Online reading assignment: history of atoms, Earth, the moon, Mercury (SLO 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 history of atoms, Earth, and the impacted worlds: the moon, and Mercury.

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 found the greenhouse effect to be interesting because I was able to visualize the concept since I know what a greenhouse is; plants can grow with the heat from the sunlight. I thought it was cool that it was also considered the 'parked car effect' since sunlight heats up a car, but the heat gets trapped."

"That the universe is in us..."

"How similar Earth is to the moon and nearby planets. Although entirely different, it's interesting seeing the similarities."

"I found it interesting how the moon is almost all crust with a smaller core than it thought it should have considering its size."

"After Earth formed and it was cooling the oceans formed which started dissolving carbon dioxide and removing it from the atmosphere it then reacted with dissolved compounds in the water to form limestone and other mineral sediments. I find this interesting because I have never thought about how these things were created and it is a very easy concept to understand and I guess I was just surprised by the information."

"The fact that volcanoes put carbon dioxide in our atmosphere but that oceans absorb a lot of it so it doesn't pollute our atmosphere too much."

"What was interesting to me was the history of atoms in our body. For example, atoms heavier than iron such as iodine were created by rapid nuclear reactions that only occur during supernova explosions. I found this really cool and interesting because I never knew this until now and I was always curious about what people were made of."

"I think it's interesting that if the moon and Mercury had formed in the same manner as Earth, then they would be expected to have the same size cores as Earth."

"I really liked the cute little comic strip!! I like the poetic appeal to it. I love Earth! :D"
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"The greenhouse effect was a little confusing, maybe just a little clarification."

"That the universe is in us..."

"It's not really confusing, but when the book says that all this stuff happened and everything is constantly changing, it's a little hard to grasp that. We live for 100 years at the most, while it takes years and years for a planet to form, for example. It's crazy."

"How certain theories apply to how planets were formed and how it is known."
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"We are made of matter from the first 3 min of our universe?" (Only if you are primarily made of hydrogen, with a sprinkling of deuterium, helium, and lithium thrown in.)

"Is the reading suggesting that some or all moons are formed from high impact events?" (Only Earth and the moon, and Mercury.)

"I thought there were eight quizzes total and three would be dropped. It says there are only seven on the schedule though. I remember you mentioning this early on in the semester but I must have forgot." ("Quiz 8" is credit fir taking the educational research surveys in class.)

"I was recently told by a friend that the static that you can hear in between radio stations has something to do with the big bang. Do you know? " (About 1% or so of that static.)

"Do we need to know all the other planets rotations and angles that are exceptions to the natural rotation pattern in the solar system?" (Only that they are all more or less the same, except for the notably tilted-over axis of Uranus.)

"Neil deGrasse Tyson is the bee's knees, one of my favorite people to listen to/watch. Have you heard of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast? He interviews him in #310, free on iTunes [also on YouTube] if you ever want to kill 2.5 hrs in a long drive. Really entertaining to listen to his down-to-earth caliber as a hardcore astrophysicist!" (Neil is da man.)

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