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View Full Version : Intro Astronomy Homework Quotes, part 1



stu
2004-Sep-26, 09:12 PM
I'm TAing for an intro astronomy class for non-majors this semester, and there are A LOT of humorous mistakes. Unless people object here, I will post quotes from homework sets here full spelling (misspelling) and grammar and ideas preserved. No names, of course.

For the first set, the questions that were asked are unimportant, for the answers speak for themselves:


In the universe the Earth is the fifth largest planet.

Earth is insignificant compared to the infinite Universe.

The universe is about 10 times bigger than the Milky Way galaxy.

The entire universe is infinitely large, containing trillions of universes.

The earth is infantessimally small when compared to the galaxy, and the universe is pretty much infinite, making the earth infinitely smaller than it.

The Earth is about 15,000 kilometers. The Sun is 1,500,000 kilometers. Just by these figures, one can see that the sun is 10 times as big as Earth. The Milky Way on the other hand is 100,000 light-years away which means it is more than a million times bigger than the sun.

The sun is 109.75 times larger in dia[meter than Earth]. The milky way is 73.17 times larger than Earth in Diameter.

The entire galaxy is another 10 times larger than the Milky Way.

The Galaxy is about 1,000 quadrillion kilometers aka 100,000 light-years. And then, the galaxy is even larger at about 1,000,000 light years.


There is more to the universe than just simple rotation.

A solar day is four minutes longer than the cideral day. The Earth violates around itself and around the Sun. This violation around the Sun causes the earth to violate aproximately 1 more degree to complete a solar day.

Why and how a day on earth with respect to the stars and the sun differs, is due to the tilt of the earth with respect to the sun progressively changing the length of the day, and also due to the sun's relatively close rays drowning out the otherwise distantly visible star's light.


A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly infront of the moon.


The Earth is not the center of the universe, it is simply the center of gravity and the lunar orbit.

The Cornucopian principle is the removal of Earth from the position of great cosmic significance.

Third Law: The planet of the period's orbit squared is equal to the semi-major axis cubed.


To say Kepler's laws are empirical is to say they are simple.

Kepler's laws are empirical because they don't state anything.

The statement Kepler's laws are empirical means that they are a fact. They work, but he didn't know why.

Kepler's laws are empirical because they are based on observation, not just thoughts or feelings.

Normandy6644
2004-Sep-26, 09:17 PM
Kepler's laws are empirical because they are based on observation, not just thoughts or feelings.


How cute.

Tobin Dax
2004-Sep-26, 09:34 PM
I was going to strenuously object to this (it's horrendously cruel of you to tempt me to do this type of thing, man), but I got a nice chuckle out of it. This semester, I'm TA'ing a class on the solar system (basically, the first part of the year-long general astro series). I just flat-out amazes me that students sign for a class catagorized as "Quantitative Reasoning II," yet they didn't expect this much math (i.e Kepler 3, circular vel, etc.). #-o Anyway, I don't have much cute stuff this semester, especially nothing that can compare with the earth violating itself every day. ( :o , rofl)

Keep 'em coming. :)

paulie jay
2004-Sep-26, 09:54 PM
My favourite -


A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly infront of the moon.

it's like one of those existential riddles!

stu
2004-Sep-26, 10:08 PM
The Cornucopian principle is the removal of Earth from the position of great cosmic significance.

That's probably my favorite. Or the one about Earth violating itself, or the one about the galaxy being smaller than the sun. :lol:

Andromeda321
2004-Sep-27, 02:31 AM
stu, I think you've officially freaked me out about my university's astronomy department... 8-[

Ut
2004-Sep-27, 04:31 AM
There is more to the universe than just simple rotation.

I really like this one for some reason. It really speaks to me.

TriangleMan
2004-Sep-27, 11:11 AM
I'd have to go with the Earth violating itself. It just makes the Earth sound so . . . sinful. :lol:

MAPNUT
2004-Sep-27, 12:58 PM
I don't find this discouraging at all! Assuming these are the worst answers you got, it appears that everyone is learning a little something. :D

George
2004-Sep-27, 01:13 PM
This one reminds of a local one....


The entire galaxy is another 10 times larger than the Milky Way.

Namely, Texas is bigger than the whole United States. (This usually helps stimulate conversation. :) )

RoboSpy
2004-Sep-27, 02:12 PM
Third Law: The planet of the period's orbit squared is equal to the semi-major axis cubed.

Wow, how convenient. What was Newton doing spending all that time trying to figure the scaling factor?

Ut
2004-Sep-27, 02:15 PM
Third Law: The planet of the period's orbit squared is equal to the semi-major axis cubed.

Wow, how convenient. What was Newton doing spending all that time trying to figure the scaling factor?

Obviously, Newton wasn't using the proper units.

ngc3314
2004-Sep-27, 02:52 PM
I don't find this discouraging at all! Assuming these are the worst answers you got, it appears that everyone is learning a little something. :D

Actually, once in a while looking at the really wild blunders can teach us something about the teaching process (and how it fails). Here's another collection, fading into odd things written by Genuine Professionals:

http://www.astr.ua.edu/keel/sayings.html

for those who can't get enough. Some particular patterns (at the risk of over-analyzing) are:

Category errors (essentially using a term as the wrong part of speech).

