[ToC]

 

HOW DO BALLPOINT PENS WORK?

Ardith Bravenec

 

 

"Work on the illusion of explanatory depth demonstrates that participants tend to think they have a better understanding of how objects work (e.g., a ballpoint pen) than they can demonstrate when that understanding is put to the test."

—Atir, S., Rosenzweig, E., Dunning, D. When Knowledge Knows No Bounds: Self-Perceived Expertise Predicts Claims of Impossible Knowledge. Psychological Science, 2015, 26(8), 1295–1303.

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Suggested Time: 14 questions—7 minutes

DIRECTIONS TO THE EXAMINEE

DO NOT TURN THE PAGE UNTIL DIRECTED TO DO SO

This is a multiple-choice examination. Three choices are available for each question. Only one of the answers is the most appropriate answer.

Use the provided answer sheet to blacken the corresponding space to your answer. Only No. 2 pencils are acceptable for this exam. Once you have marked your answer it cannot be changed. Make a full mark. Answer sheets with stray marks or multiple answers will not be scored.

The presence of any programmable device (including but not limited to smart-toasters, cell phones, and wearable fitness technology devices), or any device that can access the internet, take photographs, record memories, or make copies will result in immediate disqualification.

***BALLPOINT PENS ARE NOT PERMITTED IN THE EXAM***

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DO NOT TURN THE PAGE UNTIL DIRECTED TO DO SO

 

1. A ballpoint pen is best described as

     a) An appliance
     b) A writing utensil
     c) A bit of liquid tungsten-carbide

2. The ballpoint pen dispenses _____ from a reservoir.

     a) Ink
     b) Graphite
     c) Diadems of hours

3. Pigmented ink is best described as

     a) A colloidal system of fine pigment particles dispersed in an aqueous or organic solvent
     b) A paste principally composed of a dye solute dissolved in a wetting agent
     c) Anointed sugar water

4. Legend says that in the 1960s NASA spent millions to invent a pen to write in space. The Soviet cosmonauts used a pencil. Why is this story untrue?

     a) The space pen was faked by Stanley Kubrick.
     b) The space pen "invented" by Paul C. Fisher is actually a cleverly disguised pencil.
     c) The question demonstrates Impossible Knowledge.

5. I lie about my memories because

     a) I think I know a lot more than I do.
     b) I want you to think I know a lot more than I do.
     c) I'm hiding I know a lot more than you think I do.

6. Pigmented ink in a ballpoint pen is an example of a _____ fluid.

     a) shear thinning (pseudoplastic) non-Newtonian
     b) sparkle-color
     c) wet

7. The two basic components of ink formulas are

     a) Marshmallows and bandcamps
     b) Colorants and vehicles
     c) Glitter and tubes

8. You are flying on a plane at a high altitude. How will this affect the ballpoint pen in your left pocket?

     a) Prior to takeoff, the pen's ink will be at the local atmospheric pressure. Upon reaching altitude, a decrease in air pressure causes the air bubble/column above the ink reservoir to expand and force ink out of the pen.
     b) This is absurd. Planes don't exist. [But if they did the answer would be a).]
     c) This is absurd. Planes don't exist. [But if they did, the answer still would not be a).]

9. Complete the sentence. I cheat/perform poorly on tests because

     a) I'm afraid someone (the teacher) will steal my answers.
     b) It hurts to look at all the white space.
     c) The tests are poorly written (probably by a grad student harboring delusions of grandeur).

10. Suppose the plane from Question 8 has crashed on a small, mysterious island. Which of the following would best promote survival?

     a) A smart-toaster and ballpoint pen
     b) A wearable fitness technology device and ballpoint pen
     c) A book on fluid dynamics and a ballpoint pen

11. Which component is NOT a part of the standard ballpoint pen?

     a) The freely rotating ball point
     b) A socket to hold the ball in place
     c) Regrets, dredged in pollen

12. If an examinee is caught cheating on this exam, what can be reasonably inferred?

     a) The examinee is prepared for corporate work.
     b) The examinee is prepared for law school exams.
     c) The examinee suffers from overclaiming.

13. The purpose of this exam is to

     a) Advertise space pens and Kubrick films
     b) Prepare examinees for law school
     c) Monitor students for a psychology study

14. I am a _________.   I learned something about ________.

     a) bad sibling                 joke-testing
     b) compulsive liar        science-poetry
     c) horror fan                  text-anxiety

 

END OF TEST

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NOTE TO THE EXAMINATIONS TASK FORCE:

The authors accept no responsibility for errors.

In the original version of the examination, no answers were given in order for the examinee to become complicit in discovery. The original examination first administered in 1976 contained 135 questions in the form of long essay answer, sentence elimination, vocabulary matching, colonic irrigation, laboratory practical, fill-in-the-banks, and short essay answer. The authors believe that the current multiple-choice iteration preserves this intent by not forcing instructors to grade illegible handwriting over the weekend.

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Answer Key:

1 b                               
2 a
3 a
4 c
5 ??? maybe
6 b
7 b
8 b
9 answers may vary
10 c
11 a
12 all answers acceptable
13 confirm correct answer with testing center
14 c

 

 

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Not all of my writing is inspired by scientific papers. Some is inspired by patents. I used to take apart a lot of pens as a kid and sometimes I put them back together.