Weekly science quiz

My weekly science quiz debuted in The Hindu today, in its In School edition. Here’s the first installment.


  1. Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon on July 21, 1969, passed away on August 25 this year. Who was the second man to step on the moon?
  2. When the car-sized robotic rover Curiosity landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, it was only the fourth rover to achieve the feat. Can you name the other three rovers, two of which are considered “twins” of each other?
  3. This installation, when it went live in April 2012, reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 80 lakh tonnes, saved 9 lakh tonnes of coal and natural gas per year, and smashed a Chinese record held since October, 2011. What are we talking about?
  4. This “vehicle” was designed in Switzerland, built in Italy, owned by USA, and crewed by a Belgian on January 23, 1960, when it became the first vessel to descend into Mariana Trench, the deepest point in Earth’s crust. The Belgian’s father himself once held the world record for the highest altitude reached in a hot-air balloon. Name the vessel.
  5. Horizontal slickwater hydraulic fracturing is a technique, common in the USA since the 2000’s, which releases natural gas locked under sub-surface rock formations by cracking up rock under the pressure of large quantities of water. What is the method’s common name?
  6. Last week, Michael Roukes and his team at Caltech built a highly sensitive weighing scale that uses a vibrating arm that is sensitive to small changes in its frequency. Called a nanoelectromechanical resonator, what can it measure?
  7. Netscape Navigator was the dominant web-browser of the 1990s, and its only competitor at the time was another browser named Mosaic. Since Netscape was being developed to beat Mosaic, its codename was a portmanteau of “Mosaic” and “killer”. What is the name?
  8. The ___________ lay their eggs in the months of February and March, and the hatchlings emerge after a 45-55 day incubation period, just before the hotter days of summer set in. Their nesting grounds include the coasts of Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Orissa and Tamil Nadu, while each nesting batch is called an arribada. Fill in the blank.
  9. In the exosphere, highly energetic particles collide with atoms in the earth’s atmosphere and release a shower of less energetic particles. What are the highly energetic particles collectively called? Hint: 2012 is being celebrated as the 100th year of their discovery.
  10. The fictitious version of this contraption is a modified street-bike with a liquid-cooled V-4 engine. Its real version has a water-cooled single-cylinder engine, is made of steel, aluminium and magnesium, and is steered by the shoulders. What are we talking about?


  1. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin
  2. Spirit & Opportunity, Sojourner
  3. The 214-MW Gujarat Solar Power Field, Patan district
  4. Trieste
  5. Fracking
  6. The weight of individual molecules
  7. Mozilla, the creator of Firefox
  8. Olive Ridley turtles
  9. Cosmic rays
  10. Batman’s Batpod