Are you scientifically literate?

April 27, 2015 • 2:45 pm

I hope so.  But I’m not as good as I hoped.  Diane G. called my attention to a scientific literacy test at, of all places, the Christian Science Monitor (no questions about disease are asked, of course!).

I could beef that there are too many physics and chemistry questions, but that’s because I scored a lousy 82% (I got 41 of the 50 questions—the same score that Diane got.) Given that the average for all takers was 66%, and I’m a scientist, for crying out loud, I feel like a chump. But I didn’t miss any biology questions.

Well, take it and see how you do. It’ll take about 10 minutes. Put your scores below if you’re either proud or brave enough.

273 thoughts on “Are you scientifically literate?

    1. Yeah, I “Service Unavailable” for me too.

      Atheists 1, Christians 0. Now we know why so many of them are scared of science and atheists.

    1. I got 98% on the civics one and only 86% on the science one. I guess I’m a better citizen than I am a scientist. I think the civics one was very easy, though.

      1. I managed 96% on the scientific literacy quiz but only 93% on the US citizenship quiz, which I blame on never having been a citizen or resident of the US.

        1. I think any U.S. candidate for elected public office state representative and above should have to pass the same citizenship test required of immigrants.

      1. Well, I think that’s a historically interesting “mistake”.

        γ-rays were so named as the third kind of ionising radiation: α, β & γ. Later it was determined that while the first two were particles [sic] – helium nuclei and electrons – γ-rays were high-energy electromagnetic radiation. And then it was discovered that that was really photons (Einstein’s photoelectric effect), and γ was adopted as the symbol for photons of any energy, not just γ-rays.

        So it really does have two different, context-dependent but overlapping, uses.


  1. I got 3 wrong, mostly because as usual I wasn’t paying enough attention to read the question carefully, which is no excuse of course.

    However, I highly doubt I will very well when I get your age – the older and more removed from school one gets, the less of that stuff is retained in memory, as you just don’t use it unless you teach it.

    It’s not really a scientific literacy test though, 1/3 of those were just trivia.

    1. “However, I highly doubt I will very well when I get your age – the older and more removed from school one gets, the less of that stuff is retained in memory, as you just don’t use it unless you teach it.”

      That was exactly my excuse. 🙂 (I’m the same age as Jerry.)

    2. 4/50 wrong (all biology/evolution…that’s partly why I like WEIT so I can learn stuff). Most felt like trivia with a prejudice for physics and chemistry.

  2. Well if a for realz scientist didn’t get 100% then how good can the test be? Also, now I’m afraid to take the test because physics is hard.

      1. Those were the ones I got right. I didn’t have to finish reading the question because I knew the answer with those hints. I feel dumb now though. I feel like I should start up-talking and discussion totes amazeballs topics like hair products and make-up.

  3. I get a certificate error trying to access the link. I guess that means I’m not computer science literate. Will try from a different computer much later tonight.

    1. 42 right. I agree with the poster who said a lot of it is trivia; just for two examples, I’m not sure knowing what cumulonimbus means (got that one wrong) or which planet Io orbits (got that one right) is relevant to understanding science.

      1. I thought the Io question was a softball. The Galilean satellites are kind of a milestone in science on par with The Origin of Species.

      2. Yeah it was more trivia oriented. It would have been better to have had conceptual tests like how do we know the universe is expanding (ooo that even invokes redshift a bit), why is the sky blue, why are there so many sorts of dogs, etc.

        1. Yes, that was another question that was ‘trivialized.’ They asked who found the universe was expanding by discovery of the red shift; a more understanding-oriented version of that question would’ve been to ask what evidence Hubble found to make him conclude the universe was expanding.

  4. Firefox tells me: “This Connection is Untrusted.”

    I am scientifically literate, but I am also security conscious.

  5. 43 correct, 7 wrong = 86%
    Disappointed in myself on a couple of them, but I don’t feel too bad about it. Was happy to see all the astronomy questions.

      1. I missed one too and I remember being pissed about it. I even got the red-shift one with hubble but if you do amateur astronomy, you should know that.

    1. It should be safe as long as you don’t post any information that you really care about there. Looks like the Christian Scientists are not Computer Scientists, otherwise they
      would know to update their certificates.

