Science Trivia Questions and Answers
Science Trivia Questions Part 1
1. What is the most abundant element in the universe?
Hydrogen is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and non-toxic diatomic gas with the chemical symbol of H. Hydrogen makes up about 90% of the universe by mass and over 97% by number of atoms. Hydrogen has been considered to be the simplest and most abundant atom in the universe. This blog post will mainly focus on hydrogen in its elemental form, its history, properties, uses in society and how it can be used as a sustainable way to generate more energy with less environmental harm.
The first-ever recorded experiment involving hydrogen was performed by Robert Boyle in 1660 when he combined hydrochloric acid (HCl) with manganese dioxide (MnO2). It was only in 1766 that hydrogen was considered to be an element. In 1886, Professor August Wilhelm von Hofmann performed an electrolysis experiment which resulted in the production of hydrogen at room temperature. This led to Count Ferdinand-Camille Donizetti de Miribel convincing Gustave Eiffel the architect to build the first-ever hydrogen-filled balloon called ‘La République’. Following on from this famous experiment, hydrogen bombs or H-bombs have been created as a way to provide nuclear weapons with sustainable power so that they do not have to be constantly refueled and can be used up once without harming the environment.
Hydrogen, when in the form of a molecule, is the lightest element with a molecular weight of 2.016 and has the smallest bond distance between its two atoms compared to all other elements. This means that it can easily overcome gravity and escape from Earth’s atmosphere to float in outer space. Hydrogen has one valence electron whereas most other elements have two or more valence electrons which is then able to form bonds with other atoms such as oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The result of this is hydrogen burning, which causes it to become one of the most powerful elements in the universe when used as fuel.
Uses in Society
Hydrogen has many uses in society including:
a) Hydrogen is used as fuel in cars by oxidising the hydrogen gas into water and releases energy as the electrons flow to oxygen molecules at the cathode within an electrical current. The car then uses this energy to propel itself.
b) Hydrogen in its elemental form can be used as a portable energy source which is safe, non-toxic and has very little environmental impact. The food industry also benefits from this because mobile hydrogen generators are being developed that will replace diesel generators being used to power refrigeration containers such as those that are needed for storing ice cream and other frozen foods.
c) Hydrogen is being used to power exoskeletons, which are a one or two piece wearable suit that houses a battery. This battery is then able to power and assist the wearer by providing lift, support and corrective actions depending on the movements of the individual wearing it.
d) Hydrogen also has several uses in space exploration including: powering probes like the Cassini-Huygens probe that allow man to study Saturn’s moon Titan and its atmosphere; using lasers to find reserves on our own Moon’s surface; and using 3D printing which can be used to create high-tech craft parts such as fuel injectors for rockets.
e) Hydrogen is being used in the healthcare industry to aid recovery and reduce strain on patients, especially the elderly ones. This is due to the fact that hydrogen produces a magnetic field that is believed by many, including NASA Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, to enhance human health and promote cell rejuvenation through anti-oxidation.
f) Hydrogen has also been used to create water-splitting electrolysers which break down water into its component parts of hydrogen and oxygen, allowing them to be stored for future use; this can then be used as a power source for cars and other forms of transport as well as in homes during emergencies (i.e. natural disasters).
How hydrogen is used as a sustainable way to generate more energy with less environmental harm:
The main aim of hydrogen is to use it as a source of clean energy. Hydrogen has several uses including producing energy, aiding recovery and reducing strain on patients, and water-splitting electrolysers. As the world continues to become more dependent on non-renewable forms of energy such as coal, oil or gas; the need for something sustainable that does not produce greenhouse gases becomes more urgent. Unfortunately though, fossil fuels are still being used despite many countries around the world becoming aware of the environmental damage they can cause.
2. A grasshopper can jump:
Answer: 80 times their length.
They live in various types of land such as rivers, grassy plains, and gardens. From time to time, grasshopper also changes its color to adapt to its surrounding environment.
They have a well-developed nervous system so they can move quickly and jump far.
The grasshopper is about an inch long and can hop up to six feet in a single second. They are brownish green colored with black bands across their upper surface from head to tail.
3. The sun rotates every:
Answer: 30 days.
