The Emergency: at PACE

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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

Yeah, our packet should probably be done tonight or tomorrow night or something; I've been kept busy with PACE. Sorry!
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Mike Bentley »

Ukonvasara wrote:Yeah, our packet should probably be done tonight or tomorrow night or something; I've been kept busy with PACE. Sorry!
How's the packet going?
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by DumbJaques »

Hey, Emergency is now in Robinson (meeting in room 247), NOT Enterprise.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

So I'm told that the tournament ended with Team Rayuela winning. I'm not sure if people were baying for my blood but I'd like to apologize for not being able to come through with the third editor packet. I had hoped to be out of the field by this weekend, but some equipment breakage at the very last minute caused a scramble and left me virtually unable to find any time to write. That, combined with a few repeats in the other two editor packets that needed replacing, pretty much killed the possibility of a third editor packet, although I'm told that at the end people dispersed to catch planes anyway so I hope it wasn't too huge a deal. I do hope that people enjoyed the questions they did play, absurd as many of them were. I hear Ahmad Ragab is now reading my mind, given his beastly performance on the two editor packets.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

Yeah, absolutely no one was mad at you, dude. The questions were great and everyone had a great time (even if you failed to provide "Amenonuhoko" as an acceptable answer for Izanagi's spear). This tournament was a total success. After Sorice/Ray/Meade/Ragab cleared the field, we played a couple of scrimmage matches. One of them featured Andrew Hart's team playing against some other group of people (someone involved in this can clear this up) and then Seth Teitler, Chris Ray, Jonathan Magin, and Mike Sorice drafted the remaining people.

So, yeah, it was a great time. I'm sorry again about sending our packet in (1) at 2:30 am the night before and (2) to the wrong address. Everyone seemed to enjoy the unedited version of it I hand-randomized before the round, so I guess everything worked out.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

Sorry about having the wrong email in my hsqb profile. That address no longer works, otherwise I would have been able to randomize your packet with all the others.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by theMoMA »

Did someone enter in the stats for this thing? I'd be very excited to see them. Also, if someone could post the packets I'd be eternally grateful.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by DumbJaques »

Someone (I guess Rob or another laptop provider) should probably email the field-assembled packet 7 to hasten question posting, since I don't think Jerry has a copy of it.

I too am eager to see the actual numbers, as we didn't get a look at them during the day, I'm intrigued as to how the hard the questions played given the quality of the teams we had there, and I have very little idea of how most of the other games turned out.

Rob is correct in that there was absolutely zero ire on the part of anyone at this tournament. I mean, we were all there anyway hanging out anyway, and you provided us this set for absolutely no charge. I can't imagine how anyone could have been justifiably pissed for you not having a third editor's packet, and besides, most of us weren't able to finish our packets until the weekend anyway because of the NSC crunch. This tournament was lots of fun, and the opportunity to see the collective reaction on the part of Rob/Seth/Trygve/myself when Ahmad* third-clued "Local Knowledge" would have all by itself been worth the trip and some non-insignificant amount of money.

*I am calling Ahmad for the next Jerry Vinokurov-produced tournament. I will only exchange him in a hybrid potlatch ritual that draws from every work ever written of anthropology, postmodernist thought, and literary criticism, and only then for the person who read those works in order to understand it. I suppose I could also accept blood sacrifices, but they would have to be carried out in the exact way Mike Sorice described Xipe Totec worship to me during the tournament.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

The set, sans packet by team Carson Agonistes, has been posted to QBDB and I'll email it to Chris Carter as well. I might be reading a few packets in the chat sometime over the next few days so don't look if you want to experience these questions fresh. A great big thanks goes out to Eric Mukherjee, who generously supplied the bio and chem questions for my editor packets, and to Ryan Westbrook, who sent me a few tossups that unfortunately did not get used as they were intended for the missing third packet. An even bigger thanks should go out to all the teams, who generously submitted some great stuff which really left me very little to do other than to replace repeats (and there were only a few of those and almost none between packets). If people want to discuss anything specific about the tournament you are welcome to do so.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

grapesmoker wrote:The set, sans packet by team The Karlheinz Stockhausen Bloodbath...
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Tower Monarch »

