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Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:49 pm

So I made a distinct effort to write on non-eponymous answers in the editors packets and to keep eponymous clues to a minimum both in the editors packets and the rest of the set. In general, I tried to write on things that were distinctly "real."

I know that the lack of eponymous clues made the science harder for a lot of teams; I do, however, think that it's rather more appropriate. The difficulty may well have come from difficulty in understanding (some of the) clues, rather than in answer lines (though some of those would be unfamiliar, too).

I'm also not sure how bonuses went over. Were they reasonable? I tried to consistently have very gettable hard parts by anyone who takes a serious interest in physics (or chemistry, or bio, or...) and easy parts accessible to anyone who's been around quizbowl for a while (or anyone who's something of a science initiate).

If there are factual or other problems with the science, please let me know.
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Re: Science

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:47 pm

I liked the science quite a bit. I hadn't even realized the effort to keep names out of answers and clues, so I guess you did a very good job keeping both clues and answers clear. The only answer line I remember being confused by was on either allowed of forbidden quantum transitions. I understood a chunk of the clues in the tossup, but couldn't figure out how to phrase what the question was looking for.

I thought the anaphase tossup needed more in the way of middle clues, since I think it went straight from "stuff neither Surya or I have heard of" to "spindle fibers contract." Could someone post that one so I can look at it again?
In terms of clue ordering, I think transforms got mentioned really early in the Lorentz tossup, which seems like a bad idea.
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Re: Science

Post by Gautam » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:57 pm

The onset of this event is regulated by levels of RCS1, and a complex key to this event is activated by the Cdc20 cofactor. This event proceeds when a complex alternatively called the cyclosome degrades securins, leading to the activation of separases which cleave residual cohesin; that complex is an E3 ubiquitin ligase, the APC/C. Spindle poles begin to move apart during the later part of this stage, and its early portion sees the shortening of microtubules due to depolymerization at the plus ends. For 10 points, identify this event in which sister chromatids begin to move towards opposite poles of the cell, a stage of mitosis which precedes telophase.
ANSWER: anaphase

I wrote this tossup. Everything but the leadins were things covered in my cell bio lectures. Afaik, securin degradation, cleavage of cohesins by separase and the Anaphase promoting complex (APC/C) are reasonable middle clues.

--Gautam

EDIT: I also wrote the Lorentz tossup:

The convolution of the Gaussian profile and his profile gives the Voigt profile. Accelerating charged particles experience a recoil force when they radiate named for Abraham and this man. When supplemented by translations, the group of transformations named for him becomes the inhomogeneous Poincare group. He developed a rotation in Minkowski space that preserves the spacetime interval between events, and he names the force experienced by a charged particle due to electromagnetic fields. For 10 points, identify this man who, independently of George Fitzgerald, proposed that an observer who in motion relative to an object will see the object contracted.
ANSWER: Hendrik Anton Lorentz

SUPER EDIT: This tossup went through some editing, but not all that much.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:04 pm

List of ferry operators in Japan wrote:I liked the science quite a bit. I hadn't even realized the effort to keep names out of answers and clues, so I guess you did a very good job keeping both clues and answers clear. The only answer line I remember being confused by was on either allowed of forbidden quantum transitions. I understood a chunk of the clues in the tossup, but couldn't figure out how to phrase what the question was looking for.
Selection rules. The issue I saw with that one is that a single early clue--essentially, the mathematical statement of a general selection rule for a transition--took up about two lines, and it's pretty easy to lose focus over that much time. I wasn't sure how to improve substantially on what was submitted, though, without just going and naming some selection rules, like Laporte, which seemed silly.
I thought the anaphase tossup needed more in the way of middle clues, since I think it went straight from "stuff neither Surya or I have heard of" to "spindle fibers contract." Could someone post that one so I can look at it again?
UMN 1 wrote:The onset of this event is regulated by levels of RCS1, and a complex key to this event is activated by the Cdc20 cofactor. This event proceeds when a complex alternatively called the cyclosome degrades securins, leading to the activation of separases which cleave residual cohesin; that complex is an E3 ubiquitin ligase, the APC/C. Spindle poles begin to move apart during the later part of this stage, and its early portion sees the shortening of microtubules due to depolymerization at the plus ends. For 10 points, identify this event in which sister chromatids begin to move towards opposite poles of the cell, a stage of mitosis which precedes telophase.
ANSWER: anaphase
It's possible that there was a greater difficulty cliff here than I thought; i thought that it was pretty typical of a tournament with powers, myself. That said, I think those proteins are pretty common in good questions on anaphase. Are there middle clues that would have fit in there? I'm not primarily a biologist, and my knowledge of biology comes from high school, one college class, and quizbowl, so I left this mostly as Gautam submitted it.
In terms of clue ordering, I think transforms got mentioned really early in the Lorentz tossup, which seems like a bad idea.
UMN 1 wrote:The convolution of the Gaussian profile and his profile gives the Voigt profile. Accelerating charged particles experience a recoil force when they radiate named for Abraham and this man. When supplemented by translations, the group of transformations named for him becomes the inhomogeneous Poincare group. He developed a rotation in Minkowski space that preserves the spacetime interval between events, and he names the force experienced by a charged particle due to electromagnetic fields. For 10 points, identify this man who, independently of George Fitzgerald, proposed that an observer who in motion relative to an object will see the object contracted.
ANSWER: Hendrik Anton Lorentz
During playtesting, Seth and someone else--Mehdi, maybe--convinced me that the second reference to "some transformations named for him" (i.e. the rotations in Minkowski space) is harder than the Lorentz force (I learned about the latter term later, myself, but perhaps I'm weird). Or perhaps you're talking about the Poincare group clue: I can see that being a little too transparent for that part of the question.
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Re: Science

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:15 pm

I'm not very knowledgeable on either topic, so those questions are probably fine. The anaphase tossup certainly does look a lot more clear than I remembered.
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Re: Science

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:21 pm

Yeah, I dunno. On a lot of bonuses (like that o-chem bonus where the 'easy' part was Cannizarro), it felt like unless you had a science major on your team, you were doomed to eating your bagel. Sure, "real" science is all great and all, but what if people simply don't know such brutally real science? Isn't it an axiom of good question writing to write about things that teams will know, so that every bonus helps differentiate between multiple levels of knowledge? With the Cannizarro thing, for example: that bonus only differentiated between "dude who understands a lot of O-chem" and "dude who understands a WHOLE lot of O-chem." For everyone else, the differentiating factor was "who can pick the right reaction name out of a hat?" Admittedly, I know relatively little science, but I feel like it simply isn't fair for matches at every non-novice tournament to become games of hot potato, in which everyone prays for that Vargas Llosa bonus instead of the Gatling gun pumping you full of variables and constants that was every physics bonus at this tournament.

