Split topic on CO science

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Tower Monarch
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Re: Split topic on CO science

Post by Tower Monarch » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:57 pm

cvdwightw wrote:\You completely missed Ryan's point. It's fairly trivial for me or anyone else with literally no connection to "what literature people study in the academic world" to go out and read either a presumably-notable book or a summary of said book, and then write a question using plot clues that the top literature players would find passable (perhaps not great, but not worthy of scathing denunciations). It is a decidedly non-trivial task for someone with minimal exposure to science or music to write a half-decent question using "plot clue equivalents" in that field, let alone one that would meet the music mafia's standards.

Ryan's argument (and correct me if I'm mistaken) is that in science and music, it takes a lot of effort to even start figuring out the descriptive knowledge necessary to write a decent question in the subject, and people have a tendency to complain about the content of questions rather than/in addition to the importance of the answer choices. In other areas, e.g. literature or history, it takes minimal effort to develop enough knowledge to be able to competently describe the answer choice and specialists are much more likely to rail about ridiculous answer choices than about clues that don't reward their in-depth knowledge. So, in essence, it's a far more judicious use of everyone's time to try to "coach up" a developing QB writer in literature or history (where it's easier to become competent and a writer that's merely competent is passable) as opposed to science or music (where it's more difficult to become competent and a writer that's merely competent is trashed on the boards for not having deep enough knowledge of the subject or sufficient skill to effectively communicate deep knowledge to experts).
Actually, I didn't miss a thing; I just disagreed with his point. On the science side of things at least (I would try to use Magin's post to generalize over to music), I am saying that if you take the time to read pages out of "presumably-notable [text]book" like the ones listed people have listed as study material or "a summary" of the material on university websites (this is more common than non-scientists may think), then you will be able to write enough passable science to fill out a packet distribution. Obviously if you want to write a tournament's science, then you'll want experience in the fields, but my argument is that writing in small quantities can be made very comparable to the same task in literature. And with practice, people can get better. You don't have to rely on binary, word-association questions that are common in literature questions of last decade but are still rampant in the science distribution.
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No Rules Westbrook
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Re: Split topic on CO science

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:41 pm

Well, I'll just speak for myself and tell you that - in the past - I've spent an hour to two hours just on one question reading through university websites and google books and so on, trying to build enough understanding of the topic to construct a proper science tossup.

While the result of doing that may be a slightly better question than otherwise, it will come nowhere close to satisfying the type of standard being proposed here.

Dwight does a pretty good job of summarizing the source of the difficulty. Other people can speak to their own experiences, and given enough evidence, I might be persuaded to believe I'm just a dunce who's poor at understanding science, while most are better.

Conversely, I have an academic history background - and I don't have much of any academic lit background - but I find those two subjects equally easy to research/understand topics and construct proper tossups. In fact, I don't think it's much more challenging for me to write lit than history, despite me having a much stronger academic background in history. Those subjects are simply a different ball of wax than science and music.
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Re: Split topic on CO science

Post by setht » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:08 am

Batsteve wrote:
setht wrote:Could someone post the flare stars tossup? Also the bonus on protostars with a part on Kelvin-Helmholtz contraction and the bonus on AGN (I think) with a part on magnetic fields that mentions the Blandford-Znajek mechanism.

Thanks,
-Seth
Unless I changed them at the last minute for some reason, these should be the final forms of the questions.
CO wrote:Their namesake phenomenon is similar to that seen in RS Canum Venaticorum stars, however in these objects the cause can not be shown to be a binary companion, and these stars show similar behavior to BY Draconis stars.. These stars are typically several orders of magnitude more active in the U-band than V-band. The first known being V1396 Cygni and AT Microscopii. Based on a 1998 event, Barnard’s Star is considered by some to be one of these objects, though intervals of hours or days are more typical for these objects. Their activity is caused by magnetic reconnection in their atmospheres, similar to those causing sunspots. Consisting largely of Class M red dwarfs, examples include Wolf 359, Proxima Centauri, and Luyten 726-8. For 10 points, what are these stellar objects that experience unpredictable increases in brightness over a timescale of minutes?
ANSWER: flare stars or UV Ceti variables
Thanks for posting these, SteveJon.

