Science Quiz – August 4, 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.

But this week’s quiz is a little different. 2014 marks the hundredth year after the start of World War I, a global war that raged from 1914 to 1918. The scale of the conflicts provided an ample stage for the demonstration of the best technology of the time, albeit mostly for destructive purposes. This week’s quiz has 10 questions about that technology.

The British artillery in action during World War I.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
  1. World War I marked the first use of chemical weapons: At the Battle of Bolimov in Poland in January 1915, Germany released the gas xylyl bromide on the battlefield but it became harmless because of the cold. The first lethal use of chemical weapons was at the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium in April 1915, when Germany used which yellow-green-colored gas to kill 6,000 French soldiers within 10 minutes?
  2. In response to the above attack, the American inventor James Bert Garner invented which simple device to protect combatants on the battlefield from inhaling poisonous gases? This device contained activated charcoal, which is a form of carbon that has a high surface area and absorbs many pollutants from the air. Later on, this device was developed for dogs as well as horses, and during World War II, was reinvented to be lighter and more effective.
  3. The Australian-British physicist William Bragg jointly won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1915 for using X-rays to study crystal structures. In the same year, the British assigned Sir Bragg to develop one of the world’s first scientific systems of sound ranging on the battlefield. What is sound ranging?
  4. The early 20th century saw the rise of industrialism and, along with it, the ________, a new form of motorized transport at the time. In January 1915, German and Ottoman forces set off to raid the Suez Canal. With help from Arab and Egyptian forces, the British advanced over the Sinai peninsula using the ________ to defend the canal. They also conquered the nearby area known as Palestine, an act that led to the later formation of the states of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Fill in the blank(s).
  5. The German inventor Ferdinand von ________ patented the design of a kind of airship, which have come to be named after him, in 1895. During World War I, they were used by the German army to bomb Britain, killing some 500. They then went out of service in 1919 after the defeat of Germany, but then reentered service in 1926 to fly people between Europe and North and South America. They would eventually be retired in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Name the inventor and the name of the airship it came to belong to.
  6. The first military use of __________ was in World War I. The British were reluctant to give their pilots these things because the British thought they would help cowardly pilots survive, effectively encouraging cowardice and reducing team morale. In July 1916, the American inventor Solomon Lee Van Meter, Jr., introduced the world’s first _________ that could be worn as a backpack, and had the revolutionary ripcord: a falling pilot need only pull the ripcord and the _________ would come into play and hopefully save the aviator’s life. Fill in the blank.
  7. The 1916 Battle of Jutland is well-known for being the only battle during World War I that was fought exclusively using _____, between the British and the Germans. At the time, it was only the third battle of its kind, the first two being fought during the Russo-Japanese War. By 1917, the Germans were numerically overwhelmed by the British and started attacking neutral resources in the vicinity, leading to the USA declaring war on Germany in the same year. Fill in the blank with another form of transport.
  8. The continuous metal track that had been developed in 1770 was bettered in the early 1900s. It consisted of a strip of metal plates bolted end-to-end that would run like a belt around two wheels. Such a mechanism was coupled with the four-stroke internal combustion engine, invented in the 1850s by Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci, to give rise to what extremely heavy, slow but very destructive weapon first used in World War I?
  9. During World War I, troops used to move in long, narrow ditches on the ground called trenches, which protected them from above-ground attacks by enemy troops. To counter this protection, the Germans developed a weapon they created two versions of, called the Kleinflammenwerfer and the Grossflammenwerfer. They were first used in July 1915, and very effectively. When fired into trenches, their effect would flush out British and French troops. Their principal mechanism was to channel oil through a rubber tube and toward a wick. What does Flammenwerfer translate to in English?
  10. The first light, or portable, _______ ___ was developed by the Americans. It was the first of its kind that could be operated by just one man. It was adapted by the British army, and its use was decisive during the Battle of Hamel in France in July 1918, where it reduced the battle time from a potential weeks or months to less than two hours. Fill in the blank.


  1. Chlorine
  2. Gas mask
  3. Using the sound of firing guns to locate where the guns are using sensors like microphones
  4. Railways
  5. Zeppelin
  6. Parachutes
  7. Ships
  8. Tanks
  9. Flamethrower
  10. Machine gun