Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

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Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity »

I don't know if the google spreadsheet will get put up or not, but I thought I'd start a thread for critiquing/commenting my questions, which consisted of a good chunk of the physics and all of the astro. I have my own comments about some of these, but I'll withhold my opinions for a while at least. I volunteered to write for this tournament to see if I had the ability to write and/or a sizable number of questions without driving myself nuts. So without further ado, these were the questions I wrote in order of appearance in the tournament:

Physics Tossups:
Density
Scattering
Uncertainty Principle
Protons
Stark Effect
Bose-Einstein Condensation
Hall Effect
Interferometers
Virial
Resonance
Physicists from Germany*

Physics bonuses
QHO/Lennard-Jones/Morse
Phase Space/Van der Pol/chaos
Ferromagnetism/Ising Model/Lars Onsager
frequency/wavenumber/group velocity
Maxwell's Eqns/Curl/Jefimenko's Eqns
Precession/ Nutation/ Poinsot's Ellipsoid
Double-Slt/Aharonov-Bohm/Vector potential

Astro Tossups
Neutron Stars
Elliptical Galaxies
X-Rays

Astro bonuses
No-Hair Theorem/Schwarzchild/Cygnus X-1
Ecliptic/Gegenschein/Poynting
Quasars/Gunn-Peterson Trough/Reionization
Asteroid Belt/ Titius-Bode Law/Kirkwood Gaps



*I've got a bunch to say on this one, perhaps after the set clears.
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by Ringil »

I found the tossup on density to be very confusing, maybe the text could be posted?

The bonus part on phase space was described very oddly from my memory.

The uncertainty principle tossup was kinda fraudable, but that could be just the topic.

The frequency/wavenumber/group velocity bonus was quite a bit easier than the other bonuses.

Can the text of the virial tossup be posted too?

The German physicists tossup was a pretty poor idea in my opinion.
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by Sam »

I don't think I wrote enough of the physics to warrant a different thread, so I will piggyback on Nolan's.

Tossups:
quantum entanglement
Lagrangian

Bonuses:
Schrodinger's equation/WKB method/Airy's function
resistivity/Drude model/mean free path
Pascal's law/shear force/viscosity
solenoidal field/magnetic monopoles/Paul Dirac
Rydberg formula/Lyman series/fine structure constant
momentum/Noether's theorem/gauge invariance
stress-energy-momentum tensor/Einstein field equation/Minkowski space
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity »

Ringil wrote:I found the tossup on density to be very confusing, maybe the text could be posted?

The bonus part on phase space was described very oddly from my memory.

The uncertainty principle tossup was kinda fraudable, but that could be just the topic.

The frequency/wavenumber/group velocity bonus was quite a bit easier than the other bonuses.

Can the text of the virial tossup be posted too?

The German physicists tossup was a pretty poor idea in my opinion.

Okay, I'll respond piece by piece:

1. Density:
I wrote wrote: The Girolami method gives a back of the envelope approach for calculating this quantity for pure liquid components of mixtures at room temperature. In astrophysics, a hypothesis named after Lin and Shu details how waves of this quantity create spiral arms in galaxies. In electromagnetism, the energy variety of this quantity often acts as a physical pressure and can be given in units of pressure. In condensed matter physics, a certain theory named for this quantity treats the probability of finding an electron in a given volume as a functional. For ten points, name this quantity coming in energy, number, and mass varieties, often symbolized “rho,” that measures the amount of something in a given volume.
ANSWER: Density
Yeah, in retrospect this is fairly confusing; I wanted to write a tossup on a very simple concept and probably ended up obsfuscating it.

2. Uncertainty Principle:
I'm interested as to where you answered this question. I mentioned the Robertson-Schrodinger inequality a little more than half-way through the question, which, given the word "Inequality," probably made it a bit transparent.

3. frequency/wavenumber/group velocity:
Huh. I was hoping this wouldn't be the case. The frequency part is a total gimme, but wavenumber and group velocity are things I would've thought would be harder. I checked both Jerry's database and Gyaankosh before writing this one and wavenumber never appeared as an answerline anywhere and group velocity made appearances as a tossup at Science Monstrosity and as a bonus part at Buzzerfest and ACF Regionals. My goal for difficulty was slightly above ACF Regionals, so I may have missed the mark with this one. Selene can tell me "I told you so" on that one.

