Lecturers &

Online Quiz

Below is an online version of what the final quiz might look like (in fact, this is the quiz of S1/1999). There are 20 multiple choice questions. Make a note of the best answer and check your score using the answer key at the bottom of the page.

The quiz should take you only about 20 minutes but you will have one hour to complete the actual quiz at the end of session.

Q1 A common feature of all life on Earth is...
needs oxygen
is multicellular
reproduces sexually
contains DNA
Q2 If extraterrestrials had visited Earth at some random time between the Earth's formation and now, what kind of life forms would they most likely have found
stone age humans
humans with radio telescopes
dinosaurs and insects
Q3 Which of the following ideas is NOT being discussed as a possible explanation for the origin of life on Earth?
life originated in a "warm primordial soup" - possibly in tide pools
life originated several kilometers beneath the surface of the Earth or at the bottom of the oceans near hydro-thermal vents
life on Earth came from Mars
life on Earth originated on the Moon
Q4 The age of the Universe, the age of the Earth and the age of the earliest evidence for life on Earth are respectively (in billions of years):
1000, 100, 5
50, 10, 4.1
13, 4.5, 3.8
1.1, 0.6, 0.5
Q5 The Earth's atmosphere contains about 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. The oxygen that we breathe...
came from volcanic emission
came from cow digestive tracts
is generated by ozone depletion
is the waste product of blue-green algae
Q6 The bombardment of the early Earth by meteorites can be quantified by...
meteorologists using a state of the art PC
measuring the number of craters in the lunar maria and highlands
measuring the abundance of volcanic gases in the atmosphere
careful mapping of the holes in the ozone layer
Q7 We may all be martians since...
sequencing of martian DNA shows that it is very similar to DNA on Earth
life could have begun first on Mars and then have been carried to Earth inside of a meteorite
there is good evidence for artificial canals on the martian surface
we are adapted to living on land and there is much less water on Mars than there is on Earth
Q8 Astronomers have been searching for planets around Sun-like stars. So far...
they haven't found any
about a dozen small Earth-like planets have been found
about 100 large Jupiter-like planets have been found
about 100 Earth-like planets have been found
Q9 Water and organic molecules...
have been found in molecular clouds all over our galaxy
are probably only found on Earth because so far it's the only place where life has been detected
are only found in living creatures
are only found in plants and animals
Q10 The Drake equation...
tries to estimate the number of advanced civilizations in our galaxy
describes the organic gases from eukaryotic bacteria
quantifies the observation that once a species goes extinct it never comes back
describes how life gets more and more complex as it evolves
Q11 Fermi's paradox is...
if technological civilizations are common in our Galaxy, they should be here but they aren't
why are plants green? They should be black to absorb light better
the asteroid belt should be a planet but it's not
comets should contain lots of water ice but they don't
Q12 In our class Dr. Butler announced a discovery which made world wide press the next day. We heard it first! He and his colleagues had discovered the first stellar system with more than one planet. They made this discovery by...
the radial velocity or Doppler method (seeing how the velocity of the star varies with time)
the astrometric method (seeing how the position on the sky of the star varies with time)
the occulting method (seeing how the apparent luminosity of the star varies as the planet intersects the line of sight towards us, blocking out some of the light)
the symbiotic method (seeing how the biogenic atmospheres of the planets change the spectra of the central star)
Q13 NASA's Terrestrial Planet finder (TPF) is a proposed space-borne interferometer. TPF will use the technique of `nulling' to locate planets near stars. The process of `nulling' is...
cancellation of interstellar sound waves
using interference methods to eliminate the light from the bright star, thereby rendering the fainter planet detectable
shining an intense laser beam from Earth onto the star and surrounding regions of sky in the hope of illuminating the neighbouring planet so we can see it by reflected light
using radio receivers to observe the planet and eliminating any possible radio signals from the bright star by tuning to a different frequency
Q14 Predictions about the future of artificial intelligence depended on Moore's Law which states that...
computing power doubles every 2 weeks or so
computing power doubles every 2 years or so
exponential growth in the human population means exponential growth in the number of computers
computers will be smarter than people when a panel of experts cannot distinguish between the computer's answers and a human's answers to arbitrary questions
Q15 The basic idea of the Gaia hypothesis is that...
a supreme being watches over life on Earth
the physical and biological components of the Earth are waging a constant battle for supremacy
the physical and biological components of the Earth are part of a single living entity
all the races of humanity are one species
Q16 The Weak Anthropic Principle says that...
the laws of physics we deduce by experiment must be compatible with our own existence
the laws of physics we deduce by experiment need not be compatible with anything whatsoever, including our own existence
the laws of physics deduced by experiment are invalid
people invented physics, therefore only people see physical laws in action
Q17 If we receive a message from an extraterrestrial inhabiting a planet orbiting one of the nearest stars, how long ago was the message sent?
a few hours
a few days
a few years
a few millennia
Q18 If we succeed in detecting a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization there is a protocol which says...
keep it secret
don't reply immediately, inform the press
inform only the military and large corporations
reply immediately to inform the aliens of our coordinates
Q19 Which of the following are regularly reported in the media as being UFOs?
weather balloons
the planet Venus
military aircraft
all of the above
Q20 The opinion about the existence of extraterrestrials that most closely represents the opinions of the organisers of this course is...
  flying saucers with alien beings have landed on Earth but so far scientists have been unable to find them
it is probable that alien beings will resemble human beings more closely than they will resemble bizarre Hollywood creatures
there is much evidence that extraterrestrials visited Earth before the evolution of humanity but it has been destroyed by plate tectonics
there is a good chance that some kind of alien life exists out there somewhere


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