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Uploaded:2013-06-14
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In which Hank answers a question on a geology test that is really a terrible question and that the student who answered incorrectly may have been more right than any of us supposed.

NERDFIGHTER CENSUS!
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PD6ZRK7
Good Morning John! I suppose I should still be making these videos for you even though you're not making them for me.

So I spotted this thing on tumblr and I almost reblogged it, but then I figured, no, this is good enough for a whole video.

It's a piece of what appears to be a science quiz, and it asks the question "What is the strongest force on earth?" and the student has written "Love," and the teacher has crossed it out with a big red X.

Well I want to know what the greatest force on earth actually is, and also what the teacher thinks it is. And I just really like to over-analyze stuff, so let's do that now!

First, physicists will tell you that there are in fact only four forces in the universe. There's gravity which is the obvious one that we feel all the time 'cause, you know, it's always trying to make us fall over which is super annoying, unless you're in bed, in which case I'm jealous. But gravity, it turns out, is actually the weakest of the forces. There's actually electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force, and as the name suggests, the strong nuclear force is the strongest force: it is 1 * 10^39 times stronger than gravity! For people who don't know scientific notation, watch CrashCourse chemistry. Also, it's j-- it's a lot.

So that's the answer-- the actual definite answer to the question is it is the strong force. Done, right?

No, not done, because probably if the student had put that down the teacher still would've put a big red X through it. In the question above, which mentions igneous and sedimentary rocks, I can assume that this is a geology quiz. And with that information, I am going to guess that the teacher's actually trying to ask, "What thing has the greatest impact on the earth's geology?" And the answer that they're looking for is "water", or "the hydrological cycle," which, yes, has a huge impact on the geology of the earth.

But you can also make other cases. You could say that life has the greatest impact on the planet on the geology of the earth by creating soils and preventing erosion and transpiring moisture into the atmosphere.

But the more interesting line of reason for me is if you interpret the question -- and YES it is open for interpretation, obviously, because it is so poorly worded. Not "What has had the greatest impact on the earth's geology?" but "What is currently having the greatest impact on the earth's geology?" And, in that case, it is very easy to make the case that the answer to that question is humans.

We humans turn mountains inside-out, dry up lakes, turn deserts into gardens and forests into deserts. But there's more to it than that, right? Like, what is the force that drives humans? What is the reason why there are so many humans on the planet? Well, my friends, what is that force? The force that keeps us together, keeps us feeding out children, keeps us coupling and making more? It's love. It's love, isn't it? It's really-- it's sex. It's... yeah.

But you could make the case that the answer to the question the teacher thinks they are asking -- that they're not actually asking -- is love. And that, my friends, is how to BS your way into an "A" on a geology test. I do have to say though that's not the actual answer, though, because the actual answer is the energy of the Sun, without which the hydrological cycle, trees, and people would not exist.


Text appears on screen: TOPIC CHANGE! [background music]


John and I were talking recently about how we like to think that we understand this community that we, you know, interact with constantly, but we probably really don't -- at least not to a, like, great degree of accuracy. So John and I have decided that it would be a good idea to do a census of Nerdfighteria. There's a link in the description to a survey. It's about 30 questions long, it'll take 10-30 minutes, and we would really really appreciate it if you'd take the time to fill it out.

Craig, thank you for your amazing video this week! And Grace, I will see you on Tuesday.