[LMB] Old Moldy OT:

Christine Forber christine at forber.net
Wed May 10 14:59:23 BST 2006

At 01:46 PM 5/10/2006 +0000, Joel Polowin wrote:
>And yes, in general people are not good about sanity checks on
>calculated results.  "Okay, you calculated the pressure in the system
>as around -100,000 atmospheres.  Doesn't that number seem... *large*?
>And what *is* a large *negative* pressure supposed to mean?"  "But
>that's what the calculator said!"  <*sigh*>

When I marked exams, once in a while a student would get a 
really blatantly wrong answer, realize that it couldn't be 
right and say so. I always gave them bonus marks for knowing 
that their answer was wrong, even if they couldn't figure 
out why. Unfortunately, cases like that were few and far 
between. Most just trusted their calculators and obviously 
didn't THINK about whether the answer was reasonable. I 
can't figure out how someone could have written a statement 
to the effect of "It would take 10^6 g of chemical to make a 
1L buffer solution of pH #." Sure. Right. Or the converse 
10^-6 g. I wouldn't want a student like that working in a lab 
with me.

I'm sure that anyone who has taught engineering labs or 
courses could give similar examples.


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