Orders of magnitude, not realiizing how mind-bogglingly big the Universe and its constituents are. There is a temporal version as well, in which one allows that the processes of stellar evolution might take months or even years.

And then there are those spelling and typing errors that happen to be side-splitting...

George
2004-Sep-27, 03:25 PM
Here's another collection, fading into odd things written by Genuine Professionals:
http://www.astr.ua.edu/keel/sayings.html



When the Sun goes down, darkness illuminates the sky...
Due to powerful blackbody radiation no doubt.

Andromeda321
2004-Sep-27, 07:48 PM
The incredible fascination with the Milky Way has become so great that poets have even written poems about it.
I kinda like this one. I mean, he's right...

Harvestar
2004-Sep-27, 08:43 PM
And then there are those spelling and typing errors that happen to be side-splitting...

Like this one? (in the last sentence)
"Throughout history cultures have used Castor as a set point in the sky.
The Assyrians used Castor and the Babylonians used Castor to find the eleventh
elliptical constellation. They called the star "Western one of the Twins."
In mythology Castor was known for his skills with taming and working with
horses. Along with being known for broken arms and legs. Ptolemy stated at
one time in his lifetime that "the stars in teh feet of Gemini have an
influence similar to that of Mercury, and moderately to that of Venus; the
bright stars in the thighs are like Saturn. It is said to cause trouble and
disgrace, sickness, loss of fortune, affliction and danger to the knees"
It has also been said in Nasal Mythology to be related to mental
breakdowns and neurotic distress."

Or this one:

"I believe that there is still much more needed research to be conducted to
prove to other scientists that are skeptical of the true possibility that
there can be actual life on Earth." (from a paper about life on Mars)

Here's some others from my time TAing:

[opening to a paper on planet formation]
"Billions of people around the world live their lives with ambition and reason.
Ironically, none of these people have a clue about where they came from and
how their existence is possible."

"We are stardust: or, less romantically, the nuclear waste from stars."

"A third theory of the purpose of Stonehenge is that it was a primordial party
place where people went to use drugs. Ancient societies record the use of
drugs as common and socially acceptable. The Neolithic population made clay
pots with patterns and decorations that indicate hemp and cannabis was in fact
used to create these patterns. This theory could also be explanatory of
exactly how *Stone*henge got its name."

Answers to "What is SCIENCE?"
-Everything, I guess?
-The study of unknown things.
-The study of one or more than one specific topic.

stu
2004-Sep-27, 09:14 PM
The incredible fascination with the Milky Way has become so great that poets have even written poems about it.
I kinda like this one. I mean, he's right...

Yeah, some of the ones in that collection aren't necessarily false, just kinda weird. I think I posted one or two like that, such as "There is more to the universe than just simple roation."

Something tells me that this thread might evolve into one where people just post crazy things they hear about astronomy. However, I plan on starting new ones for each of the other five homework sets this semester.

AK
2004-Sep-28, 09:33 AM
When the Sun goes down, darkness illuminates the sky...
Due to powerful blackbody radiation no doubt.

:lol:

ngc3314
2004-Sep-28, 01:00 PM
The incredible fascination with the Milky Way has become so great that poets have even written poems about it.
I kinda like this one. I mean, he's right...

Yeah, some of the ones in that collection aren't necessarily false, just kinda weird. I think I posted one or two like that, such as "There is more to the universe than just simple roation."

Something tells me that this thread might evolve into one where people just post crazy things they hear about astronomy. However, I plan on starting new ones for each of the other five homework sets this semester.

By the way, if anyone wants to have some of their gems added to my WWW collection (I assume they would want that anonymous in both ways), just let me know...

tofu
2004-Sep-28, 01:53 PM
Here's another collection, fading into odd things written by Genuine Professionals:

http://www.astr.ua.edu/keel/sayings.html

Ha! I love it!

"any ad hoc assumption consistent with our extensive ignorance and limited data may be used. [Condon, Helou, and Jarrett, AJ 123, 1881, 2002]"

How true it is.

chiaroscuro25
2004-Sep-28, 02:05 PM
Yes, the second section was great! The students were just demonstrating ignorance; the scientists were being smart alecks, which is much more amusing in the long run. :D

(Addendum: the BABB apparently doesn't like the shorter version of the term 'smart posteriors', I just discovered. :) )

Kaptain K
2004-Sep-28, 04:51 PM
I liked this one:

No data were taken at station D during the period 0830 to 1630 GST due to the presence of a red racer snake (Coluber constrictor) draped across the high-tension wires (33,000 V) serving the station. However, even though this snake, or rather a three-foot section of its remains, was caught in the act of causing an arc between the transmission lines, we do not consider it responsible for the loss of data. Rather we blame the incompetence of a red-tailed hawk (Buteo borealis) who had apparently built a defective nest that fell off the top of the nearby transmission tower, casting her nestlings to the ground, along with their entire food reserve consisting of a pack rat, a kangaroo rat, and several snakes, with the exception of the above-mentioned snake who had a somewhat higher destiny. No comparable loss of data occurred at the other antenna sites. [N. Bartel et al. 1987, ApJ 323. 507]
:lol:

Padawan
2004-Sep-28, 06:37 PM
The sun is 109.75 times larger in dia[meter than Earth]. The milky way is 73.17 times larger than Earth in Diameter.

The entire galaxy is another 10 times larger than the Milky Way.


^

You gotta love those! :)