Online reading assignment: fusion, nebulae, star cluster ages (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on fusion, nebulae, and star cluster ages.

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"I think it's cool how molecular clouds are what provide the material and environments from which stars are born and created. Also, how they form the basis of our planets and how one day our sun will become a planetary nebula."

"I found hydrostatic equilibrium interesting because it made perfect sense that if there wasn't a balance between weight and pressure a star would expand or shrink until it is balanced."

"I learned that protons of the same disposition hate each other...seems a bit harsh but i guess its true that opposites attract... I hope in the future the positive protons can work out their differences, or in this case their similarities."

"An interesting thing from the reading was that bigger stars live shorter lives than the smaller stars. This was interesting because, again, you think bigger is better. Turns out, bigger is not better in this case."

"I liked the cheerleader part of the online presentation! =]"

"The 'house party' analogy is entertaining enough to stick with me (I really do hope): massive stars (aunties--early), medium-mass stars (friends--evening), low-mass (losers--too late, too long)."

"That supernovae can kickstart other star and planet formations by helping material clump together."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I found nuclear fusion confusing because I don't understand how light nuclei could combine into heavier nuclei."

"The formation of stars is confusing because it makes no sense to me."

"The 'cheerleader' model was actually more confusing than the scientific explanation."

"After the textbook talked about the interstellar medium, it just lost me. It started to throw out all these big a-- words and terms. I just didn't follow."

"Hydrostatic equilibrium is confusing to me."

"Nothing was too confusing, it was all pretty chill."
Briefly explain why "cold fusion" (producing energy from hydrogen fusion at room temperature) would be implausible.
"Because the atoms are all positive so they repel and to fuse they have to be squished together and they move too slow at cool temperatures to be squished."

"Is it because room temperature is not hot enough to start cold fusion?"
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I'm glad the midterm wasn't as hard as I thought it would be!" (And I'm happy for you, as well.)

"Have we achieved any form of cold fusion or is it a major pipe dream?" (So far, no, so dream on.)

"Do you still do the Waifer X cartoons?" (Not in the past ten years. But maybe again, one day.)

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