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A Science Self-Test - Just For Interest

Just For Interest. Try it from your existing knowledge.
No cheating by looking it up!
Please: No publishing answers until I have given them in due course, to be fair to anyone else trying seriously to test or extend their own knowledge. 

25 Basic Science Questions with an environmental slant, now you have saved the planet and whales, achieved zero-carbon by last Michaelmas, and are walking everywhere with a paper shopping-bag-for-life autographed by Aunty Greta.

 No trick questions but some are worded slightly indirectly; most are simple , some obscure; but all are of upper school- or interested lay- level. I am of course aware there are Answermug users with a far deeper, possibly professional, knowledge of these subjects than mine!

I would also agree that whatever is or is not happening in the world, we cannot be complacent. World-wide we are heading for very serious difficulties whatever those turn out to be; and as some of these questions suggest, neither the problems nor "obvious" solutions are as simple and trouble-free as often portrayed.

 Note: As you would expect on an international site in 2020, all the units are Système International (SI), and by their correct abbreviations or spellings (French).


1. The relationship between Energy and Power, and their units, are?.

2. Two electric kettles of similar design but one rated at 1kW, the other at 2kW. Neglecting losses, which if either kettle uses more electricity to boil 1 litre of water from 10ºC? Why?

3.  The fundamental property of energy is….?

4. Name THE one metallic element fundamental world-wide, to virtually everything we own or use, however indirectly.

5. Which two minerals are vital to extracting that metal from its ore? (Hint – the ore is the element’s oxide, with impurities.)

6. “Keep the oil in the ground!” cries Miss Tornberg, demanding no more fuels from petroleum. What has she missed?

7.  “Noise pollution”: Industrial health and safety regulations impose noise limits, or personal protection against harmful noise levels, so the sound has to be measured.
Sound, vibration, electrical and other signals can be measured on relevant decibel (dB) scales. Airborne sound’s dB scale is “referred to” a Pressure Level of 20µPa (20 micro-Pascals), i.e. that is its 0dB point. What is particular about that staggeringly tiny pressure; why not make 0dB a nice tidy 1Pa, 1µPa - or 0Pa?

8.  In engineering, “Efficiency” means…?
9. For ordinary cars, place in ascending order of energy-density (“amount” of potential energy with respect to the weight or volume of its carried source – or if you like, the car’s
range):  Diesel, Battery, Petrol ("gasoline" for our American readers).

10. Name the missing " X "in these ISO- “Preferred” divisions and multiples of the metre: nanometre, micrometre, X, metre, kilometre?

11. “Plastics kill marine life!” Do all? And by poisoning or by physical form?

12. The effect on sea-level if the Artic Polar Ice-Cap alone were to thaw, would be?

13.  “Cattle emit methane!” Yes, but what is the campaign flaw?

14. Are plastics “recyclable” just as material?

15.  This is a quote from a  real advertisement for certain ear-phones claimed to protect the user: "[conventional] electrical [earphone] leads conduct radiation”. What is/are the error(s) there?

16. By the modern, official terminology, what does the “ºC” for temperature, as in Q.2, stand for?

17. This is a harder one, I admit: can you define the ISO-”preferred”, Pascal unit of pressure (as in Q.7) by its component SI units? If so, do so!

18.  An item of 10kg mass is taken to the International Space Station. What is its mass there?

19. Which two nations presently lead the world in predicted, increasing rate of national conversion from generating electricity by fossil-derived fuels to “renewable”, particularly wind-power? (According to a Bloomberg analysis I recently saw quoted. It surprised me, I admit!)

20.  You would expect a major oil-company not to frighten its investors by pessimism; but by present extraction rates, BP has now estimated the world’s currently-known reserves of oil and coal to end in only how many years time? (Note the adjective but also that the world's population and demands are both growing very rapidly.) 

21. The entire climate-change debate is pretty toxic, but if climate-change either way has any entirely-natural component -  can humanity affect that natural component?

22. Suppose a developer gives all homes in a new housing estate, ground-source heat-pumps powered by domestic solar-panels and batteries. Basic weakness?

23. Name the type of energy that has been and will continue to be fundamental to human activities and creations, however indirectly, since prehistory.