EDIT: On reflection, I'll note that a lot of bonuses did, in fact, do a good job of providing a gettable easy part. I'd just like to see that trend spread to, say, the computational physics bonus, especially at an intentionally easier event.
Last edited by The King's Flight to the Scots on Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Science

Post by Susan » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:28 pm

gkandlikar wrote:The onset of this event is regulated by levels of RCS1, and a complex key to this event is activated by the Cdc20 cofactor. This event proceeds when a complex alternatively called the cyclosome degrades securins, leading to the activation of separases which cleave residual cohesin; that complex is an E3 ubiquitin ligase, the APC/C. Spindle poles begin to move apart during the later part of this stage, and its early portion sees the shortening of microtubules due to depolymerization at the plus ends. For 10 points, identify this event in which sister chromatids begin to move towards opposite poles of the cell, a stage of mitosis which precedes telophase.
ANSWER: anaphase
This looks entirely reasonable to me.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:37 pm

Cantaloupe (disambiguation) wrote:Yeah, I dunno. On a lot of bonuses (like that o-chem bonus where the 'easy' part was Cannizarro), it felt like unless you had a science major on your team, you were doomed to eating your bagel. Sure, "real" science is all great and all, but what if people simply don't know such brutally real science? Isn't it an axiom of good question writing to write about things that teams will know, so that every bonus helps differentiate between multiple levels of knowledge? With the Cannizarro thing, for example: that bonus only differentiated between "dude who understands a lot of O-chem" and "dude who understands a WHOLE lot of O-chem." For everyone else, the differentiating factor was "who can pick the right reaction name out of a hat?" Admittedly, I know relatively little science, but I feel like it simply isn't fair for matches at every non-novice tournament to become games of hot potato, in which everyone prays for that Vargas Llosa bonus instead of the Gatling gun pumping you full of variables and constants that was every physics bonus at this tournament.
Here's the bonus in question:
Editors 6 wrote:The HiPco method for making nanotubes uses one of these reactions to form carbon and carbon dioxide from carbon monoxide. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this type of reaction, in which one substance is simultaneously reduced and oxidized.
ANSWER: disproportionation [or dismutation]
[10] This organic disproportionation of aldehydes comes up in quizbowl despite being of no synthetic utility, as it has a Wikipedia page. It's principally important because it's a side-reaction one has to be aware of when designing syntheses.
ANSWER: Cannizzaro reaction
[10] Only aldehydes that do not possess one of these disproportionate under Cannizzaro conditions. If they have one of these, they instead undergo an aldol condensation with themselves.
ANSWER: alpha hydrogen [or alpha proton; or proton at the alpha position relative to the carbonyl; accept equivalents]
Some points to clarify:
1) The Cannizarro reaction wasn't meant to be the easy part of that bonus. It was meant to be the middle part. To many chemistry players, the first part would be the hard part. "Disproportionation" is defined in the prompt; disproportionation is something that came up in high school gen chem and later in inorganic chemistry. Since it was pretty clearly defined and isn't a complicated thing, it shouldn't be that hard, but it's rather quizbowl-unfamiliar, so I expected it to be harder. The third part was meant to be the easy part: it asks for something extremely basic from enolate chemistry, more ubiquitous than any of the tossupable named reactions in enolate chemistry. It says, basically: what do you need to have to be able to turn into an enol, and the answer is "an alpha hydrogen [to be deprotonated]." Now, that may not be as clear as it should be, but that is testing a concept that is doubtless easier than many reactions that are tossed up at all kinds of levels.*
2) One of the defining features of what I'd call "real" science isn't "it's really hard." It certainly doesn't have to be; there's nothing inherently especially "brutal" about it. So don't think that my agenda in trying to write science that's more "real" is anything like my agenda to make everything the hardest thing ever (which is, well, not my agenda, but that's neither here nor there).
3) I just read physics bonuses from nine rounds, which were in the order in which we made packets (so not random, but close to it). Only one contained anything like a machine gunning of variables (the submitted propagators/ Green's functions/ Hamiltonian). Now, I'll admit that I have a soft spot for equations, because, well, equations are important to science. If you were afraid to read a poem, you wouldn't expect many points on a Philip Larkin bonus, right? But I don't think I got too crazy with equations in this set. If people can post specific bonuses that were too equation-heavy, please do.

*Now, if for some reason "an alpha hydrogen" is harder than "the Claisen condensation" (or, god forbid, Cannizzaro), then there is all kinds of wrong with the world and I will take my ruler to the hands and you will take your zero points and we won't have to do this again.
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Re: Science

Post by theMoMA » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:45 pm

I did not understand why the tossup on selection rules couldn't deign to name a selection rule at the end. I ended up saying "Fermi's golden rule" at the end because I wasn't really sure what was going on. I was considering negging with both that and the Laporte rule, but neither seemed like a possible tossup answer. At the end, I didn't know what you wanted; I assumed if it were selection rules you wanted, you would have said Laporte. People like me who have picked up science knowledge haphazardly should probably be thrown the easiest possible clues at the end of a tossup, even if those clues involve eponyms.

Also, this idea that "I will lump three related things together without any regard for whether they are answerable to the field" is a really, really dumb way to write and defend questions. No matter how "real" things are or how much people "should" know them...if they don't, they don't, and you have to work with that reality in mind.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:50 pm

Perhaps I should have name-dropped Laporte. Do you think that having heard "Laporte" you would have said "selection rules" though you couldn't say it off a definition? That would surprise me, but I could believe it, I guess, and I'll write differently in the future to account for that.
theMoMA wrote:Also, this idea that "I will lump three related things together without any regard for whether they are answerable to the field" is a really, really dumb way to write and defend questions. No matter how "real" things are or how much people "should" know them...if they don't, they don't, and you have to work with that reality in mind.
Thankfully, that's not a terribly accurate characterization of how I wrote that question; I genuinely believed that the easiest thing about a huge class of reactions that are tossed up all the time at regular difficulty tournaments qualified as an easy part. As I said in my partially sarcastic asterisked defense, well, if that's not true, I'll take what I deserve for it, but that's a truly strange thing.
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Re: Science

Post by sds » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:54 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:So I made a distinct effort to write on non-eponymous answers in the editors packets and to keep eponymous clues to a minimum both in the editors packets and the rest of the set. In general, I tried to write on things that were distinctly "real."
I thought the emphasis on concepts was great, and especially with the physics/chem, was more in line with things we actually do in class.