The Sun is made up of mostly hydrogen and helium, and it has over one million Earths worth of mass. The temperature on the surface of the Sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. The North Star is found in what constellation?
Answer: Little Dipper.
Its importance to mariners was recognised by several ancient cultures and North Star is found on many world maps and globes from antiquity to the present day. This continuing recognition is due in part to the fact that Polaris remains more or less fixed in brightness and location, making it easier to use than other stars such as Canopus, which twinkles noticeably, dominating the southern sky.
The first references place it in Mesopotamia or ancient Egypt:
The brightest star in Ursa Minor is known as Polaris.
5. Who was the first to measure the motions of the galaxies and to discover that the universe is expanding?
Answer: Edwin Hubble.
Dr. Hubble was born in 1889 in Missouri and educated at Amherst College and Oxford University in England, where he did research under Sir Arthur Eddington, whose observations of an eclipse convinced most scientists that Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity was correct. Dr. Hubble later became a professor at Mount Wilson Observatory near Pasadena, Calif., and during 23 years there continued his investigation of the properties of space which led to his discovery that the universe is expanding. The velocity with which it is expanding has become known as “Hubble’s constant..”
Dr. Hubble also discovered a number of new nebulae, or star clusters, and once estimated the distance of a nebula in which he thought there might be a nova. He was wrong; the nova turned out to be a supernova, one of the few observed outside our own Milky Way system. Dr. Hubble’s error was only 3 percent, an amazing figure when it is considered that with most stars it is not possible to get within 10 percent of their real distance.
The observations for which Dr. Hubble won world fame were made in 1925 and 1926 with the 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson.
6. How long does it take for a photon to travel from the Sun’s core to the Sun’s surface?
Answer: 30 Million Years.
The Sun is a luminous ball of gas. It consists of hot plasma and nuclear reactions which convert hydrogen into helium. The core temperature is about 15 million degrees Kelvin. Photons emitted from the core take about 3,000,000 years to reach the surface of the sun.
The energy moves in many different ways in the Sun’s interior. Electrons are removed from atoms in an enormous number of reactions that take place at different temperatures: nuclear fusion, fission, disintegration, and so on. These interactions eject particles out into space at high speed and they move through the Sun due to radiation pressure: light photons also exert a force on charged particles because they have energy momentum that can be transferred to them.
7. What kind of elements are found in a pure state in nature?
They are highly reactive because they have very high oxidation states that stabilize them. Everything in the universe is made up of elements, but only 90 occur naturally on earth.
Elements are defined by the number of protons in the nucleus and their atomic weight. Carbon has 6 protons with an atomic weight of 12, oxygen has 6 protons with an atomic weight of 15, and nitrogen has 7 protons with an atomic weight of 14. Check out table 1 to learn more about elements that occur naturally on Earth and their properties.
8. The most dangerous insect kills a million people a year. What is it?
A mosquito-borne disease kills a million people every year, infecting hundreds of millions more, according to a new estimate. The research into the neglected tropical disease, called lymphatic filariasis, or LF, could double previous estimates of its toll. The study was published Wednesday in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. “To put it bluntly, we are talking about an enormous public health problem,” said epidemiologist Dr. Peter Hotez of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., lead author of the study with colleagues from several institutions in Asia and Africa.
9. The core of the sun has a temperature of approximately:
Answer: 16 million degrees.
The core of the sun is a plasma at 16 million degrees Celsius, containing plasma gravitationally bound by magnetic fields. At its center, the temperature is approximately 15,700,000 kelvin(8,941,727.71 °C).This is about 10% cooler than the rest of the sun’s surface.
The core has a density of 150 g/cm³ (1.5×1010 kg/m³),a pressure of 1.5×1029 Pa (150 billion atm) and a rotation velocity of 2200 km s−1 (approximately 150 times slower than that of the outer layers). The particle number density is 5*1019 m−3.
10. Which of the following is found in RNA and not in DNA?
a) Adenine b) Cytosine c) Uracil d) Guanine
The purpose of uracil is to serve as the base in the formation of pyrimidine nucleotides. These are used in RNA and DNA. However, there is little need to make uracil, since it is also easily made from other compounds, such as glycolaldehyde in reactions that use ultraviolet light and generate formaldehyde or hydrogen sulfide (see Nitrogen cycle).
