The General Science Quiz

By: Bambi Turner
Image: Paper Boat Creative/DigitalVision/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Remember what discoveries made Einstein, Darwin, Galileo and Marie Curie famous? Know which elements make up the air you breathe or the bulk of the Earth on which you walk? How much do you know about Earth's celestial neighbors, or how the movement of our planet impacts your daily life? If you think you can still recall the basics of various branches of science, take our quiz to test your IQ!

If you're like most adults, you spent around 12 years of your young life sitting in science classes -- not to mention any scientific studying you did in college or grad school. That's a whole lot of time spent memorizing the basics of chemistry, biology, physics and earth sciences. Yet for so many people, these basic subjects are just a long-ago blur, and recalling specific details or facts related to the field of science can be a real challenge, even for inquisitive minds.

Yet science is so much more than a subject studied in school. It provides the basic framework for the rules that govern our lives -- from the gravity that keeps our feet planted on the ground to the movement of the tides, the weather, seasons and the stars in the sky. 

Think you can score big on this general science quiz? Check out these questions to see how much you remember!

Which of these planets is Earth's closest neighbor?

Both Venus and Mars are close to Earth at various points, but Venus wins the title of Earth's closest planetary neighbor. If you're trying to remember the order of the planets, try My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos -- Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.

Who came up with the idea that E=MC^2?

Albert Einstein is remembered as one of the most brilliant minds of all time. The German scientist made important advances in the field of physics, including his theory that E=MC^2, or energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared.

Which of these is not one of the five Kingdoms of Life?

Scientists group all living things into five basic kingdoms, which include Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia. Mammalia is not one of them.

Which of these elements is most common in the air we breathe?

Believe it or not, the air you breathe is made up of about 78 percent nitrogen and just 21 percent oxygen. The rest is a mix of argon, carbon dioxide, water vapor and various other gases.

What does a light year measure?

Despite its name, a light year is a measure of distance, not time. It reveals how far light can travel in one year -- about 6 trillion miles or so.

What are the building blocks that make up everything on Earth called?

Atoms are the building blocks that make up everything you see -- and many things you don't. Groups of atomic elements, such as H20, are known as compounds. By joining together, these atoms make up every living and non-living thing on Earth.

Isaac Newton came up with three laws of _______.

In the 17th century, Isaac Newton developed three basic laws of motion. They include an object at rest/motion staying at rest/motion; force being a product of mass times acceleration; and the fact that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

What is the most common element that makes up the structure of the Earth itself?

Oxygen makes up around 47 percent of the Earth's crust, and around 30 percent of the Earth's total mass. Iron is the real building block of the Earth, however, representing more than a third of the planet's mass.

About how far would you have to dig though land to break past the crust of the Earth into the mantle?

The outer layer, or crust of the Earth, is around 25 miles thick. The layer below that, known as the mantle, is about 1,800 miles thick. Tucked inside the mantle is a fiery ball known as the core.

At what temperature Celsius does water freeze?

The Celsius temperature scale goes from 0 to 100, so water freezes at 0 degrees and boils at 100 degrees. In Fahrenheit, water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees.

A piece of space debris that crash lands on Earth is called a _______________.

Comets are bands of ice and dust that streak through the sky. While both asteroids and meteors are made of rock, a chunk of rock that passes through Earth's atmosphere and lands on the planet is known as a meteorite.

What feature of a sound wave determines how loud the sound is?

The amplitude of a sound wave -- how high or low it goes -- determines the loudness of sound. Pitch is determined by frequency, or how close together the waves appear.

Which of these would a herbivore prefer to eat?

Herbivores, like sheep and most rodents, dine on plants. Carnivores, like lions and bears, eat meat. Omnivores are creatures that do a little of both, like humans,

This is the only planet in the solar system that spins clockwise.

All the planets rotate counter-clockwise -- except for Venus, which spins clockwise. Venus is also the slowest of the planets, completing a single rotation every 243 Earth days.

Which of these phrases is most closely associated with Albert Einstein?

