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Thread: Bad Astronomy in Trivial Pursuit, Genus 5 Edition

  1. #1
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    Bad Astronomy in Trivial Pursuit, Genus 5 Edition

    In the "Science and Nature" category of Trivial Pursuit, Genus 5 edition, one of the questions reads exactly as follows:

    What's the largest and brightest class of stars called -- red giants, supernovae, or supergiants?
    What would you think the answer would be? Hell, what would any sane person think the answer would be? Even the weakest, palest supernova is thousands (if not millions) of times brighter than the brightest supergiant star imaginable, to say nothing of how much brighter a supernova would be than a plain old non-super red giant.

    But what did the back of the card say that the correct answer was?

    SUPERGIANTS.

    Not supernovae. Supergiants. The numbskull that wrote this question thinks that supergiants, as a class, are larger and brighter than supernovae.


    Okay, I'll concede that supergiants (by which, I assume, they mean Luminosity Class Ia and Ib stars) qualify as the "largest" class of stars. Betelgeuse, f'rinstance, is twice as big around as the orbit of Mars, and it's kinda hard to talk about how "large" something as violently unstable as a supernova is.

    And I'll concede that supernovae don't usually fit into what people think of as a "class" of stars, in the sense of Spectral Class OBAFGKM or Luminosity Class Ia-VI.

    But if any yahoo tries to tell me that a supergiant -- any supergiant -- is brighter than a supernova, he's gonna be in for quite a stern belly laugh!

  2. #2
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    I think you've answered your own objection.

    Which genus of fish has larger specimen: perch, barracuda, whale?

    Just because whales are bigger than barracuda, in general, does not make "whale" the right answer.

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    I have to agree with A Thousand Pardons, when I read the question I said to myself that it was a supergiant because a supernova is not a type of star.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azazul
    when I read the question I said to myself that it was a supergiant because a supernova is not a type of star.
    That reasoning seems too clever for trivial pursuit.

    Still this question is nothing compared to my hopelessly outdated edition of the game. Example, Who is the current Doctor Who? Answer: Peter Davison.

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    Nearly 20 years ago, I was playing the game with my family, possibly one Christmas. I was getting more and more frustrated with the whole thing. The last straw was when my Mum asked me what the smallest planet in the solar system was. I replied, "The correct answer is Pluto, but I expect that the card says - wrongly - that the answer is Mercury, even though they knew it was Pluto when the game was made." She said, "Which are you going for?" I said, "Pluto." The card said Mercury so I didn't get the point. I said, "Don't ever ask me to play this again."

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    Re: Bad Astronomy in Trivial Pursuit, Genus 5 Edition

    I always knew when to start placing bets for real money based on the outcome of the game. The clue? If the others playing that certain version of the game referred to it as the "Genius" edition.

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    It's the Moops!

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    Re: Bad Astronomy in Trivial Pursuit, Genus 5 Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Lycus
    It's the Moops!
    LOL!

    Jeopardy!, actually.

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    My husband refuses to play Trivial Pursit every since he got the wrong answer for a question asking how many teeth a cow has. He actually got out a bovine anatomy book to prove his point, but we had previously agreed to accept the answer the game gave in such circumstances. Even though it was wrong.

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    Re: Bad Astronomy in Trivial Pursuit, Genus 5 Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Maksutov
    Quote Originally Posted by Lycus
    It's the Moops!
    LOL!

    Jeopardy!, actually.
    That says "The writers of the show must have come across this game in their earlier years", emphasis mine. Hard to tell. The same website says (under episode#47) "The Trivial Pursuit question mentioned is an actual error that was discovered in one of the question sets."

    PS: there's another website that seems to know more about the genesis, that says the writers did use the Jeopardy game, and that game had another misprint that they considered using, Cafetown Africa, but they decided Moops was funnier. Cafetown must be in the Genius edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inferno
    Quote Originally Posted by azazul
    when I read the question I said to myself that it was a supergiant because a supernova is not a type of star.
    That reasoning seems too clever for trivial pursuit.

    Still this question is nothing compared to my hopelessly outdated edition of the game. Example, Who is the current Doctor Who? Answer: Peter Davison.
    Even worse:

    Who created Doctor Who?
    Terry Nation.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azazul
    when I read the question I said to myself that it was a supergiant because a supernova is not a type of star.
    A supernova isn't a type of star?

    What, does a star suddenly stop being a star when it's core collapses into a neutron star and its outer layers detonate? Hell, even the neutron star that its core collapses into has the word "star" in its name!

    An exploding star is still a star. :P So there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by azazul
    when I read the question I said to myself that it was a supergiant because a supernova is not a type of star.
    A supernova isn't a type of star?

    What, does a star suddenly stop being a star when it's core collapses into a neutron star and its outer layers detonate? Hell, even the neutron star that its core collapses into has the word "star" in its name!

    An exploding star is still a star. :P So there.
    A neutron star is neither "brightest" or "largest" anything.

    The explosion can be either or both, but the explosion itself is not a star, let alone a class of stars.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
    - Neil deGrasse Tyson, answering loaded question in ten words or less
    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by azazul
    when I read the question I said to myself that it was a supergiant because a supernova is not a type of star.
    A supernova isn't a type of star?

    What, does a star suddenly stop being a star when it's core collapses into a neutron star and its outer layers detonate? Hell, even the neutron star that its core collapses into has the word "star" in its name!