This was probably one of the better experiences I had this year, as it went rather smoothly despite one of the most relaxed set-ups possible. Between the actual event and the night before (when I would have been if not for this event), I got to meet or at least see 10+ people for the first time, so that was great. I don't think anybody hated the bouncebacks and I certainly enjoyed them, so I think another benefit of the tournament was a positive example of what NSC might look like next year.
On a more specific note, I thought these questions were great with actually less difficulty fluctuation than I expected both between and within packets (one possible exception is the Illinois+ team's for the former). It's too bad there are so few occasions that you can find 10+ great writers/editors to do this kind of thing, as the whole concept seems to produce fun on short notice. My thanks goes to Jerry for a nice tournament for which I would have paid money.
Also, I was going to wait for any discussion thread, but since that probably won't happen until more people have read through them, I'll just say I would appreciate criticism of the questions I wrote as this is the first of many upper difficulty tournaments for which I've submitted questions (especially outside of my better subjects). Those questions were (in the Hart et al packet) : Chromatin, Epoxides, Shor's Algorithm, Isostasy, Charlemagne, Tensor..., Grimmelshausen..., Mieszko..., Pleven..., Transmittance, Acomycota..., Wheatley..., WKB... I know Sorice noticed some problems with the science ones. I will say right off that shor's is not the only factoring algorithm that should be TU-able at this level, so I thought mentioning a key exchange was not the end of the world that early. Let me know if I am really wrong here and/or there were similar clue issues with others though. Thanks, and again, I greatly enjoyed the company and the set.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

Yeah, thanks to everyone for writing/playing/editing the packets for this tournament, which was great fun, especially given how quickly it was pulled together in the end. The Islamey tossup was great. "Formation of the solar system" wasn't as great. The Infante bonus was.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

HKirsch wrote:Yeah, thanks to everyone for writing/playing/editing the packets for this tournament, which was great fun, especially given how quickly it was pulled together in the end. The Islamey tossup was great. "Formation of the solar system" wasn't as great. The Infante bonus was.
Actually, I think it's probably the other way around, though I guess it depends on your preferences. I'm awful at music so every music question I piece together looks a little disjoint to me, while the solar system question relied on actual knowledge that I have (plus a ton of research). I can see if people think that's a little gimmicky, but I really wanted to try something a little unconventional with the science tossups.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by theMoMA »

I negged with the formation of Earth's moon and was sad :(
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Auroni »

The Aviz Dynasty question should not have had the battle of Aljubarrota as a leadin.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

JelloBiafra wrote:The Aviz Dynasty question should not have had the battle of Aljubarrota as a leadin.
I debated with myself whether that was or was not sufficiently well known. I decided that the name was sufficiently ambiguous linguistically and that most people would not know very much at all about what seems to me to be a rather obscure battle from the mid-14th century. If I was wrong on those counts, I apologize.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

I agree with Jerry that Aljubarrota is linguistically ambiguous. If you don't know about the battle, you're probably going to think that it involved Arabs or at the very least Moors. It just happens to have come up a bunch recently. Also the alliance with England stuff shouldn't be that early in a tossup about Portugal.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

To those of you who actually played this, I realized that the phone charger I took home with me that was lying next to my computer and identical to my own charger is not, in fact, mine; I found mine in my other bag. If it's yours and you're not coming to HSNCT, let me know so I can send it to you.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Mike Bentley »

theMoMA wrote:Did someone enter in the stats for this thing? I'd be very excited to see them. Also, if someone could post the packets I'd be eternally grateful.
Brian Saxton was entering them.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

