DT and NFL Prospect Jerel Worthy’s Anti-Michigan Wolverines Tattoo and breaks the game down very quickly and insightfully, and as always the folks at The Bleacher Report deliver with their slideshow of keys to the game and predictions for UM v MSU. The Freep calls it a smash-mouth showcase while the Detroit News lets a pair of former players, Michigan safety Marcus Ray and Michigan State quarterback Tony Banks, lay down the smack. On the blogs, A Beautiful Day for Football wonders if it’s “Little Brother No More” and gives some interesting rivalry facts. As Bill Simonson says: “I hope this sports ride never ends.”
MSU vs U of M Video Spirit Rally

Choose sides and get in on the discussion over at or MGoBlog. These are great resources with all the news and updates you need regarding MSU and U of M sports.

Michigan in Pictures has a couple of posts from awhile back about Spartan Stadium in East Lansing (where Saturday’s game will be played) and Michigan Stadium aka The Big House.

Somewhere we have to note Whack-a-Wolverine from the Lansing State Journal and we definitely want to hear what YOU think about the rivalry and the game!

MSU Spartans, UM Wolverines & Oakland Golden Grizzlies earn 2011 NCAA Tourney Bids!

Via Michigan in Pictures

ITH-UM-11511-0038MSU Basketball #10summit league mens championship oakland oral roberts

Darius Morris by JS_Owens || MSU Basketball #10 by Blackbeard Ben || summit league championship by elishapage

After weeks of uncertainty, the state of Michigan was rewarded with not one or two but three NCAA Tournament bids!

The University of Michigan Wolverines (20-13) received a #8 seed, higher than most expected and meet #9 seed Tennessee at 12: 40 PM on Friday in the West Regional in Charlotte. It’s a high seed but a tough slot as they will likely face #1 seed Duke in the 2nd round if they advance. The good news is that Duke is considered by many the weakest of the #1s and Tennessee is 4-7 over their past 11 games.

The Michigan State University Spartans (19-14) managed their 14th straight NCAA bid, a #10 seed. They square off against #7 seed UCLA at 9:20 PM on Thursday in the the Southeast Regional in Tampa, Fla. If the Spartans win, they would probably meet #2 seed Florida on Saturday. While MSU always seems to endure some struggles, this season has been especially trying.

Michigan’s third bid went to the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies (25-9). They received a #13 seed and will face one of the dominant teams of the season who fell on hard times late, #4 seed Texas (27-7) in Tulsa on Friday at 12:15. The Golden Grizzlies are #2 in the country in points per game and shooting percentage, something they will really need Friday!

You can check out the bracket on ESPN, read more at the Freep and also check out Pat Forde’s Big Breakdown of the Tourney.

Here’s a series of videos that includes highlights from MSU & UM tourney championships, a sweet excerpt from ESPN’s Fab Five production and a very strange but funny interview of Coach Izzo by the Visigoth Sports Network.

The Water Semester at University of Michigan

“Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children’s lifetime. The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land.”
~ Luna Leopold

Huron River by Ann279
Huron River by Ann279

Our friends over at the Great Lakes Echo tipped us off to an interesting thing that the University of Michigan is doing. It’s called The Water Semester. The semester celebrates water in all forms through courses, public lectures, exhibitions, performances, and explores water from diverse perspectives, including water in art (and music!), water in literature, the role of water in shaping human history, the origins and physics of water on Earth and beyond, and exploration of the global water crisis and water sustainability on local, regional, and global scales.

There will be a keynote “The World is Blue” on January 26th by TED Prize winner, National Geographic Explorer & Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. Earle is the founder of Mission Blue and you can see her amazing and sobering TED presentation below.

Other highlights include a Water Careers Fair on February 16, showings of movies including michigan produced FLOW: For Love of Water (Jan 27), a lecture on Art and the Environment with philosopher David Abram and dance educator Jennifer Monson (Mar 19), workshops on a variety of topics including Photographing Water, a Science Café regarding Water, Oil, and Energy at Conor O’Neill’s Traditional Irish Pub (Feb 9) and family events including a Water Discovery Day (Mar 25).

Amazing kudos to the U of M for developing the The Water Semester. Click over for much, much more including how you can take steps to make a difference in one of the most important issues of our time.