    An exploding star is still a star. :P So there.
    Your OP said "class", I'm sure that's what azazul meant

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    In which case, I gotta ask: Which kind of "class" are we talking about here? Spectral Class? Luminosity Class? Neutron stars, for example, don't even have a spectral or luminosity class, yet they're still considered stars. Conversely, the Wikipedia article on cataclysmic variables refers them as a "class" of binary stars, and surely the term "class" is sometimes used casually to describe what is more formally referred to as a supernova's "type" (e.g. a type Ia supernova might be called a "class Ia supernova" if the speaker isn't particularly worried about being misunderstood).

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    I read the question the same way as some of the people above:

    Which is the largest and brightest type of star: Red Giant, Supernova, Supergiant, or Swiss Cheese?

    Obviously Swiss Cheese and Supernovae aren't stars (one is an explosion and the other is, well, cheese). Therefore the answer is supergiant. But is that always true? Can't some red giants (about to die) be much bigger than some blue supergiants (main sequance).

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    I've seen worse. From when I was in middle school, playing Trivial Persuit with a friend:

    Q: What object contains 99% of the galaxy's mass?
    A: The Sun.

    And this was a pretty recent edition... #-o

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    Re: Bad Astronomy in Trivial Pursuit, Genus 5 Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Gullible Jones
    I've seen worse. From when I was in middle school, playing Trivial Pursuit with a friend:

    Q: What object contains 99% of the galaxy's mass?
    A: The Sun.

    And this was a pretty recent edition... #-o
    That must have been the YEC Trivial Pursuit edition.

    You know, the one where the correct answer for the value of pi is 3. :wink:

  19. #19
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    I was once playing team Trivial Pursuit w/a few friends, one of whom was reasonably intelligent and two of whom were as dumb as paste. logically, we split up so the other intelligent person and I were saddled w/a dumb-as-paste partner. however, my partner was male, and the other dumb-as-paste participant had a thing for him, and the second time we played, she demanded that he be her partner. boy, that was the most uneven game I've ever played.

    and our rules hold that if you can prove the card wrong, you can still get the point. this saves arguments (usually me arguing w/whoever read the card).
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    Quote Originally Posted by gopher65
    Can't some red giants (about to die) be much bigger than some blue supergiants (main sequance).
    It always sounded strange to me to think of blue supergiants as "main-sequence". After all, Supergiants are luminosity class I, dwarfs are luminosity class V, and main-sequence stars -- at least as we first learned it in my introduction-to-astronomy class -- were all supposed to be dwarf stars. Imagine my surprise to learn that main-sequence O and B stars tended to be luminosity class I!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by azazul
    when I read the question I said to myself that it was a supergiant because a supernova is not a type of star.
    A supernova isn't a type of star?

    What, does a star suddenly stop being a star when it's core collapses into a neutron star and its outer layers detonate? Hell, even the neutron star that its core collapses into has the word "star" in its name!

    An exploding star is still a star. :P So there.
    Think of it this way:

    A giant (or supergiant) star is a type of a star. A neutron star is also a type of a star. Supernova explosion converts the former into a latter. Is there a time period when the star is neither a giant nor a ball of neutrons?

    The answer is, there is not. The giant's star's core turns into a neutron star before the outer layers blow off. The instance supernova explosion has begun, the star is already a neutron star (or a black hole). Supernova is no more "a type of a star" than a crab's discarded shell "a type of crustacean".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya
    Think of it this way:

    A giant (or supergiant) star is a type of a star. A neutron star is also a type of a star. Supernova explosion converts the former into a latter. Is there a time period when the star is neither a giant nor a ball of neutrons?

    The answer is, there is not. The giant's star's core turns into a neutron star before the outer layers blow off. The instance supernova explosion has begun, the star is already a neutron star (or a black hole). Supernova is no more "a type of a star" than a crab's discarded shell "a type of crustacean".
    yeah . THat's what I meant. A supernova is an explosion (resulting from an implosion).

    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    It always sounded strange to me to think of blue supergiants as "main-sequence". After all, Supergiants are luminosity class I, dwarfs are luminosity class V, and main-sequence stars -- at least as we first learned it in my introduction-to-astronomy class -- were all supposed to be dwarf stars. Imagine my surprise to learn that main-sequence O and B stars tended to be luminosity class I!
    I think (but I'm not sure) that the definition of a main sequence star is simply that it must be burning hydrogen. A Brown Dwarf must burn Deuterium, and a post main sequence star must either stop fusion or fuse something other than hydrogen(some stars aren't massive enough to fuse helium, so they just die out.... eventually).

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    Quote Originally Posted by gopher65
    I think (but I'm not sure) that the definition of a main sequence star is simply that it must be burning hydrogen.
    Close. A main sequence star must be burning hydrogen in its core. When a post-main-sequence star is in its first Red Giant stage, it's producing energy by burning hydrogen, too -- the only difference is that this reaction is happening in a hydrogen-burning shell surrounding the core instead of in the core itself.

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    Ah right. The layered fusion shells around the core. I forgot about them. "A sun is like a parfay. No, it's like an onion!"

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    Re: Bad Astronomy in Trivial Pursuit, Genus 5 Edition

    I always hated that game.

    I always landed on the Sports questions, and me without the sports gene. :roll:

    And it wasn't sane sports questions, either, that I might have a chance of answering. It was always like, "What six boxers all won the Golden Gloves and the Upper Northside Bronx Pugilist Festival in 1939 and 1940?"

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