4. Virial: Sure
I wrote wrote:In statistical mechanics, coefficients described by this adjective are related to graph theory through the use of Mayer cluster integrals, and an ongoing debate exists as to whether the stress described by this adjective on the atomic level is equivalent to the Cauchy stress of macroscopic objects. The Onnes equation is another name for the equation of state or “expansion” described by this adjective, which can be used to find the Boyle temperature of a gas. The most well-known statement described by this adjective has been used to derive the Chandrasekhar limit for White Dwarfs. For ten points, identify this adjective, applied to a ubiquitous theorem that in its simplest form states that the average kinetic energy of a system is equal to minus one-half of the average potential energy of a system.
ANSWER: virial
5. Physicists from Germany:
I'll save this for another post.
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by grapesmoker »

Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:In statistical mechanics, coefficients described by this adjective are related to graph theory through the use of Mayer cluster integrals, and an ongoing debate exists as to whether the stress described by this adjective on the atomic level is equivalent to the Cauchy stress of macroscopic objects. The Onnes equation is another name for the equation of state or “expansion” described by this adjective, which can be used to find the Boyle temperature of a gas. The most well-known statement described by this adjective has been used to derive the Chandrasekhar limit for White Dwarfs. For ten points, identify this adjective, applied to a ubiquitous theorem that in its simplest form states that the average kinetic energy of a system is equal to minus one-half of the average potential energy of a system.
ANSWER: virial
I'm not sure what to think about this question. I'm not familiar with either virial coefficients or virial stress (unless it's something that is described by another name) but those seem like salient clues. The stuff that comes later is less good: first of all I've never heard the virial expansion described as the Onnes equation, and second, when you write things like that clue, you should really explain what the virial expansion is. Why it's relevant to finding the Boyle temperature of a gas or how that helps someone come up with "virial" is unclear to me. Also, the clue about the Chandrasekhar limit is pretty unhelpful (from that, the answer could be "polytropic" although I hope we're not writing tossups on that). So yeah, the problem with this question is that it doesn't really describe a lot of the things it talks about and is vague to boot.
5. Physicists from Germany:
I'll save this for another post.
This question really sucked.
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity »

Ok, so here's the thing with the Germany question:

It was kind of meant to suck. It was meant to be a well (or at least quasi-decently) written tossup with a godawful answer line. My point in this: Questions that require one to name a country or nationality suck. It seems that these sort of tossups have become fairly common in the Literature and Fine Art distribution and they almost universally irritate the hell out of me. Searching Gyaankosh with the phrase "one author from" yielded 30 common link tossups on literature from various countries. I thought I'd try and point out the absurdity of these questions by taking them to a logical extreme: write a common link on scientists from a certain country. I fully expected to receive the reaction the question got and I hope this will provoke some discussion about such questions. Maybe this wasn't the best way to go about raising the issue, but rather than post in the forums about my gripe and watch it devolve into unproductive nitpicking (witness the discussion about the merits of "name" versus "identify"), I thought I'd try and elicit a reaction by actually asking such a question.

One of the reason I hate these types of questions is that they require one make several jumps in reasoning. For example, take this tossup from 08 Regionals:

One author from this country wrote about how a retired business man becomes erotically enchanted with his daughter-in-law, a dancer. The Tattoer and Arrowroot were written by an author from this country, while another author from this place wrote The Spring Equinox and Beyond. Another author from this country wrote about a man who seeks revenge on women by marrying them and having flamboyant gay affairs in Forbidden Colors. The author of Some Prefer Nettles was from this country, as was the writer of "In a Grove." For 10 points, name this home country of the guy who wrote The Sea of Fertility, Yukio Mishima, and "Rashomon," Akutagawa Ryonosuke.
ANSWER: Japan [or Nihon-koku; or Nippon-koku]

I don't mean to single out the authors of this question; there are plenty of others that have the exact same issues. The tossup opens with a rather vague plot description. If I want to answer the question, I now have to make three connections in my line of reasoning before I answer: I must associate the plot with a book, the book with the author, and the author with a nationality. It personally strikes me as being rather mentally cumbersome to perform such gymnastics. The third jump from author to country strikes me as being particularly unnecessary; Why should I have to take something from literature and have to associate it with something that has nothing to do with literature? I suppose one could make the argument that there is something inherently "Japanese" about Japanese literature that renders that final jump meaningful, but come on, are we really to assume that the common features of the "Japanese-ness" of Japanese literature can be distilled down to a few lines? If one assumes that there is the "Japanese-ness" of Japanese literature is something worth asking about, why then can't one ask about the German-ness of German physicists? Again, I'm not supporting such questions, but I want to point out the incongruity of such standards.