  6. Jerry, just want to point out that the photo illustrating the quiz is Elizabeth Harbron from William & Mary’s chemistry department. I got 82% too. Damned nanos!

  7. 90%. Three of my mistakes were just haste and carelessness. One was misremembering the order of the first two of Newton’s laws of motion, and one was drawing a blank about the stand-in for friction, having not solved any equation involving it for over 20 years.

    I have to say, even the average of 66% is respectable, given the nature of the questions. All the dead simple ones don’t add up that high.

    1. I think that reflects the fact that a large proportion of those who attempt the test probably give up quickly. Only those who think they stand a chance continue.

    2. Yeah, I’ve long forgotten all the motion laws. I would have done better on this test in elementary school but I didn’t know the Latin and Greek stuff back then.

      1. I didn’t get the Bernouilli (sp.?) one.

        Seemed CSM more interested in the memorizing of the name (“mu”) of the mathematical expression of the coefficient of friction, in particular, and the memorizing of facts, in general, then an understanding of concepts. Everything has to have a name, as far as that goes. Sure, angles of triangles necessarily need naming; as “gamma” is the third letter of the Greek alphabet, it seemed the correct choice. However, I’ve seen “theta” much more often. Would have been better to have had a question about the Pythagorean Theorem, or how the sine and cosine of an angle are determined. Just my opinion.

        1. Yes, it was excessively interested in what can best be described as scientific trivia – how things are labelled, who came up with them, etc.

          Paying more attention to the principles themselves would have been a better test of actual scientific literacy.

          I do have to say that some of the questions, such as the one about Bernoulli’s Principle, were phrased in such a way that understanding the principle itself gave you the correct answer, even if you didn’t know whose name became attached to it (i.e. knowing the relationship between air speed and pressure was enough, even if you had never heard of Bernoulli).

          But overall it felt more like Trivial Pursuit than a science test.

  8. 3 wrong: Blastocyst/zygote,Eris/Charon,meiosis/mitosis. I am 76, long long ago Physics teacher. If you have a bit of Latin/Greek mythology, it helps. Several questions are of the “the letter q is used for what scientific quantity” type. Trivial is right.
    I liked one of the choices for the age of the earth: 6015 years. But shouldn’t it be 6019? Didn’t Bishop Usher compute 4004 BC?

    1. Well, I missed 9, but I got all of your 3 right, neener, neener.


      Seriously, that’s a very impressive score!

    2. I got that zygote one wrong too and I so was thinking of picking it! I got the mitosis one right and the Latin and Greek helps a lot esp with things like “palladium”.

  9. 82 percent! I blew it on a couple of the physics questions. Twice I went against my first choice. Shouldn’t do that.

  10. Update: You get the error ( both the security and the connectivity) if you are connected to WEIT via HTTPS ( 443 ) and then follow the link to the CSM. If you are on Chrome, just delete the initial https:// from the URL….

    1. Ditto. But it’s really late at night here and my mouse-clicky finger has a mind of its own sometimes. G’night all.

  11. LOL I got 68% and I got many of them right just from knowing Latin & Greek. It’s how I fake intelligence and totally out-Greek my dentist. “Bruxism device? What? Shouldn’t that me an Anti-bruxism device – see what happens when you try to use fancy Greek words on the Classics graduate?” Stop using Greek for evil, dentists.

    I did get a lot of the electrical info correct but I didn’t know the things that were named after people very well and got smacked down there.

    1. I got 70% but I got all of the Greek related ones wrong. I’m just happy I beat the average.

      Not too bad for a non-scientist type I say, the main reason I come to this site is to improve my scientific literacy.

  12. I got 86% but there are a few where I “knew” the answer and spaced out.

    People who are having trouble with the link should edit the url to make sure that it uses the http and not the https protocol


    1. I got 86% as well. Out of the 7 I missed there were two that I really didn’t know, period. The other 5, they were in there (my head) but hidden under layers of dust and cobwebs.

  13. I missed three, for a score of 94%. Two of them were biology questions, which I never studied formally after high school. My college science was chemistry, astronomy and I aspired to physics until I flunked calculus.

  14. It turns out that I’m an average reader but I did get all the biology questions right thanks mostly to Jerry’s book. Physics eluded me in college 54 years ago and it eludes me still.