Obama brings full house to the Big House (President Obama at the University of Michigan Commencement)

By Jacob Wheeler

President Obama at Michigan Stadium
photo by Sam Wolson/Michigan Daily

(video below)

ANN ARBOR —  President Barack Obama took a break from the constant political storms in Washington, D.C., to address the University of Michigan (U-M) 2010 spring commencement ceremony today. And thunderstorms rolling across the Midwest rewarded him with a break in the weather, as nearly 85,000 graduating seniors, U-M students, families and well-wishers enjoyed overcast skies and a humorous, but reflective speech on American politics that could well have been delivered in a political science lecture hall.

The crowd that packed into Michigan Stadium —  the gridiron popularly known in Ann Arbor as the “Big House” —  more than doubled that of typical commencement ceremonies, in no small part because of Obama’s popularity and intrigue among this student body, and young Americans in general. Early morning showers dropped spring rains on southeast Michigan, but the precipitation stopped in earnest by 9 a.m., two hours before the ceremony was to begin.

Adhering to a punctual schedule, Obama entered the stage shortly before 11 along with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (a close ally of the President who may someday seek a cabinet position or a Supreme Court nomination once term limits end her governorship) and U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, and took a seat between the two. School of Music, Theatre & Dance senior Mary Martin then opened the ceremony with a performance of “The Star Spangled Banner,” followed by a Reflection from Samir Mohammed Islam, a senior from the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA, which is U-M’s largest school).

Following remarks by esteemed faculty members, the spotlight turned to LSA Senior Alex Marston, a D.C. native and third-generation Michigan student whose grandparents met in Angell Hall during the 1940s. His speech on the topic of “change” seemed fitting with Obama just feet away from him, and the cameras focused on Mr. Change whenever the word was used.

“We desire change, but we fear it too,” Marston said. “After (Obama) took office, he found resistance to change,” at which the President whispered something to Gov. Granholm and laughed. Marston alluded to changes in U-M’s football program, a new coach and the team’s fall from grace over the past three years. The senior also lamented that, for today’s graduates, change will mean no more visits to the popular Ann Arbor bar Good Time Charlies, or Zingerman’s Deli, and its world famous pastrami sandwiches. “But still, we must embrace change and follow the lead of Michigan graduates to change the world.”

Coleman then honored the nation’s 44th President with an Honorary Doctor of Law degree before thanking Obama for making the trip on Air Force One: “Congratulations to a group of graduating students so exceptional that we had to show you off to the President of the United States. … President Obama, welcome to the Big House,” she said to thundering applause.”

Just after 11:30, Gov. Granholm took the podium (adorned with the President of the United States seal) and applauded Obama: “On behalf of our 10 million citizens, thank you for supporting our auto industry — Ford, General Motors, Chrysler. They all have bright futures now, whereas one year ago much darker clouds than these loomed overhead.” Granholm mentioned a recent visit by Vice President Joe Biden to promote Michigan’s electric battery sector. “We could not change Michigan from the rust belt to the green belt without your support, Mr. President,” she continued.

About 10 minutes later Obama rose and drew nearly 30 seconds of applause before opening his speech. He smiled, answered, “I love you back” and then pronounced, “It’s great to be here in the Big House. Go Blue,” admitting that he wanted to start things off with a cheap applause line.

Political science

Obama began his speech on a humorous note: “I am happy to join you all today, and even happier to spend a little time away from Washington. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a beautiful city. And it sure is nice living above the store; can’t beat the commute,” he joked. “It’s just that sometimes, all you hear in Washington is the clamor of politics — a noise that can drown out the voices of the people who sent you there.”

He reads 10 letters a night from ordinary citizens, including one from a kindergarten class in Virginia, which asked the leader of the free world a series of innocent questions. “One asked, ‘How do you do your job?’ Another asked, ‘Do you work a lot?’ Somebody wanted to know if I wear a black jacket or if I have a beard — clearly getting me mixed up with that other tall guy from Illinois. And then there was my favorite: ‘Do you live next to a volcano?’”

But after tickling the crowd’s funny bone, Obama adopted the conciliatory, unifying stance of the change-maker he’s aspired to be in the White House. He admitted that the debate over the size of government is a legitimate one that has existed since this country’s beginnings; he called on cable news pundits and others to keep the political debate civil, and he admitted that these issues of political tone are nothing new.