i want to say that I was very pleased with the question quality at this event, and I think semi-guerrilla tournaments with good writers on each team are a great idea. Cameron, I enjoyed those questions you mentioned, with few exceptions. One was, however, the epoxides tossup. Text:
Synthesis of this class of compounds from 1,2-halohydrins takes place in the presence of a base in an SN2 process, where the halide is the leaving group. Acid-catalyzed cleavage of them in the presence of water yields anti-diols, while adding a hydronium ion to the simplest one of these produces ethylene glycol. High angle strain in this class of compounds gives that simplest one carbonyl traits when reacting with organometallic compounds. A namesake synthesis reacts an alkene with a peroxyacid to yield an aldehyde and one of these compounds that feature a three-member ring. For 10 points, name these organic compounds featuring an oxygen bonded to two different carbons, cyclic ethers also known as oxiranes.
From the first line, this functionality is obviously something with two different bonds to heteroatoms, and those two bonds are on adjacent carbons. (I guess you could make this a tossup on "halides" if you said "ynthesis of this class of compounds from 1,2-halohydrins may be achieved by the Barton-McCombie reaction, which removes the hydroxyl group," but that's not a good idea and no one would ever do that.) So the functionality is going to be either diols or epoxides, and then once you hear "base," well, the arrows push themselves. The rest is just clues indicating "yeah, there really are two bonds to oxygen, and this is common epoxide reactivity." (I'm also wary of saying "namesake synthesis" in this context; it's not like the synthesis is named after epoxides in any profound way; it's just a synthesis of epoxides--so what else would you call it? You know what I mean? The peroxyacid mechanism should probably go earlier than it does; mention that it's called the Prilezhaev reaction, that it goes by a "butterfly" mechanism, and so forth. Or the reaction that makes them from a carbonyl group via a sulfonium ylide. It's all good, since the chemistry knowledge at this tournament didn't end up being terribly deep on most teams, but this just seems like it could stand a little more research and was not as fun as your tossup on chromatin, for example, which I enjoyed.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by PaladinQB »

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:
theMoMA wrote:Did someone enter in the stats for this thing? I'd be very excited to see them. Also, if someone could post the packets I'd be eternally grateful.
Brian Saxton was entering them.
I have the stats, although as they sit I was missing a couple of rounds. I have the scoresheets so I'll see if I have the missing rounds and stick the stats up in the next day or two. I also have to enter the bonus numbers so the conversion stats work.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

PaladinQB wrote:I have the stats, although as they sit I was missing a couple of rounds. I have the scoresheets so I'll see if I have the missing rounds and stick the stats up in the next day or two. I also have to enter the bonus numbers so the conversion stats work.
Hey Brian, thanks for staffing this thing, and thanks to anyone else who turned out to help as well.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by magin »

I thought that the Emergency was an awesome tournament, especially considering the circumstances of its creation. It would have been nice to have the chance to play Sorice's team in an advantaged final, but I still loved this tournament. I was most impressed by the amount of people who demonstrated their ability to write really good questions; it bodes well for the health of the circuit.

Also, I liked the bouncebacks a lot. I felt very engaged during every bonus, and it was certainly fun to have the opportunity to answer parts of more bonuses (especially since I prefer the relaxation of answering bonuses to the tension of answering tossups).
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Tower Monarch »

One thing I want to mention as I checked pretty much right after I got home: Ahmad answered correctly with "A Curtain of Green" and was ruled incorrect. I didn't write the question but I'm sorry I didn't catch that before we submitted our packet.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Dennis »

My mistake. Sorry about that.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

Hey Brian, any chance we could get the stats? If you need me to post them somewhere, let me know.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by DumbJaques »

If games are missing, I have all the stats for my team.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by PaladinQB »

DumbJaques wrote:If games are missing, I have all the stats for my team.
I'll probably get this tomorrow. I will send you the files for posting, Jerry, and Chris -- if you have the info about which packet was played which round, I'll enable the round reporting.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I just realized there still aren't stats, and I haven't found a link to the set on quizbowlpackets. Are either of these on their way?
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Tower Monarch »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:I just realized there still aren't stats, and I haven't found a link to the set on quizbowlpackets. Are either of these on their way?
Well, for the questions, you can just use Jerry's grapesmoker archive, but yeah, there aren't stats yet.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

I've asked Brian for the stats. Once he sends them to me I will post them.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by evilmonkey »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:I just realized there still aren't stats, and I haven't found a link to the set on quizbowlpackets. Are either of these on their way?
I can forward all but Rob's packet to Christian.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

evilmonkey wrote:
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:I just realized there still aren't stats, and I haven't found a link to the set on quizbowlpackets. Are either of these on their way?
I can forward all but Rob's packet to Christian.
...and I would be happy to send our packet, as it was used at the tournament!
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by setht »

This reminds me: I wanted to say that I had a good time playing The Emergency and I thought it was good for what it was--a free, semi-guerilla side event. I know a lot of packets came in very late (with good reason; finishing the PACE set is obviously more important than finishing up questions for whimsical side events), and I know Jerry had more important demands on his time than writing yet more questions for a free event out of some sense of altruism. I just wanted to point out some errors and things I think could have been improved in some questions, not so much to complain about this event (it was free, after all), but for future reference.

