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(Minneapolis Star Tribune)   Every high school graduate should know the answers to these 10 science questions   ( divider line
    More: Interesting  
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60888 clicks; posted to Main » on 16 Apr 2006 at 2:37 AM (11 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

384 Comments     (+0 »)

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2006-04-16 03:36:10 AM  
can't I be both, and bored of reading about RAID 1-5
I answered the first two as well above.
2006-04-16 03:37:09 AM  
I digg.
2006-04-16 03:41:00 AM  
Asteron.... leap year?

/no clue
/did get a 9+ tho
2006-04-16 03:41:55 AM  
Easy, cept I said 73% instead of 71% (Farkin' global warming). Number five is poorly worded: it's 365 days (and a little extra) and 24 hours because that's what we've picked and what fits with shared human undertanding of the concept of hour, minute, second, day, year.

Number eight is an open-ended question and very difficult to answer because the question's answer can be changed unless the respondant enumerates each possible answer.

And nine... new discoveries are made all the time, and one could predate 3.2 billion years and then the answer will be wrong.

The answer given for number 10 is half-complete! Rock salt also gives excellent traction.
2006-04-16 03:41:56 AM  
I'm a history major, my girlfriend is a Graphic Design major who is quitting Graphic Design because she just figured out it involves a lot of computer programs and she knows nothing about computers.

I had to remind her that us nuking Hiroshima was NOT the reason Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and that the one with trench warfare and poison gas was WWI, not WWII. She also didn't think Einstein helped develop the nuclear bomb and thought he died in the 1800s, and it took me showing her his entry on Wikipedia to shut her up.
2006-04-16 03:43:13 AM  
Uchiha_Cycliste: can't I be both, and bored of reading about RAID 1-5. I answered the first two as well above.

Well, you're... creative. I'll give you that. I'll definitely give you that.
2006-04-16 03:44:10 AM  
GhostFish, I'm all over that.

/Aaargh. Crapdangit. HTML'd again. Twice in one thread is a new low.
2006-04-16 03:44:24 AM  
8. What is it that makes diseases caused by viruses and bacteria hard to treat?

... as compared to diseases caused by something other than viri and bacteriums, such as cancer, or autism, which are really easy to treat.

2006-04-16 03:44:55 AM  
Okay this is going to date me a bit, but 'back in the day' every male high school boy knew that it took exactly 3.1428 California Coolers to seperate a freshmen girl from her panties (unless U were a varsity jock then it only took 1/3.1428).

/Good God...
//Feelin' old tonight
2006-04-16 03:45:45 AM  
My girlfriend also didn't know that we landed in France in WWII. I asked her where she thought Normandy was, she said Germany.

At least the sex is great.
2006-04-16 03:46:41 AM  
Grammar? is that a dialect of lisp?
2006-04-16 03:47:14 AM  
dodald And a year is actually 365.256363051 days long

As long as we're being technical and revelling in our "har har we are teh smart"-ness, we could also point out it depends on how fast you're going.
2006-04-16 03:49:07 AM  
I remember in Psychology 101, the teacher spent about 2-3 class periods arguing with 3 or 4 different young black mothers about why they shouldn't beat their kids. She said there were better ways to raise children and that beating is not shown to improve a child's behavior compared to alternative methods, rebutted with "But what if ahm in da sto' an ma kid starts moufing off?"

When the kids get to college, they don't all-of-a-sudden become more intelligent than they were in high-school.
2006-04-16 03:52:16 AM  
I scored terribly. My hot subjects were English and Music. I pretty much just remembered the correct answers long enough to spit them back out on the test, then promptly forgot them. It's pretty sad that I have to go back and do light research on the science of water and other basics just for a preschool lesson. You know...double check to make sure I'm familiar with the evaporation process.
2006-04-16 03:52:51 AM  
bbcrackmonkey: At least the sex is great.

Are you sure you should be posting this stuff all over FARK? I mean, what if she happens to come read one of these threads? It's nuts-over for you, my friend!

When the kids get to college, they don't all-of-a-sudden become more intelligent than they were in high-school.

You make an excellent case for a German-style education system, wherein trade school is an honorable option, and not everyone has to go to college just to have a chance at a job.

