Can You Guess the Meaning of These Science Words?



By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: Andriy Onufriyenko/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Physics, astronomy, geology, chemistry; these are only a few of the branches of science that guide how humans look at the world around them. They give us an understanding of both the fabric of the universe and of ourselves. Without the wonders of science, humans would have a very limited understanding of most things, and many of our greatest accomplishments would have never happened, such as space flight and disease prevention. How well do you know the science words that guide our thought? Here's a quiz where you can find out!

Few would argue that science has not guided humanity forward. When it comes to understanding science though, many people struggle with some of the basic terminology. Science words can be confusing, after all. They are often long and strange, and some of the words even sound the same. That can throw anyone off, but it shouldn't deter people from studying the subject. Besides, who's going to make the next great discovery if they don't even understand basic science terms?

Do you think you are a science expert with knowledge on the various branches? Have you memorized all of the most important words in each branch? If you think you know science terminology, take this quiz and prove it! 

What is the process of using observation and theory to test a hypothesis?

Benjamin Franklin is often credited with discovering electricity. However, using the scientific method, he actually discovered the connection between lightning and electricity.


What is a body of matter without definite shape?

Jupiter has the largest mass of any planet in our solar system. Pluto has the smallest, which is even less than that of the Moon.


What is the force exerted on the mass of a body by a gravitational field?

The closer an object is to the Earth's core, the more the object will weigh. That's why you will weigh less if you're standing on a mountain versus standing at sea level.


What is the fluid state of matter?

On Earth, nearly 71 percent of the surface is covered in water. The oceans make up about 96.5 percent of that.


What is an electric current that reverses its direction at regular intervals?

Thomas Edison famously used direct currents, but there were limitations on the distance those currents could travel. Nikola Tesla introduced alternating currents, which helped solve the problem.


What is the theory that the universe exploded from a small singular mass?

The Big Bang created a universe that was extremely hot. However, since then, the universe has only cooled as it expands.


What is the area of space where no matter or radiation can escape?

Black holes are not actually sucking in matter, as many believe. Instead, black holes have a gravitational pull that draws objects closer.


What is the natural death of cells as an organism grows called?

Cancer is the result of cells that do not undergo apoptosis. They continue to multiply until they take over an organism.


What is a large air mass that rotates around a center of low atmospheric pressure?

Hurricanes and typhoons are examples of cyclones. The deadliest cyclone in recorded history was the Bhola Cyclone in 1970 that killed over 300,000 people.


What is the theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun?

The Heliocentric model changed the way people looked at the world around them. Humans had to come to terms with the fact that we are not at the center of the universe, diminishing the perception of our importance.


What is the basic unit of a chemical element?

The idea of atoms can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. Democritus, a Greek philosopher, thought all matter could be broken down to a point that it couldn't be divided anymore, thus the atom.


What is a glass container used by scientists to hold liquids?

Ancient Egyptians used chemistry as early as 1000 B.C. The science was used for such things as cosmetics and fermenting wine.


What is the space that an object occupies?

All objects have volume no matter how thin they are. That includes a sheet of paper, which looks two-dimensional.


What do you call the development of living organisms from earlier forms?

Birds can trace their evolutionary tree back to reptiles. Crocodiles have the closest relation to birds of any reptile living today.


What is a particle made up of two or more atoms that are chemically bonded together?

Different combinations of atoms create different molecules. There are thousands of molecules out there from H2O to C6H12O6, commonly known as sugar.


What is the natural science that studies life and living organisms?

The largest living structure on Earth is Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The reef is over 1,240 miles long.


What is an individual animal, plant or single-celled life form?

Organisms feed on other organisms in order to survive. Animals that eat plant organisms are known as herbivores.


What is a chemical substance that cannot be further broken down using chemical reactions?

The universe is made up of various elements that are recorded on the periodic table. The most abundant element in the universe is hydrogen.


What are long-term variations of weather for a certain region?

Crops, which influence regional nutrition, are very dependent on local climates. Small changes in climate can destroy those crops along with regional economies.


What is the boundary of an advancing cold air mass that is replacing a warmer air mass?

When we predict the weather, cold fronts are an important factor. They produce rain and thunderstorms, especially when there is enough moisture in the air.


What is the layer of gases that surround a planet?

The atmosphere protects the Earth from radiation emitted by the Sun. The closest layer of the atmosphere to the Earth is the troposphere, which makes up three-quarters of the atmosphere.


What is a visible collection of tiny water droplets floating in the air called?

There are different types of clouds, which are evident by their appearance. For example, the puffy, cotton-like clouds are cumulus clouds, while cirrus clouds are thin and fine.


What is the theory that greenhouse gases are causing the Earth's surface to warm?

Global warming is widely contested, particularly in the political field. In the United States, global warming creates a strong divide between Democrats and Republicans.


What is the branch of science that studies celestial bodies?

Space is actually pretty close to Earth. It would only take you about an hour if you could drive your car into space.


What is a reef or island formed of coral that surrounds a lagoon?

Atolls are formed around volcanic islands that have sunk into the ocean. Most atolls form in the Pacific Ocean, where volcanic activity is most prevalent.


What is a single-cell organism that can cause disease?

Not all bacteria is bad. Good bacteria, known as probiotics, can be found in yogurt, bread and inside our bodies.


What is a wave in the Earth produced by an earthquake called?

Most earthquakes, around 80 percent, terrorize the rim of the Pacific Ocean. Lined with volcanoes, this area is called the "Ring of Fire."


What is a fissure in the Earth's crust where gases escape?

Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kilauea volcano is constantly erupting a little bit at a time. In 2018, an earthquake hit the island, causing a massive eruption of the volcano​ and forcing residents to evacuate.


What is the theory that the Earth's crust is made up of several shifting plates?

One of the most active plates has a border that ends in California, known as the San Andreas Fault. Shifts along the fault cause thousands of earthquakes each year.


What is the homogeneous mixture of two or more substances?

Sweet tea is an example of a solution. It occurs when the sugar mixes with the tea, making a single mixture.


What is it called when the Moon blocks light from the Sun?

From Earth, the Sun appears to be the same size as the Moon despite being much larger. This illusion is due to the Sun being further away from the Earth than the Moon.


What is the structure that provides the frame for a body?

Humans are born with 270 bones. However, these bones fuse together as we age, resulting in 206 bones for adults.


What is water falling to Earth?

Areas with heavy rainfall will typically have dense forests. The Amazon rainforest in South America is one example of this.


What is the path of a celestial body around another?

When launched, spacecraft are put into orbit around the Earth. They are on a constant free fall, using little to no fuel.


What is a collection of star systems?

Earth is located in the Milky Way Galaxy, which was first analyzed by Galileo Galilei. It wasn't until the early 20th century that other galaxies were discovered.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!