The Poseidon question mentioned Benthesicyme as his sister (or possibly as the sister of Boreas, it's not 100% clear in the question). Either way, that's incorrect. Benthesicyme is Poseidon's daughter (and I guess a cousin many times removed of Boreas).

I think the TV on the Radio question would have been better if the first sentence had been rearranged to make it clear that the answer was not the Pixies. I managed a somewhat-belated buzz off the lyrics to Mr. Grieves just as the moderator said "the Pixies." I don't think any of the clues had to change, just their arrangement in the first sentence.

The Wolf-Rayet tossup seems (a) like a possibly bad idea for a tossup answer in general, and (b) specifically a bit of a hose for "supernova" (more specifically, type Ia). I know Wolf-Rayet is a named thing (which possibly makes it easier for laypeople to latch onto), and I know it's come up in quizbowl a couple times. Unfortunately, I think it falls into the class of "things that come up much more in quizbowl than in the field." I have spent 0 class time discussing Wolf-Rayet stars, and I've taken three course on stellar physics by now. Looking at the tossup, there's nothing I could buzz on until the second-to-last sentence, and at that point there are pretty much two real clues: Gamma 2 Velorum, and "they have really strong stellar winds" expressed a couple different ways (there's also the "two French namesakes clue," but that's certainly not astronomical). Those are the appropriate giveaways, but I think almost no one is going to know anything useful as a middle clue (let alone a lead-in) about W-R stars. So as a general comment, I'll say I think a tossup on W-R stars is probably not a good idea; it seems like a fine bonus part, or perhaps as a clue in a tossup on something with more material people will know outside of hearing clues cycled through quizbowl packets. More specifically to this particular question, I think the clues up until "presence of hydrogen in the spectral lines of these objects" or possibly "'early nitrogen' class" don't do a good job of ruling out some other, better-known (at least to me) answers, such as SN Ia: the metallicity clue seems a bit vague but plausible for SN Ia (and probably a bunch of other things; specifically for SN Ia, I know that the peak brightness is proportional to the mass of nickel-56 formed in the core, and that zero-metallicity Type III stars are thought not to have produced any SN Ia [can't form a C-O white dwarf if there are no metals to run the CNO cycle]), emission lines > absorption lines is again vague and seems like it can plausibly apply to SN Ia (at least in some stages), Roche-lobe overflow is the primary model for SN Ia (and novae of various sorts) which means that they are supposed to have binary companions, and "presence of hydrogen in spectral lines" is one of the main methods of distinguishing different types of supernovae; SN Ia spectra are usually hydrogen-poor, but there's been at least one that had a nice hydrogen emission line. I think the main points I want to make about this question are: W-R stars don't seem to me like a good choice for a tossup, clues about the intensity of a stellar wind and the relative strengths of emission and absorption lines probably need a bit more context to be useful (what is the definition of "stellar wind intensity"--mass flux?), and stuff like "they are modeled by semidetached binaries with mass transfer" and "hydrogen is present in the spectral lines" apply to many different kinds of systems.

There was probably more, but I'm tired now.

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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Gautam »