  15. SonofaB I need to read more chemistry. My score was 80% I am disappointed. Because I read a lot of physics and biology i’ve neglected chemistry. The average score for people taking the quiz is 66% but that doesn’t make me feel any better.
    BTW if you google Christian science Monitor you can take the quiz.

  16. Missed one (coefficient of friction).

    I liked the fact that on the speed-of-light question, the choices were a, b, c, and d.

    1. I got that one. A silly one I missed, scalene triangle. My 1st answer was the correct one but the Greek hint, and my lack of Greek linguistics, inspired me to fool myself into changing my answer to a more “Greek sounding” one that I knew wasn’t correct. Stupid.

      1. I was going to pick scalene but thought it was some sort of trick and went with isosceles. Damn it.

        1. I thought ‘isosceles’ from the greek reference but then I recalled scalene is the one with 3 unequal sides. That was the one question where my hazy knowledge of classics would have misled me, it greatly helped on some others, rather to my surprise.

            1. Just that ‘isosceles’ sounded Greek and ‘scalene’ didn’t – and as you say, iso = same. I was just about to plump for ‘isosceles’ when I recalled the definitions of the three types of triangle, equilateral and the other two.

        2. I picked scalene … not because I knew what a scalene was, never heard the term before; but. because I knew it was not a equilateral, isosceles, or an oblong triangle.

      2. Yeah, in this case the etymological help didn’t help at all! Thankfully I stuck with scalene, despite tripping over that Greek datum.

  17. 74%. Do I win the lowest score accolade so far? What’s worse is I can only claim 1 wrong answer caused by rushing: 8 seconds for light from the Sun to travel to Earth? Eejit! And another couple where I switched from the correct to a wrong answer. Oh well, it’s 10pm here and it’s been a long day. That’ll do as my excuse!

  18. For the ones I wasn’t certain, I applied the Sherlockian: ” when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”

    That normally got rid of two, sometimes three, potential answers….

  19. Chemical engineer here. Got all physics and chemistry questions correct, struggled at geology and astronomy questions and sucked at biology questions. Got decent 82%

  20. 90%.

    I missed:

    tyrannosaurus / brontosaurus
    0.2 m/s^2 / 5 m/s^2
    kinetic energy / momentum
    zeta / mu
    Saturn / Jupiter

    I’d like to think that the coefficient of friction one was the only one I really didn’t know and that I missed the others by being in too much of an hurry and not reading the questions carefully enough….


  21. 98%. Missed the Watt question, as the Watt is named after Wall. Say, Watt?

    I was interested to note that, on a couple, where I wasn’t entirely certain, the etymology would give the answer away.

    1. I thought the Watt question was weird because they used ft-lb/min. Who uses that unit? It’s ft-lb/s. (I’m an American engineer. None of my colleagues use metric, so neither do I.)

  22. Electrical engineer. Got all physics, electrical and chemistry questions correct, missed a geology, astronomy and a few paleontology questions. Recent study of Biology thru a Teaching Company course mostly definitely paid off! Got decent 92%

  23. 92% here (4 wrong, 46 correct).

    I agree with Jerry though – it seems biased towards physics and chemistry, with lot’s of questions about elements, the solar system, definitions of physical quantities, symbols, units etc.

    Also (and this always annoys me about ‘science’ quizzes), there were a number of questions that were essentially about the history of science.

    Which British scientist discovered x…
    On what date was y discovered…

    To my mind that’s history *not* science.

    1. My suspicions confirmed!*

      A breakdown of the questions by subject area:

      Category (Number of questions)

      Physics (24)
      Chemistry (10)
      Biology (6)
      Geology/the Earth (6)
      History (3)
      Mathematics (1)

      Some of the categorisation was a bit fuzzy (i.e. deciding whether a question belonged to physics or chemistry etc.), but the overall trend in the questions is clear.

      *Also, I’m supposed to working on the corrections to my thesis, so I needed some distraction.

      1. And all classical physics too which I never paid a lot of attention to other than to pass a test because I didn’t like it. I always thought we had engineers to worry about shit like that so….

        1. No problem (and ditto on the “boo”)!

          As much as I love physics, that proportion is far too high.

          It’s arguably even worse than it appears in my breakdown, as many of the questions classified as Geology/Earth science or history would come under the remit of physics or chemistry broadly speaking – and certainly not under biology.

