Military aviators collectively / TUE 6-28-11 / Moonmate of Buzz / 6.022 x 10ˆ23 / Pollster's worry / Explorer of kiddie TV / Former NFL great Junior
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The aviation section of a national military force, including aircraft, base and support facilities, and personnel (dictionary.com) [hardly any sources online for this term–lots of sources for FLEET AIR ARM, though: "the aviation branch of the Royal Navy"]
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I'm indifferent to the theme, which is just a set of famous numbers, literally clued. Actually, a set of famous numbers that are very familiar terms/phrases, and then whatever PI APPROXIMATION is. However literally correct it is, it's not a familiar or particularly in-the-language phrase. A bit weird to have your actual number take up two letters in your fifteen-letter answer (?). But I guess you had to get a symmetrical partner for (the stellar!) AVOGADRO'S NUMBER, so no harm, no foul. Filled in SPEED OF LIGHT without ever bothering to look at the clue. Only real hold-up was trying to figure out how to spell AVOGADRO'S. I let crosses do the heavy lifting. Aside from a sluggish start, this one played very easy, even with the mysterious AIR ARM in there (31A: Military aviators, collectively), and a more-than-understandable SOILS-for-ROILS mix-up (38A: Muddies).
- 17A: 3.14159 (PI APPROXIMATION)
- 26A: -273.15˚C (ABSOLUTE ZERO)
- 42A: 299,792,458 meters/second (SPEED OF LIGHT)
- 55A: 6.022 x 10ˆ23 (AVOGADRO'S NUMBER)
Apparently PI APPROXIMATION does have a life in the phrase PI APPROXIMATION Day, "celebrated" every 22/7 (that's July 22 to you non-Brits). I know the word EXTANT (43D: Not extinct) from studying MSS in grad school. In Middle English studies, the number of EXTANT MSS for most surviving works is 1 or 2, Canterbury Tales and (esp.) Piers Plowman notwithstanding. You know what was popular back then (if EXTANT MSS are any indication)? Saints' lives. Exciting! I should probably note that there's a lot of less-than-gorgeous fill here: REORG, AIRARM, XXI, AGIN, LIAISE (a legit word, I just hate the sight of it), MNO, AIRE, MEDI. Strangely, I love SHORTU (6D: There's one in "puzzle"). It reminds me of a name that some rotund character from a Miyazaki film would have.
- 5D: It's first on the leaderboard (TOP SCORE) — froze on this one for some reason. Could think only of "TOP SEED(S)"
- 59A: Ararat lander (ARK) — Like a Mars Lander, only biblical. Ironically, the Mars Lander was named Phoenix—no phoenixes on the Ararat lander. Hard to enter two-by-two when there's just one of you. (If you know what a phoenix is only from "Harry Potter," then back to middle school with you!)
- 3D: Pollster's worry (BIAS) — I wrote in SKEW.
- 35D: Cool ___ cucumber (ASA) — who is this ASA Cucumber and what makes him so cool?
- 53D: Moonmate of Buzz (NEIL) — "Moonmate?" Really? That is the non-wordiest non-word I've ever seen in the puzzle.
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