setht wrote:The Wolf-Rayet tossup seems (a) like a possibly bad idea for a tossup answer in general, and (b) specifically a bit of a hose for "supernova" (more specifically, type Ia). I know Wolf-Rayet is a named thing (which possibly makes it easier for laypeople to latch onto), and I know it's come up in quizbowl a couple times. Unfortunately, I think it falls into the class of "things that come up much more in quizbowl than in the field." I have spent 0 class time discussing Wolf-Rayet stars, and I've taken three course on stellar physics by now. Looking at the tossup, there's nothing I could buzz on until the second-to-last sentence, and at that point there are pretty much two real clues: Gamma 2 Velorum, and "they have really strong stellar winds" expressed a couple different ways (there's also the "two French namesakes clue," but that's certainly not astronomical). Those are the appropriate giveaways, but I think almost no one is going to know anything useful as a middle clue (let alone a lead-in) about W-R stars. So as a general comment, I'll say I think a tossup on W-R stars is probably not a good idea; it seems like a fine bonus part, or perhaps as a clue in a tossup on something with more material people will know outside of hearing clues cycled through quizbowl packets. More specifically to this particular question, I think the clues up until "presence of hydrogen in the spectral lines of these objects" or possibly "'early nitrogen' class" don't do a good job of ruling out some other, better-known (at least to me) answers, such as SN Ia: the metallicity clue seems a bit vague but plausible for SN Ia (and probably a bunch of other things; specifically for SN Ia, I know that the peak brightness is proportional to the mass of nickel-56 formed in the core, and that zero-metallicity Type III stars are thought not to have produced any SN Ia [can't form a C-O white dwarf if there are no metals to run the CNO cycle]), emission lines > absorption lines is again vague and seems like it can plausibly apply to SN Ia (at least in some stages), Roche-lobe overflow is the primary model for SN Ia (and novae of various sorts) which means that they are supposed to have binary companions, and "presence of hydrogen in spectral lines" is one of the main methods of distinguishing different types of supernovae; SN Ia spectra are usually hydrogen-poor, but there's been at least one that had a nice hydrogen emission line. I think the main points I want to make about this question are: W-R stars don't seem to me like a good choice for a tossup, clues about the intensity of a stellar wind and the relative strengths of emission and absorption lines probably need a bit more context to be useful (what is the definition of "stellar wind intensity"--mass flux?), and stuff like "they are modeled by semidetached binaries with mass transfer" and "hydrogen is present in the spectral lines" apply to many different kinds of systems.
I wrote that TU, so I suppose I should reply. I really do not claim any knowledge about astro-related things, given that I haven't taken a single class on the topic, and haven't really pursued the topic independently either. As such, I have little "negative knowledge" which could have helped me determine which of the clues used in that TU were useless. A couple of the early clues in that tossup I gleaned from my best understanding of a review titled "Physical Properties of Wolf-Rayet Stars" [doi:10.1146/annurev.astro.45.051806.110615]

I remember that as I was writing the tossup in the Google Doc, I indicated something along the lines of "this is probably the worst tossup in this packet," which it probably was. I apologize for that. For what it's worth, I certainly would have asked for your comments if I knew you weren't playing, Seth. I will keep your comments in mind should I decide to write more tossups on stars in the future.

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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

To be fair too, unless you're an expert, you tend to just pick things you've heard come up in quizbowl before and see if you can write a tossup on them. It's not because you're in love with "named things" or whatever - it's just because it's a lot easier and you have to write on something.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

I just wanted to briefly respond to Seth's post. While I acknowledge that the WR stars tossup was probably not the best thing ever, I feel like I should defend the concept. I know several people whose work involves studying or searching for WR stars, so while it's not the kind of thing that is necessarily covered in all classes, I think it's still important enough to be a tossup subject. That's just my general impression. Seth is right in pointing out the ways that that tossup was problematic, and in fact I think this is relevant to the issue of how hard it is to write tossups on many stellar objects without a lot of research.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by setht »

gkandlikar wrote:I wrote that TU, so I suppose I should reply. I really do not claim any knowledge about astro-related things, given that I haven't taken a single class on the topic, and haven't really pursued the topic independently either. As such, I have little "negative knowledge" which could have helped me determine which of the clues used in that TU were useless. A couple of the early clues in that tossup I gleaned from my best understanding of a review titled "Physical Properties of Wolf-Rayet Stars" [doi:10.1146/annurev.astro.45.051806.110615]

I remember that as I was writing the tossup in the Google Doc, I indicated something along the lines of "this is probably the worst tossup in this packet," which it probably was. I apologize for that. For what it's worth, I certainly would have asked for your comments if I knew you weren't playing, Seth. I will keep your comments in mind should I decide to write more tossups on stars in the future.

Gautam
My experience through multiple stellar astronomy courses has been that they cover almost no "eponymous" objects--that is, I spent no class time on Wolf-Rayet stars, Thorne-Zytkow objects, R Corona Borealis stars, etc. We did spend plenty of time talking through major stages in the lives of "typical" stars--stuff like pre-main sequence evolution, main sequence, red giants, white dwarves, neutron stars, supernovae and black holes. Cepheids and RR Lyrae variables also got some class time. Each of those topics has solid, unique clues that would be very useful to knowledgeable people; they also have tons of literature available, including material that's even more accessible than an annual review.