In terms of bonuses, the biology was very reasonable.
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Re: Science

Post by theMoMA » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:58 pm

I know that Laporte's rules are selection rules, and I knew that selection rules had to do with transitions (before the question prompted some investigation, I didn't know much more than that), I was just really confused that Laporte wasn't in the tossup, so I assumed it was something else.
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Re: Science

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:08 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote: During playtesting, Seth and someone else--Mehdi, maybe--convinced me that the second reference to "some transformations named for him" (i.e. the rotations in Minkowski space) is harder than the Lorentz force (I learned about the latter term later, myself, but perhaps I'm weird).
I was one of the people that suggested the change. I learned about the Lorentz force in HS physics and saw it a couple more times before seeing the Lorentz transformations in a second year physics course at RIT, so in my experience, Lorentz force is more common.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:28 pm

Let's talk about easy parts!

Here are the easy parts from the chemistry bonuses. Of the below, I count nine I encountered in my (not at all exceptional) high school gen chem course. A first course in organic chemistry covers substantially all the others except for, like, some diol chemistry. (I've taken, essentially, three first courses in orgo, so I should know!) (And "being around quizbowl for long enough to be in the target audience of a regular difficulty tournament" exposes you to all of these at least once.)

Let me know how these can improve; I'd love for this set to be better.

[10] Name this single-step class of reactions in which a relatively bulky base abstracts a proton from an accessible alkyl group as a carbon-halogen bond breaks.
ANSWER: E2
(this has been tossed up a bunch; has it been a bad tossup idea every time? I've always wondered if that's possible for some answers.)

[10] Name this functionality, an acyl derivative of which called mCPBA reacts with ketones to give esters in the Baeyer-Villiger reaction. It's characterized by an oxygen-oxygen single bond.
ANSWER: peroxides
(These are certainly the easiest possible clues about peroxides; I believe you if you say that peroxides are inherently too hard)

[10] A consequence of the Hammond postulate is that the products of single-step reactions of this type almost always more closely resemble the reactants.
ANSWER: exothermic
(this one had been marked as "make easier!" and could easily have been made easier; that's my bad--it would have rubbed pretty close to the tossup on enthalpy if I did make it much easier, though. I think this could have been pieced together from prior-mentioned material, though, as my definition of the Hammond postulate involved, like, the intermediate looking like what it's energetically similar to, so if you didn't forget the bonus part you just heard, you know that you want to say the thing that involves releasing energy => exothermic, which isn't really harder than "it involves releasing energy" appearing in the prompt explicitly)

[10] Name these alkyl magnesium bromide reagents, which react with ketones and aldehydes to give alcohols. Two equivalents of these will add to esters to give tertiary alcohols, too.
ANSWER: Grignard reagents

[10] The negative-sixth power term in the Lennard-Jones potential describes these forces, which include instantaneous induced dipole-dipole interactions named for London.
ANSWER: van der Waals forces

[10] This familiar measure of free energy is commonly invoked to determine whether a reaction will be spontaneous, and its change equal to change in enthalpy less the product of temperature and change in entropy.
ANSWER: Gibbs free energy

[10] Diradicals, as they have a permanent magnetic moment due to their unpaired electrons, have this property, which emerges only in the presence of an applied field.
ANSWER: paramagnetic
(I could see this being tougher than intended; should it become "type of magnetism" or "type of magnetic behavior?"

[10] Inorganic chemistry is largely concerned with transition metals. Transition metals, like iron and ruthenium, have this subshell partially filled.
ANSWER: d

[10] Organometallic chemistry centers around the use of transition metal compounds for this purpose. Ideal transition metal compounds for this purpose are reusable, so that only a small amount of them is necessary compared to the amount of reactants. Proteins that serve this purpose are called enzymes.
ANSWER: catalysts [or catalysis]

[10] Arsine is a compound structured as this molecular shape, as it belongs to the molecular point group C3V. The lone pair on the nitrogen atom in ammonia cause distortions which result in ammonia having this shape.
ANSWER: trigonal pyramidal

[10] The conversion in a reactor is related to the volume and this quantity, which describes how quickly the reaction progresses. The simplest form is a constant multiplied by the concentrations of each reactant.
ANSWER: reaction rate

[10] This quantity can be calculated in a similar method to the equilibrium constant, but is applicable to reactions not in equilibrium. The reaction proceeds towards products if this quantity is less than the equilibrium constant.
ANSWER: reaction quotient [prompt on Q]

[10] Unusual modes of making benzene derivatives involve this kind of reagent. Benzene is only active towards these reagents if it's been activated by electron withdrawing groups, or if a diazonium salt is around. This type of basic reagent is named for its tendency to seek out positive charge, and it names uni- and bimolecular substitution reactions.
ANSWER: nucleophile

(Finals)

[10] Name these compounds, formed in a reaction named for Prevost and in another that uses osmium tetroxide and pre-packaged reagents called AD-mix alpha and AD-mix beta.
ANSWER: vicinal diols [or dihydroxyls]

[10] Sigmatropic reactions are a subclass of this family of reactions, which obey the Woodward-Hoffman rules.
ANSWER: pericyclic
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Re: Science

Post by Margo » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:38 pm

I generally enjoyed the science in this set. One thing that stands out for me though is the question on surfactants. The question started describing SDS pretty early on and I buzzed in the middle of that description and said "detergents". I don't really remember the first clue so it could have been uniquely identifying for surfactants but I felt that with the majority of the question being devoted to SDS "detergent" should at least be promptable.

Otherwise I did really like the move towards non-named and "real" things in science. I did kind of feel like some of the bonuses were kind of all or nothing though. For instance I enjoyed the bonus on cAMP but thinking about it I can't really tell which part was supposed to be easy and which part was supposed to be hard.
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Re: Science

Post by Cheynem » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:39 pm

Someone I was reading for who clearly understood science negged with detergents as well and just quizzically looked at me the whole time. Me, being an anti-science idiot, could do nothing.
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Re: Science

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:43 pm

I was very happy that somebody wrote a tossup on undecidable.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:47 pm

Margo wrote:I generally enjoyed the science in this set. One thing that stands out for me though is the question on surfactants. The question started describing SDS pretty early on and I buzzed in the middle of that description and said "detergents". I don't really remember the first clue so it could have been uniquely identifying for surfactants but I felt that with the majority of the question being devoted to SDS "detergent" should at least be promptable.

Otherwise I did really like the move towards non-named and "real" things in science. I did kind of feel like some of the bonuses were kind of all or nothing though. For instance I enjoyed the bonus on cAMP but thinking about it I can't really tell which part was supposed to be easy and which part was supposed to be hard.
Shit, you're right; that should be acceptable there:
Eden Prairie wrote:One of these substances is used in an analytical technique whose tris-glycine buffer system was developed by Ulrich Laemmli, which can be followed by the addition of Coomassie dyes. These substances, as wetting agents, encourage flocculation, and the aforementioned example of these substances is used to denature proteins. Below the Krafft temperature, they form micelles, and cleaning agents that deal better with grease and hard water than soap can employ these substances, one of which is SDS. A major type of emulsifier, these substances possess hydrophobic tails and hydrophilic heads. For 10 points, name these substances that reduce the surface tension of liquids.
ANSWER: surfactants
I'm going to make detergents accepted all the way through. I don't think they're ever ruled out, do you?