“Before we get too down on the current state of our politics, we need to remember our history. The great debates of the past all stirred great passion. They all made some angry. What is amazing is that despite all the conflict; despite all its flaws and frustrations, our experiment in democracy has worked better than any other form of government on Earth.

Obama’s call for a good government, of the people, seemed suitable for a political science class, if not a campaign rally: “Government is the police officers who are here protecting us and the service men and women who are defending us abroad. Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe.”

And then the President made perhaps the only allusion to the stormy issues of the day that are certainly on his mind as he flies back to Washington.

Senator Barack Obama in Michigan  #3 by radiospike photography
Senator Barack Obama in Michigan #3
by radiospike photography

“Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them. Government is this extraordinary public university — a place that is doing life-saving research, catalyzing economic growth, and graduating students who will change the world around them in ways big and small.

Shortly after noon today, Obama wrapped up his speech, calling on U-M’s graduates to be tomorrow’s leaders, and protectors of democracy. And after the seniors filling the football field in a sea of black gowns were officially declared graduates, they honored tradition and tossed their black caps into the air. Formal above the waist, many graduates wore tennis shoes — even Bermuda shorts — below.

Sam Wolson of the Michigan Daily has a fantastic slideshow from President Barack Obama’s commencement address to the class of 2010 at the University of Michigan (Michigan Daily coverage of the address / full text of speech) Check out the slideshow and read the rest of Jacob’s feature below.

U-M a collegiate leader

Ross Business School by JSmith Photo
Ross Business School by JSmith Photo

President Barack Obama is the third sitting U.S. president to deliver a graduation commencement speech in Ann Arbor, following Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and George H. W. Bush in 1991. Johnson used this setting to outline the pillars of his Great Society legislation, which marked the 1960s. Bill Clinton also spoke to U-M’s graduates after he left the White House. Video images of Johnson and Bush both appeared on the jumbotron during today’s ceremony.

Though they weren’t commencement speeches, John F. Kennedy stopped for a midnight rally at the University of Michigan 50 years ago while on the 1960 campaign trail and introduced the Peace Corps. (“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” he said in that recognizable Bostonian accent.) And U-M alum and Grand Rapids native Gerald Ford (the only Michigan native to sit in the Oval Office) launched his unsuccessful re-election campaign here in 1976.

While U-M has taken its lumps on the gridiron in recent years, and all but ceded state basketball bragging rights to Tom Izzo and Michigan State, the university continues to be a national collegiate leader. University president Mary Sue Coleman, who took over the reigns in 2002 following Lee Bollinger’s tenure, launched “The Michigan Difference” campaign, which raised $3.2 billion — the most ever by a public university.

The university’s value to the state of Michigan is equally immense. The U-M Health System, which serves 1.7 million patients each year, boasts a medical school, three hospitals and more than 120 health centers and clinics. U-M spends over $1 billion annually on research, which has resulted in 2,521 discoveries, 1,184 patent applications and 83 startups. U-M is part of the University Research Corridor, a collaboration with Michigan State and Wayne State universities to accelerate statewide economic development.

Michigan Stadium, which opened in 1927 and was the first college stadium to use electronic scoreboards, holds a capacity of 106,201.

Happy Earth Day, Michigan

earth day photos by my students

Happy Earth Day, Michigan!

Tina’s students took these photos. Over on Michigan in Pictures today we took a look at Michigan’s ties to the first Earth Day.

2010 is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. In addition to a nice story detailing Earth Day’s genesis in Michigan from the Ann Arbor Chronicle, there is a very cool documentary about the 1970 University of Michigan Environmental Teach-In. (watch it!!)

View many more photos in the Earth Day slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool.

Photo Friday: Tulips at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) by cseeman

326/365 (May 4, 2009) - Tulips at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

cseeman (Corey) is the Library Director at the Kresge Business Administration Library at the University of Michigan (Corey’s homepage)

You’ll definitely want to check this photo out background bigalicious or in his cool Tulip slideshow. His sets include Birds of Saline, Fiddlers Restrung (not to be confused with the Saline Fiddlers) and Lighthouses of Michigan (slideshow) that is helpfully broken down into Lighthouse of Lake Michigan, Lighthouses of Lake Huron, Lighthouses of Lake Erie and Lighthouses of Lake St. Clair.

