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The Croation of the Universe

© Norman Sperling, December 31, 2018

This title results from some of the worst handwriting in the Universe. My son says it sounds like a weirdly nationalistic action novel. I call that a novel interpretation.

It’s just one of this semester’s bloopers by my astronomy students. An unusually large number of my students earned “A”s on their finals. Most of these bloopers come from *other* students’ exams, quizzes, and term papers.

entirely in part

The celestial earth is imaginary.

Earth turns on axis, celestrial sphere keeps it steady.

Just like the celestial equator, the celestial earth is imaginary and doesn’t really exist.

Aristotle said that the Earth was the center of the University.

The planets orbited the universe in ellipticals not circles.

Everything revolves around the universe.

Earth isn’t geocentric.

Copernicus saw renegrade as an illusion.

ellipitical ellipses

The planets have an elliptical orbit that spins on their axis. Because Pluto does not do this, it is considered a dwarf planet.

Gravity is the way that earth contains everything.

The gravitational pull is only found within earth since in space an individual has no control of how they move or how other thing have no control as well.

Objects are directly proportional to attraction to mass.

opposite forces attract.

an Einstein non-static Einstein Equation

Telescopes are used to see fainted astronomical objects.

There is no need to grind the mirror because the light is bouncing from one to another.

Reflecting telescopes consist of a lens that helps absorb all the radiation from the light waves.

Reflecting telescopes use mirrors inside the tube of the telescope to bounce off the mirrors.

To view telescopes with brighter surfaces, astronomers developed telescopes with higher focal ratios to view planets and double stars.

The Newtonian ... does not have chromatic abrasion.

Liquid fuel is way more efficient than solid fuel because you can stop the aircraft to refuel.

[To pluck returning astronauts out of the ocean,] helicopter pilots were Navy rescue pilots, which meant that they were used to relatively low flying around the ocean, but they were also used to having a wench system.

Howie’s Comet

Earth is just a huge comet that has lots of parts inside that makes life for living/non living organisms.

[Hotter than 1100º Celsius] hydrogen, helium, other gases all melt and form layers.

Craters can be different continents when they are high up, however, is often filled with water when low.

very unique, but similar

After 30 minutes in the event most of the planets were too burly.

When you look at Jupiter from afar, it appears to be purple.

Around Titan I was able to see some orange rings.

Earth ... has a similar magnetic field as a magnetic.

The magnetic field makes up the magnemotism ... which correlates in iodinization.

One of the most important stars in our solar system is the Sun.

Total solar eclipses are unlike any form of eclipse.

During a total solar eclipse, it appears from Earthlings’ perspective that the moon and sun are covering one another.

The illusion of it is one of the best because it makes the moon appear bigger than it is because it covers the moon.

Red dwarts

High mass stars have a shorter life spam.

galaxies which are near to the Universe and in the Milky Way

millions of years of light

The Croation of the Universe.

[Autofill blunders for “extraterrestrial”] extracurricular, extraterritorial

I didn’t teach my students any of this!

. © Norman Sperling, December 20, 2017

Instead, this is what they wrote on assorted quizzes, tests, and term papers:

Stars, little twinkling thing that rised up and down constantly.

A three-dimensional plane

An area opposite to another area in the ellipse contained the same amount of area.

Any point on a planet’s orbit was equally distant to the sun, traveling at a constant rate.

According to Newton, gravity is equal to the area squared divided by the mass cubed.

Newton’s law is only mathematically right for objects that have a velocity smaller than the light of speed.

Newtonian telescopes have the mirror bounce off the side ... whereas another kind bounces back through a hole in the original mirror.

One of the Newtonian telescopes was called Cassograin, and how it worked was that the light gathered would not come out.

There are two lens in a refractor. Light enters the tube and is gathered by the first len, and the second len magnifies the focus produced by the first len.

A celestial body can be reflected through three mirrors positioned opposite of eachother.



We observe Venus using ultraviolet lights.

3 types of carbonaceous chondrites are relatively common, which can bring carbon to the planet when there is a collision or catering. ... Io ... is the only object in our solar system that does not have catering.

A solar eclipse happens when the darkest side of the moon hits the Earth.

It was in the grounds of Cambridge University that a student and a professor discovered pulsars.

The Big Bang theory has been proved to be true from detecting cosmetic background radiation.