The second part of the question that references the works "The Tattoer" and "Arrowroot" is also particularly unhelpful. Unless I exactly know who wrote those books and where the author is from, the clue is completely useless. There is nothing in the names of those two books to help me arrive at the conclusion that those books are Japanese. Maybe it's because I'm a fan of contextual clues and the so-called Yaphe method, but simply naming novels or poems or whatever, especially ones likely to be written in a foreign language, doesn't contribute any sort of context that would enable one to answer correctly. Likewise, there is nothing about the physics of the Abbe number that helps me pick out "Germany" as an answer choice. There's a fundamental disconnect between the clues and the answer line. The second half of the question is only more tolerable since the clues are more well known, but still falls into the same pitfalls as the the first half.

Anyway, in hopes of keeping this from becoming a Unabomber-length manifesto, I'll wrap it up. I hope I've laid out my case against such questions.
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat »

Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:Ok, so here's the thing with the Germany question:

It was kind of meant to suck. It was meant to be a well (or at least quasi-decently) written tossup with a godawful answer line. My point in this: Questions that require one to name a country or nationality suck. It seems that these sort of tossups have become fairly common in the Literature and Fine Art distribution and they almost universally irritate the hell out of me. Searching Gyaankosh with the phrase "one author from" yielded 30 common link tossups on literature from various countries. I thought I'd try and point out the absurdity of these questions by taking them to a logical extreme: write a common link on scientists from a certain country. I fully expected to receive the reaction the question got and I hope this will provoke some discussion about such questions. Maybe this wasn't the best way to go about raising the issue, but rather than post in the forums about my gripe and watch it devolve into unproductive nitpicking (witness the discussion about the merits of "name" versus "identify"), I thought I'd try and elicit a reaction by actually asking such a question.
Perhaps this should get split off into another thread, since I'm guessing this will quickly move past discussion on the other physics/astro questions.
When you mentioned that you would have a separate post for the Germany question, I wondered if this might have been the logic behind it. I generally agree with the premise that common-link tossups on people from a country are usually not a good idea, but I do not think this was correct way to get the point across. Have there been any discussions on the topic in the past? If so, I missed them. That seems like a better first step than writing a tossup you knew people would hate.

I think it is possible to write a decent common-link tossup on a country using literature clues, if the works mentioned are somehow built into that country's history. For example, a lot of Vargas Llosa works are closely tied to events that actually happened in Peru, and if those clues about his books and the works of some others were the contents of a question on Peru, I would have no problem with it. If the Germany tossup had been all clues about contributions made by those scientists, say, to their country's nuclear program, the same might apply. Otherwise, the fact that some author (or artist or scientist) happens to be born in a certain country doesn't seem all that relevant.
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by grapesmoker »

Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:Ok, so here's the thing with the Germany question:

It was kind of meant to suck.
What the fuck is wrong with you?
Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:MANIFESTO
All you did there was show that you completely misunderstood how such questions work, and why Japanese authors are a salient and relevant category but German scientists are not. The Japan-ness of an author such as Tanizaki is most certainly relevant in the way that the German-ness of Abbe is not. On top of it all you have misapplied the Yaphe context-clues method; if you had applied it correctly you might easily have figured out "Japan" as the answer despite not knowing anything in particular about those Tanizaki works.

I'll give you credit for your novel method of provoking discussion by writing shitty questions, but seriously dude, if you really think there's a problem with a particular writing trope, there's a forum for that.
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity »

Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:
Perhaps this should get split off into another thread, since I'm guessing this will quickly move past discussion on the other physics/astro questions.
When you mentioned that you would have a separate post for the Germany question, I wondered if this might have been the logic behind it. I generally agree with the premise that common-link tossups on people from a country are usually not a good idea, but I do not think this was correct way to get the point across. Have there been any discussions on the topic in the past? If so, I missed them. That seems like a better first step than writing a tossup you knew people would hate.