I did play the tournament, so I wouldn't have been able to give you any pre-tournament comments on the tossup. My advice to you and other science writers is to lean towards more basic concepts/objects--I think it's much more likely that a writer with little background in the area will produce a decent tossup (or something an editor can edit to decency) if the answer is something with plenty of clue space. Anyway, that tossup certainly didn't ruin the tournament or the packet for me.
No Rules Westbrook wrote:To be fair too, unless you're an expert, you tend to just pick things you've heard come up in quizbowl before and see if you can write a tossup on them. It's not because you're in love with "named things" or whatever - it's just because it's a lot easier and you have to write on something.
I understand this is probably what's going on a lot of the time, and in situations where a writer is really low on time I think it's fine to do stuff like grabbing a random answer out of a hat based on hearing it come up multiple times and running with it--I'm not saying this is what happened in Gautam's case, I'm just saying I know sometimes people leave question-writing until the last second and then have to generate a bunch of question ideas quickly. In situations where a writer has some more time (enough time to read or at least skim a paper on Wolf-Rayet stars, for instance), I think it makes more sense for the writer to spend a little more time going to a course website or looking up a basic textbook on Google Books or whatever and finding an entry in the index that shows up a lot. This should produce several possible answers with lots of available clue material; I would think that having an easier time digging up clues for the tossup would offset the cost of spending a little more time coming up with an idea for a tossup answer.
grapesmoker wrote:I just wanted to briefly respond to Seth's post. While I acknowledge that the WR stars tossup was probably not the best thing ever, I feel like I should defend the concept. I know several people whose work involves studying or searching for WR stars, so while it's not the kind of thing that is necessarily covered in all classes, I think it's still important enough to be a tossup subject. That's just my general impression. Seth is right in pointing out the ways that that tossup was problematic, and in fact I think this is relevant to the issue of how hard it is to write tossups on many stellar objects without a lot of research.
I certainly don't mean to suggest that WR stars aren't important or interesting, or that they aren't the subject of active research. I do mean to suggest that all of those characteristics are insufficient to make something a good subject for a tossup. I think "important, interesting, and actively researched" is enough to get something in as a tossup clue or as a bonus part at harder tournaments.

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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by MLafer »

I have to take issue with Seth's comments about W-R stars...I am not an astronomer/astrophysicist, but a cursory google books search gives over 1500 results for Wolf-Rayet stars, while the more reliable Google Scholar gives over 16,000. I don't even feel the need to empirically test how many results I'll get if i put in any of the innumerable irrelevant people and objects that come up in the mythology canon and nobody ever complains about. I also think it's dangerous to look to any specific individual to determine what should be allowed into the canon or not. I think this gives far too much power to certain individuals to shape the canon to their strengths (not saying this is Seth's actual intention) if people are constantly referencing a certain well-known expert in a subject for every major tournament.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

I'm okay with Seth's proffer that WR stars aren't as important as QB cracks them up to be, or that they're very hard to write a good tossup on.

My issue is just that all you can expect a non-expert writer to do is to perform a search like the one Lafer just cited, take a look at some articles, and go "eh, okay, this seems kind of important...let's write a tossup on it." I'm sure that Seth and Jerry could write astro or physics tossups that comport with their ideal definition of important/relevant/etc. and don't often descend into "just picking some thing that seems important and trying your best to understand it and write a tossup on it." But, most writers can't do that - they just don't have the knowledge base to go researching and writing conceptual or "super-real" science tossups in the way that expert players in certain fields of science would probably prefer.

