London Blog

Friday Quiz – 27th July – Olympics special

It’s quiz time again, and, with today seeing the official opening of the London Olympics, what better way to celebrate than with an Olympic-themed science quiz? Unfortunately, we couldn’t persuade Danny Boyle to direct a spectacular opening paragraph for us, so let’s instead get right down to the questions…

 Round 1 – Athletics

First up is athletics. Can you just as easily rattle off stats about Olympics athletic events as you can about the natural world? Then this round is for you.

1. Which is the greater distance – the circumference of the Large Hadron Collider or the length of a marathon?
2. Which of these lengths of time is greatest: the amount of time it takes light from the sun to reach the earth or the world record time for the men’s 3000m steeplechase?
3. Which is heavier – an average ostrich egg or a women’s discus?

Round 2 – Boxing

Seconds out, Round 2 for boxing, as we look at some of the more infamous scientific punch-ups from down the ages:

1. In an acrimonious encounter often known as the Huxley–Wilberforce debate, the two eponymous protagonists and several others met at Oxford University Museum in 1860 to discuss what subject?
2. Isaac Newton quarrelled with which German mathematician over the issue of which of them was the first to invent calculus?
3. In the so called “War of Currents”, which was about whether AC or DC was the best method of electrical power distribution, which famed inventor and advocate of DC electrocuted a circus elephant called Topsy in a publicity stunt to demonstrate that AC (advocated by Nikolai Tesla, among others) was too dangerous to be used?

Round 3 – Cycling

This week’s picture round is all about cycles. There’s no place for Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins etc, however – instead, can you identify these rather more scientifically-themed cycles from the diagrams below?

Daniel Ramsköld


Mike Jones



Round 4 – Equestrian and Swimming

Two Olympic events for the price of one in this round. For each of the creatures named below, simply identify whether they are equestrian, ie a type of horse, or a swimmer, ie an aquatic animal of some description:
1. Onager
2. Tetra
3. Tarpon
4. Kiang
5. Yapok

Round 5 – Scientists at the Olympics

We finish off with a look at the (admittedly fairly small) crossover between famous scientists and top Olympic athletes:
1. Which pioneering chemist and physicist, famed for discovering hydrogen and for his experiment to weigh the Earth (among many other accomplishments), shares his family name with one of the top British gold medal hopes for the 2012 Olympics?
2. Harald Bohr, mathematician and brother of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr, represented Denmark in the 1908 Olympic Games (winning a silver medal in the process) in which sport?
3. Which metalloid element, atomic number 5, is also the name of a German four-time Olympic gold medallist in sculling?

Good luck, answers as usual will appear on Monday. And as tempting as it may be, please do not use performance-enhancing drugs to boost your score – we WILL be carrying out random testing.


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