I think you could be right (particularly about that one); here it is:
Brandeis wrote:This molecule's activity is upregulated in the endolymphatic sac in patients with Meniere's disease, possibly helping lead to the inner ear swelling that characterizes the illness. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this second messenger that regulates protein kinase A.
ANSWER: cyclic AMP [or cAMP]
[10] A compound called forskolin, a vasodilator sometimes used to treat glaucoma, helps regulate this enzyme that converts ATP to cyclic AMP.
ANSWER: adenylate cyclase [or adenylyl cyclase; or AC]
[10] These proteins also regulate adenylate cyclase. Their “small” variety is part of the Ras superfamily.
ANSWER: G proteins [or guanine nucleotide-binding proteins]
It was pretty clear to me when I was editing it that it was meant to be middle-hard-easy, but I bet that the G proteins clue could be made a little easier (and the second part is probably harder than you think for non-scientists). But I'm open to other suggestions.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:50 pm

The Toad to Wigan Pier wrote:I was very happy that somebody wrote a tossup on undecidable.
I was really happy to see that submitted, too! It took a little editing, and one issue in playtesting was how to make sure that we didn't make people think that we wanted a named class of problems, or a set of posed problems, but rather a property that problems have. Do you have any comments on how we can make the question better still for subsequent mirrors?
One problem in this class involves determining if dominoes can be configured so that the concatenation of strings along their tops matches the one along their bottoms and is known as the Post correspondence problem. One problem in this class is related to Chaitin's constant and asks whether a given Turing machine, given an input, will ever return a definite answer, known as the halting problem. Objects with this property can be framed as subsets of natural numbers that can't be reproduced by an algorithm. For 10 points, name this kind of problem such that no single algorithm can give the correct binary answer for all possible inputs.
ANSWER: undecidable
The odd power-mark placement is because I thought "whether" flagged that things were getting a bit binary, a yes/no type of thing.
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Re: Science

Post by Margo » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:47 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote: I'm going to make detergents accepted all the way through. I don't think they're ever ruled out, do you?
I agree.
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote: I think you could be right (particularly about that one); here it is:
Brandeis wrote:This molecule's activity is upregulated in the endolymphatic sac in patients with Meniere's disease, possibly helping lead to the inner ear swelling that characterizes the illness. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this second messenger that regulates protein kinase A.
ANSWER: cyclic AMP [or cAMP]
[10] A compound called forskolin, a vasodilator sometimes used to treat glaucoma, helps regulate this enzyme that converts ATP to cyclic AMP.
ANSWER: adenylate cyclase [or adenylyl cyclase; or AC]
[10] These proteins also regulate adenylate cyclase. Their “small” variety is part of the Ras superfamily.
ANSWER: G proteins [or guanine nucleotide-binding proteins]
It was pretty clear to me when I was editing it that it was meant to be middle-hard-easy, but I bet that the G proteins clue could be made a little easier (and the second part is probably harder than you think for non-scientists). But I'm open to other suggestions.
I see what you're saying and I do think they could be more differentiated, maybe more clues on G proteins and less obvious clues for adenylate cyclase (as in not actually saying that it converts ATP to cAMP). I can see how my perspective on the relative difficulty could be warped though so the question is probably fine as it is.
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Re: Science

Post by Crimson Rosella » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:15 am

I actually was frustrated about a bit of the science at the tournament (I, too, negged on detergents with surfactants, and had a few other points at which I was confused about more canonical clues not coming up in tossups or bonuses, etc.). However, after reflecting on this a bit, I think the efforts Andy made in this set are a good step towards reversing a lot of the trends associated with the "named-things bowl" stereotype in science. I did manage to get selection rules by the end of the question, but I remember being very confused for the majority of the question, and I'm not sure how it could be improved. One specific criticism I had was that I wasn't given credit with "supremum" for "least upper-bound" in the Bolzano-Weierstrauss theorem bonus, and I think that should at least be promptable, given that they're equivalent in my real analysis textbook. Tossups on things like "cyclo-addition" and "potential," which seem to embody the spirit of the science at this tournament, played pretty poorly at our site. Like I said, I like the idea of these tossups (and of the science writing in general), but I agree with Andrew that stuff like this playing poorly seems to suggest that we should be very careful when we're writing on topics that are easily confused with closely-related concepts and should make adjustments accordingly.
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Re: Science

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:22 am

Dutton Speedwords wrote:I actually was frustrated about a bit of the science at the tournament (I, too, negged on detergents with surfactants, and had a few other points at which I was confused about more canonical clues not coming up in tossups or bonuses, etc.). However, after reflecting on this a bit, I think the efforts Andy made in this set are a good step towards reversing a lot of the trends associated with the "named-things bowl" stereotype in science. I did manage to get selection rules by the end of the question, but I remember being very confused for the majority of the question, and I'm not sure how it could be improved. One specific criticism I had was that I wasn't given credit with "supremum" for "least upper-bound" in the Bolzano-Weierstrauss theorem bonus, and I think that should at least be promptable, given that they're equivalent in my real analysis textbook. Tossups on things like "cyclo-addition" and "potential," which seem to embody the spirit of the science at this tournament, played pretty poorly at our site. Like I said, I like the idea of these tossups (and of the science writing in general), but I agree with Andrew that stuff like this playing poorly seems to suggest that we should be very careful when we're writing on topics that are easily confused with closely-related concepts and should make adjustments accordingly.
Cycloaddition was negged (perhaps unjustifiably) with Diels-Alder in every room at VCU.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:23 am

Dutton Speedwords wrote:One specific criticism I had was that I wasn't given credit with "supremum" for "least upper-bound" in the Bolzano-Weierstrauss theorem bonus, and I think that should at least be promptable, given that they're equivalent in my real analysis textbook.
Well, shit, that's an error. After playtesting I realized I hadn't accepted that answer (though it didn't actually come up), and I must have made the change in the playtesting .txt file I was copying and pasting out of, rather than the final packets. That's my bad.