A very cursory look around online suggests to me that flare stars are nothing more or less than stars that flare. You know, like the Sun--except that in order to detect the flares with most current instruments, the change in luminosity needs to be substantial, which means that most known flare stars are red dwarves (which have low baseline luminosity and apparently still host impressive flares). I think this question would have been better off as a tossup on "(stellar) flares"--the first however many sentences could focus on red dwarf flare stars, giving Auroni and other people who have read about (and been interested by) flare stars their shot at the tossup, then moving on to clues about solar flares so the unenlightened masses (like myself) get a crack at answering. Alternatively, if there's some reason to think that writing the tossup with the answer "flare stars" is better than writing it with the answer "(stellar) flares," I see no reason not to try harder to give away the answer at the end with more direct clues referencing solar flares.
Batsteve wrote:
CO wrote:The Orion nebula is an example of one of these regions. For 10 points each:
[10] Identify these dense clouds which are characterized by recent star-formation activity. They are named because they contain ionized hydrogen. 
ANSWER: H II regions
[10] Found with H II regions are these compact clouds containing cosmic dust and molecular gas, which are thought to give rise to protostars. They are named for a Dutch-American astronomer. 
ANSWER: Bok globules [or clouds] 
[10] This doubly-eponymous mechanism suggests that a star contracts to maintain hydrostatic equilibrium as it radiates energy over time. 
ANSWER: Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism

Answer some questions about the physics of black holes, for 10 points each.
[10] This is the solution to the Einstein Field Equations for a simple rotataing black hole with no electric charge. Inside the ergosphere, any object must rotate with the black hole, a fact which is exploited in the Penrose process.
ANSWER: Kerr metric [accept Kerr vacuum]
[10] The Kerr metric can be expressed using these coordinates, a generalization of the Schwarzschild metric. Interestingly, they show that the singularity inside a Kerr black hole is actually a ring, whose size depends on the mass of the black hole.
ANSWER: Boyer-Lindquist coordinates
[10] The Bladford-Znajek process is a method for removing energy from a black hole using the phenomenon. The B-Z method may how Quasars are powered, and along with beaming this phenomenon also explains why their relativistic jets stay mostly collimated.
ANSWER: Magnetic Field [accept B field, accept basically any descriptive answer involving Magnetism]
As sort of an open question to physicists, what are some appropriate pronouns for answerlines like "magnetic field"? I used "phenomenon," but that may have made it sound like I was looking for a process rather than a thing.
I think the wording of the K-H mechanism part sounds a little odd, but probably not worth worrying about. The magnetic field part seems a bit vague; I almost thought you might want "hoop stresses" or something crazy like that after hearing the bit about jet collimation. I think "property" or maybe "quantity" are decent options for magnetic field.

-Seth

edit: fixed quote tags
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Re: Split topic on CO science

Post by setht » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:30 pm

I think most tossups should draw from topics in whatever canon/core/body of knowledge most players who know something about a given category are going to know; there's room, especially at nationals-level and open/masters tournaments, for some canon-busting tossup answers, but I tend to want a lower ceiling on those types of questions than many other people. There's way more room for canon-busting hard bonus parts and canon-busting clues. When it comes to science, especially the physical sciences, I think it makes sense to say that the pool of good tossup ideas is mostly set by what science students typically learn in their science courses. Perhaps this isn't the case with history or literature (or maybe, in the case of literature, we should really be looking at curricula in several departments, not just English)--I don't really know. Regardless, I think there are authors and works that are clearly very well-known and widely read, and I'd be happy to see more questions on those authors and works (and similarly with history), even at very high-level tournaments. I very much appreciated the CO tossups on Mitch from A Streetcar Named Desire and Nastasya from The Idiot; I managed to neg both of them, but I prefer getting a chance to flub tossups on things I've read and enjoyed to picking up the giveaway to a tossup on something I've only encountered in quizbowl and don't really care about.

-Seth
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Re: Split topic on CO science

Post by setht » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:50 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:we would prefer many fewer questions on fringe topics and think a decent number of tossups should be reserved for core topics like Achebe, Vargas Llosa, Gordimer, etc.
Speaking only for myself, I am totally down with making a conscious effort to focus more literature tossups on core topics.

As a side note, I think there are many more core topics available in British, American and European literature than there are in world literature; I've come around to the idea that, by extension, it's okay to have more questions on each of British, American and European literature than on world literature (e.g., as typically happens with NAQT sets). Within each of those I think it's good to keep things a bit fresh by putting in a smattering of tossups on harder, non-canonical topics.
Magister Ludi wrote:Is that too much to ask considering your call for all science questions to be guided by academic standards?
Again, speaking for myself: I don't think all science questions in my areas must have answers and clues that I've seen in courses. In fact, for CO I wrote tossups on magnetic reconnection (not something I ever studied in a course, but certainly an important topic of research and something that I thought people would be able to answer) and on the double-slit experiment (inspired by a lengthy discussion with a friend who read a Scientific American article on the quantum eraser experiment and thought it might be possible to use it for faster-than-light communication--again, the quantum eraser is not something I ever saw in coursework). I suspect that Jerry was fine with those tossups.

Having said that, I do think that quizbowl science tends to be more "reined-in" than quizbowl literature, in the sense of corresponding more closely to the pool of core academic topics, even after accounting for the fact that science as taught in the academy is less variable than literature. Personally, I'd prefer seeing quizbowl science stay pretty much as is, and trying to rein in other topics a bit, rather than loosening the standards for science.

-Seth
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