Brainiacs: Famous Physicists Quiz


From Isaac Newton and his apple to Erwin Schrodinger and his cat, physicists are the ones who study the world and try to figure out how it works. In this quiz, we'll take a look at some of these amazing thinkers and their ideas.

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Question 1 of 20

Who first stated the three universal laws of motion?

Isaac Newton

... Isaac Newton expounded on these laws in his "Principia," published in 1687.


Question 2 of 20

What does the word "quantum," as used in "quantum physics," mean?

a specific amount
without rules

... Max Planck coined the term "quantum physics," which means, basically, a quantity of energy.


Question 3 of 20

Who said, "God does not play games with the universe"?

Erwin Schrodinger
Albert Einstein
Niels Bohr

... Einstein was referring to quantum physics, the strange branch of science he never quite believed in.


Question 4 of 20

What may have contributed to Isaac Newton's eccentric behavior late in life?

chronic sleep deprivation
mercury poisoning

... Newton often dosed himself with mercury as part of his alchemy experiments.


Question 5 of 20

How old was William Lawrence Bragg when he became history's youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915?


... Bragg, age 25, shared the 1915 prize for physics with his father.


Question 6 of 20

Who is often called "the father of nuclear physics"?

Hans Geiger
Isaac Newton
Ernest Rutherford

... Rutherford created the first true model of the atom in 1911.


Question 7 of 20

Isaac Newton wrote more on what topic than on science?

ballroom dancing

... Newton produced copious notes on God, religion and the nature of the supernatural. While dancing wasn't a hobby, he did do some cooking (of sorts) in his alchemy experiments.


Question 8 of 20

He is one of the few (maybe the only) physicists to have a bestselling book.

Stephen Hawking
Albert Einstein
Fritjof Capra

... Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" sat atop the best seller list for months after its 1988 publication. Cynics said people didn't buy it to read, but simply to impress others.


Question 9 of 20

What is a betatron?

a theoretical time machine proposed by Michio Kaku
an obsolete home entertainment system
a source of high speed electrons for cancer treatment

... American physicist Donald Kerst invented the betatron cancer treatment in 1940.


Question 10 of 20

Who studied projectiles moving at supersonic speeds?

Hans Geiger
Ernest Rutherford
Ernst Mach

... The Mach scale is named for Ernst Mach. Mach 1 is at the speed of sound; Mach 2 is twice the speed of sound, and so on.


Question 11 of 20

What did Christian Doppler experiment with?

sound waves
jet engines
electronic keyboards

... Doppler's work with changes in sound wavelengths is now used in radar.


Question 12 of 20

Who first proposed an absolute temperature scale?

Sir Celsius
Lord Kelvin
Hans Geiger

... Lord Kelvin's scale led to the development of thermodynamics.


Question 13 of 20

What particles can occupy the same space if they have the same energy?


... Bosons, named for physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, may hold the key to parallel universes.


Question 14 of 20

What Nobel Prize winner left physics and took up economics?

Albert Einstein
Frederick Soddy
Enrico Fermi

... Soddy was discouraged by his colleagues' roles in developing technology that led to the slaughter of World War I.


Question 15 of 20

Who created the theory of radioactivity?

Hans Geiger
Enrico Fermi
Marie Curie

... Marie Curie, who developed the theory of radioactivity, is the only person to earn a Nobel Prize in two different sciences: physics and chemistry.


Question 16 of 20

Who said, "The entire preoccupation of the physicist is with things that contain within themselves a principle of movement and rest"?

Isaac Newton

... Aristotle showed a recognition, now acknowledged in physics, that all things are connected.


Question 17 of 20

Whose work with slow neutrons led to the discovery of nuclear fission?

Enrico Fermi
Robert J. Oppenheimer
Pierre Curie

... Fermi won the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with slow neutrons.


Question 18 of 20

What two physicists won Nobel Prizes for their work with imaging?

Pierre and Marie Curie
Gabriel Lippmann and Daniel Gabor
George Eastman and Thomas Edison

... Lippmann earned the 1908 prize for developing color photography; Gabor won in 1971 for his invention of holograms.


Question 19 of 20

Who discovered X-rays?

Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen
Joseph Thompson
Robert Millikan

... Rontgen won the first Nobel Prize in 1901 for this 1895 breakthrough.


Question 20 of 20

Who said, "My goal is simple. It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all"?

Stephen Hawking
Isaac Newton
Marie Curie

... Hawking said this in "On Aim of Physics."


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