          1. I’m guessing you’re lumping in the astronomy and cosmology questions with physics, which may skew the numbers a bit.

            1. I did.

              I tried to keep to a physics/chemistry/biology classification. The main exception (geology/earth sci.) was included because I couldn’t decide whether questions about the earth and its atmosphere etc. should come under physics or chemistry. I suppose it would depend upon which specific aspect of those things you were studying.

              I considered a separate astronomy/cosmology category, but decided that they were pretty clearly within the remit of physics.

              Overall physics/chemistry-related subjects dominate the quiz, whichever way you slice it.

  24. 76% which I thought was not too shabby for a music graduate who last studied science over 30 years ago. I missed out on the things named after people and some of the greek letter questions

  25. I missed the raincloud (and I’m in Glasgow); otherwise all ok. And I’m 76, so I offer my age as excuse for my error.

    Showoff time – the misnamed dinosaur is “misnamed” no longer,and the heaviest noble gas is no longer one of those offered, but synthetic element 118 (or so it is predicted, although there isn’t enough made,or likely to be, to prove it).

    “O” level Greek helped.

    1. Well, if we’re nitpicking, element 118 can’t be a gas (noble or otherwise) if it exists only in the form of isolated ephemeral nuclei.

    2. Paul:

      I got the same score you did, and missed the same question you did! And, yes, Greek helped a few times when my scientific knowledge might have been a bit fuzzy.

      Separated at birth?

  26. 92% also, for what that’s worth; and a couple of my errors were silly quick clicks.
    A number of the questions, as people like Diana McPherson and Paul Braterman have pointed out, are “Jeopardy” questions: you may not know the answer to the question as such (“What era is xxx?”, but the way the clue is written (“its name means old stone”) gives you the answer if you have knowledge of some other subject (Greek).

  27. I got 88%, but I “should have had” 92 because I didn’t read two questions carefully. But then I had lucky guesses on a couple of others.

    I bet Prof. Ceiling Cat missed “Brontosaurus!”

  28. 84%, but had help from engineer husband with some, though he put me wrong about a couple! Physics is not half of science dammit!

  29. 86%; one of the ones I missed was due to a twitchy double-click that I would have answered correctly.

  30. I got two wrong (96%; both were related to astronomy. However, I took advantage of hints that came with the questions (eg: the question about the element in catalytic converters). Nevertheless…

  31. 100%, no lie. I cheated by getting a Ph.D. in physics. (The Professor is right in that it’s skewed to the physical sciences.)

        1. Oh, and my father was an astronomer, and my wife’s a paleontologist with a degree in geology. Osmosis (or unfair cultural advantage?) also helps.

  32. 72% and f*ck am I embarrassed! Well, I guess not bad for a history major, and three questions I got wrong thanks to self doubt, and really, when I think about it, 72% isn’t horrible for a dumbass who got a C- in the one Chemistry course I took, and I’ve never had a single astronomy or physics course. Still, I should have done better. I need to get my ass back to uni.

      1. oh, hehe, sorry! Well, ya know, you could always become christian. I hear that according to them, the first shall be last and the last shall be first…(glad i’m out of smacking range)

        1. I’m going to start listening to Brittany Spears music full time and master my snickering at anything “smart”.

      2. and if it makes you feel better, I read your score on your other post as 86%. good thing this wasn’t a maths quiz, and come to think of it, I did miss the nano- conversion question

          1. simple if you remember how many places to move it. this inability (and maaaany more) certainly led to my C- in Chem 101. Still, I blame ‘merca. If we’d only adopted the metric system like Carter urged us, I would be just that much less stupid! (and Nasa would have saved a few $)

              1. yeah, and ya know, I worked as a machinist computer lathe operator in N. Aurora, Il for a bit, and we had the same damn problem. The old-timers insisted on switching the gages from metric to “standard”, thus leading to lots of scrap for the rest of use at shift change if we forgot to check. I asked, out of frustration, why the hell do we even have gages that aren’t in metric?! Tradition? no, just pig-headed stupidity!

              2. For what it’s worth, I’m increasingly using metric for things like cooking. I can tell you how many grams of coffee beans I use per milliliter of water and what temperature Celsius I brew it at, but not how many teaspoons / cups / degrees Fahrenheit. At least, not without doing the conversions….