Oh, and on an unrelated note (maybe a good theme for another thread), I agree with Lafer's implication that there's often a sink effect in quizbowl. One player or a handful of players promote writing on a certain topic or set of answers, and suddenly there's a tilting of the canon in that direction - oh hey, a Machado de Assis tossup at every tournament! Surely this is partly a good thing - since knowledgeable players are pointing to arguably important things we might write on and learn - but I can also see it being a bad thing if taken too far, turning the canon into some artificial product of the minds of a few players.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

No Rules Westbrook wrote:My issue is just that all you can expect a non-expert writer to do is to perform a search like the one Lafer just cited, take a look at some articles, and go "eh, okay, this seems kind of important...let's write a tossup on it." I'm sure that Seth and Jerry could write astro or physics tossups that comport with their ideal definition of important/relevant/etc. and don't often descend into "just picking some thing that seems important and trying your best to understand it and write a tossup on it." But, most writers can't do that - they just don't have the knowledge base to go researching and writing conceptual or "super-real" science tossups in the way that expert players in certain fields of science would probably prefer.
If people restrict their searches to appropriate sources, like widely-used textbooks, class notes, and word-of-mouth from students in the field, plus some additional factor for things that come up in quizbowl a lot, there's no reason that most writers can't form a good coherent picture of what's relevant. Just because I'm not a history student doesn't absolve me from writing good tossups on history, and the same goes for science. Sure some of it might be harder to understand, and it might not be as real as if Seth, Jerry, or Mike had done it, but I get few complaints about my physics tossups (Kramers aside) and I've only taken two semesters of it - we'll know better if my opinion of my own writing stands up after Lederberg.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Sure, I'm not absolving anyone of any responsibility. But let's be realistic, science is a whole different ball game than any humanities subject. The fact that noted SCIENTIST Eric Mukherjee can do pretty well is not a convincing counter to my argument (yes, I know Eric isn't focused on physics, but he does know quite a bit about it).
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region »

Man, I can't believe I'm joining this conversation.

Anyway, I thought this quote was interesting:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote: Just because I'm not a history student doesn't absolve me from writing good tossups on history, and the same goes for science. Sure some of it might be harder to understand, and it might not be as real as if Seth, Jerry, or Mike had done it, but I get few complaints about my physics tossups (Kramers aside) and I've only taken two semesters of it - we'll know better if my opinion of my own writing stands up after Lederberg.
I mean, I guess, yeah, the way quizbowl packet submission rules are set up today, no one is absolved from writing good tossups on science. But the fact is that there is a significant portion of the community that is basically incapable of writing science questions to the standards of the best science players, at least as far as I can tell. I’m speaking as a terrible science player and as someone who is about 10 years removed from taking a course in science. I’m not proud of my lack of science education; in fact, I’m ashamed of it. But reading this thread, I see discussion like:
everyday847 wrote:i want to say that I was very pleased with the question quality at this event, and I think semi-guerrilla tournaments with good writers on each team are a great idea. Cameron, I enjoyed those questions you mentioned, with few exceptions. One was, however, the epoxides tossup. Text:
Synthesis of this class of compounds from 1,2-halohydrins takes place in the presence of a base in an SN2 process, where the halide is the leaving group. Acid-catalyzed cleavage of them in the presence of water yields anti-diols, while adding a hydronium ion to the simplest one of these produces ethylene glycol. High angle strain in this class of compounds gives that simplest one carbonyl traits when reacting with organometallic compounds. A namesake synthesis reacts an alkene with a peroxyacid to yield an aldehyde and one of these compounds that feature a three-member ring. For 10 points, name these organic compounds featuring an oxygen bonded to two different carbons, cyclic ethers also known as oxiranes.
From the first line, this functionality is obviously something with two different bonds to heteroatoms, and those two bonds are on adjacent carbons. (I guess you could make this a tossup on "halides" if you said "ynthesis of this class of compounds from 1,2-halohydrins may be achieved by the Barton-McCombie reaction, which removes the hydroxyl group," but that's not a good idea and no one would ever do that.) So the functionality is going to be either diols or epoxides, and then once you hear "base," well, the arrows push themselves. The rest is just clues indicating "yeah, there really are two bonds to oxygen, and this is common epoxide reactivity." (I'm also wary of saying "namesake synthesis" in this context; it's not like the synthesis is named after epoxides in any profound way; it's just a synthesis of epoxides--so what else would you call it? You know what I mean? The peroxyacid mechanism should probably go earlier than it does; mention that it's called the Prilezhaev reaction, that it goes by a "butterfly" mechanism, and so forth. Or the reaction that makes them from a carbonyl group via a sulfonium ylide. It's all good, since the chemistry knowledge at this tournament didn't end up being terribly deep on most teams, but this just seems like it could stand a little more research and was not as fun as your tossup on chromatin, for example, which I enjoyed.
And:
setht wrote:More specifically to this particular question, I think the clues up until "presence of hydrogen in the spectral lines of these objects" or possibly "'early nitrogen' class" don't do a good job of ruling out some other, better-known (at least to me) answers, such as SN Ia: the metallicity clue seems a bit vague but plausible for SN Ia (and probably a bunch of other things; specifically for SN Ia, I know that the peak brightness is proportional to the mass of nickel-56 formed in the core, and that zero-metallicity Type III stars are thought not to have produced any SN Ia [can't form a C-O white dwarf if there are no metals to run the CNO cycle]), emission lines > absorption lines is again vague and seems like it can plausibly apply to SN Ia (at least in some stages), Roche-lobe overflow is the primary model for SN Ia (and novae of various sorts) which means that they are supposed to have binary companions, and "presence of hydrogen in spectral lines" is one of the main methods of distinguishing different types of supernovae; SN Ia spectra are usually hydrogen-poor, but there's been at least one that had a nice hydrogen emission line.
I mean, I’m sure that there is a good portion of the forum reading those discussions who are perfectly capable of following what’s going on in those comments and will incorporate those comments into improving their future science questions. But to me, this is much more difficult to follow than virtually any history discussion I’ve seen, or basically any other non-science discussion.

