Online reading assignment: quantum leaps, sun's outer layers (SLO campus)

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2016
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 quantum leaps, and the sun's outer layers.

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.
"That photons were responsible for the different colors in neon signs, because I had originally thought that it was just because of the glass color."

"The process by which electrons change states (quantum jumps) in gas tube lit signs, because it is such a commonplace item and process, yet it is a manipulation of physics and chemistry that achieves an impressive result, and which previous generations of humans could have considered sorcery if they ever encountered it."

"I did not know the sun has certain layers, and what those certain layers do. I was interested in this because I thought the whole sun was just a big ball of fire."

"That the chromosphere is a special layer where the sun is torturing hydrogen electrons to make them emit a lavender color. I found this interesting because it explains the circle of light we see during a total solar eclipse."

"ow if you land on a certain spot on the sun (sunspot) you will live a little longer than landing on a different part of the sun."

"It made sense for me when you referred to miso soup as "sun-surface" soup. I love miso soup."

"The lava lamp and miso soup analogies. Good visual images to help us remember."

"The corona and chromosphere, because you can actually see the sun's outer atmosphere during a total solar eclipse."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Still confused on the electron and photon laws."

"I found granulation somewhat confusing because it's explaining the grains on the sun's surface, but what are the grains made up of?"

"In the example, the lava lamp blobs continuously move back and forth as opposed to staying in one spot, what exactly is causing the blobs to move from top to bottom?"

"Protons/photons <-- is this a spelling error?"

"Why sunspots are cooler than the rest of the sun; sunspots in general were pretty confusing."

"I found the section that talked about the electron and photon rule a bit confussing, the visuals didn't really help me understand how the electrons change energy levels."

"Anything chemistry related confuses me."

"I'm not good with chemistry and science, so I got lost on the discussing about atoms and how sunspots compared to magnets and televisions."

An electron in an atom must emit a photon when it jumps from a __________ energy orbital to a __________ energy orbital.
lower; higher.  ********* [9]
higher; lower.  ************************************ [36]
(Both of the above choices.)  ** [2]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  ** [2]

An electron in an atom must absorb a photon when it jumps from a __________ energy orbital to a __________ energy orbital.
lower; higher.  ************************************ [36]
higher; lower.  ******** [8]
(Both of the above choices.)  *** [3]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  ** [2]

The exterior of the sun, from inner to outermost layers, are the:
(Only correct responses shown.)
inner: photosphere [69%]
middle: chromosphere [73%]
outer: corona [69%]

State your preference regarding miso soup.
Strongly dislike.  *** [3]
Dislike.  * [1]
Neutral.  *********** [11]
Like  ********** [10]
Strongly like.  ********************* [21]
(I don't know what miso soup is.)  *** [3]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"When speaking about what photons the electrons give off, you wrote that the photons they give off correspond with only specific colors--are those colors the only colors that come from electrons giving off photons or can they be any color? What about when electrons take on photons?" (Because the energy level spacings are fixed for hydrogen, there are only certain ways electrons can jump down between these levels, so the different photons they emit each correspond to a different "jump-down" transition. There a quite a few "jump-down" paths an electron can take, but most of the photons released are infrared, or ultraviolet. The only visible light photons released from hydrogen electrons jumping down are violet, red, and blue, which together our eyes perceive as "pinkish lavender" (which is strictly not a color of the rainbow, as it is a mixture of different colors.)

"I'd always assumed the sun had a core of some sense, but now I realize it is a giant gaseous 'ball.' I never realized that it had layers of low density, and high density gases. Does that mean it doesn't actually have a core? Or is its center a core of gas?" (It's center is a highly pressurized, hot gas that squeezes hydrogen to fuse into helium, which continuously produces all of the energy of the sun. #thesunisamassofincandescentgas #agiganticnuclearfurnace #wherehydrogenisbuiltintohelium #atatemperatureofmillionsofdegrees)

"How long is the first midterm?" (Ten multiple-choice questions taken from your first three quizzes, and three essay questions on selected topics that we will review in class tonight.)

"I think I learn better from your mini-lectures in class than I do from the book, you tend to have better visual aids and examples for explaining ideas." (Only because when you give me feedback on what you find interesting and/or confusing from the reading assignments, I know exactly which topics to cover in class.)

"Is it true that the sun will eventually expand over the next billion years and end up burning up Earth and its inhabitants? (Yes. #yolo)

"Wouldn't you technically die before you landed on the sun?" (Not if you were completely chill.)

"I can't see the cobras." (You will.)

"The unspoken law of quantum physics--is that actually true: 'Nothing not forbidden is allowed?'" (Yes. In science, if something never happens, then we deduce that there must be a law behind it. And anything that is not forbidden by that law, then, is allowed to happen. (If something is discovered to "break" a scientific law, then we would then need to deduce a new law.)

":D Are you gonna bring miso soup to class? For educational purposes of course..." (No, that's your homework. I can't do your homework for you.)

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