The Issues of the Issue: JIR v52 #6

© Norman Sperling, Editor, June 11, 2017

I apologize for the extreme delay. JIR has just broken out of an unwanted hiatus occasioned by my committing too much time to too many projects. The logjam is loosening. Every subscriber will receive every issue they’ve paid for, but it will take a while. I'm not taking on any new projects until I satisfy JIR and other projects already underway.

Over the years, JIR has used many different printers, large and small. The most recent, Yokto Subroto, has retired. I appreciated his attention to detail (which prevented many mistakes), his high quality (which kept the magazine looking substantial), and his realistic communication (which brought my flights of fancy down to Earth). With Yokto printing JIR, there were no Big Surprises or Catastrophic Emergencies. This issue was printed on the same press, by the company that bought it.

A previous owner of JIR, George H. Scherr, passed away in 2016.

Yet again, Wikipedia and Wikimedia have been most helpful. JIR submissions cover more different sciences than any one editor understands, so having an instant-lookup to learn what terms mean, and where puzzle-pieces fit, helps a whole lot. Derided in its beginning years, Wikipedia has made great efforts to get its act together. Nowadays, scientific articles are quite clean, though hardly perfect. If you have the expertise to correct and perfect their articles, supply technical references, and fill holes in their coverage, please do so. They post standards for contributing and editing, and priority requests. This is a major community service that anyone can perform in any amount at any time.

The associated Wikimedia Commons is a free repository for illustrations and other media. You probably took pictures that illustrate points particularly well. Clinging to their copyright may earn you less in money than freeing them will earn you in reputation and satisfaction. Wikimedia standards are posted too. You can select how you want to handle the “some rights reserved” alternatives.

When you get used to doing this, recommend it to experts you know in other fields, too.

For this issue’s articles about time, Robbert van der Steeg’s masterful “Eternal Clock” gives pause. He is a Dutchman living in Kenya, posting photos and manipulations to Flickr under Creative Commons. His creativity is, however, uncommon. It takes wing using the software “MathMap” and “Gimp”.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders offers JIR many opportunities for lampoons over many decades. In this issue we offer DSM-style descriptions of 2 exaggerated personality types, separated by the vast chasm of the gender divide.

I recall hearing that an apparently-serious scholar recommended that
• meticulous attention to detail, and
• determination to get technicalities “right”,
flag disorders common to nerds. What a disordered mind that numbskull must have! How much could Silicon Valley accomplish without those qualities? Or any science or engineering? Heeding details and getting things right is not a disorder. Thinking they are, is.

The article on selenium demonstrates the ongoing need to keep a sense of proportion in science. Legalisms have strayed vastly out of whack, reminiscent of the bad old days of the Delaney Clause. More such abuses lurk in classifying substances as “generally recognized as safe” though textbook science and plain English do not generally recognize them that way at all. JIR welcomes shout-outs and spoofs about exemplars.

While nosing around for pictures to illustrate our “big nose” article, I didn’t remember Jimmy Durante in time. The Wikimedia search engine brought up a lot of portraits from areas surrounding the Caspian Sea. Is this characteristic supported by research? How else has it been applied?

Most commercial companies are too sober-sided and too sales-focused to be any fun. Congratulations to O’Reilly Auto Parts for advertising their flux-capacitor. We’d love to learn about other science-fun items.

We have a new minimalist leader in adhering to our length-standard of “write it for what it’s worth. Include everything you ought to, then stop.” Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Dr. Paul K. Dayton, a rare wit, has whittled his main contents to 2 letters: “No.” He doesn’t leave much opportunity to reduce contents further.

A passing mention in Daniel Galef’s “Academic Bestiary” invites elucidation. Those “brightly coloured Salad Trees” are planted outside of his article’s animal kingdom. Are they related to “fruit salad trees”? Could an imaginative botanist please elaborate?

Chipmunk butter, lauded in Robert Haas’s article, is surely not the only imaginable rare gem of a food. Please recommend what else ought to be.

Students Need Imagination and Creativity, But Some Mismanage It.

by Norman Sperling
December 25, 2016

In Fall 2016 I had more students than usual, and they committed more bloopers than usual:

Much of what we know about the universe is unknown.

An overview about a brief overview

The celestial spear does not exist physically.

The sun was directly overhead at noon during the summer solstice and this was marked by the Mayan by aligning important buildings.

In Chichen Itza at sunset the sun would set directly in front of the building.

equatorial pole

The entire Mason Dixon line was surveyed through a stone.