/Some people just don't belong in universities
//Most Greek organizations are an excellent demonstration of my point
///They learn nothing, and they all go on to become businessmen, politicians and car salesmen anyhow
////Aw, snap
2006-04-16 03:53:30 AM  

Interesting stuff. But I can't help thinking this has something to do with basic geometry. We're talking orbits and circles and (possibly arbitrarly defined) 360 degrees. Does that enter into the picture at all?

360 degrees is sort of arbitrary, but still related to geometry, and here's how: As it happens, it is easier to divide the circle into 36 segments with a compass, which is how the ancients did so. For nautical purposes, it was quadrants, then octants, until greater accuracy was desired. That is why 360 is divisible by so many numbers, because it was generated by dividing in the first place.

Months are obviously approximations of lunar phases. it turns out a week of 7 days makes for a convenient division since the moon phases are easy to see; 4 per month. it's also a convenient division to prevent worker burnout.

Hours, minutes, seconds: arbitrary divisions. The meter was corrected from a fraction of a planetary distance to a multiple of an atomic constant, as was the second.

We are always adjusting the numbers to correct the difference or drift between natural divisions and scientific. Also, the ratio between the year and the day is not a whole number, requiring leap years to correct. Bad planning, that.

The zodiac is scewy. There are actually closer to 13 lunar months per solar year. There should be 13 houses of the zodiac. Worse, the "houses" are arbitrarily delimited, because the 12 divisions don't even line up with the constellations. Sheesh.

I propose adjusting all solar system bodies so that their ratios of motion and distance line up with whole number ratios. This would also require adding or subtracting major amounts of mass. Get right on that, will you?

// Kepler would be proud.
2006-04-16 03:54:21 AM  
GhostFish: She is either smoking hot, or you are really desperate, or it is unfortunately true love.

She's really good in bed. I mean REALLY good. She also likes it in the ass. I try to keep our non-bed activities to a minimum, since whenever we watch a movie more complicated than Rambo I have to sit there and explain shiat to her. We were watching Event Horizon and during the scene where they decipher the video and all the people are mutilating each other, she was saying:

"I don't get it, why are they pulling each other apart like that?"

"...Abby they're in hell. I'm not a hellologist but I assume that you go crazy and do crazy things when you enter it."

Don't worry dude, I know its not true love and I know I'm not going to spend the rest of my life with her. I'm sort of just settling for the moment. Here at EMU, if you don't get a butt-ugly chick, she's gonna be stupid or white trash (includes ghettofabulous) or a Jesus freak.
2006-04-16 03:55:14 AM  
Yeah... I'm not so sure those are really the "top ten most important science questions you should be able to answer out of high school." I would rank questions that gauge students' abilities to approach a situation analytically over those that simply test his scientific knowledge.

The "percentage of the Earth covered by water" and the "age of the oldest fossil" were pretty silly (though you should be able to make a reasonable estimate for the first if you've ever seen a globe). The blue sky question is a bit silly because, while you can give a qualititative answer if you've heard it before, you won't really understand it that well unless you've taken a college level course in optics. Same goes to a lesser extent for the salt question (their explanation is a bit shaky: if it's just about the "extra molecules on the ground surface", why doesn't adding, say, sand have the same effect?) and the rainbow question.

The Darwin and brain signal questions also only really tested knowledge, but particularly for Darwin, that's something all high school graduates really should be knowledgable of. Same's true of the humans/dinosaurs question.

The 365 days/24 hours one would've been good if it'd been worded more clearly; you'd be surprised how many people would be stumped by it. It's one you should be able to figure out even if no one's ever explained it to you.

Maybe a better "exam" would be to ask students how they would design experiments to verify or disprove given hypotheses. That would better test an ability to analyze a situation scientifically, rather than test how closely they read their texbook.
2006-04-16 03:56:39 AM  

They learn nothing, and they all go on to become businessmen, politicians and car salesmen anyhow

Bono said it best: "Don't let the bastards drag you down"
2006-04-16 03:56:52 AM  
shadesofblack: Are you sure you should be posting this stuff all over FARK? I mean, what if she happens to come read one of these threads? It's nuts-over for you, my friend!