I'm not really sure what you mean when you say that things like "electric potential" and "cycloaddition" are easily confused with other things, though. Do you think this is more or less true than, say, the _____ effect and the ______ effect?
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Re: Science

Post by Gautam » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:37 am

Margo wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote: I think you could be right (particularly about that one); here it is:
Brandeis wrote:This molecule's activity is upregulated in the endolymphatic sac in patients with Meniere's disease, possibly helping lead to the inner ear swelling that characterizes the illness. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this second messenger that regulates protein kinase A.
ANSWER: cyclic AMP [or cAMP]
[10] A compound called forskolin, a vasodilator sometimes used to treat glaucoma, helps regulate this enzyme that converts ATP to cyclic AMP.
ANSWER: adenylate cyclase [or adenylyl cyclase; or AC]
[10] These proteins also regulate adenylate cyclase. Their “small” variety is part of the Ras superfamily.
ANSWER: G proteins [or guanine nucleotide-binding proteins]
It was pretty clear to me when I was editing it that it was meant to be middle-hard-easy, but I bet that the G proteins clue could be made a little easier (and the second part is probably harder than you think for non-scientists). But I'm open to other suggestions.
I see what you're saying and I do think they could be more differentiated, maybe more clues on G proteins and less obvious clues for adenylate cyclase (as in not actually saying that it converts ATP to cAMP). I can see how my perspective on the relative difficulty could be warped though so the question is probably fine as it is.
I don't want to make this more of a quote descending a staircase, but I feel like having adenylyl cyclase as a slightly-easier-than-usual-middle-part does no harm. I did feel like the third part could have been thrown out and replaced with a harder answer (lyases, lac operon from Catabolite activator protein/cAMP clues, etc.)

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Re: Science

Post by Algeria » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:47 am

Could someone post the founder effect bonus? I remember in the match that came up in that the other team missed it because the wording was confusing.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:57 am

Illinois A wrote:Name some related things from genetics, for 10 points each.
[10] This effect occurs when a very small genetic sample of a larger population splits off and reproduces within itself.
ANSWER: founder effect
[10] This man first described the founder effect. He authored the work Systematics and the Origin of Species and theorized peripatric speciation.
ANSWER: Ernst Mayr
[10] This author of The Panda's Thumb and The Mismeasure of Man owes a debt to Mayr, as his own theory of punctuated equilibrium relies on peripatric speciation.
ANSWER: Stephen Jay Gould
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Re: Science

Post by t-bar » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:00 am

I believe it was the wording "within itself" that caused the confusion - it wasn't clear what population was reproducing within what, as if the genetic sample were reproducing within the original population or something.
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Re: Science

Post by Crimson Rosella » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:04 am

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote: I'm not really sure what you mean when you say that things like "electric potential" and "cycloaddition" are easily confused with other things, though. Do you think this is more or less true than, say, the _____ effect and the ______ effect?
I'm saying that, at a good quiz bowl pace, words are flying past you pretty quick, and it's pretty easy to mistakenly conclude that those questions are asking for "voltage" or "Diels-Alder reactions" and buzz. These answers are wrong, of course, and easily discernible as so when the text is in front of you. They're not necessarily so when you're hearing them in real time. Voltage/potential is a poorer example, but I've never heard cyclo-addition emphasized as a categorical classification of o-chem reactions in an academic context (and I certainly haven't in a quiz bowl context) so it didn't even occur to me as an answer choice. Thus, I almost negged with Diels-Alder, thinking that perhaps it had an associated classification scheme, but was luckily beaten to it by the other team.

I'm not saying don't write questions about things that are easily confused with other things (indeed, it's pretty hard to write a tossup on Raoult's law which isn't going to be negged with Henry's law by somebody somewhere, and I thought this tournament's example was a fine question). I'm just saying that these tossups not playing well suggests that writers attempting to do so need to be very careful to keep the player's perspective in mind.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:11 am

Huh; that was certainly something that was treated as a thing in my organic class: three major classes of polycyclics (cycloaddition, sigmatropic rearrangement, cyclization), depending essentially on how bond order changes on balance (two pi bonds become two sigma bonds, one sigma bond migrates, one pi bond becomes one sigma bond, respectively). Alas, I'd no idea it wasn't universal. My mistake.
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Re: Science

Post by theMoMA » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:12 am

Even if it were universal, you did spend the better part of the latter half of the question discussion Diels-Alder family reactions, and Diels-Alder is a classification of reactions. I can't imagine this question playing well in any context (I also negged with Diels-Alder when the question described various types of D-A).
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:41 am

theMoMA wrote:Even if it were universal, you did spend the better part of the latter half of the question discussion Diels-Alder family reactions, and Diels-Alder is a classification of reactions. I can't imagine this question playing well in any context (I also negged with Diels-Alder when the question described various types of D-A).
No, it isn't, and at no point do I describe "various types of D-A," so it seems you're just wrong. (I even refer, the first time I talk about Diels-Alder, to a "reaction of this type," so I'm clearly calling out the class to which Diels-Alder belongs, rather than wrongly referring to Diels-Alder as a class, which would only be ambiguous to people with extremely limited actual knowledge of chemistry.
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Re: Science

Post by Gautam » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:44 am

Stuff about the cycloadditions tossup
I looked at it just now, and it seems mostly fine, I think. I suppose I could easily have gotten tripped up had I been playing because the "cyclo" word was mentioned 3 different times, and would have changed my thought process. I don't think there are any factual inaccuracies with the clues or the answer line. Perhaps it could have been received better if it had been a tossup on "pericylic" reactions, but I understand that T-party was not the place to have such a tossup.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:47 am

gkandlikar wrote:
Stuff about the cycloadditions tossup
I looked at it just now, and it seems mostly fine, I think. I suppose I could easily have gotten tripped up had I been playing because the "cyclo" word was mentioned 3 different times, and would have changed my thought process. I don't think there are any factual inaccuracies with the clues or the answer line. Perhaps it could have been received better if it had been a tossup on "pericylic" reactions, but I understand that T-party was not the place to have such a tossup.
Yeah, the first part is the thing that we talked the most about in playtesting; hilariously, the original version of the tossup had something derived from "cyclo" and the word "adduct" rather close to each other, which would have caused further problems. It's not the platonic ideal cycloadditions tossup (far from it, in fact; I'm not sure if the ideal cycloadditions tossup for regular difficulty is a six-line tossup) but it's also not a hose for a specific reaction.
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Re: Science

Post by theMoMA » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:54 pm

Could I see the text of the tossup on cycloadditions?
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Re: Science

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:01 pm

Carleton + UIUC B + Brown wrote:2. An example of a subset of this type of reaction is the reaction of sulfur dioxide with butadiene, a cheletropic reaction. Photochemically induced examples include the DeMayo reaction. Many alkaloids are synthesized using the 1,3 dipolar variant of this subtype of pericyclic reactions, the [2+2] type of which is thermally forbidden. The endo product is preferred following the reaction of this type in which an alkene reacts with a conjugated diene to produce cyclohexene derivatives. The combination of unsaturated molecules to form a cyclic product with a reduction in bond multiplicity is, for 10 points, what kind of reaction exemplified by the Diels-Alder reaction?
ANSWER: cycloaddition
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:01 pm

Brown wrote: 2. An example of a subset of this type of reaction is the reaction of sulfur dioxide with butadiene, a cheletropic reaction. Photochemically induced examples include the DeMayo reaction. Many alkaloids are synthesized using the 1,3 dipolar variant of this subtype of pericyclic reactions, the [2+2] type of which is thermally forbidden. The endo product is preferred following the reaction of this type in which an alkene reacts with a conjugated diene to produce cyclohexene derivatives. The combination of unsaturated molecules to form a cyclic product with a reduction in bond multiplicity is, for 10 points, what kind of reaction exemplified by the Diels-Alder reaction?
ANSWER: cycloaddition
I should certainly have prompts on, like, "pericyclic" reactions. Is the language around "endo product... alkene?" unclear? I could certainly see reflex-buzz negs on the word endo, or if you mentally transpose "this reaction of the type" instead of the question text, but I thoroughly ruled out Diels-Alder via three lines of clues on things very different from Diels-Alder.

