Some words about the physics:
MLafer wrote:I think we can agree that the following answers are perfectly acceptable or even too easy, for ACF Nats: mossbauer, kerr effect, cold fusion, bremstrahlung, huygens' principle, zeeman, baryons, poisson bracket, polarization, convection, auger effect, electroweak theory, interferometer, vorticity.
I would agree with this assessment. I couldn't pull the Auger effect and wasn't a big fan of the cold fusion question, but that's not a complaint. I wouldn't say any these were really "easy" as such (some of them had quite difficult clues) but they were definitely appropriate for the level.
This leaves us with: Aharanov-Bohm, excitons, nuclear shell model, Reissner-Nordstrom, Wigner Energy.
Aharonov-Bohm is fine; it gets covered in undergraduate quantum calsses, so I have no complaint about that. The shell model is something I never really learned about and I have no idea what context it's actually taught in. Excitons I couldn't convert despite having taken 1.5 years of solid-state physics. While that may say more about my memory than about the topic of the question, I'm not sure it was a great topic for a tossup. From what I understand, Mike Sorice negged it, as did Seth, and I couldn't pull it. Wigner energy I thought was just a ridiculous thing, and I asked Mike later on IRC whether he knew what it was. He will surely correct me if I'm wrong but he did not know the term, though he knew the thing being discussed under a different name. Without the goofy giveaway I'm not sure anyone would have had any shot at it.
I left the Reissner-Nordstrom question for last, because there sure do seem to be a lot of people in this thread (including several noted non-scientists) who seem to be saying that this comes up all the time. Having played many, many packets I can assure you it does not. At best, it comes up as the 3rd part of a bonus on black holes, which doesn't happen all that often. Reissner-Nordstrom is actually really hard, and even though Seth got it at the end (and I would have too if I hadn't negged it), it's still pretty tough; it was tough for me and I'm an astrophysics grad student with graduate GR under my belt, so I'm not sure who all these people are who are claiming it's so easy. Mind you, I thought it was an interesting question entirely appropriate to this tournament, but still.
castrioti wrote:gamma ray bursts-synchotron shock-band model
lambda point-rotons-Pomeranchuk cooling
Barkhausen Avalanche-eddy currents-Bitter pattern
Cassini's Law-Vis-Viva Equation-Kozai Resonance
breakdown voltage-Rogovsky profiling (edited to Zener diodes)-Mott insulator
Dude... seriously, dude.
I get that your philosophy involves trying to get people to dig deeper on the middle parts, but this is insane. I dare you to name me one person not named Seth Teitler who was playing that tournament and could name a model of gamma ray bursts. I mean, I know more than most people about GRBs, but I can't tell you the various models of them because that's not what I work on. You have literally written a bonus on which more than 10 points can only be gotten by a specialist in GRB physics. This is not a good bonus, since I don't see how it differentiates between someone who knows what a GRB is (which I assume includes most competent science players, at least in the upper bracket) and someone who knows something more about GRB physics but not the two models of their operation. Likewise, I have no idea what the Vis-Viva equation or the Kozai resonance are, and don't know where I would have encountered them. Again, is anyone not an expert on solar system physics going to answer these? I felt about the same regarding the superfluid bonus, which is nearly impossible to get more than 10 on.
It seems that my own opinion/experience about how many points should be given away in a bonus at ACF Nationals has become different than what I perceive to be the majority's opinion. While I do believe that there should be one easy, one medium and one difficult clue at any tournament, I think that at ACF Nationals the ramp-up in difficulty should be somewhat steeper. At Fall and regionals, 2 easier answers in a three-part bonus may be fine, but at Nationals, 10 points is all I think people should be "given" before they are forced to recall deeper knowledge (the medium answer should be harder).
Uh, there are plenty of bonuses you can reference in this set which met the criterion of having a harder middle part while making it possible to get at least 20 if you had solid knowledge in the field. You wrote bonuses that people working on graduate degrees in the field couldn't get 20 on. That's not "somewhat steeper," that's "here's your 10 points, now get lost, chump."
In addition, I've had a hard time reconciling myself to the quizbowl-self-referential definition of "hard," meaning that I sometimes select answers which may not have come up before, but that I believe people should have a reasonable chance of knowing about. "Rotons" was one of these answers that I intended as a medium difficulty answer--perhaps if I had included a clue about their being analogous to phonons for a liquid?
I mean, I knew that these were collective excitations in superfluids. I didn't know what they were called and I didn't have the creativity, at 10 in the evening on the last question of a strenuous final to fraud it. Again, I've taken many semesters of solid state physics and statistical mechanics, in which superfluids were discussed, and I never once encountered rotons or Pomeranchuk cooling.
On the other hand, should I have asked for the Fountain Effect for the second part, and risked giving away too many points in the playoffs? "Synchotron shock" was another that, while it hasn't come up before, the clues were such that I believed it would have been guessable (magnetic fields, high particle acceleration, etc). These examples given, I did not believe that these bonus parts were out of reason given what others were writing (possibly my own case of "If I don't know it, it's hard"). I was certainly mistaken if physics experts such as Jerry and Mike were not able to convert these bonuses. To these, again, I offer my sincerest apology.
The combination of these clues does not necessitate the answer "synchrotron." I know what synchrotron radiation is, but again, there's no obvious way to come to that conclusion, because the answer could literally be anything, like someone's name for example. Anyway, justifying near-impossible bonus answers by claiming that they are guessable makes no sense; if you intend for people to actually answer your questions (you know, so you can distinguish between different levels of knowledge instead of handing everyone 10) then you should write about things that people will actually know, not things you think ought to come up and are figure-outable.
update: ok, I see that Seth has posted with mostly the same points. Looks like he wouldn't have pulled the same things that I couldn't pull, so I don't feel all that bad. Too bad I didn't get the Ising model bonus, though, that was a good one as an example of things you can actually learn about. I forget what the middle part was, but the last part was the Potts model, which definitely gets mentioned in discussions of Ising model physics.