Oxford Open 2015 - Ewan's Questions

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Ewan MacAulay
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Oxford Open 2015 - Ewan's Questions

Post by Ewan MacAulay »

I wrote the physics, chemistry, other science and the non-classical myth. I also wrote the tossups on The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and on Turandot. If you spotted any factual errors please drop me a line here.

Also, this was one of my first tournaments writing and editing any significant quantity of quizbowl without supervision - Any feedback would be really appreciated.

Alternatively, if you want to pre-empt the UK field massively and shout at me for making all the questions too hard by asking for real science knowledge then that's cool too.

Ta,

Ewan
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by Ndg »

I thought the science was one of the stronger areas of this set, so thanks for the good work. The main criticism I have is that some of the tossups (although this wasn't necessarily confined to the science tossups) didn't have enough middle clues and hence had some bad difficulty cliffs. I'll try to come up with more examples later, but the one that comes to mind right now is the salmon tossup:
Editors5 wrote: 3. They’re not loggerhead sea turtles, but the juveniles of these animals have been shown to inherit a “magnetic map” which guides them to feeding grounds. In the seminal Meselson-Stahl paper, DNA from one of these animals was shown to denature differently to that of E. Coli, throwing doubt on the Semi-Conservative replication model. It’s not the herring, but DNA from this animals’ sperm is commonly used as a blocking agent in Southern Blots. The namesake “run” of this fish occurs when they return to freshwater to spawn. For ten points, name this fish which has commonly eaten varieties including Sockeye and Atlantic.
ANSWER: Salmon
I actually really like the biochemistry clues --- I have, in fact, used salmon DNA in experiments before --- but there needs to be something between the Southern Blot clue and the "run" clue. There was a buzzer race at that clue in my room that I could see from a mile away.
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by George Corfield »

Not wanting to hijack Ewan's thread, but I thought I'd make myself known as the author/editor of the biology questions, as well as quite a bit of the auditory fine arts and some trash (Twin Peaks, Seoul 100m...). This is only my second time writing biology questions, and my first with the music so undoubtedly there are still improvements to be made, but I'd like to think these are a better quality of questions than the ones I wrote for last year's OOT.

Concerning the salmon question - many thanks for the feedback, I believe your criticism to be correct. It probably derives from me trying to fit too many things which I thought were cool about salmon into a tossup at the expense of pyramidality (or at least what might be called "smooth" pyramidality). I shall rewrite that question to contain a more appropriate late-middle clue. Any other feedback on the biology would be warmly welcomed as I suspect the difficulty cliff problem didn't just manifest in the salmon tossup.
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by Ndg »

Since you asked: a few more (mostly minor) items about the biology questions:

[*]Prostate tossup- the Skene's glands clue might be a little too early, although I'm not 100 percent sure.
[*]Krill bonus- The second part seems unnecessarily hard with "there were a lot of arthropods" being the only thing to go on. You might need an additional clue there.
[*]Apoptosis tossup- The "fingers and toes" clue is probably too early; apoptosis being the process by which the "webbing" on our hands and feet is destroyed might be the most well known fact about apoptosis.
[*]Chromosomes bonus- "Robersonian translocation" strikes me as much too difficult, but I could be wrong. (Unfortunately, I don't have my genetics textbook handy to check.)
[*]SAM bonus- if you must make people come up with S-adenosyl methionine as an answer, it's probably best to rework the bonus so that you can use the fact that it transfers methyl groups as a clue to that answer.
[*]Photosynthesis bonus- I think CAM is too easy to be a hard part at regular difficulty.
[*]Chitin tossup- It's too short, especially with a vague clue like "tougher than any other material."
[*]Peroxisomes bonus- Peroxisomes is probably too easy to be a middle part at regular difficulty.

Again, these are mostly small quibbles, and I thought all the other biology questions were quite good.
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by Lighthouse Expert Elinor DeWire »

[*]There was a triangle tossup that mentioned triangles in the tossup
[*]The tossup on solving ODEs made it clear it wasn't integration or differentiation, and that led me away from the actual answer line.
[*]The tossup on magma mentioned that it was classified as "mafic" or "felsic" which is also true of other things such as Igneous Rocks
[*]There was a bonus on semiconductors that did not accept negative for n-type doping. As Wikipedia says: "This results in a material with predominantly negative (n-type) or positive (p-type) charge carriers depending on the dopant variety."
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by Cody »