Kepler [wrote] his laws of planetary emotion.

Planets orbit around the sun in ellipsises ... .

The orbit of the sun is an ellipse on the focus.

The square of the period of a planet is proportional to the cubic square of its orbital radius.

The period was squared of a sidereal was proportional to the cubed of distances.

Newton’s idea of gravity explained how the moon is rotating around each big planet.

Many galaxies and objects orbit around the Earth.

Reflecting telescopes were made to eliminate [chromatic aberration] by not having light come in.

The spacecraft Voyager was launched with Yuri Gaganan bravely setting out to find out more informations about the moon.

Particles collided so randomly that the point of randomness did not exist.

Comets have certain features that allows the planets to stay the way they are, maintain its temperature and function.

[Magnetic fields on] many other planets are unable to be identified, some may have North poles, other may have South Poles.

Hubole set out a spacecraft that landed on the surface of Venus.

An object is stuck to the surface of the Earth, instead of vice versa.

Tectonic plates can collide with another, making rivets in the surface or Mountains above.

Magnetic field of the Sun ... causes the rotation of the planet and keeps each stars and comets in its own place without having them fly out different places. It keeps constant the eyle of rotation and speed and makes it possible for planets to stationed.

When a star is closer to the astromer they give off blue rays, farther away give off red.

Planets that redshift are “moving” further away from us on the surface of the Earth.

Both the red dwarves and the red giants go throw the red shift, which is shifting their position in regards to size and temperature that evolve over time.

The observed redshit of spectra from distant galaxies caused astronomers to believe the Universe is expanding.

If we look at the spectral lines of an astronomical object far away, the red color on the spectral lines will move farther away every time we observe, creating a shift between observations.

75% of Long Gamma Ray Bursters occur in galaxies with the lowest mental content.

Two supermassive black holes have been found in the Chandra X-ray satellite.

The “Big Dang” explosion

The Issues of the Issue: JIR Volume 52, #4

© Norman Sperling, December 31, 2014

As always, The Journal of Irreproducible Results brings up real issues in its light-hearted way.

“We submitted most of our research design and several very good red velvet bundt cakes and a bottle of Scotch to the local Institutionalized Review Bored consisting of a bioethicist and his medical marijuana, a fairly convincing female impersonator, Plinkey (a nearsighted but lovely golden cocker spaniel), a black & white photograph of Merv Griffin, Mrs. Bronson, and 2 bowling pins. As usual, we were granted full authorization to proceed.”
- Herschel Knapp, PhD, UCLA, page 25

How good and proper are Institutional Review Boards? Occasionally I hear a little grousing. Surely researchers don’t have as much latitude as they used to, and shouldn’t. Are some boards too lax? Are some too restrictive? Should the rules they enforce be adjusted? Should some research be opened back up?

Fireplaces recede into history as more recent heating methods keep us warm. Fireplaces still lend romance and atmosphere. Unfortunately, the atmosphere they generate when users don’t know any better is carbon monoxide, which has killed humans for centuries. The Doherty family wrote an article pointing out that CO deaths rise in the Holiday season, following cheery fires. Let awareness rise instead of deaths.

An optometrist focuses on the problem that “most multi-focal contact lens patients need to accept that to be able to see well for reading, one has to put up with the occasional automobile accident. Conversely, to maintain adequate distance vision, most multi-focal contact lens wearers should expect to carry a lighthouse with them wherever they go, to provide adequate lighting for near tasks.” Exaggeration brings out humor, but to what degree is this true? Should advertising be reined back?

Siri leads consumers by the ear. Her “artificial intelligence” flows out of smartphones. Will she eventually violate Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics? John Wade thinks she could. Or at least, he thought that when he submitted the article we just printed. We haven’t heard from him since.

Hanjo Hamann of Bonn, Germany, tells how a legal scholar there conjured up a type of animal that nature never made. Laws that are contrary to reality and contrary to evidence need to be expunged. Citizens could not tell whether to follow reality, or, instead, law. That cannot promote respect for the law. JIR invites more hilarity on “legal fictions”.

Ice Bucket Challenges made a big splash in late 2014. Sports teams had dumped on heroes for decades, but all of a sudden it became a charity issue, and spread incautiously. Someone died immediately after being dumped on, and the meme receded as abruptly as it arose. A lot of memes aren’t great ideas, and JIR will happily target many of those. Thanks to future-doctor Ryan Sieli for this one.

