Prime Time: Online quiz shows landmarks from above
Sometimes I do the two crossword puzzles in a large metropolitan daily. If the Isaac Asimov quiz on the same page is on movies, spectator sports or TV shows, I generally bomb, but often do decently if it's on science, history or geography. I also have another source of quizzes, a recent retiree who spends his spare time as I do, keyboarding.
The other day, he sent www.guessthespot.com, a 16-point multiple choice quiz on landmarks. Easy? No. The difficulty was they were all aerial photos, at different scales, but from directly above. Each photo was accompanied by four choices, and in each a colored dot was already in the circle by the first choice; you had to move it to choose one of the other three. After you do all 16, it tells you how well you did, and lists the correct answers.
Well, I got all 16. In part, I lucked out; I'd seen eight of them before, mostly from ground level. Some of those I could figure how they might appear from directly above, but could I tell them from other structures of the same sort? Maybe not. Five others I'd seen photos of, but one of those would have been no help at all. Three others I'd either not seen or had no memory of their details. So how come I got them all?
I won't mention guessthespot's questions, so as not to spoil it for you. Some of you have actually seen a couple of these places with me. It happens that geography and maps fascinate me, and I have also become familiar with the surroundings of some landmarks from reading newspapers, textbooks, and such. Also, I am good at taking multiple choice tests, and also constructing them.
To suggest how you might approach this test and others like it, let me concoct some examples guessthespot.com did not use. We'll start with stand-alone arches, the kind used to celebrate a nation's history. Everyone has seen them or pictures of them, mostly from ground level or a slight angle. But an unmodified triumphal arch from above is just a rectangle.
Suppose you have an aerial photo and these four choices: a. Arc de Triomphe, Paris; b. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin; c. Admiralty Arch, London; d. Washington Arch, Greenwich Village (Manhattan). The pictured arch faces a park on one side, and a side street parallels its other side. A broader avenue heads away from the arch on the side opposite the park.
Well, several major thoroughfares radiate from the Arc de Triomphe, the Brandenburg Gate has auxiliary structures attached to it and a horse-drawn chariot sculpture on top, and Marble Arch has buildings immediately adjacent where some streets converge on one side, and the Mall, a long tree-lined avenue, extends from the other side. So it's Washington Arch, at the foot of Fifth Avenue, with Washington Square Park on the other side.
Royal residences: a. Buckingham Palace, London; b. Neuschwanstein, Bavaria (Germany); c. Versailles, France; d. Windsor Castle, England. A large, formal building with a substantial fenced courtyard is pictured, with a large, complex monument in front of that, both facing a broad avenue with parkland on either side. Rural Neuschwanstein is atop a substantial wooded hill with no major streets around it, Versailles is an immense, symmetrical collection of buildings set among equally symmetrical formal gardens, and Windsor Castle (which I've never seen) is an older, walled, relatively unsymmetrical collection of sturdy structures in a town on the River Thames, well upstream from London where the correct choice, Buckingham Palace faces The Mall we mentioned above.
Famous churches: a. Notre Dame, Paris; b. St. Patrick's, Manhattan; c. St. Paul's, London; d. Westminster Abbey, London. St. Patrick's is on Fifth Avenue, with commercial buildings all around it, on streets in Manhattan's typical grid pattern. St. Paul's is set off a bit from city buildings nearby, but the streets around it are not in a regular grid; most of central London is not. Westminster Abbey, some miles west, is right next to the Houses of Parliament, with the Thames on the other side. The pictured church, Notre Dame, is on an island in a river, Ile de la Cité in the Seine.
Bridges from Manhattan crossing the East River: a. Brooklyn; b. Manhattan; c. Queensborough; d. Williamsburg. If you know something about bridge structure, you might eliminate wrong choices that way, but assume you don't. The pictured bridge crosses a narrow residential island. It's Roosevelt Island and that's the Queensborough Bridge.
Now, go online and do the quiz. If you like, let me know how you did.
Multiple choice construction another time.
EVAN HAZARD, a retired BSU biology professor, also writes "Northland Stargazing" the fourth Friday of each month.