Via Charles Stross’ LJ, I found this Astronomy knowledge quiz. Since the link was posted, the quiz writer modified the results so it gives you the ratio of correct answers in each category rather than the precentage. So I got 5 of 5 background knowledge, 6 of 8 solar system, 6 of 6 stars, and 5 of 5 galaxies.
- A TV Educational show called The Universe and I (not sure about the name - Google is ignorant of it. I recall it was pretty good). - source for 1 and 2 (they had a show about a scientist obsessed with terraforming Venus). Also, probably Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.
- Carl Sagan’s Cosmos is apparently where I learned my history of Astronomy - questions 4, 5 and 6.
- 3 I got by guesswork - a
3:2 spin:orbit couplingseems more likely for a planet that’s very close to the Sun.
- I can’t pinpoint the source for 7. But it’s the only name on the list which pops up when the expansion of the universe is mentioned.
- I think Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Oddessy 2010 (the book) is where I got 8.
- I got 9 totally wrong, just by guessing that Saturn’s rings should be, well, big…
- (10) - Mars, duh! Emm, lots of places, but Sagan’s Cosmos is probably the most prominent one. Terry Bisson’s Voyage to the Red Planet and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Green Mars (the novella) make good use of Valle Marineris and Olympus Mons respectively, and any discussion of Martian terraforming talks about those Ice caps.
- (11) - Umm, some recent New Scientist article that popped through my Bloglines feed?
- (12) - There was an article in a PC computing magazine I read back in the days when inserting software into a magazine meant including listings in BASIC, which was about a program for generating realistic Science Fiction planets. I couldn’t get the program to run (I had the wrong type of computer, and I don’t remember if I bothered typing it all in), but that article fascinated me, and it explained stellar classification to introduce the background. I’ve read the stellar classification primer stuff lots of times since than (the mnemonic I might have read elsewhere), but that was the article that etched OBAFGKM into my mind.
- (13) - either Cosmos or some popular science article I read since. Larry Niven loves these things too, maybe he mentioned them.
- (14) - either Cosmos or those “how to create Science Fiction planets” articles I read since the first one.
- (15) - A guess using common sense.
- (16) - a guess, following from (15).
- (17) - Asa Dotzler’s blog (which I read in Bloglines). The only things he blogs about seem to be Mozilla and Mars exploration.
- (18) - Most popular articles about recent Cosmology that I ran across seem to mention the Microwave background radiation of the Universe.
- (19) - Guess. Also, I know Astronomers like spectral analysis, whatever that is.
- (20) - Larry Niven’s talk in the 1990 San Diego Comic Con, where he regalled the audience with tidbits of his Green Lantern pitch. One of the things I remember is his idea that the Green Lantern power ring’s inability to effect the color yellow had something to do with the fact that the newly created universe was once all yellow (presumably that’s why the Guardians couldn’t see further back into the origin of the Universe, which is why they had Crisis on Infinite Earths, or something.
So, to summarize my results:
You are a geek, who reads a lot of blogs. Also, Cosmos was a damn good show.