A curiosity of archaeology and paleontology caught the attention of 3 researchers from the Wolff family (Wolvves?). Excavators in the field *lick* specimens. Bones and their fossils stick to the tongue, while stone and pottery do not. They investigate and propose a reason.

Our front cover continues a JIR tradition stretching back decades: a microscopic photo resembling something funny, in this case Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. These days, Science develops more imaging that ever. We invite amusing contributions from every form of imaging, not just microscopy. Embellishments welcome.

Futurist Steve Johnson shows how current building materials could be fashioned into vastly different houses than tradition fosters.

My front-cover quip mentions alternating-current batteries, a curious concept that an engineer once blew past me. We invite richer exploration of the possibilities.

Once more, contributors have been great with words and less great with illustrations. Once more, we filled in from our now-favorite source, WikiMedia Commons, part of the Wikipedia cluster. A lot of their trove of illustrations are “some-rights-reserved”, usually simply requiring attribution. This time, we thank Kim Quintano, and for the cute cat pictures: Lauraprl, Stephan Czuratis, Alexandra, Dan4th, and chmee2.

Wikipedia and WikiMedia, though not always right or best-proportioned, are spectacular places to start an inquiry. You have some expertise, or you wouldn’t be reading JIR. Please donate some of that by improving Wikipedia articles in subjects and languages you know well.

My Students Explained These to Me

© Norman Sperling, December 25, 2014

Most of my intro-astro students are diligent, and many are creative. Some of that second group aren’t in the first group. Here’s what they wrote on tests.

* [Mayans] used the sun to tell time by using steaks and shadows.

* Planets cover the same amount of mass in the same amount of time.

* [Kepler’s Third Law] The ratio of the average of a period of 2 planets is equal to the average cube of the semi-major axis.

* The period of rotation is proportional to our radius or something!

* Gravity pulls on things because of heat. Sunlight is brought down to Earth with the help from gravity.

* Newtonian telescopes consists of a secondary mirror added to the side in order to create more light to see colors.

* When a meteor passes earth its tail leaves behind comets which light & burn up in the sky or atmosphere of the earth.

* Uranus reflects most of the sunlight that it absorbs.

* You can tell the age of an object by looking at the objects within them.

* You can tell how old a star is by examining its main sequence.

* Stars with darker colors are considered a lot newer.

* Sefiet variables are used to measure the distance between space and the universe.

* A supernova emerges when iron reaches the core of the sun.

* The disk which is made of “arms” is just an extension of clustures which “spirals” out & sometimes makes eddies as a result of the outward gravity for a time being able to push out a section of clustures.

Big Ball of Twine: Cawker City, Kansas

© Norman Sperling, July 16, 2013

On the main street one of the few signs of life is the Ball of Twine, and especially the very clever artworks up and down the block.

I’ll defer to Guinness and Wikipedia to decide which town’s ball of twine really is biggest. This one certainly is awfully big.

Cooler than the twine is the series of paintings. Local artist Cher Olson copied famous paintings, cleverly adding a ball of twine to each.

This could easily adapt to other small attractions. They could be more paintings, or they could be something else -- practically anything, like photoshopping, songs, familiar sayings -- that can adapt to the local feature subject. Folks are very creative, especially online. Adapting online-style humor to points of civic pride shouldn’t be a problem.

Go for it!

Big Ball of Twine: Cawker City, Kansas

© Norman Sperling, July 6, 2013

On the main street one of the few signs of life is the Ball of Twine, and especially the very clever artworks up and down the block.

I’ll defer to Guinness and Wikipedia to decide which town’s ball of twine really is biggest. This one certainly is awfully big.

Cooler than the twine is the series of paintings. Local artist Cher Olson copied famous paintings, cleverly adding a ball of twine to each.

This could easily adapt to other small attractions. They could be more paintings, or they could be something else -- practically anything, like photoshopping -- that allows for adapting to the local feature subject. Folks are very creative, especially online. Adapting online-style humor to points of civic pride shouldn’t be a problem.

Go for it!

The Issues of the Issue: The Journal of Irreproducible Results, v52 #1

© Norman Sperling, Editor, February 5, 2013

JIR always looks for new angles. Longtime contributor Steve Groninger, a voracious reader, sends in several good catches of innumeracy. He finds Copernicus (or his translator?) saying "360° are equal to 2 right angles". Meanwhile, Herschel Knapp at UCLA points out that circles have 360° while triangles only have 180°, so circles are twice as hot as triangles.