The United Stats of America wrote:[*]There was a bonus on semiconductors that did not accept negative for n-type doping. As Wikipedia says: "This results in a material with predominantly negative (n-type) or positive (p-type) charge carriers depending on the dopant variety."
Doping a semiconductor with negative charge carriers (i.e. excess electrons) is called "n-type doping" -- a term that everyone uses for such a situation. Unless there is something in the question that is misleading, there would be no reason to accept "negative [doping | semiconductor]" because that's wrong and not what it is called.
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by Edmund »

The United Stats of America wrote:The tossup on solving ODEs made it clear it wasn't integration or differentiation, and that led me away from the actual answer line.
This was one of mine. I was interested to hear how it played. Do you think the idea for the answer line was unsound? The dominant practical methods (especially numerical methods) for solving non-trivial ODEs are distinct from those for integration of functions. It was a deliberate choice to avoid clues that could be confused for the latter. Unless this was removed in the edit, there was a prompt on "integration" (integration of what?) until about halfway.
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by Ndg »

Edmund wrote:
The United Stats of America wrote:The tossup on solving ODEs made it clear it wasn't integration or differentiation, and that led me away from the actual answer line.
This was one of mine. I was interested to hear how it played. Do you think the idea for the answer line was unsound? The dominant practical methods (especially numerical methods) for solving non-trivial ODEs are distinct from those for integration of functions. It was a deliberate choice to avoid clues that could be confused for the latter. Unless this was removed in the edit, there was a prompt on "integration" (integration of what?) until about halfway.
This tossup was converted in one of five rooms at CMU.

Stay tuned for the rest of my evidence-based evaluation of this packet in the other thread.
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by dxdtdemon »

Ndg wrote:
Edmund wrote:
The United Stats of America wrote:The tossup on solving ODEs made it clear it wasn't integration or differentiation, and that led me away from the actual answer line.
This was one of mine. I was interested to hear how it played. Do you think the idea for the answer line was unsound? The dominant practical methods (especially numerical methods) for solving non-trivial ODEs are distinct from those for integration of functions. It was a deliberate choice to avoid clues that could be confused for the latter. Unless this was removed in the edit, there was a prompt on "integration" (integration of what?) until about halfway.
This tossup was converted in one of five rooms at CMU.

Stay tuned for the rest of my evidence-based evaluation of this packet in the other thread.
It would've been converted in two rooms except I thought that the answer "solving a differential equation" was too generic of an answerline so I said "solving a partial differential equation".
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by Ndg »

cwRsync wrote: It would've been converted in two rooms except I thought that the answer "solving a differential equation" was too generic of an answerline so I said "solving a partial differential equation".
Actually, "solving partial differential equations" would have been acceptable, depending on when you buzzed:
OldOUQSonians wrote: Implicit methods for performing the “initial value” type of this task are more numerically stable than explicit methods, but the latter are faster as they do not require matrix inversion. Multistep methods for this task use backward differentiated formulas that build on Euler’s method. A polynomial power series results when this task is achieved by the Frobenius method. For inhomogeneous cases, the result of this task is the sum of a complementary function and a particular integral. The simplest way of performing this task is only possible when the variables can be separated. For 10 points, name this computational task of predicting the change of a system over time.
ANSWER: solving (ordinary) differential equations (or integrating differential equations; prompt on “integration” until “Frobenius”; accept solving/integrating partial differential equations until “Frobenius”)
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by dxdtdemon »

I buzzed in after the question was entirely read because the other team had negged it, I think, but I basically spent the whole tossup thinking, "There has to be something more to this than just solving an ordinary differential equation." I'm not saying it's a bad thing to toss up, I guess I was trying to play the editing philosophy more than the question.
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by Cody »

Edmund wrote:This was one of mine. I was interested to hear how it played. Do you think the idea for the answer line was unsound? The dominant practical methods (especially numerical methods) for solving non-trivial ODEs are distinct from those for integration of functions. It was a deliberate choice to avoid clues that could be confused for the latter. Unless this was removed in the edit, there was a prompt on "integration" (integration of what?) until about halfway.
This answerline is very good (great, even), despite what people are saying. Most of the clues are fine, but the lead-in is very confusing -- you solve initial value problems, which is not what the lead-in says. And "initial value" is far too early. The line about "when the variables can be separated" is confusing as well; at that point in the tossup it would be better to just say "A simple way of performing this task is to use separation of variables" because everyone learns the technique with that name. And lastly (and perhaps most problematically) the giveaway is not very helpful -- it would be better to say something like "name this task in which a function is found that satisfies a relation between a function and its derivatives" or some such definition of a diff. eq.
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Re: Oxford Open - Ewan's Questions

Post by Edmund »

Thanks Cody - makes sense. Particularly looking back at the giveaway I can see it's poor. Must Try Harder.
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