Don't worry, she never goes on the internet, and she doesn't even remember the name of the websites I go to. She doesn't know very much about computers and the internet other than crap like Myspace and Facebook. I'm fine. It's the fact that I know all this stuff and she thinks she's in love with me that really worries me. Her last boyfriend beat her for 2 years and he dumped her instead of vice-versa, so I know she's never going to dump me no matter what I do, and I'll end up being the asshole that breaks her heart.
2006-04-16 04:00:36 AM  
A day, 24 hours, is the time it takes for the earth to spin around once on its axis.

BZZZT! Sorry, that's is a non-answer. It doesn't explain WHY a day consists of 24 hours, rather than 10 hours or 100 or some other number. Why did we define 1/24th of a day as an hour?
2006-04-16 04:01:45 AM  
bbcrackmonkey - maybe you can be the one who opens her mind. "Dumb" is an easy act for a chick to appear cute, but also a bad habit.
2006-04-16 04:03:26 AM  
bbcrackmonkey: She's really good in bed... She also likes it in the ass... I'm sort of just settling for the moment... It's the fact that I know all this stuff and she thinks she's in love with me that really worries me... I'll end up being the asshole that breaks her heart.

You, sir, are a true gentleman.

/And they say that chivalry is dead.
//Taking advantage of insecure women is chivalrous, right?
///Okay, okay, you're right, I shouldn't be judging. Dude, don't take it personally; do what you think is right.
Most importantly:
////End threadjack.
2006-04-16 04:03:45 AM  
all you must do is ask her how she feels about the fact that you seem significantly more intelligent than her in nearly everything you two do together. It's a dirty trick but may spark a break up.
2006-04-16 04:04:36 AM  

That's why I'm an English major.

You and me both.

I got all of the questions right except for #9. On a real test, I probably would have known the answer because I would have studied. But, as I've already long since taken all of my lab classes, I just said: "a long time ago, before there was any good beer".
2006-04-16 04:04:38 AM  
I have to ask, how is the fossil question something you can reasonably (or should reasonably, for that matter) expect every high school kid to know? If you ask me, that's rather hardcore into the realm of trivia.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I overestimated the amount of water by about 6%, missed the fossil one, and didn't give a sufficient answer to the last one, but did get the extra credit.

I give myself a 8.3, where is my cookie?
2006-04-16 04:09:29 AM  
Okay, has no one yet noticed that these questions were all proposed by big-headed scientist-types and literary luminaries, and then selected by one woman?

They're not the best questions to ask high school students, they're a sampling of the authors' areas of expertise. It's more a testament to ego than education.

/End of discussion regarding the article
//Now can we get back to the interesting threadjacks?
2006-04-16 04:10:08 AM  
1. What percentage of the earth is covered by water?

The correct answer is approximately 0%. The question doesnt ask for surface area, and there is a very great amount of earth beneath the crust which is not covered by water.

2. What sorts of signals does the brain use to communicate sensations, thoughts and actions?

This is really vaguely worded and could be interpreted several ways. I think I prefer the answer that the brain uses the mouth to communicate. Although using hand signals and eye contact could also be considered.

Brain *cells* on the other hand use neurotransmitters squirted across the synaptic gap.

6. Why is the sky blue?
7. What causes a rainbow?

These are remarkably difficult questions. Quantum theory to describe how photons interact with matter and fields is still incomplete. Honestly, this is material that probably very few minds on the planet really have a partial grasp of.

For those of you who claim to know the answers I expect that Stephen Hawking would love to hear your thoughts on Quantum Field Theory.

10. Why do we put salt on sidewalks when it snows?

Because we want to keep the sidewalk ice free. Duh. What sort of scientific question is that?
2006-04-16 04:16:15 AM  
I also think a few of these were poorly worded, such as the "humans"\dinosaur question. OK, maybe Homo Sapiens didn't exist exactly as they do now, and they never said anything about bacteria fossils...

[image from too old to be available]
2006-04-16 04:17:58 AM  
you know that there's no fun in nitpicking between teh real answers and the answeres we've been trained to give to these questions, now let us feel smart. 11/11 (plus or minus 200e6 years)
2006-04-16 04:19:33 AM  

So my replacement question is this: "What is the trap in the Miller-Urey experiment?"

Are you referring to the fact that there is not a scientific consensus on the reducing nature of the early atmosphere? Or are you making a more oblique point about the generation of amino acids and nucleotides not equalling the creation of replicating molecules?