Current issues make current articles. Twinkies are famous for not spoiling. Archaeology prof Alex Taub buried a pack at Wenatchee Valley College. Dug up a year later, he found a little spoilage, but not that much. I look forward to the return of Twinkies and especially Hostess cupcakes.

JIR also keeps up with the zombie apocalypse. For a useful indicator, A. L. Holm of the University of Michigan explored counts of websearch finds for "braaains" with various numbers of "a"s. The first supernumerary peak occurs with 3 "a"s, quantities decay till 11, then secondary peaks at 13 and 17, but it takes a surprising number to reach 0. I don't look forward to the return of zombies.

Also up-to-date is our article on texting, as seen by Lehigh prof Brian Pinaire. An idealist, he wants students to pay attention to what he's teaching. For a while I thought this was an age problem, with teenagers self-distracting. Then I saw their middle-aged parents doing the same thing. Should I text my students during class to remind them to pay attention to my lecture?

A longer look at recent trends reveals an accompaniment to several decades of Global Warming: Global Swarming! Pawan Dhar of Yokohama shows that as temperature has risen, so has the invention of new scientific directions.

That generates scads of new scholarly books. Many of us still use actual, physical books. Academic libraries are brimful of them. Longtime librarian Norman Stevens promotes an app for that: leave books anywhere they fit, and guide users to them by GPS.

A much shorter, more specialized form of literature is the "package insert" for drugs. Keenan Bora demonstrates how a treatment could be worse than its disease.

Timeless rather than timely is Andrew Olsen's exploration of the nether end of the spinal cord in human cognition. He indicates that people do often seem to think with their butt. I'm not going to touch that.

Immediately following that conclusion comes an expose of the role of a roll of toilet paper. It doesn't just indicate who's a winner and who's a loser, it determines which is which.

Neither of the 2 previous articles could explain the interview by which Tom Szirtes of Toronto got one of his best jobs.

David J. Burns of Xavier University, Cincinnati, proposes using a "Higgs Vacuum and Mass Transfer Device" for a wonderful particle-physics solution to clinical obesity and the Federal Debt. Higgs bosons confer mass. Extract fat from obese people, and then insert the mass into gold bars.

We are very pleased to publish a further examination of the Dreaded Sock Monster by Elaine Foster, near Melbourne, Australia. We're delighted to learn that she's recovering from some recent setbacks.

A followup of a different character explores the highly-publicized "Mozart Effect". Peter Lefevre of Caltech tested how rats would react to the "music" of the Insane Clown Posse. The lab assistants rebelled. The ethics committee rebelled. And the rats rebelled.

Some people like birds. Some people like cats. Cats prey on birds. Robert Haas summons up a bigger bird - an eagle - that preys on cats.

2 new cartoonists have found us. Sally Mills memorably pronounces on particle physics, and Michael Capozzola has a tasteful take on Star Wars.

For decades, JIR has struggled to find good illustrations. A minority of contributors illustrate their own articles. For the rest, we have to hunt. A new resource is yielding astonishingly appropriate resources: Wikimedia, a "sister project" to Wikipedia. They provided this issue with a leaky bucket, a zombie, boats, medicines, texting, library books, toilet paper, and the surprising picture on page 22. All we have to do is acknowledge the creative-commons sources and terms, and indeed we are very grateful for them. If you have some spare resources, and you also use Wikipedia and Wikimedia, consider enriching their articles, increasing their open media, or sending them some money.

The Exams I Just Graded Weren't Perfect

© Norman Sperling, December 23, 2012

According to my students:

Aristotle believed that the Earth was geocentric.

[Kepler's Law #] Two: Plants move fasters when they are closer to the Sun and slower then they are far away. Third: The period squared equals the semi-radius cubed.

Comets were initially fussy and difficult to see.

Plates "smash" into one another in a subversion zone, like along the Chilean coast.

Volcanoes ... become dormat.

Black holes are prominent in the solar system, but widely misunderstood.

The Big Bang theory states that the death of a star created our galaxy.

the "emberrs" of the Big Bong

The Big Bing was the creation of everything as we know it.

[Let us know when Microsoft's search engine starts listing that one.]

The Journal of Irreproducible Results
This Book Warps Space and Time
What Your Astronomy Textbook Won't Tell You

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