              3. I like to use metric when I can, but I’m afraid I’ll always think in traditional American. Sigh.

              4. I have a stove that I can calibrate in Celsius (which gets me funny looks when I have dinner guests and they see me setting my oven to “only” 220° for baking things) and I’ve managed to get a weather station for my porch that reports in metric. Most of my cooking utensils like measuring cups and spoons are graded in both metric & US, but it’s so much easier to remember that a teaspoon is 5ml and a tablespoon is 15 ml than thirds and halves and eighths.

              5. I kept changing my parents’ thermometer to Celsius until they caught me and made it so I couldn’t get to the switch. I was the first generation in Canada to go through the metric system without any exposure to imperial. My parents prefer imperial since they never learned it.

              6. I feel like my generation’s lost when it comes to units. Grade school taught nothing but metric because that was supposed to be the way of the future, but it came at the neglect of ‘standard’ units. But outside school, nobody uses anything but standard. So you have a generation that only learned units common in other countries, lost any familiarity with that system through disuse, and never really learned the units in common usage in their own country. Thank goodness my dad drilled me on standard units.

                As long as I’m discussing units, it really irks me to hear people say how many kg something weighs. Kilograms don’t measure force.

              7. I think it’s odd not not call metric “standard” when only three countries in the world don’t use it (Liberia, Myanmar & the United States).

              8. I think UK is consistently inconsistent, it’s one of the more charming features of the place.

                And you forgot to mention using miles for distances still.

              9. I didn’t forget. I just didn’t, since it diluted the beer joke. 😉

                Then there’s the oddity of buying full in litres but still quoting consumption in miles per gallon …


              10. I still do that. MPG means something to me, I have no idea what is a ‘good’ or ‘poor’ consumption figure for litres/100km unless I mentally convert it…

              11. The US is gradually getting on board with metric (we have our own US Metric Association). The biggest boost has come about via importation of wine in 750ml bottles. We much less frequently purchase wine by the jug anymore, although boxes have become popular in some circles.

    1. I think that would probably be way above average if all Americans had to take the test. It takes an interest in the subject and some early success with the test to want to stick it out in the first place!

  33. I got a 72. I missed about 4 because I changed my mind on the answer, but got a few because of New Testament Greek. The physics tripped me up a bit.

      1. I’ve never studied Greek or Latin formally, but I did recall the similarity between “nimbus” and German “Nebeln”, which means “fog” or “mist”.

        1. Good thinking!

          I never knew any cloud names meant they were precipitating. So I mistakenly went with high altitude.

        1. I knew cumulonimbus, too; but while they generally threaten rain, they don’t always bring it…

          Congrats, tho!

  34. 80% in 15 minutes. Missed 4 in physics, 2 each in geology/earth sci and biology, and 1 in astronomy.

    35 years since my first biology class and I am still mixing up blastocysts and zygotes, mitosis and meiosis!

    Also, I’m not sure it really counts as science literacy if the answer is in the maths or hinted at by the etymology of the terms (I rocked all of those), but all’s fair I guess.

  35. Well, I can count myself among the semi-literate anyway.

    Did great on astronomy, did OK on biology (so I hopefully won’t have to give up my WEiT fan club card), middling on physics, and then proceeded to stink up the place on chemistry (pfffft – who needs it?!).

  36. 86%. A fun quiz, although some weird questions – too heavy on notations, too light on concepts.

    I was shocked to learn that gamma is supposed to be used to denote the “third” angle in a triangle. (Which angle is “first”? Which one is “second”?) I must have missed that in grad school.

    I guess this comes from just the ordering of the Greek alphabet: alpha, beta, gamma. But in my experience, the most common notations for angles in a triangle are theta and phi. Why would you ever need a specific notation for the third unnamed angle? If you know the other two angles, you automatically know the third.

    Come to think of it, I probably *would* use gamma if I had a diagram where I needed to give a name to a third angle (triangle or not). That’s not any explicit convention I ever learned, but I guess it is a kind of unspoken one I picked up unconsciously over the years. Weird!

    1. Yeah I had shitty math education but a really good Greek education so I figured gamma is the third letter therefore also the third angle.

