Science Challenge Quiz, compiled by Peter Cogo, The Age, Melbourne, 10th November 2008.


1 Anders Celsius was a Swedish astronomer. In 1742 he created a measurement scale that bears his name and is used in most countries. What is this scale used to measure?

2 Many substances including table salt and sugar dissolve in water. What is the scientific name given to substances that can dissolve in water, and what is formed when one substance dissolves in another?

3 List the planets in our solar system from closest to the sun to furthest away.

4 Oxygen is a very important gas in our atmosphere. What colour is oxygen gas and does it have an odour?

5 On Earth we have the Black Sea, the Dead Sea, and the Red Sea among others. Where can you find the Sea of Tranquillity?

6 The process of turning a solid into a liquid is known by what word?

7 What name starting with "m" do we give to the hot liquid rock found beneath the Earth's surface?

8 The Earth rotates on its axis every 24 hours. In which direction does it rotate - East to West, North to South, West to East or South to North?

9 Many metals have similar physical properties, however sometimes it is possible to identify a pure metal just by looking at it. Which of the following pure metals has an appearance unlike the others listed: aluminium, silver, copper, zinc?

10 Do spiders have backbones?

11 Bar magnets found in schools are often stamped with the letters N and S. What do these letters stand for?

12 Which object in our solar system lost its status as a planet in 2006?

13 Sometimes when an animal dies, its flesh is eaten by other animals or rots away leaving the skeleton. This skeleton may become covered with layers of sand or silt and over a long period the bones are gradually replaced by minerals that are harder than the rocks around them. What is the name given to the remains of animals after this process has occurred?

14 We should all be wary of electricity. Luckily, the electrical wires in our homes are covered by a plastic coating to prevent us from being electrocuted. What is the name given to substances that do not allow electric current to flow through them?

15 Blood is made up of a number of substances including red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Which of these three carry oxygen to the cells in our body?

16 Plants are very important to all living things on Earth. One role they play is to produce oxygen gas. What gas do they take out of the atmosphere?

17 What is the name of the process by which plants use the energy of sunlight to produce oxygen gas and sugars for energy?

18 In 1935 a South American animal was introduced into Queensland to help control the cane beetles that were destroying sugar cane crops. This animal is now spreading across the top of Australia causing enormous damage to our native wildlife. What is the common name of this animal?

19 Scientists name clouds according to their description. One type of cloud appears at ground level. What is the common name for this type of cloud?

20 Like other animals, humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, a gas made up of oxygen and carbon atoms. How many oxygen atoms are found on each molecule of carbon dioxide?

21 A number of body systems all work together in humans to keep us healthy and functioning. Name the body system that consists of the heart, veins and arteries.

22 Animals on Earth come in all sizes. What is the largest living species of mammal?

23 What is the name given to any plant that sheds its leaves in winter?

24 My chemical name is sodium chloride. I am a white crystalline solid and have been used by humans for thousands of years. What is my common name?

25 When classifying living things, scientists start with the most basic division and classify them into two kingdoms. What are these two kingdoms?


26 The pH of a substance gives us an indication of how acidic or basic that substance is. What is the pH of pure water?

27 I was brought into mainland Australia from Europe in the 1859 as a source of food for humans. I breed very quickly and soon reached plague proportions. There have been many attempts to control me with viruses such as myxomatosis, with mixed results. What am I?

28 Diamonds are one of the hardest natural substances found on Earth. They are made up of only one type of atom. What is the name of this atom?

29 Rocks can be classified initially according to the way they are formed. One type is formed when various substances are deposited and cemented together. Another type is formed when hot liquid rock material solidifies, and the third type is formed by the effect of heat and pressure on rocks deep underground. Name the three types of rock in order of the descriptions above.

30 As well as being the name of a famous Australian band, AC DC also refers to electricity. What do the letters DC indicate?

31 One of the important functions of our blood is to carry oxygen to the cells in our body. Name the chemical substance found in our blood that carries the oxygen.

32 What metal am I? I am quite soft and I can easily be bent into shape. My Latin name is Plumbum and I have the symbol Pb.

33 Is your weight on the moon less than, greater than or equal to your weight on Earth?

34 Gravity causes objects to fall to Earth. If a heavy object was dropped about 10 metres from the ground, what would its acceleration be as it fell?