24. What would be the main negative consequence of supermarkets not shrink-wrapping foods for sale?

25. How did Early Man (both our own species and the Neanderthals) cope with climate-change?X


Posted - January 11, 2020


  • 52603

      I just read all 25 questions at least twice, understood fewer than half of them, and can only take an embarrassingly halfhearted attempt at answering numbers 4 and 11. The others are Greek to me. (By the way, that comma doesn’t belong in question number 22.)

      January 11, 2020 4:44 PM MST

  • 43677
    At least you were able to do what you are best at...grammar.

      January 12, 2020 10:19 AM MST

  • 52603

      I wouldn’t have been happy any other way. 

      January 12, 2020 10:40 AM MST

  • 6752
    These questions sound like homework, to make sure you read the material.  The answers are in the book, power point or the notes you should have taken in class. 
      January 11, 2020 4:49 PM MST

  • 3637
    It's  not meant as a college test. It's just a straightforward quiz.
      January 11, 2020 5:21 PM MST

  • 19946
    After reading question #1, I'm willing to stipulate that I would most likely fail the other 24 questions.
      January 11, 2020 9:44 PM MST

  • 1152
    Some of the questions are almost trivial.

    Others do not have a "correct" answer because you do not define your terms adequately.

    For example, in question 21) there are dozens of "natural components" to climate change. Some could (potentially) be affected by human activity. Others are completely indifferent to puny humans (or cockatoos).

    I think I know the answers you're shooting for in 15-20 of the questions. This post was edited by SaltyPebble at January 12, 2020 9:51 AM MST
      January 11, 2020 4:53 PM MST

  • 3637
    I would hope most who try it do find some questions easy but of course I realise not everyone will be able to answer it all. After all, this is in AM's Science section so I assume at least some background knowledge of some of the topics I covered.

    I was not after specifics in Q21,  but wait until I give the answers. Many questions are not "is it A, B or C", or simple definitions like Q.1, quite deliberately. If they all were, they would all be "trivial" within the individual's knowledge. I tried to make a quiz that invites thinking as well as simple fact-quoting. The rubric hints why they cannot all be simple choice questions or monosyllabic answers, too.

    Cockatoos? I did not include them because I am not an ornithologist.
      January 11, 2020 5:56 PM MST

  • I can’t read all that, it’s stressing me out. 
      January 11, 2020 5:01 PM MST

  • 3637
    It's not an exam!
      January 11, 2020 5:20 PM MST

  • Still too stressful For a Saturday. I can’t deal with this. 
      January 11, 2020 5:22 PM MST

  • 3637
    Try it a bit at time then, like a puzzle-page in a newspaper. :-)

     I do assume anyone who reads a forum called "Science" does so from an interest in science!
      January 11, 2020 5:59 PM MST

  • Haha, I’ll come back to this, my attention span isn’t the best right now :) 
      January 11, 2020 6:06 PM MST

  • 52603

      Some of us come across questions not by their categories but by clinking onto the ‘Home’ feed, which shows all site activity chronologically as it is posted; discussions, questions, answers, comments, etc. As such, not everyone who braved this is doing so based on an interest in the subject matter, we (myself included) just happened upon it. 


    This post was edited by Randy D at January 12, 2020 10:24 AM MST
      January 11, 2020 7:05 PM MST

  • 43677
    And it is right up my ally.
      January 12, 2020 10:25 AM MST

  • 52603
      January 12, 2020 10:38 AM MST

  • 43677
    I threw you a bone.
      January 12, 2020 10:41 AM MST

  • 52603

      You act as if I’m not already busy enough on here!  I don’t need ringers coming on and leaving extras for me. (I don’t believe for a second that you did it intentionally.)

      January 12, 2020 10:43 AM MST

  • That's right ... you were a science teacher??  
      January 12, 2020 11:12 AM MST

  • 43677
    Yes. I did miss one of the real questions, though.
      January 12, 2020 11:15 AM MST

  • I agree Jaimie .. too much like work.  
      January 12, 2020 11:11 AM MST

  • 43677
    And I thought it was fun. Go figure.
      January 12, 2020 11:16 AM MST

  • 17168
    So, you don't want us to answer the questions.  I had already written all 25 answers on here and had to erase them.  I'm outta here!!

    (I'm totally playing with you)
      January 11, 2020 6:01 PM MST

  • 43677
    I did the same.
      January 12, 2020 10:15 AM MST