Thursday, February 14, 2008

Honeymoon's Over.

I don't know, I may have spoken too soon about how great all my teachers are this semester.

I had my first geology exam last Friday. It's a basic geology for non-majors class. The professor is a little odd, but I usually like odd people. The material right away seemed pretty advanced, but I felt confident after getting an A in Biology of AIDS last semester, which, if you don't remember, was very hard.

I have a heavy course load this semester, and I've been a little overwhelmed with the amount of reading, but I studied, I thought, adequately for the exam. There were a few questions that totally stumped me, but I thought I did well.

Except that there were three questions that I didn't like at all. One asked for information that we were specifically asked not to worry about memorizing. (We were to remember the Eons, Periods, and Ages, but not the Epochs. The answer to one of the questions was one of the Epochs. Fair?) Another asked for the age of the universe. The correct answer, on the test, was 13-14 byo. Our textbook says 15. Okay, maybe there's a little play in the age of the universe.

But this is the one I can't let slide. The question was, "The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter represents ______. (a) a disintegrated terrestrial planet, (b) a disintegrated gaseous planet, (c) remnants of a large comet that orbited the Sun, (d) fragments that never aggregated into a planet. The textbook for the class very clearly supports "d." The answer he wanted for the test was "a." I looked this up in several sources and all of them point to "d." Some of them say that the disintegrated planet theory used to be what scientists believed but that now the consensus is that the asteroids were never a planet. (I chose "d" on the test and got it wrong.) Here's a little math: I got an 86 on the test. There were 50 questions, so, without the three fucked-up questions, I would have gotten a 92. Which is an A. Which is better than a B.

I emailed the professor, because I thought it must be a mistake in the exam key or something and he would want to know. He emailed back and said that the asteroids contained mantle and crust material which proves they were melted at some point, so they must have been a planet. He also said, "You should chuck your source." I wrote back and said that my source was the textbook for the course (which I'd already told him, and quoted in my email) and that all the websites he'd referred us to for information on the solar system also contradicted his answer.

That was two days ago and he hasn't responded. I don't know what to do at this point. I'm not going to let it go. I don't want to be a dick, but I want to know what's up. Either the test is wrong and needs to be fixed, or I'm wrong. If I'm wrong, he's the teacher and he should explain it to me. I didn't let lazy teachers off the hook when I was 7 years old; I'm sure as hell not going to do it now.