Archive for May 16, 2019

English SATs Questions for Year 6 – Could you answer them?

Posted in Education, Pedantry with tags , , on May 16, 2019 by telescoper

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not averse to a bit of pedantry now and again and, in contrast to many of my colleagues, I actually find grammar quite interesting. I was however quite shocked to see these questions (shared on Facebook by a concerned parent). They appear on the Standard Attainment Test (SAT) for taken by her son, who is in Year 6.

I think they’re ridiculous. I wonder how many of you could answer these five sample questions correctly without looking things up on the web? I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do them all at age 11! More to the point, who* decided that the names of grammatical structures should be deemed so important?

Far better, in my opinion, to concentrate on cultivating a love of reading.

*It was Michael Gove.


Circle the relative pronoun in the sentence below.

“It’s too rainy for the picnic today, which is a shame.”


Circle all the determiners in the sentence below.

“The man’s hair was very long, so my uncle cut it using a pair of the clippers he owns.”


Underline the subordinate clause in this sentence.

“I don’t need a school dinner today because I have brought sandwiches.”


Circle the modal verb in this sentence:

“If I can leave early, I would like to meet Anna at the park, as she said she might be there.”


Tick one box to show whether the word ‘before’ is used as a preposition or a subordinating conjunction:

“We left the cinema before the film had ended.”

“Simon finished before Paul in the race.”

“Train tickets are often cheaper before 9am.”




Unsound History of the Sound of Space

Posted in History, The Universe and Stuff on May 16, 2019 by telescoper

Here’s a fascinating blog on the astronomy history which is well worth reading, so I thought I’d reblog to draw it to your attention!


Among others, it features Robert Grosseteste who I wrote about here.

The Renaissance Mathematicus

Those readers, who have been around for a number of years, will know that from time to time the Renaissance Mathematicus has hosted guest posts. One thing that we are very proud of is the very high standard of the authors, who have delivered up, at our invitation, those literary #histSTM highpoints. We only host the best! Todays guest post continues this tradition with a real star of the world of science, science writing and #histSTM, Tom McLeish FRS. Tom was Professor of Physics at Durham University, where he was one of the initiators and chief investigators of the on going Ordered Universe international research project: InterdisciplinaryReadings of Medieval Science: Robert Grosseteste (c.1170–1253).

800px-Grosseteste_bishop !4th Century portrait of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tom is now Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics at the University of York (I think he’s doing a slow…

View original post 1,264 more words


Posted in Opera with tags on May 16, 2019 by telescoper

I couldn’t resist sharing this hilarious introduction to the art of the Wagnerian dramatic soprano from the sublime Anna Russell.