EDIT: Alas, Rob is faster!
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Re: Science

Post by theMoMA » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:25 pm

I'd just say that there is a subtype of reactions called Diels-Alder reactions, which are both subsets of pericyclic reactions. If a question on those were to be written, the clues used in the middle parts would probably be about the same. It seems really unreasonable to ask players to distinguish between those two things on the fly.

My general feeling about the science in this set was that it didn't live up to the advertised difficulty. The teams in the lower half of the field at our site were regularly complaining that they didn't stand a chance at getting even ten points on a science bonus. Sometimes I'd step back after a bonus and ask myself "was the Sandmeyer reaction really the middle part of that bonus?" There were bonus parts like the one on the Cannizzaro reaction that seemed more content to make fun of Wikipedia and quizbowl than give actual clues about the reaction (you couldn't even say that it produces an alcohol or carboxylic acid?). The middle parts of bonuses were consistently very hard compared to their counterparts in other areas. The easy parts were occasionally ungettable for good teams, which I don't think should happen with regularity. I also found myself getting confused about things that I think I know relatively well; I don't know if that's because of wording (though I generally found it decent, there were plenty of confusingly worded things) or just poor playing on my part.

Especially for regular events, I think it's incumbent on science writers to do their best to give the easiest possible clues at the end of tossups and the easy parts of bonuses. This tournament didn't do that on many occasions, and that's the part that gets really frustrating as a player, especially a new player.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:44 pm

theMoMA wrote:I'd just say that there is a subtype of reactions called Diels-Alder reactions, which are both subsets of pericyclic reactions. If a question on those were to be written, the clues used in the middle parts would probably be about the same. It seems really unreasonable to ask players to distinguish between those two things on the fly.
I wouldn't say that there's a subtype of reactions called Diels-Alder reactions.
My general feeling about the science in this set was that it didn't live up to the advertised difficulty. The teams in the lower half of the field at our site were regularly complaining that they didn't stand a chance at getting even ten points on a science bonus. Sometimes I'd step back after a bonus and ask myself "was the Sandmeyer reaction really the middle part of that bonus?"
No, I'm pretty sure Friedel-Crafts was (noted thing that's tossed up all the time). The definition of a nucleophile (note that basic organic things "SN1" and "SN2" are tossed up all the time; they're not hard from a quizbowl or from a real-life perspective. Please: I'm sure that there are middle parts of my bonuses that were too hard, but try to cite middle parts.
There were bonus parts like the one on the Cannizzaro reaction that seemed more content to make fun of Wikipedia and quizbowl than give actual clues about the reaction (you couldn't even say that it produces an alcohol or carboxylic acid?).
See, late clues for "oxidation" and "reduction" tossups will usually talk about turning aldehydes into carboxylic acids or alcohols, respectively. Since i'd said what a disproportionation was, a simultaneous oxidation and reduction, and since the clue noted that it was a disproportionation of aldehydes, I thought the "produces a carboxylic acid and an alcohol" was quite obvious to anyone who understood some clues. And if you don't understand really fundamental things about chemistry, well, maybe you miss some middle parts.
The middle parts of bonuses were consistently very hard compared to their counterparts in other areas. The easy parts were occasionally ungettable for good teams, which I don't think should happen with regularity.
I think the former's very possible. Could you cite some hard middle parts? (Besides Cannizzaro, which I understand better now, and Sandmeyer, which wasn't.) And re: easy parts missed by good teams, could you mention some? I'd like to talk about concrete places where my writing failed.
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Re: Science

Post by Susan » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:46 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
theMoMA wrote:I'd just say that there is a subtype of reactions called Diels-Alder reactions, which are both subsets of pericyclic reactions. If a question on those were to be written, the clues used in the middle parts would probably be about the same. It seems really unreasonable to ask players to distinguish between those two things on the fly.
I wouldn't say that there's a subtype of reactions called Diels-Alder reactions.
The literature doesn't seem to bear this out.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:00 pm

myamphigory wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
theMoMA wrote:I'd just say that there is a subtype of reactions called Diels-Alder reactions, which are both subsets of pericyclic reactions. If a question on those were to be written, the clues used in the middle parts would probably be about the same. It seems really unreasonable to ask players to distinguish between those two things on the fly.
I wouldn't say that there's a subtype of reactions called Diels-Alder reactions.
The literature doesn't seem to bear this out.
Well, to move this into territory where people will care less and less: it depends on how you want to define phrases like "type of reactions." You could, of course, call every named reaction a "type of reaction" because there are many distinct instances of those reactions, and those instances together form a named "type" of reactions. Diels-Alder has a wide umbrella, of course; aza-DA reactions are DA reactions, and mundane DA reactions are DA reactions. In some capacity, they are all "the DA reaction." In some capacity, they are all examples of the DA reaction. In some capacity, they are all examples of the class of DA reactions.

So, okay: I'll give you that if I should be expected to use language in a way that's never been used in quizbowl before (and is never really used in classes, because it's sort of understood that this is just a semantic issue), then I did the wrong thing. But I couldn't imagine I'd catch less flak for, say, tossing up Diels-Alder and persistently referring to it as a type of reaction. I would, in fact, inevitably catch more. I should also note that I spent three lines ruling out Diels-Alder to anyone who paid the slightest attention to those clues and has the barest understanding of Diels-Alder. (There's no "dipolar" DA; there's no DA that randomly has sulfur running around...); I don't think it's much a problem with clues coming too fast at game speed or anything.