Because if it's the former, I really have no answer for you; since there's so little conclusive evidence, we have only the prevailing theory (go wiki "RNA world"). If it's the latter, well, first try and wrap your head around numbers like "3 billion years," then come back and talk.

/A lot that seems improbable can happen given a long, long time
//Especially if it only has to happen once
///Or maybe he's talking about something completely different that I've forgotten -- I dunno.

Actually I was considering a third possibility, not a Admiral Ackbar type trap, but that he was asking about the part of the experiment that 'trapped' the amino acids that were produced and filtered them off so the amount and types created during the experiment could be measured and analysed to see which types were made, to avoid most of them being destroyed during the course of the experiment.

Question is about as badly written as half in the linked article to have this many divergent answers I guess ;)
2006-04-16 04:22:49 AM  
xria wins the lateral thinking award for this thread. Also the clear thinking award.

/I should've thought of that.
//Then again, thousands of years' worth of naturalists ought to have thought of Natural Selection, but they didn't, did they?
2006-04-16 04:24:33 AM  
The point of the questions was not to check your own intelligence. The point was: the level of knowledge people should be reaching adulthood with in order to keep society progressing. I missed sentenc structure.
2006-04-16 04:26:59 AM  

I just scrolled up and saw that you were reading about raid levels. Interesting coincidence because I am studying Reed-Solomon P+Q raid6 tonight. And I am rather tired of it as well.
2006-04-16 04:27:09 AM  
8. Influenza viruses and others continually change over time, usually by mutation. This change enables the virus to evade the immune system of its host so that people are susceptible to influenza virus infection throughout their lives. Bacteria mutate in the same way and can also become resistant if overtreated with antibiotics.

That's exactly what I said!11
2006-04-16 04:27:27 AM  
GhostFish, you did a much better job of telling ThrobblefootSpectre "You're not as smart as you think you are" than I was going to.

/One of these days I gotta look into getting a sense of humor installed
//No comment is complete without a couple slashies
2006-04-16 04:30:48 AM  
I teach a homeschool class to an extremely gifted 14-year-old and it's astounding just how bad her public school edcuation was.

She didn't know what the cause of different seasons was. I asked her to think about it. After a bit she asked, "is it because... the earth gets closer and further away from the sun in its orbit?"

She has now successfully completed algebra to a level that would stump most college freshmen, understands the fundamentals of computers better than 99% of the population, and passed a 2nd-year-level college course in logic.

At 14.

Public schools suck.
2006-04-16 04:31:06 AM  
IVe got an architecture class being taught be Patterson that involves frequently reading technical papers to understand how and why certain innovations came about, tonight happens to be RAID, a few months ago was RISC.
2006-04-16 04:33:10 AM  

Heh. Don't feel threatened by me. There's no need to retaliate. It was just a silly post.

Believe me, I go through life in a near constant state of confusion and wonder.
2006-04-16 04:33:18 AM  
(should mention that I pulled up a 3D modelling program and demonstrated the tilt of the earth and its impact on the amount of light that falls on different parts of the globe to said homeschool student. I still run into adults that think the seasons are caused by the earth moving closer-to and further-away-from the sun.)
2006-04-16 04:33:39 AM  
that comment was aimed at ThrobblefootSpectre


thats pretty amazing, it must be both fun to watch and rewarding to do.
2006-04-16 04:36:35 AM  
aiiirplane_neeerm_rattattatta, your handle is ungainly but pleasing to the child in all of us.

While I agree with your assertion that public schools suck, I do not think that home-schooling is the solution; or if it is, it is at best a limited and selfish one. Public schools suffer from a devastating lack of support, funding and enthusiasm, but all it takes to make that a whole lot better is a parent involvement. Supplement your kids' education outside of school, and put in the hours you save by not homeschooling on making sure your kids' school is a worthwhile venture instead. Help teachers out. Vote. Attend school board meetings. There's a lot you can do without pulling the rug out from under the folks who can't afford to take their kids out of public schools, and it'll STILL cost you less time and money than homeschooling, without denying your kids the (admittedly mixed, but essential) benefits of socialization.

/Sorry, pet peeve tangent
2006-04-16 04:38:57 AM  
Of course humans and dinosaurs lived together...haven't any of you seen "Jurassic Park"

/stunned that it took this long for someone to bring this up
2006-04-16 04:40:17 AM  
ThrobblefootSpectre: Heh. Don't feel threatened by me. There's no need to retaliate. It was just a silly post.


