How did the universe form? Take the quiz.


If we took a journey back through the history of the universe, what would we see? Take our Forming the Universe Quiz to see what you know about galaxies, stars, gases, gods and more.

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Question 1 of 20

What does the big bang theory attempt to explain?

how the universe expanded from a tiny, dense state into its present form
why the universe is filled with atoms and radiation
how the universe came into existence from nothing

... The big bang theory describes how the universe expanded from an incredibly hot, small, dense state into the range of space and galaxies we know today. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the theory does not explain how the universe came into being.


Question 2 of 20

The maturation of the material universe has been guided by four fundamental types of force. What are they?

gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, vacuum action
gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force
gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, photocorrelation

... Scientists believe that the big bang created the four fundamental forces of physics: gravity, electromagnetism, weak nuclear force and a strong nuclear force. Before the big bang, all of these forces were probably one single force.


Question 3 of 20

What discovery was taken as direct evidence of the big bang theory?

the observation that there is probably a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way
the observation that all galaxies appear to be moving away from us
the observation that full-bodied stars can collapse into black holes and neutron stars

... Edwin Hubble noticed that all galaxies appear to be moving away from us in all directions. It's not because they don't like us. In fact, if they could observe us, we would appear to be moving away from them. It's all because the universe is expanding.


Question 4 of 20

What does the inflation theory propose?

that the early universe underwent a period of unusually rapid expansion
that the rate of the universe's expansion will continue to slow until it stops
that all matter in the universe is constantly inflating to contain more dark matter

... The inflation theory says the young universe expanded extremely rapidly for a period of time before relaxing and settling into a slower rate of expansion.


Question 5 of 20

According to the inflation theory, how long did it take for the universe to expand from the size of a gumball to the astronomical scale?

about 300 years
about 2.5 seconds
one trillion-trillionth of a second

... According to the inflation theory, it took the universe only a trillion-trillionth of a second to go from something that would fit into the palm of your hand to something huge and mysterious.


Question 6 of 20

Which of the following observations do some people claim presents problems for the big bang theory?

the color of empty space
the number of stars in the universe
the flatness of the universe

... NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) has showed that, in geometrical terms, our universe appears fairly flat. According to the big bang theory, it should show increasing curvature. Inflation theory is one way to reconcile this conflict.


Question 7 of 20

What do cosmologists do?

study the sun and the solar system
study the properties of the universe as a whole
divine the implications of the constellations

... Cosmologists have the small task of studying the universe itself -- usually, they focus on the structure and history of space and time.


Question 8 of 20

How did the first stars in the universe take shape?

Photons bombarded loose collections of protons until they became white-hot.
Intense radiation caused masses of rock and ice to become superheated.
Dense pockets of gas collapsed on themselves and became superheaded.

... Huge collections of gases contracted under the force of gravity, becoming the hot, powerful, luminous objects we know as stars.


Question 9 of 20

What would be the normal magnitude categorization of a galaxy with 1.5 billion stars?

spiral galaxy
dwarf galaxy
supermassive galaxy

... Dwarf galaxies may have up to several billion stars. The Milky Way -- our home galaxy -- has at least 100 billion stars, and it's of a fairly average size.


Question 10 of 20

Galaxies are categorized by shape. What type of galaxy is the Milky Way?

elliptical galaxy
irregular galaxy
spiral galaxy

... The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, which features a central concentration of stars and "arms" that pinwheel around it.


Question 11 of 20

How do galaxies form?

Supernovae propel matter into confined locations.
A ring of black holes surrounds a group of stars, always pushing the stars further inward.
In the early universe, gravity caused huge masses of gas to collapse and condense.

... There are several theories about the exact mechanics of galaxy formation, but they all involve the force of gravity acting upon giant pockets of gas.


Question 12 of 20

What do deists generally believe about the origin of the universe?

All matter was created by God, exactly as described in the book of Genesis.
A non-interventionist deity may have created the material that makes up the world.
Multiple gods created the world and take an active interest in human affairs.

... The prevailing idea among deists is that the universe was probably put together by an intelligent creator who takes no active role in human affairs.


Question 13 of 20

As the Earth was forming, what material sank underneath the other layers of crust to become Earth's core?


... Early in its formation, Earth acquired the iron core that gives the planet its protective magnetosphere. This invisible barrier helps protect the planet's inhabitants from deadly solar winds.


Question 14 of 20

Approximately how old is our solar system?

14.6 billion years old
18 trillion years old
4.5 billion years old

... Our solar system only about 4.5 billion years old -- just a kid when compared to the almost 14 billion year-old universe.


Question 15 of 20

Which planets in our solar system are referred to as "terrestrial"?

Mars, Earth, Saturn and Venus
Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars
Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn

... Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are terrestrial planets because they have solid, rocky surfaces. However, this doesn't mean that those surfaces are anything like that of Earth. A walk on the surface of Venus, for example, would be something like walking around inside a highly toxic pressure cooker.


Question 16 of 20

What is the essence of the cosmological principle?

The universe is built out of wormholes that manipulate space-time.
The universe is unevenly distributed, with different properties for different observers.
The properties of the universe are the same, no matter the position of the observer.

... According to the cosmological principle, our universe is uniformly distributed on all scales, both large and small, and no place is privileged.


Question 17 of 20

What element makes up most of the mass of stars like our sun?


... Stars tend to be made mostly of hydrogen and helium, with the greatest portion of their mass being single-proton hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen is also the most commonly occurring element in the universe.


Question 18 of 20

Any explanation of the origin of the universe falls into this category.


... Cosmogony refers to any theory about the origin of the universe.


Question 19 of 20

What belief is at the core of chaotic inflation theory?

that the universe formed from even fluctuations of gas
that there is only one universe with finite boundaries
that an infinite series of inflationary bubbles become universes

... The chaotic inflation theory hypothesizes an endless progression of inflationary bubbles that become universes. This brushes right up against the idea of parallel universes.


Question 20 of 20

Which association of scientists endorses the idea that the universe was created by a single, all-powerful deity?

God-Fearing Scientists of America (GFSA)
Association of Concerned Scientists (ACA)
American Scientific Affiliation (ASA)

... American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) is an organization of scientists who believe that the universe was created by the hand of the Christian God.


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