## Back to school

Posted on Saturday 16 August 2008 at 5:46 pm by Jacob Aron
In Education

The Telegraph have published an “adult revision guide” for those who think A-levels are getting easier to test their own knowledge. Let’s have a go at the Science section – the answers will be published tomorrow.

1. If you were given a bar of gold with a mass of 50g and a volume of 2.59cm³, what would you calculate its density to be?

I always answer questions like this by thinking of the units of measurement involved. Density is units of mass per unit of volume, or kg/m³. That means the density of the gold bar must be 0.05 kg / 0.00000259 m³ – watch out for the multiplication factor when converting between volume scales – which is around 19300 kg/m³. Sounds about right.

2. Which of the following is a state of matter?
a) fire b) untidy c) gas d) brisk e) pineapple f) water

Gas. Would hope that is an obvious one!

3. A substance that is made up entirely of the same kind of atoms is called:
a) A solution b) A molecule c) A solid d) An element

An element. Slightly awkward wording in the question lead me to think “the same kind as what?” – might have been more clear to ask “A substance that is made up entirely of atoms of the same kind”, but that’s nitpicking.

4. Which of the following is the smallest?
a) Atom b) Quark c) Proton

Three quarks make up a proton, and protons are found in the nucleus of an atom, so quark is the answer.

5. Which of the following are elements?
a) Water b) Air c) Gold d) Helium e) Wind f) Bicycle

Not sure why “bicycle” is there instead of “fire” to make up the four classical elements, but gold and helium are of course correct.

6. Identify the types of energy being used and transferred in the following scenarios (see the box above for a guide):
a) Mr Dadier eats a bowl of spaghetti and goes for a run.
b) A pendulum inside a grandfather clock swings back and forth.
c) A football is kicked towards goal, hits the crossbar and bounces back off.

They haven’t included the box in the online version of the article, but I remember doing these sorts of questions at GCSE. I reckon:

a) Chemical -> Kinetic
b) Elastic -> Kinetic
c) Kinetic -> Elastic -> Kinetic

7. What colour is lymph?

Not a clue. Clear? I’m afraid I don’t even know what the lymph system in your body does.

8. An exothermic reaction is:
a) One in which compounds are broken down with electricity
b) One that takes place outside the skeleton
c) One that gives out heat

Exo- immediately makes me think of exoskeleton, which they try and trick you into answer b) with. It’s actually c).

9. What colour would red litmus paper go if you put it into a glass of sea water?
a) Blue b) Green c) Red d) Yellow

Not sure I remember this one. Green is for a neutral pH 7. Sea water is salty and so…alkaline? I’m going for blue, but I’m not impressed I can’t remember!

10. An apple is:
a) An ovary b) A stamen c) A pony d) An anther

Yikes. Not a clue. I’m almost tempted to go for pony, but ovary will have to do.

11. What is terminal velocity?

The maximum speed of a falling object, reached when wind resistance cancels out acceleration due to gravity.

12. Identify the problem with the following sentence:
“The cold is seeping into my bones because the temperature has dropped to absolute zero.”

There is no such thing as “cold”, merely an absence of heat. Thermal energy flows from high temperature to low temperature until equilibrium is reached, so cold can’t seep anywhere. Additionally, absolute zero is -273 °C, not a likely temperature for anyone to be complaining about the cold at!

13. Where on this diagram are the following bones located?
a) Tibia b) Humerus c) Pelvis d) Femur

The diagram isn’t online. Whoops.

14. If Sandy has blue eyes and Danny has brown eyes, they are more likely to have:
a) A brown-eyed baby b) A blue-eyed baby

I’m pretty sure blue eyes are a recessive genetic trait whilst brown eyes are dominant, so the baby is more likely to have brown eyes. If Danny’s parents were blue eyed and brown eyed then he will have allele for both eye colours, and could potentially pass on the blue one to his child, resulting in a blue eyed baby.

15. What is air made of?

A mixture of gases, mostly nitrogen and oxygen. I’ll post the answers tomorrow in addition to the usual weekly roundup, and feel free to correct any of my more dodgy answers in the comments!

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