      1. Funny, I think I’m the opposite. Pretty much everything I know about Greek I picked up in math class! 🙂

        It always makes me sad how common it is for people to voice dissatisfaction with their mathematics education. It’s an undeniable reality though. If it hadn’t been for one really good teacher I had for several years growing up, I likely would have never found math interesting or learned much of it.

        It really bothers me how we teach mathematics in North America, especially at the primary school level. All of the creativity and big ideas are sucked totally out of the subject. And what’s more frustrating is that everyone seems to know this, but nothing substantial is ever done about it.

        1. I still remember my grade 1 introduction to math. My teacher just put addition on the board and asked us what the answer was. I had no idea with this “+” meant and the kids with older brothers and sisters had the answers because of exposure to their work. It didn’t get any better after that.

      2. that ‘third angle’ question was silly and I’m not sure what it has to do with anything. All the greek letter stuff was rather silly. Yes, mu is frequently used for the coefficient of friction, but so is ‘f’ and what does that have to do with science?

  37. 47/50 for me. But I have an engineering degree that was preceded by a degree in Chemistry with plenty of biology.

    This is a non trival quiz. Newton-meter – really is a literature major going to know that? Or that mu is used for friction. Good thing they did not ask about the symbol for the square root of -1!!! that would open a can of worms….

    1. Yeah, it wasn’t until I used an E&M book by Bleaney & Bleaney that I ever saw a “j” used. And who cares if you know the symbol for the coefficient of friction – better that you can precisely state what it means (mathematically or in words).

        1. *I forgot to note, to hell with what IEEE 754 says, because a True Software EngineerTM implements the mathematically more accurate version even when industry standards say otherwise.

  38. Well, although a lowly biologist, I scored 94% (3 wrong). I’ve always loved science, and although I left laboratory work long ago, I still subscribe to Nature and Science.

    And I was always pretty good at multiple choice exams, because often if I don’t know the correct answer, I know enough other things to eliminate the wrong choices.

    And unlike Diana, I loved physics, but my math skills are close to zero. After the first couple of weeks of college physics, the instructor who ran the recitation section would call on me to explain hard problems, but someone else for the answer, since know I’d almost certainly made a stupid math error.

  39. Got to about 80% and the site crashed. Had goofed on four by that point.had to fiddle around to get Safari to start working again. So not chancing it further and it’s bedtime anyway and the cat is hungry.

  40. 96% – but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t guess on quite a few. I’m only 5 years removed from my undergrad bio/chem/physics years, so still fairly fresh in the mind.

    F = ma for the win! 🙂 Remember to convert your g to kg peeps!

  41. 98% – just like the first time I took it a couple of years ago.

    Weirdly, I missed the coefficient of friction symbol the first time and missed something I got right the first time this time.

    1. Forgot the name of that the other dwarf planet with an orbit that partly dips inside of Pluto’s orbit. I probably guessed it the first time. Honestly, I only guessed two or three.

  42. 88%. The only two that I missed that I’m annoyed with is I selected blastocyst instead of zygote (I’m no biologist, but I am positive I was taught that at one time by a great teacher but couldn’t remember) and I meant to click Jupiter for the moon question but accidentally hit Saturn. The other misses were guesses.

    As other commenters have already noted, I am amazed that national average is as high as 66%. However, I think that that might have a lot to do with selection bias. If you’re not interested in science, why would you take the quiz? I think it’s probable that if the quiz was given to a randomly selected group of American adults, that percentage would be much lower.

  43. 56%
    I have an amateur hobbyist interest in science. I took Botany in Freshman year of College. Biology in High school. Amateur rock hound. I majored in Business. I read quite a bit about evolution, geology, genetics, astronomy and use statistics in my business. I picked up THE PERIODIC TABLE a visual guide to the elements by Paul Parsons at the library last week and that gave me some clues of the chemistry questions. When I retire in a few years Id like to go back & study Chemistry, genetics & geology.

      1. In grad school a fellow botany major and I were talking about the utter lack of botanical questions on the Biology GRE. She said that by the time she got to a question on animal hormones she was so mad that she started out with, “As a botany major I’m not that familiar with animal hormones, but let me tell you about plants.” And she proceeded to wax enthusiastically about auxins, gibberellins, et al.