Einstein is perhaps best remembered for his theory of relativity. The famous physicist won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work associated with the photoelectric effect and quantum theory.

Which of these most strongly impacts ocean tides?

The ocean tides on Earth are largely established by the gravitational pull of the moon. This pull creates bulges of water which we recognize as high tide.

The moons of this planet are named for Galileo.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Galileo Galilei made early advancements in the field of astronomy, Today, the moons of Jupiter are named the Galilean moons in his honor. When NASA launched a Jupiter mission in the '90s, they named the spacecraft for Galileo as well.

How fast does sound travel?

Light travels at 343 meters per second, or 1,125 feet per second. This speed can vary widely based on room temperature, however.

For what is Jonas Salk remembered?

In 1952, 3,000 people died and more than 20,000 were paralyzed from polio in the U.S. Three years later, Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine, saving countless children from misery and death.

What types of waves do cellphones use?

Cellphones use radio waves to transmit sound. These waves fall on the frequency in between the waves used in FM radio and those used in a microwave oven.

Which of these serves as the basic building block in the body?

Cells are the basic building blocks that make up all living things. At the center is a nucleus, which serves as the command center. A typical human is made up of trillions of cells.

Who wrote "On the Origin of Species"?

In 1859, Charles Darwin published his masterpiece, "On the Origin of Species," which outlined new theories on evolution and natural selection. Darwin's ideas were revolutionary and controversial at the time, but today are largely accepted as scientific fact.

Velocity is _______.

Though similar, speed and velocity are not the same thing. Velocity refers to a direction of travel, so an example of this concept would be, 10 meters per second in an easterly direction.

How many bones are in an adult body?

A typical adult body has 206 bones -- and more than half of these are in the hands and feet! Each hand has 27 bones, while each foot has 26 bones.

What percentage of the Earth is covered by water?

Around 71 percent of the Earth is covered by water. Roughly 97 percent of that is found in the oceans, while just a small fraction is made up of freshwater in lakes and streams.

Who discovered penicillin?

Prior to the 1920s, countless people died from simple infections. Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming saved millions of lives over the years with his 1928 discovery of penicillin.

Heliocentric theory puts this at the center of the universe.

Until around the 16th century, many people held a geocentric theory that put Earth at the center of the universe. It wasn't until later that many scientists began to recognize that the sun was actually the center of the solar system -- a concept known as heliocentric theory.

What are the byproducts of photosynthesis?

Photosynthesis is the process where plants use sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to generate the nutrients they need to thrive. The byproducts of this process are oxygen and water.

Which of these is an example of a deciduous tree?

Deciduous trees lose their leaves in Autumn, and include species like Oak, Elm and Maple. Evergreen or coniferous trees include Pines, Firs and Spruces.

What is the name of the Galaxy in which we live?

Earth is located within the Milky Way galaxy, which consists of around 100 to 400 billions stars, and as many as 100 billion planets. Our tiny solar system is just a speck of dust in this mighty galaxy.

Which of these elements did Marie Curie discover?

Marie Curie discovered the elements Radium and Plutonium. She later became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, as well as the first woman to win two Nobel Prizes when she was awarded a second one a few years after the first.

Which of these pH values is considered neutral?

The pH scale measures acidity. A rating of 7 is considered neutral, while anyhing below a 7 is acidic. Objects valued over 7 are basic, and include things like baking soda and bleach.

How long does it take the Earth to revolve around the sun?

The Earth revolves around the sun once every 365 days. It rotates around its own axis once every 24 hours.

Which of these particles has a negative charge?

Electrons, neutrons and protons are the particles that make up an atom. The negatively-charged electrons float around the nucleus, which consists of positively-charged protons and neutrons, which are, as their name implies, neutral.

Toward which of these fields is Nikola Tesla known for contributing?

Twentieth century scientist Nikola Tesla is known for his contributions to the field of electricity. He and Thomas Edison waged a War of the Currents, with Tesla pushing alternating current and Edison proclaiming the virtues of direct current.

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