Liveblogging Launch Pad

Q: What’s big and scaly?

A: The scale of the universe.*

We had a test this morning. Parts of it were really hard.

When did I last sit a test? I am not certain; possibly my solo year of college, way back when (’77, for those of you who count). If there’s been anything since, I don’t remember it. But these nice Launch Pad astronomers wanted to know the scale of our ignorance, so now they do. (As witness, Andria is sternly telling us to bubble in our answers, and I have to stick my hand up and say “Please, miss, what on earth do you mean?” I don’t know if things are different now, but certainly when I was at school we did not have bubble tests.) [For those who have hung on to their ignorance for, ooh, a couple of hours more than I did, these are multiple-choice sheets where you don’t tick the circle for your answer, you fill it in entirely: you bubble it. I still don’t think it works in a semiotic sense – a bubble is the opposite, surely, of “filled in” – but there you go. That’s what they call it, and an entire nation – I have learned – is not going to correct its usage simply because I point out the fallacy inherent.]

So yeah, we did a test; and then we had our first proper lecture. On the scales of the universe. I did kinda know about this already – “Space is big. Really big.” – and there was a supercool animation I think on the BBC site a couple of years back, that I can’t find now, but it’s always good to be reminded. And to be given handy data, like it would take a passenger jet 1100 years to fly around the circumference of the largest known star. Or it would take over nine years to walk to the moon, assuming that you did nothing but walk (tho’ you only need to go three miles an hour, there’s no hurry).

So that was this morning, and now here comes the afternoon…

*You really do not need to know that my favourite joke is “What’s brown and sticky?” – “A stick!”

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Liveblogging Launch Pad — 6 Comments

  1. “Bubble” as they’re using it is not a common US usage. I don’t care what they say. I’ve taken umpteen zillion tests where you have to fill in the whole tiny circle so some machine can read it and not one person giving that test ever told me to “bubble” in the answer. I grant it’s been quite a while since I’ve taken one — thank God — but the image of standardized tests in imprinted in my brain. You use a Number 2 pencil and fill in the whole damn circle. You don’t “bubble” it.

    (Though I confess I knew exactly what they meant the minute I read your post.)

    I’d wish I were there, too, but since I’m sitting in a cheap motel with a lovely view of a nice sunset (after driving through rain all day, though not cursing it because you don’t curse rain in drought-ridden Texas), I’m pretty happy where I am. But I do want to do Launch Pad one of these days. I can figure out bubbling, but I’m pretty weak on astronomy.

  2. Oh, to be with you!

    I just had to take several tests in the last month, and it was one of those “Ace this test, fail that one” assessment things. ARGH. Do not envy you the tests.

    But part of me wanted to be an astronomer!

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