        1. I did miserably on the French GRE ( as did my Stanford classmates). 4 years of studying French lit, with all the reading and writing en français, and a typical question was, in English, Which of the following four is the LEAST navigable river in France? Fortunately I had no interest in studying French in grad school ( had at one time considered becoming an interpreter).

          1. O.M.G.

            It would be simply ludicrous if it weren’t for the fact that one’s entire future direction could hinge on passing the test or not.

          2. I thought about doing interpreting as well but then I realized everyone always blames the interpreter and you often get killed.

            A friend of a friend is in the foreign services as is her husband. She got booted out of Moscow with the latest (that’s it, I’m randomly kicking out your diplomats, etc) fiasco and for a while she was back in Ottawa waiting for redeployment while her daughter and husband were still in Moscow.

            I don’t like the idea that someone would tell me who I could and could not talk to. You make friends in Russia then your government gets in a fight and now you can’t be friends anymore. Bah!

            1. “…then I realized everyone always blames the interpreter and you often get killed.”

              Not me! I’d quit right after the first time.

  44. 94% but then i spent 7 years with a view of the mother church across the river. [that should tell you where and some of when] physicists rule!

  45. My favorite question: How old is the universe?
    First on the list: 6015 years! Ha! Wonder how many picked that!

    1. Oops, they asked what’s the age of the Earth Not the Universe. Same answer for a creationist, though.

  46. 78:-( It is 1 AM and I stupidly missed some easy ones and surprisingly did well on the physics ones…The one about James Watt was sneaky!!

  47. 82% though there were a couple “duhs” when I looked at the ones I missed. My mind doesn’t function at 1:30 AM like it used to…time for bed.

    I’ll take solace in the fact that I did anything remotely having to do with science as well as Jerry. 🙂

  48. I got two wrong, and I am contesting one of them as actually being correct.

    “What type of cell division in eukaryotic cells is divided into prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase?”

    I am not a biologist but the above sure sounds like Meiosis to me. The scoring disagreed with my answer. Do any biologists here care to comment/correct me on that?

    I would consider most if not all of the questions to really be trivia rather than science. Also, they are at no more than a high school grade level, possibly even grade school now (since I was in high school 50 some years ago).

    Although I got the below two examples correct, here are some poorly done questions/comments:

    “Science has yet to determine the exact date of the formation of our planet”

    Since there cannot have been an “exact date” for the formation of the Earth, that statement is entirely nonsensical.

    “engineers and mechanics use as an oxidizer in rocketry and in motor racing”

    People generally don’t race motors, they do race all kings of vehicles. A motor has 1 or fewer moving parts (electric motor, rocket motor, etc.) while an engine has more than one moving part. Their question is obviously referring to internal combustion engine powered vehicle racing, but it is phrased in a scientifically inaccurate manner.

    1. I’m not a biologist, and it’s been several decades since my last biology class, but my reasoning was that mitosis involves an extra step of chromosome duplication that meiosis lacks. Therefore the four-phase process must be mitosis.

    2. I have sometimes wondered about the difference between a motor and an engine but never got around to looking it up. I had always sort of assumed that a motor used energy from an external source while an engine generated energy from fuel. Of course that never explained the common compound word “motor vehicle”, which mostly seem to have engines, not motors by either your definition or mine.

  49. 72%. A couple of guesses, and would probably have got half if I hadn’t studied Latin and Greek, since a lot of the clues were rooted in those languages (e.g. palladium, hadn’t a clue, but could tell you all about “Pallas Athena”, who was in the clue).

      1. I got that one immediately, knowing “Pallas Athena,” without having any idea what that meant or if it was different than Regular Old Athena. Thanks for the info!

        1. The temple on the acropolis housed a ginormous chryselephantine Athena. Which means a big ass statue made of gold and ivory. That thing got pillaged ages ago when it all went bad.

        2. I worked one summer eons ago in a lab that was studying the effects of platinum and palladium from catalytic converters on wabbit leukocytes ( had to draw blood from the poor wabbits’ ears), so knew somewhere in the back corners of my brain about the palladium.

  50. Humanties graduate here, clocking in at 39/50 or 78%. Some basic knowledge of the classics definitely helped!

  51. 90%. I was wrong on most of the astronomical ones, and meiosis/mitosis.

