Anyone else watching University Challenge find themselves yelling at the screen this evening?

Two questions which I think were answered correctly but Jeremy Paxman ruled them as being wrong:

1) if a satellite is in earth orbit, whatis being contantly changed by its acceleration due to gravity?

The answer given by the first team was “velocity” which is surely unchallengeable – acceleration is a change in velocity if it’s anything at all. But Paxman ruled it as wrong, and then accepted an answer from the other team of “change in direction” – well, yes, but velocity includes direction (and speed).

2) what characteristic of activated charcoal makes it so good at adsorbing gases?

The answer given was “its porosity” which was ruled as incorrect, Paxman declaring that the right answer is “its expanded surface area”. But the reason it has an expanded surface area is because of its porosity. Even Wikipedia writes of its “large amount of microporosity”. So porosity is not the precise answer but I would certainly have ruled it as close enough.

Not that it would have changed the result, as the Privy Council comfortably beat the Romantic Novelists for the title. But sometimes my long-neglected scientific education manifests itself.

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1 Response to Velocity/porosity

  1. artw says:

    fellow-worshipper *with* the twins, unless Presbyterian theology is more deviant than I had realised.

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