Of course, I’m 100% for science’s place in quizbowl and do not in any way suggest cutting the distribution or tinkering with it at all. And I’m also 100% for good, competently-written science questions at every tournament so that someone like myself would never get a science tossup, and that people who are actually good at science will enjoy them. I guess what I’ve concluded is that there are instances in which teams might not be capable of writing science. Sure, there are probably teams out there that can’t write myth or history or whatever else, but science is a different animal. Like, on the academic team I played on, prior to Joey Montoya, we always ended up with a bunch of worthless humanities people like myself who sucked at science (and most other things, but whatever). It always seemed like a waste of time when we were spending an inordinate amount of time writing science questions that we knew were going to be bad and that we were told were bad, that would basically be thrown out or entirely rewritten anyway. I guess without a packet submission regime that takes teams’ strengths and weaknesses into account in terms of submission requirements, editors will just have to take bad science questions from people like me and make some bad science question lemonade.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region »

Also, I'm not saying people shouldn't TRY to write good science questions even if they aren't science majors or grad students. I'm just trying to be realistic with expectations.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

As I mentioned before, writing tossups on lots of astrophysics stuff is actually harder than writing on many other science topics. Things like discussions of metallicity are pretty subtle, and even for a putatively competent physics writer like myself, it's very hard to make these things unique to the answer. Things like "this type of object has such and such spectral lines" tend to be relatively useless because much of the time these features are shared between varieties of objects so even switching Wolf-Rayet for Type IA supernovae as an answer wouldn't necessarily fix these issues.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

The Midnight Rider wrote:Also, I'm not saying people shouldn't TRY to write good science questions even if they aren't science majors or grad students. I'm just trying to be realistic with expectations.
I think that's a fine point. I tend to try to have realistic expectations (and I hope people don't expect too much too fast out of my physics, for example; at least now I can write pretty competently on mechanics and e&m...). The reason that my crit there was detailed and sciencey is that Cameron, who wrote that question, is/intends to be a science player, and while he won't be majoring in chemistry, he'll be exposed to everything in that critique sooner or later. (Also, if you're capable of writing an epoxides tossup the way he did, you're capable of writing a better one: it's just a question of getting a little knowledge about how to think about it.)
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region »

Yeah, I certainly didn't want to suggest that detailed discussion of science questions wasn't a good thing.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by DumbJaques »

Argh stats
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by grapesmoker »

DumbJaques wrote:Argh stats
Here's what I got.
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Re: The Emergency: at PACE

Post by TheKingInYellow »

I just read the set, and thought it was awesome, but the "Our Lady of Flowers" toss-up had a lead-in also found on Wikipedia ("epic of masturbation"), so it was sort of easy, for someone (i.e. me), with no real knowledge of the book, aside from that and the three main characters, to get it
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