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Science Quiz – June 30, 2014

Every week, I create a science quiz for The Hindu newspaper’s In School product. It consists of 10 questions and only developments from the week preceding its day of publication (Monday). The answers are at the end.

  1. A team of Scottish scientists announced the discovery of the world’s oldest animal-built _____ in Africa in the week of June 23. According to them, they were built by small water animals called Cloudina that existed about 548 million years ago. Fill in the blank with the name of a type of build-up of organic material. In fact, today, the world’s largest single structure made by organisms is also one such ____.
  2. Scientists were able to find out what Neanderthals living in Spain 50,000 years ago ate by studying fossilized remains of their ____. An analysis of a sample of this showed that members of this extinct human species ate mostly meat but also a lot of vegetables. Fill in the blank.
  3. The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center, named Sagittarius A*. On June 26, South African astronomers announced the discovery of a galaxy named SDSS J150243.09+111557.3 some 4.2 billion light-years away from Earth. How many black holes does it contain at its center?
  4. Name the USA-based company that plans to fly passengers toward the uppermost reaches of Earth’s atmosphere in 2016, propelled by a parachute-style balloon attached to a capsule. It plans to charge $75,000 per person for the two-hour trip. Last week, it announced the successful completion of its balloon’s test flight, claiming that it established a world record for climbing to the highest altitude for a vehicle of its type.
  5. On June 26, scientists unveiled the genetic blueprint of the ________ ___, a freshwater animal found in South America that can generate an electric shock of up to 600 volts. Despite what their name suggest, these animals are better related to the catfish, and grow up to 2 meters long. Fill in the blanks.
  6. A new animal has been discovered in western Africa. It looks like a long-nosed mouse, weighs about 28 grams and is about 19 cm long from nose to tail. But don’t let its very small size deceive you: genetic testing of the creature revealed that its DNA is actually related to that of the elephant! Name it.
  7. This is the first rocket designed by Russia since 1991, i.e. after the dissolution of the USSR. On June 27, it was supposed to be launched for the first time when its computers automatically aborted the launch for some reason. After inspection, it was slated to launch on June 28, when it was delayed again. Name it.
  8. What did monkeys evolve to keep those from one species mating with another, according to scientists from the UK?
  9. In the late 17th century, the British scientist Isaac Newton defined a number called the _____________ ________. The exact value of this number corresponds to the strength of a particular force of nature. The value of this number is thought to be constant throughout the universe. Despite its prevalence, however, scientists don’t yet know its exact value. In the week of June 23, Italian researchers announced that they had measured the value of this constant to a new level of precision using a technique different from that used in history. Name the constant.
  10. June 26 was the 190th birth anniversary of this Irish physicist and engineer for whom the SI unit of temperature is named. He contributed extensively to the field of thermodynamics, although he made his wealth and fame by working on the electric telegraph. Name him.

Answers

  1. Reef
  2. Feces
  3. Three!
  4. World View
  5. Electric eel
  6. Elephant shrew
  7. Angara
  8. Distinct faces
  9. The gravitational constant
  10. William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (Kelvin is the unit)