Here's what I'll do, and it's the most that you can argue for (because you clearly would have gotten the points this way): I'll make sure to prompt on the names of any of the reactions mentioned or alluded to in that tossup.
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Re: Science

Post by Cheynem » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:06 pm

Speaking as an idiot when it comes to science, I felt like as the day wore on, teams that were having trouble with science just effectively threw in the towel and stopped even listening. I realize that this cannot be the question writer's fault, but I did think that this set was somewhat unfriendly towards people who may not actually know science that well beyond quizbowl. This is, of course, perhaps an utterly laudatory goal, but I think the merging of this viewpoint with, say, my viewpoint of "history on the easier side" resulted in a somewhat mixed difficulty tournament.
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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:12 pm

Cheynem wrote:Speaking as an idiot when it comes to science, I felt like as the day wore on, teams that were having trouble with science just effectively threw in the towel and stopped even listening. I realize that this cannot be the question writer's fault, but I did think that this set was somewhat unfriendly towards people who may not actually know science that well beyond quizbowl. This is, of course, perhaps an utterly laudatory goal, but I think the merging of this viewpoint with, say, my viewpoint of "history on the easier side" resulted in a somewhat mixed difficulty tournament.
Yeah, I think that's fair. Like, I tried to make answer lines easy; it's very possible that clues were less so (or, more precisely: that the middle clues, even if in "quizbowl form" they'd be equally easy, were phrased too sciency to be that easy--I tried to account for that effect, but I may have undercompensated). That said, I throw in the towel on ACF Fall level history, because I don't know terribly much of it. I just don't know much history. At some point, if I want to stop throwing in the towel, I need to learn some.
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Re: Science

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:48 pm

theMoMA wrote:I know that Laporte's rules are selection rules, and I knew that selection rules had to do with transitions (before the question prompted some investigation, I didn't know much more than that), I was just really confused that Laporte wasn't in the tossup, so I assumed it was something else.
Let's get some facts straight here. I gave straightforward definitions not only of selection rules generally but also of the Laporte rule in particular in the tossup, though the former was somewhat adulterated by the editing. Therefore, if you'd really known what the Laporte selection rule is, you'd have gotten the tossup with absolute certainty toward the middle. As you didn't (don't?) really know what that is, you're vulnerable to getting nothing and liking it; nobody should have a problem with that.
In fact, to go one further, the Laporte rule isn't that important, unique, or interesting a selection rule. It seems overwhelmingly likely to me that you think you know about it because you've memorized its name (because it's come up a shit-ton more that it deserves, probably because it's an eponym in an important area and most similar ideas aren't) and binary associated it to "selection rule." That's fine; that buzzword memorization strategy will probably get you points on most people's questions. However, to re-state a point that's been made over and over, your memorization of buzzwords emphatically does not predicate an imperative in me or in other question writers to reward you for things you do not, in fact, know or understand.
If you want to say the tossup was too hard as written, I'll entertain that; it was probably too hard for this set. However, I will not entertain and, in fact, vehemently reject your claim that one ought to put eponyms that people are likely to have memorized at the end of every or any given question, or really anywhere in every or any given question. Go learn something real or don't expect to get points on that thing! Or, at least, not on my questions; you have much of the rest of the science (including in this set!) to reward that.

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Re: Science

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:03 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] Name this single-step class of reactions in which a relatively bulky base abstracts a proton from an accessible alkyl group as a carbon-halogen bond breaks.
ANSWER: E2
(this has been tossed up a bunch; has it been a bad tossup idea every time? I've always wondered if that's possible for some answers.)
I wasn't sure how to tell this apart from E1. I don't know a lot of chemistry above lower-division, but I think this was one of a couple bonuses we zeroed.
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] Name this functionality, an acyl derivative of which called mCPBA reacts with ketones to give esters in the Baeyer-Villiger reaction. It's characterized by an oxygen-oxygen single bond.
ANSWER: peroxides
(These are certainly the easiest possible clues about peroxides; I believe you if you say that peroxides are inherently too hard)
Those are in no way the easiest clues about peroxides; I can easily come up with several that are easier. Also, I think this points out one issue that I had with most of the science generally and with the chemistry in particular. Though you eliminated a lot of eponyms as answers, you kept them as clues, often almost exclusively, i.e. there were some questions that were just laundry lists of eponyms. I didn't like that.
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] A consequence of the Hammond postulate is that the products of single-step reactions of this type almost always more closely resemble the reactants.
ANSWER: exothermic
I actually really liked this part, but it's probably too hard for an easy part.
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] Diradicals, as they have a permanent magnetic moment due to their unpaired electrons, have this property, which emerges only in the presence of an applied field.
ANSWER: paramagnetic
(I could see this being tougher than intended; should it become "type of magnetism" or "type of magnetic behavior?"
This I thought was okay.
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] Name these compounds, formed in a reaction named for Prevost and in another that uses osmium tetroxide and pre-packaged reagents called AD-mix alpha and AD-mix beta.
ANSWER: vicinal diols [or dihydroxyls]
I didn't like this at all. Diol chemistry happens to be something I know a (very) little about, but you hit three clues that I didn't know. I would have appreciated a definition of the functionality here.
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] Sigmatropic reactions are a subclass of this family of reactions, which obey the Woodward-Hoffman rules.
ANSWER: pericyclic
[/quote]
This and diols are both too hard as easy parts, even in the finals. C.f. other finals bonuses.

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Re: Science

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:05 pm

The Toad to Wigan Pier wrote:I was very happy that somebody wrote a tossup on undecidable.
I also liked that as an idea for a tossup. I didn't understand the leadin, but I haven't seen it written out, so maybe that was due to hearing issues rather than the question as written. I do think you should have (at least) prompted on non-computable as I've seen such problems referred to in that way, as is often the case in mathematical sciences where an isomorphism between two classes exists.

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Re: Science

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:09 pm

Dutton Speedwords wrote:...it's pretty easy to mistakenly conclude that [the "electric potential"] [question] [is] asking for "voltage" ... [This] [answer] [is] wrong, of course...
I wouldn't say that answer's categorically wrong. Voltage and electric potential are strictly synonymous in the electrostatic case and are sometimes used interchangeably even in the electrodynamic case. I'd have offered at least a prompt on "voltage."

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Re: Science

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:17 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:Though you eliminated a lot of eponyms as answers, you kept them as clues, often almost exclusively, i.e. there were some questions that were just laundry lists of eponyms. I didn't like that.
I don't know; in the editors' packets, I think I certainly kept them to a minimum (at least in tossups, anyway). Could you post a tossup that you felt was laundry-listish? My motivation for retaining eponyms as clues (as opposed to what I did in my ACF Winter submission) was essentially that without some recognizable benchmarks, I could artificially deflate conversion (like, some people who actually had a surface understanding of a concept, which certainly should be rewarded at some point, might never buzz). I still made extremely sure that tossups principally centered on buzzable descriptions of things (so I'm interested in any laundry-lists); I also think that taking eponyms out of answers is the more important step (you have to understand the equation you just heard--even if you know that it describes the ___ effect--to be able to say "momentum" or whatever). In the future, I'll definitely look towards eliminating them to a greater extent, but I'll have to keep one eye toward keeping the game playable.