    Oddly enough, the classical allusions saved me on a couple of the chemical ones.

  52. Dang – 4 mistakes because I had a twitchy click finger, was half asleep, and already had 2 glasses of wine.

  53. 88 %. Sigh, I am supposed to know mitosis and meiosis after Noor’s course…

    The english/US obsession with triangles, in english, was a more understandable problem.

    But how could I forget Watt’s experiment in practical realizations of power measurements!? Mea culpa.

  54. Oh, I also noted some usual quiz problems.

    Pluto is no longer a planet.

    And while Brontosaurus is still not legit, it is in a state of flux. A reasonable paper have showed that there _was_ a difference between Apotasaurus and the Brontosaur putative prototype. More dinosaur sampling has worked wonders in detail resolution:

    “Back to Brontosaurus? The Dinosaur Might Deserve Its Own Genus After All

    The popular name could be pulled back out of the scientific wastebasket, based on new analysis of dozens of related dinosaurs”

    [ ; by Switek]

    1. I did wonder if Pluto was a trick question (or should I say a trick answer). I can’t remember the exact wording, but I got it wrong anyway 🙁

    2. “Pluto is no longer a planet.”

      The quiz is correct here: // 31. The 2006 demotion of Pluto to the status of dwarf planet was precipitated by the discovery of what object orbiting beyond Pluto, believed to be 27 percent more massive than Pluto and named for the Greek goddess of strife and discord? //


      1. Is there a short-cut link to the questions? I’m trying to recall what the question was. I do recall I rather fancied Eris (for dimly-remembered classical reasons), should’ve gone with it I think.

          1. On reflection I think I did go with Eris. One of the few astronomical ones I got right. (I’m finding it hard to remember what the individual questions were).

  55. It has been 55 years since I’ve studied any of this stuff formally, and I have never worked with it. But I read a lot. And I keep up with Jerry’s blog and many others of a scientific nature. Since I consider myself a highly knowledgeable layman, I was extremely disappointed to only get 80% of them right.

  56. I got an 88. My errors were in chemistry (1), physics (2), astronomy (2) and meteorology (1). One error was from not reading the question all the way through and jumping to the wrong answer. On the other hand, some I got right by subsidiary clues, such as a term’s etymology, rather than actually knowing the answer.

    And, Brontosaurus has recently been resurrected (the name, not the animal), so the Brontosaurus question was based on a faulty premise. (I knew what they meant though, so got it right.)

  57. I also got 82%. But I missed two biology questions. Damn!
    As I stumbled along, I began to see the woman holding the Erlenmeyer flask as chuckling at my stupidity.

        1. Yes or a WTF look when you should have known better like I should have with the Mercury question.

  58. I’m not a scientist but . . . 78%, which I’m pretty sure would be a better score than a number of republicans who similarly excuse themselves.

  59. 2 wrong = 96%. I tried to cheat by asking Wikipedia about mitosis and meiosis and still got it wrong. Physics major 50 years ago and amateur astronomer for 50+ years -> such simple questions.

  60. 88%! I’m happy with that. Missed astronomy questions mostly. I’ve taught general science for 28 years now. The students keep me alert. Thanks, kids!

  61. 96%, but I do teach high school science. Got the golden ratio mixed up with e, and jumped the gun with holocene before properly checking the other answers. I would have gotten the gamma question wrong if they hadn’t specified EM radiation, since you don’t have to use gamma for some of the other examples.

    1. ” . . . but I do teach high school science.”

      So, do you collect cell phones in a container before administering a test?

  62. Don’t be too harsh on yourself Jerry. I’m pretty sure that most people who made the effort of completing the test are indeed scientists or at least people with a strong interest in science (FIFTY questions is a lot!); plus, and since the website tells you straight away if you got it right, I suspect that someone who starts doing it and gets wrong several of the the first few questions will give up… So, 66% is not bad, and 82% is good!
    (I was doing great, but got some physics and astronomy questions wrong and got 78%, i.e. 39 out of 51)

  63. 42%, but I didn’t take any high school science except one semester of physics, which I was flunking, and one semester of what was called “Hygiene”. The scientific knowledge I have I’ve gleaned either from books I’ve read that were written by scientists or I simply absorbed through osmosis as I wandered though my life. I think I got several math questions right.

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