Uracil can be found in RNA and is one of four nucleobases found in RNA with uracil-adenine-guanine (UAG). UAG pairs with cytosine-guanine (CAG) to make up mRNA.
Uracil is used in over 300 scientific experiments on animals every year. These studies look at the effects of uracil on enzymes, blood cells, bacteria and viruses. Uracil has been used successfully as a treatment for many human diseases including depression, lung cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and stomach cancer.
11. According to legend, who ran naked through the streets of ancient Syracuse shouting “Eureka!” (I have found it!)?
Archimedes was an Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity.
Many regard him as the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time. He was also one of the first to apply mathematics to physical phenomena, founding hydrostatics and statics, including an explanation of the principle of the lever.
12. Light travels about _______ miles a year.
Answer: 6 trillion.
Light travels through space at a constant speed of about 186,000 miles per second (300 million meters per second). That’s about 6 trillion miles (9 trillion kilometers) in a year. Outside the atmosphere, light travels through space at this speed in a vacuum. Light usually needs about 8 minutes to get from the Sun to Earth. Light traveling through glass or water can slow a little, because those materials are not a perfect vacuum. The light from stars that are very far away can take years or even centuries to reach us, but when we see them, we’re seeing them as they were long ago.
Outside Earth’s atmosphere, some types of light move much more slowly than others — especially red and yellow light, which moves about 1/3 slower than blue-violet light. The reason is related to the structure of atoms — in particular, the electrons orbiting around the atoms’ nuclei. Electrons are negatively charged particles, and the force of their attraction to the positively charged nuclei is what holds atoms together. (See How Atoms Work for details.) Red light has a lower frequency than blue-violet light, and this means that light with a lower frequency moves more slowly than light with a higher frequency.
Science Trivia Questions Part 2
13. Whose research on X-ray diffraction of DNA crystals helped Crick and Watson during the race to discover the structure of DNA?
Answer: Rosalind Franklin.
Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) was a British chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made critical contributions to the understanding of the molecular structure of DNA—a model that earned James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins the Nobel Prize in 1962. She perished before the prize was awarded. She is credited with saying “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen” about her data on DNA. Her research was carried out at Kings College London, Cambridge University, and at Birkbeck College in London.
14. Tiny midge insects, called “no-see-ums” can beat their wings more than:
Answer: 1,000 times a second.
no-see-ums (also known as punkies) are small biting flies that live in coastal areas of tropical and subtropical regions. They are named for the fact that they are so small that you can’t see them, like a mosquito. However, their bite is severe and causes intense irritation around the area bitten. The bites can swell to enlarge up to 3 times the size of a normal mosquito bite and leave behind an itchy red mark. The insect’s scientific name is Culicoides variipennis. Their range extends throughout the Americas from northern Argentina all the way up into Canada with heaviest populations occurring in warmer south eastern regions of the United States.
15. The coloured part of the sun is the:
The Earth’s chromosphere is the second of the three main layers in the Sun’s atmosphere and is roughly 2,000 kilometers deep. It sits just above the photosphere and below the solar transition region. Its lower temperature stems from its lower density of about 10 atoms per cubic centimeter as compared to 20 for those above (photosphere) and below (transition region). The chromosphere is visible due to emission of photons by atoms as they absorb spectral line radiation from below and re-emit it after a random walk through the hot interior. In this sense, it is quite similar to fluorescent tubes where photons are emitted at higher energies than absorbed.
16. Exhaled air has what % of its oxygen left?
An average breath contains about 5% CO2, 15% oxygen, and 80% nitrogen. The amount of CO2 is proportional to the amount of carbon dioxide in the body tissues.
The exhaled air, or exhaled gas, is mainly composed of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O). The percentage of oxygen (O2) in exhaled air is generally around 15%, which decreases during exercise due to greater respiratory ventilation and subsequent increased consumption. The percentage of oxygen in the remaining gases are about 75% nitrogen (N2) and 10% argon (Ar), with small percentages from other inert gases.
17. What Polish astronomer defied both the church and traditional wisdom when he established that the Earth and the planets revolve around the Sun?
Answer: Nicolaus Copernicus.
Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that put the Sun, rather than the Earth, at its center (heliocentrism). His system displaced Aristotle’s geocentric model, which had been widely accepted until then. Copernicus’ model was eventually displaced by Johannes Kepler’s elliptical planetary orbits.
Born in Toruń (Thorn) in the Polish province of Royal Prussia, Nicolaus Copernicus was given his name in honor of his father’s friend, Nicolaus Koppernigk.
18. How long will the sun continue to shine, based on the fuel it has available?
Answer: 7 billion years.
Sun shining brighter and hotter as it ages
The Sun’s energy output will gradually increase as it ages and the core’s temperature increases. This will cause the sun to become brighter and hotter with time (a process called solar luminosity). A typical middle-aged star like our Sun today shines about 100 times brighter than when it was born.
19. Who persuaded Einstein to write to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, warning him of the power of atomic fission?
Answer: Leo Szilard.
Leo Szilard (1898-1964) was a Hungarian born physicist who worked on quantum physics, nuclear physics and the atomic bomb. He filed the first patent for a nuclear chain reaction on January 12, 1934. He immigrated to the United States in 1938 and became an American citizen in 1946. During his life he had 62 patents, with many being very important to nuclear physics and molecular biology.
20. How many lenses are in a dragonfly’s eye?
Dragonflies have an eye with enormous backward-pointing corneal lenses, which are as large as the rest of the head. This gives them very precise stereoscopic vision, and a sense of direction to go with it. If you watch them flying around in pairs, they will fly with their bodies almost touching. They also cannot afford to get lost easily because they do not eat on the wing-like other insects.
21. What name is given to the cooler darker spots on the sun’s surface?
Scientists have known since the 1600s that sunspots appear as dark blotches on the sun’s often-brilliant disk and are surrounded by bright penumbras of light. The dark areas are cooler than their surroundings and thus appear darker against the bright solar background, while bright edges of the penumbras are warmer than their surroundings and thus appear brighter.
22. Which type of cell carries messages between your brain and all other parts of your body?
Answer: Nerve Cells.
A nerve cell or neurone (in anatomy) or neuron (in physiology) is a basic unit of the nervous system which processes and transmits information through electrical and chemical signals. They are elongated cells with tapered ends.
Morphology: Nerve cells have a certain morphological pattern, called soma or cell body. From the soma project fibers called axons and dendrites, sometimes called ‘wires’, that conduct signals to other nerve cells, muscle cells, and glands. The longest axon of a human motor neuron can be over 1 meter long and transmit signals at speeds as high as 100 meters/second.
23. Who is credited with the discovery of the law of the conservation of matter?
Answer: Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier.
Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier was a French nobleman who was a prominent chemist, biologist, physicist, and economic theorist. He is widely considered to be the “father of modern chemistry”, and is one of the pioneers of the idea that matter can be transformed to produce energy.
Lavoisier is most noted for his discovery of the role oxygen plays in combustion. Though Lavoisier did not consider oxygen a chemical element, he established its role in combustion with his experiments on phosphorus, leading to the development of modern chemistry. He also contributed importantly to the quantitative analysis of chemical systems and to materialism (which led him to atheism).
24. The size of an atom is approximately one _______ of a millimeter?
Answer: 10 millionth.
The diameter of atoms is really small. They are so small that light years seem much bigger than it. An atom is about 10^-10 meters or a hundred millionth of a centimeter in diameter. It is very difficult to measure the diameter of an atom because, they are so small that the light waves and the electrons don’t react with each other. The electron field IS NOT compact enough to make it so the electron can’t move freely.
25. Which scientist discovered the neutron?
Answer: James Chadwick.
James Chadwick discovered the neutron in 1932 and received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1935.
Chadwick, James (1891-1974). English physicist who discovered the neutron. Born on October 20, 1891, in Bollington; died on July 24, 1974, in Manchester; son of Joseph James Chadwick (a minister) and Emma Elizabeth (Fisher) Chadwick; studied at Victoria University of Manchester (B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc.); professor of physics at the University of Liverpool (1929-48); professor of experimental physics at the University of Manchester (1948-74); married Mary Hilton Thackeray (a teacher), 1916; children: one son.