Thanks for your analysis of the easy parts, by the way. I believe you that I misjudged them.
Captain Sinico wrote:
Dutton Speedwords wrote:...it's pretty easy to mistakenly conclude that [the "electric potential"] [question] [is] asking for "voltage" ... [This] [answer] [is] wrong, of course...
I wouldn't say that answer's categorically wrong. Voltage and electric potential are strictly synonymous in the electrostatic case and are sometimes used interchangeably even in the electrodynamic case. I'd have offered at least a prompt on "voltage."
Yeah, I took "emf"; I probably should have explicitly allowed "voltage" in the answer line (since the sometimes synonymy in electrodynamics is enough, to me, to allow both answers).
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Re: Science

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:24 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] Name this single-step class of reactions in which a relatively bulky base abstracts a proton from an accessible alkyl group as a carbon-halogen bond breaks.
ANSWER: E2
(this has been tossed up a bunch; has it been a bad tossup idea every time? I've always wondered if that's possible for some answers.)
I wasn't sure how to tell this apart from E1. I don't know a lot of chemistry above lower-division, but I think this was one of a couple bonuses we zeroed.
The words "single step" differentiate between E1 and E2 (and SN1 vs SN2). E1 has a carbocation intermediate, while E2 happens all at once. I missed that clue and just said "elimination," which I think should probably be promptable (?).
Captain Sinico wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] Name this functionality, an acyl derivative of which called mCPBA reacts with ketones to give esters in the Baeyer-Villiger reaction. It's characterized by an oxygen-oxygen single bond.
ANSWER: peroxides
(These are certainly the easiest possible clues about peroxides; I believe you if you say that peroxides are inherently too hard)
Those are in no way the easiest clues about peroxides; I can easily come up with several that are easier. Also, I think this points out one issue that I had with most of the science generally and with the chemistry in particular. Though you eliminated a lot of eponyms as answers, you kept them as clues, often almost exclusively, i.e. there were some questions that were just laundry lists of eponyms. I didn't like that.
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I think the definition of a peroxide (oxygen-oxygen single bond) is very reasonable for an easy part. It could be easier if you mentioned H2O2, but I'm not sure if that is necessary.
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Re: Science

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:25 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I wouldn't say that there's a subtype of reactions called Diels-Alder reactions.
That's inaccurate and you know it, Andy Watkins. Your mealy-mouthed reply to Susan's nailing on you isn't going to cut it this time. People talk about "the Diels-Alder reaction between x and y" all the time; as you well know, Diels-Alder reactions are the class of reactions between a diene and a dienophile, which comprises an enormous number of reactions, defined as two specific reactants creating specific products. You could say that these are all "the same reaction" modulo the type of reactants and you could also say that it's been conventional in quizbowl to talk about them as such, but you can truthfully say neither that it's inaccurate to say that these are, in fact, different reactions in another perfectly understandable sense, nor that the Diels-Alder reactions (and other similar reactions) are never talked of as a class of related reactions in literature, in chemistry labs, or even in quizbowl. Reading your response at greater length, I see that you mostly agree, so that's good.
Please note that I don't necessarily think that that invalidates your cycloadditions tossup, which I got without any ambiguity. I do think, however, that it's something you need to consider very carefully when writing questions of this kind and I'm not sure that throwing the proverbial prompt-kitchen-sink at the question is the right solution.
theMoMa wrote:My general feeling about the science in this set was that it didn't live up to the advertised difficulty. The teams in the lower half of the field at our site were regularly complaining that they didn't stand a chance at getting even ten points on a science bonus.
I've got to agree there. The science was somewhat harder than the rest of the questions.
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
There were bonus parts like the one on the Cannizzaro reaction that seemed more content to make fun of Wikipedia and quizbowl than give actual clues about the reaction (you couldn't even say that it produces an alcohol or carboxylic acid?).
See, late clues for "oxidation" and "reduction" tossups will usually talk about turning aldehydes into carboxylic acids or alcohols, respectively. Since i'd said what a disproportionation was, a simultaneous oxidation and reduction, and since the clue noted that it was a disproportionation of aldehydes, I thought the "produces a carboxylic acid and an alcohol" was quite obvious to anyone who understood some clues. And if you don't understand really fundamental things about chemistry, well, maybe you miss some middle parts.
As is well known, I have some sympathy with Andy's viewpoint here; it's the case that we're testing something different with this question than with a question that gives the products; that something is also harder, realer, and not necessarily worse. However, we do also have to consider that saying that the reaction produces an alcohol and a carboxylic acid certainly would have made the part easier. I'm not sure what the right answer is there; I guess it depends how hard the part is without those additional clues explicit (I got it without any difficulty.)
I also want to take issue with your claim that nobody does the Cannizaro reaction. At Illinois, students perform that reaction every year in the organic chemistry first instructional lab. Please take away the moral that it's fine to editorialize, but I'd prefer that you do so on the basis of more certain knowledge and outside of questions. I can hardly be said to be alone in the latter.

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Re: Science

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:31 pm

List of ferry operators in Japan wrote:
Captain Sinico wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] Name this single-step class of reactions in which a relatively bulky base abstracts a proton from an accessible alkyl group as a carbon-halogen bond breaks.
ANSWER: E2
(this has been tossed up a bunch; has it been a bad tossup idea every time? I've always wondered if that's possible for some answers.)
I wasn't sure how to tell this apart from E1. I don't know a lot of chemistry above lower-division, but I think this was one of a couple bonuses we zeroed.
The words "single step" differentiate between E1 and E2 (and SN1 vs SN2). E1 has a carbocation intermediate, while E2 happens all at once. I missed that clue and just said "elimination," which I think should probably be promptable (?).
It seems I just had them backwards, so I thank you for the explanation/reminder (I said E1, as you might have guessed.) I'm not sure I agree that eliminations should be promptable even though E2 reactions are eliminations as it's not true in general that eliminations are single-step, as we recently learned!
List of ferry operators in Japan wrote:
Captain Sinico wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:[10] Name this functionality, an acyl derivative of which called mCPBA reacts with ketones to give esters in the Baeyer-Villiger reaction. It's characterized by an oxygen-oxygen single bond.
ANSWER: peroxides
(These are certainly the easiest possible clues about peroxides; I believe you if you say that peroxides are inherently too hard)
Those are in no way the easiest clues about peroxides; I can easily come up with several that are easier. Also, I think this points out one issue that I had with most of the science generally and with the chemistry in particular. Though you eliminated a lot of eponyms as answers, you kept them as clues, often almost exclusively, i.e. there were some questions that were just laundry lists of eponyms. I didn't like that.
MaS
I think the definition of a peroxide (oxygen-oxygen single bond) is very reasonable for an easy part. It could be easier if you mentioned H2O2, but I'm not sure if that is necessary.
Sure, I'm not saying this part was too hard, necessarily. I'm just saying "Those ain't the easiest [real] clues." I think you've hit on a whole family of clues that are a lot easier and still pretty real. It is probably not a coincidence that I had the same idea.

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