I saw what you did there.
2006-04-16 04:43:04 AM  

That's cool. Unfortunately, school is a distant memory for me. Data storage is now my career. Pretty dry stuff, unfortunately, as I suspect you might agree. But it pays well.

Usually when people ask what I do, I just say "computer stuff".
2006-04-16 04:43:56 AM  
as a final note, its really fun to hear Patterson talk about why and how RAID and RISC came about in the first place.
2006-04-16 04:45:08 AM  
bbcrackmonkey I dunno dude, that sounds pretty sad to me. I don't think I could enjoy sex with a person if I knew that they were in love with me and I didn't care about them and I was eventually going to break thier heart and destroy thier life.
2006-04-16 04:46:42 AM  
if you want to look at something pretty interesting that may some day affect you I suggest
, when they (with a few underlings having labor extracted) get this working its going to be pretty cool.

\ i've never really learned html
\\ i appologize
2006-04-16 04:47:39 AM  
Wow, the amount of Nerd Penis being waved about in this thread is staggering.

What's next? Comparing SAT scores?
2006-04-16 04:48:18 AM  
The wording of these questions is dumb.

I love the way scientists define questions in a half-assed manner then smugly tell you "the answer" as if they'd asked a more carefully stated question.

Take their quiz and see how you do.

1. What percentage of the earth is covered by water?

Because virtually all of Earth's atmosphere has a finite nonzero quantity of moisture in it, even if very arid, 100% is covered by water. If you mean water IN A SPECIFIC STATE OF MATTER, then say so.

2. What sorts of signals does the brain use to communicate sensations, thoughts and actions?

Students of out-of-the-body and near-death experiences have ample reason to question the "identity hypothesis" - that mind is 100% contained within or a strict subset of "brain", therefore the "thoughts" portion of this question at least is open to debate.

3. Did dinosaurs and humans ever exist at the same time?

This depends upon how you choose to define crocodiles, caymen, alligators, komodo dragons, and the like. If by definition only large lizards that pre-existed humans are meant by dinosaurs, then by definition "no".

This is a silly game, but one that paleobiologists seem to enjoy playing.

4. What is Darwin's theory of the origin of species?

The biblical phrase "every seed produces its kind" is subject to invalidation according to the work he cribbed from someone else. If you want to know evolutionary theory, start with the simple fact that it ain't all Darwin's.

5. Why does a year consist of 365 days, and a day of 24 hours?

They do only to a near approximation, and do this because we like to define time by cyclic events such as rotating around the sun or our own planet's axis. It's a human bias.

6. Why is the sky blue?

Its baby did a bad bad thing and don't give it no sweet lovin' anymore.

It isn't at night, so it isn't really "blue" anyhow except apparently under special circumstances.

The blue appearance stems from efficient passage of blue light and inefficient passage of other colors during refraction processes.

7. What causes a rainbow?

According to an assinine interpretation by Heisenberg, looking at it causes it. Just before then one has NO IDEA whether water droplets are around to act as prisms diffracting incoming white light. All the vegetation in the world therefore had NO RAIN to support it prior to the emergence of homo sapiens, as water droplets never existed in the atmosphere in the absence of a human observer to collapse its waveform into a real event.

Hail Heisenberg!

8. What is it that makes diseases caused by viruses and bacteria hard to treat?

Because killing them without killing the host is a challenging and intricate process. If we didn't care about the host we'd have no difficulty at all simply incinerating them to the proper temperature for cooking chicken - 700 degrees Celsuis, killing the microcritters, but also the host.

9. How old are the oldest fossils on earth?

There is at best a 50-50 theoretical chance that the oldest fossils on Earth have yet been discovered, therefore the answer isn't truly knowable, and further whether the earliest life left mineralized traces (fossils) is a matter of speculation.

10. Why do we put salt on sidewalks when it snows?

Because lawsuits for slip and falls might increase if we didn't. A rational person might have other reasons for doing this, but that's the best reason for why WE do it.

The physical chemistry reason supporting this is that salt lowers the melting point of ice.

Extra credit: What makes the seasons change?

Staying in one place over the course of a year. If you instead moved about the globe in the proper fashion, the observation "seasons change" would not be made.
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