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Posted by Gary on March 04, 2002

In Reply to: Profs posted by Word Camel on March 04, 2002

: : : : Anybody can tell me what is the quantitative measure of an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE? Or is there one?

: : : : Thanx in advance.

: : : I am under the probably mistaken impression that this term comes to us from astrophysics. Stars are classified by magnitude, I believe. Then again, I am attracting a growing reputation for defiantly choosing to labour under my false apprehensions, even once it's been conclusively proven to me that I am wrong.

: : Ten is the usual scale factor used for this, although I don't know if there's any justification for that. When I studied maths in the 60s the professor who taught astrophysics seemed to keep numbers on a very loose rein. His order of magnitude was anything from 10 to any big number you like.

: : By the way, this was in England and he was what we know as a professor, i.e. up at the top of his particular learning tree (and in his case occasionally out of it), not a common or garden lecturer. Do US universities call what we call lecturers professors? I get that impression from the media. If so what are what we call professors called in the US?

: It has been a long time, but in my recollection, here in the US, students at least, don't make a distinction between lecturers and professors. Academics probably make those distictions and more. We also refer to a single class in a subject as a course, while in the UK I believe a course is a series of classes.

Yes, that's right. My day job includes providing the software for Sheffield Hallam Univ's online teaching. The software is American and all the groupings of teaching material in it, what we in the UK would call units or modules, are called courses. Quite confusing for the students, who only know course to mean degree course. The teaching staff get cross too as the software insists on calling them instructors when they like to be called lecturers, or even professors. Over here instructors are people who teach you to drive or swim - university academics see themselves as a cut above that.

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