You can also check out his Flickriver.

Michigan and MSU both headed to the Big Dance

ballin' by Beth☮♥♬
ballin’ by Beth☮♥♬

With the 2009 Final Four taking place in Detroit, it’s probably fitting that both the University of Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans have received NCAA Basketball Tournament bids

It’s the first NCAA tournament bid for the Wolverines since 1998, a #10 seed in the South Region with a draw of Clemson (23-8). UM takes a record of 20-13 into the 6:10 PM game on Thursday (Mar 19).

The Spartans (26-6) secured the #2 seed in the Midwest region. This is the 12th consecutive bid and they will face Robert Morris in the opener. Despite a disappointing loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten tourney, they are expected to do well after playing one of the toughest schedules in the country.

More UM & MSU Links (add more in the comments below!)

Rollercoaster Wednesday

MSU College of Human Medicine by Eridony
MSU College of Human Medicine by Eridony

Going up

The New York Times reports that in the midst of the darkest economic times Michigan has seen in decades, the University of Michigan is spending billions to grow with nearly three million square feet new buildings for science, medicine, health, art, business, sports, food service and student housing under construction and five others   in the design stage.

wizardkitten at Blogging for Michigan packed a lot of positive economic stories for Michigan into a post about how Obama’s “Green New Deal” can create jobs, ease global warming and lessen our dependence on foreign oil all at the same time. She links to a nice article about Michigan-based Hemlock Semiconductor and also to related stories in the Freep and LA Times and notes that when added to our burgeoning movie industry, those folks out on the west coast might start to think that we are OK after all. Especially if – as she reports elsewhere – Gov. Granholm is tapped for the post of Queen of England.

Fallen by jnhkrawczyk
Fallen by jnhkrawczyk

Going down

Unfortunately, it’s not all (or even mostly) good news. Comerica Bank’s preliminary November Michigan Business Activity Index (28k PDF) fell 4 points to 79 – the lowest level in 16 years. The November reading was down 13 points from November 2007 and 27% from its October 2003 peak of 108. That decline rivals the largest previous peak- to-trough decline of 33% between September 1978 and June 1980.

Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry notes that while Washington doesn’t have to live within its means and can borrow and borrow and borrow – hello $11,000,000,000,000 national debt – state governments are not so lucky (also check out his interview with Chris Christoff, the Freep’s Lansing Bureau chief). Jack notes that every few months, Michigan has a “revenue estimating conference” wherein budget controllers assess expected revenues as compared to budgeted expenditures. When revenues fall short, it’s time for cuts. A round of cuts is expected this month, and it likely won’t be the last. He says that our elected officials can go to their usual strategy of blaming each other (and solving nothing) or steal a page from the past:

Back in the 1970s, Governor Milliken used to convene regular weekly meetings of what he called the “quadrant,” the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate. They would get together and discuss how best to solve state problems.

Governor Jennifer Granholm should try that. She is in a position to serve as an honest broker. She can’t run again. These are desperate times, and saving the state needs to take top priority.

In a move that seems oddly desperate, General Motors is selling about 200 vehicles from its collection of 1000 vintage GM cars & trucks. They will be sold at Barrett-Jackson’s 2009 Scottsdale Auction and could raise as little as $5 million.

And speaking of roller coasters…

Reports suggest that the Tigers are no closer to filling the roll of closer. Rollercoaster Jones, where are you?

Michigan Books: War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest by Michael Rosenberg

WAR AS THEY KNEW ITWar as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest by Michael Rosenberg (Grand Central Publishing) — The greatest years of the storied football rivalry between the University of Michigan and Ohio State University took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s amidst campus unrest, Vietnam War protests and great political and social upheaval. More than just a history of the rivalry, Rosenberg integrates the story of the two iconic head coaches with the unfolding national dramas of the era.

To read an excerpt from the book visit

Fore more information regarding the author Michael Rosenberg visit his website Dig a little deeper into the following articles and reviews on these websites: The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and

More Michigan Notable Books! The Michigan Notable Books program annually selects 20 of the most notable books published in the year. The selections are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience. You can click to view more Notable Books featured on Absolute Michigan and learn more about the program at