I think it is possible to write a decent common-link tossup on a country using literature clues, if the works mentioned are somehow built into that country's history. For example, a lot of Vargas Llosa works are closely tied to events that actually happened in Peru, and if those clues about his books and the works of some others were the contents of a question on Peru, I would have no problem with it. If the Germany tossup had been all clues about contributions made by those scientists, say, to their country's nuclear program, the same might apply. Otherwise, the fact that some author (or artist or scientist) happens to be born in a certain country doesn't seem all that relevant.

First of all, let me apologize for bringing the issue up the wrong way. I was under the assumption that people were coming to the tournament expecting a fair amount of quirkiness, and given that most of my answer lines were pretty canonical, I thought I could get away with something really wacky. Hindsight being 20/20, I see I missed the point.

Also, I agree with you Michael. If you can successfully tie unique clues about the country in with the clues about the literature, then that's a question I can get behind. I tried writing a literature tossup on Mexico once; it used several clues involving its use as a setting in several novels as well as a clue I found about a literary movement unique to the country. It wasn't used for the tournament I submitted it to (mostly because due to no fault of my own, the packet wasn't submitted until like eight days after the last deadline), but I think it's a start on the right track.

Jerry, you would certainly know better than I what the Yaphe method really is. For my own edification, could you show me how it applies to the Japan question since apparently I don't get it? My impression was derived from what the qbwiki described. I still maintain though, and this might be because I'm not a literature person, that what makes Japanese literature Japanese can't be whittled down to 6-8 lines.

Again, I apologize for messing with the enjoyability of this tournament and next time (assuming there is one) I'll do better. With that I'll leave the issue alone for now. Is there anything else about the physics that people have comments on?
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by grapesmoker »

Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:Jerry, you would certainly know better than I what the Yaphe method really is. For my own edification, could you show me how it applies to the Japan question since apparently I don't get it? My impression was derived from what the qbwiki described. I still maintain though, and this might be because I'm not a literature person, that what makes Japanese literature Japanese can't be whittled down to 6-8 lines.
Sure thing; please excuse the juvenile literary analysis. I've read a few Tanizaki books so I guess this might color my opinion somewhat, but a persistent theme in his work is the conflict between modernity and tradition, and consequently between the West (identified with the former) and Japan (identified with the latter). In particular, many of Tanizaki's works are laden with sexual themes and in particular with situations bordering on incest. So the process here might go something like "intra-family sex -> Tanizaki -> Japan." That's not necessarily the best gamble to take or the most solid of influences, but it's not nothing. I need to emphasize that I don't actually think that this is a great question on "Japan," as it's mostly a list of titles, but that first sentence, to me, just screams "plot of Tanizaki work," even though I haven't read The Tattoer.

Obviously the Yaphe method is not going to work in the absence of any knowledge about the topic. I'm able to draw the above inference in virtue of having read other things by the same author; it's going to be harder for someone who hasn't (unless, I guess, you make the "crazy sex stuff = Japan" inference... which wouldn't be totally unjustified). But it's very important to the content of Tanizaki's works that they are about Japan; he's not just some writer who happens to be Japanese, he's working out themes that arise in his particular cultural milieu. On the other hand, there's nothing specifically German about numbers that measure the extent of dispersion. Scientific concepts (in quizbowl writing practice)* are pretty well decoupled from their origins in a way that literary concepts are not. In other words, it's mostly a contingent fact that Abbe numbers are named after Abbe and not some other contemporary who might have discovered them, but it's not a contingent fact about Tanizaki that he just happens to be Japanese; if he were of some other nationality, his literary output would almost certainly be entirely different.

*: I'm putting this star here because I know someone will surely try and say something about the culture-boundedness of science and that's just not a conversation I want to get into, nor do I think we need to resolve such questions to maintain good writing practice. Suffice to say I think we can easily write tossups on any number of scientific concepts in a way that will reward science knowledge without worrying about this.
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Re: Physics/Astro (Nolan's Questions)

Post by Auroni »

I think your first and foremost priority as a writer for this tournament was to provide a playable set of questions, instead of pulling a stunt to push across some nebulous agenda that doesn't stand up to critical scrutiny. I like tossups with answer lines like "Japan" or "Italian," because those are answer lines that people are more likely to convert, instead of tossups on Tanizaki or Guido Cavalcanti. Furthermore, literature is often inextricably linked to the political/social/cultural climate of the country of its origin and the style/innovations of the language of it was written in. So yes, a literature tossup on Japan has more intrinsic worth than a physics tossup on Germany, where the country of origin has much less, if anything at all, to do with the works of its physicists.
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