35 What is the term used for the phenomenon where light waves bend as they go from one transparent medium to another?

36 How many times does the moon revolve around our sun in one year?

37 Around what planet does the moon Titan orbit?

38 What is the name given to the huge slabs of slowly moving rock that form the Earth's crust?

39 What is the most common element in the universe?

40 Bauxite is mined in a number of locations in Australia and then refined into a metal that is used for a wide range of purposes including in the home. What is the name of the metal extracted from bauxite?

41 In 1970 an instrument was used to provide the first images of an individual atom. What is the name of this instrument?

42 What unit of electrical energy is measured by the meter in your home?

43 What is the popular name for the shockwave that occurs when an aircraft flies faster than the speed of sound?

44 Tyrannosaurus rex is one of many dinosaurs that has saurus as part of its name. What does saurus mean?

45 Some animals eat only plants. Some eat only other animals. What is the word to describe an animal that eats plants and animals?

46 Rainbows are often observed in the sky during or after rain. What is the word used to describe the colours formed by a rainbow?

47 What substance freezes to make dry ice?

48 Which important organs of the body filter blood?

49 What do you call the point about which a lever pivots?

50 Newton's three laws of motion are very useful in understanding forces and motion. Which of his three laws is also known as the Law of Inertia?


51 Our sun, like all stars undergoes nuclear fusion reactions, beginning with the fusion of hydrogen nuclei. The nucleus of what element is produced by the fusion of two hydrogen nuclei?

52 Albert Einstein, perhaps one of the best-known scientists, developed his most famous equation E=mc2 in about 1905. What does each letter of the equation represent?

53 What is the value of c in a vacuum in Einstein's famous equation?

54 Calculations in chemistry often involve a very large number known as Avogadro's number or Avogadro's constant. It was named after the early 19th-century Italian scientist Amedeo Avogadro. What is the value of this number to two decimal places?

55 Every year the Nobel Prize is awarded in categories including chemistry, physics and peace. It is named after Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896) who left instructions in his will to set up a foundation to award prizes in several fields. What did Nobel invent that made him so wealthy?

56 What element are spherical fullerenes most commonly made from?

57 The elements chlorine, bromine and iodine are examples of a group of elements called Halogens. What does the word halogen mean?

58. Polytetrafluoroethene is a polymer often found on the surface of some kitchen appliances. What is the common name by which this substance is known?

59 What do Hans Lipperhey, Giovanni Battista della Porta and Galileo Galilei all claim to have invented?

60 Many species of animal produce a chemical that affects the behaviour of other members of the same species. What is the name for this class of chemical compounds?

61 Like all living organisms on Earth, humans can be classified based on the Linnaean classification system. Classify humans according to kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, ending with species.

62 In the 1960s, NASA undertook a program that ultimately resulted in humans walking on the moon. This was known as the Apollo Program. What was the energy source used to power the Apollo spacecraft?

63 When you eat starchy foods such as bread or potatoes you may notice a slight sweet taste in your mouth. This is due to a substance called amylase helping break down the starch into sugars. What class of chemicals does amylase belong to?

64 Our air is made up of a number of different gases including argon, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen and methane. Place the gases named in order from most abundant in our air to least abundant.

65 List in order of shortest to longest wavelength the seven visible colours of the electromagnetic spectrum as identified by Isaac Newton.

66 I am an element but I am never found in my pure elemental state on Earth. I am a metal but I can be easily cut with a knife. My Latin name is kalium. What metal am I?

67 If I ran around an 800-metre oval arriving where I started in exactly 600 seconds, what would my average velocity be?

68 Which element is the main component of all of Australia's silver coins?

69 Name the type of lens used to focus light rays to a focal point?

70 Many metals are extracted from their ores through the use of electrical energy. What is the name of the chemical process that uses electricity to produce pure metals?

71 Humans have long held a fascination for limestone caves due to the often extraordinary rock formations found in them. What is the chemical composition of the main component of limestone, and what acid is responsible for the formation of the caves themselves?

72 The human stomach is known to have an acidic environment to assist in the digestion of food. What is the pH of stomach acid and what substance is the main cause of this acidity?

73 Most students have heard about protons, neutrons and electrons, but which sub-atomic particles are classified according to their "flavour", "colour", "spin", "charm" and "strangeness"?

74 The Russian chemistry professor Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev is credited with developing what is now known as the Periodic Table. How many elements are now listed in the Periodic Table?

75 Werner Heisenberg was a German physicist who worked in quantum mechanics as well as nuclear physics. He is particularly famous for the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle which states that it is impossible to determine accurately what of fast-moving particles simultaneously?