100 Questions Everyone Should be Able to Answer

My friend Kyle asked me yesterday whether the Romans had conquered the Greeks or vice-versa. ((Neither, really.)) He also asked who’d conquered the winner. ((The Irish)) In response, I’d like to create a list of questions whose answer everyone should know. Please don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know the answer to one or two of them, it’s society’s fault… and you make up the society.

    Chemistry

  1. Why is the sky blue?
  2. What is an element?
  3. What is atomic theory?
  4. What is the difference between a proton, an electron, and a neutron?
  5. What is diffusion and osmosis?
  6. What is a molecule?
  7. What is an isotope?
  8. What is the law of conservation of energy/mass?
  9. What is the difference between an ionic and covalent bond?
  10. What is the periodic table and why is it so ingenious?
  11. What are the four states of matter?
  12. What’s the difference between chemistry and alchemy and why is alchemy not a science?
  13. Astronomy

  14. Which is bigger, the sun or the moon?
  15. Does the Earth go around the sun or vice-versa?
  16. What’s the closest star?
  17. What is a light year and what does it measure?
  18. What is an AU and/or a parsec?
  19. What is a black hole?
  20. How long does a supernova last?
  21. What is a red giant?
  22. What is a white dwarf?
  23. What is red and blue shift?
  24. What is the Big Bang?
  25. What is the difference between astronomy and astrology and why is astrology not a science?
  26. Religion

  27. What do Muslims believe?
  28. What do people of the Jewish faith believe?
  29. What do Christians believe?
  30. What do Hindus believe?
  31. What do Buddhists believe?
  32. What do Taoists and the Shinto believe?
  33. What is an Atheist?
  34. What is an Agnostic?
  35. What were the Crusades?
  36. What is Jihad?
  37. What is the problem of evil?
  38. What is the difference between a myth, a cult, and a religion?
  39. Civics

  40. Where are France, the U.K., the U.S., Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, China, Japan, Russia, Spain, and India?
  41. What is the capital of your state or province?
  42. Why is your town named what it’s named?
  43. Who is your mayor/representative?
  44. What are separation of powers?
  45. What is/is the purpose of a bicameral or tricameral legislature?
  46. What does democracy mean?
  47. What is a representative republic?
  48. What is communism?
  49. What is socialism?
  50. What is fascism?
  51. What is a dictator?
  52. Ancient History

  53. When was writing invented?
  54. Who invented the printing press?
  55. What were the dark ages?
  56. What was the renaissance?
  57. Why is mesopotamia called the ‘cradle of life’ and what’s happening there now?
  58. What are the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and isn’t it funny that you don’t know what Herostratic fame is?
  59. What were the Spring and Autumn period in China?
  60. Why don’t you know any ancient Asian, African, or American history?
  61. Modern History

  62. Who was in/won the first World War?
  63. Who was in/won the second World War?
  64. What was the Cold War?
  65. What are the names of ten former presidents or prime ministers?
  66. What are the names of five current presidents or prime ministers?
  67. When were the Olympics restarted?
  68. What was the Enlightenment?
  69. What was the Industrial Revolution?
  70. Biology

  71. What is evolution?
  72. What is taxonomy and why is it so cool?
  73. What is genetics and how does it work?
  74. What is a gene or a chromosome?
  75. What is homeostasis?
  76. What is cell theory?
  77. What is germ theory?
  78. What is a vaccine?
  79. What is a virus?
  80. What is DNA?
  81. What’s the difference between a prokaryote and a eukaryote?
  82. What’s the difference between evolution and intelligent design and why is intelligent design not a science?
  83. Geology

  84. How old is the Earth?
  85. What are tectonic plates?
  86. What was Pangaea?
  87. What was one extinction event?
  88. Logic and Philosophy

  89. What is validity?
  90. What is soundness?
  91. What does the phrase ‘beg the question‘ mean?
  92. What is the difference between induction and deduction?
  93. Statistics, Economics, and Mathematics

  94. What is the difference between validity and accuracy?
  95. What is the difference between mean, median, and mode?
  96. What is margin of error?
  97. What is the difference between net and gross?
  98. Physics

  99. What is gravity?
  100. What is relativity?
  101. Why is an atomic bomb so powerful?
  102. What is radiation?
  103. Why do magnets work?
  104. Why does a microwave warm up food?
  105. How does you cell phone/bluetooth work?
  106. What do LASER and RADAR stand for?
  107. What is Chaos theory according to Jurassic Park?
  108. What are the laws of thermodynamics?
  109. What are Newton’s three laws of motion?
  110. Explain quantum theory. Use examples.

It took me a month to write this out, so give it a shot. How many of these do you think you can answer?

9 Comments

  1. Comment by Will:

    how do we go from “is the sun bigger than the moon?” to “explain quantum physics”…? :neutral:

  2. Comment by Pixel:

    Mostly it’s a side effect of me going from pessimistic to optimistic and from excited to weary.

    You should have seen the first draft. The final question was: “Why is Adam Smith’s invisible hand touching me?”

  3. Comment by Anon:

    Forgive my sounding like a jerk, please, but you can’t be serious.
    If you claim to know the answers to all of these questions, you are incredibly arrogant and deluded.

    “What is a black hole?” Really? You know? Publish!

    “What do Muslims/Christians/Hindus/etc believe?” You think that they all believe the same thing?

    “What is gravity?” What is a force? Please tell us.

    “Explain quantum theory” Wow. This just shows your ignorace.

    I’m sure you get the idea. Give me a break.
    And you clearly need to do some reading on metaphysics–you don’t know what “is” means. Get rid of this list and start back there–look up “ontology”.

  4. Comment by Pixel:

    My response will be up at 4 a.m. GMT. Please stay tuned. :roll:

  5. Comment by Ashley:

    I may not be able to brilliantly explain the answers to all of those, but I do have a pretty good idea. I’m a smart person.

    Also, look, Pix! You have your very own asshole, anonymous harasser just like mine!

    To Anonymous Jerk: I believe that you entirely missed the point of this post.

  6. Comment by Ashley:

    But also, FYI, science isn’t the only thing that matters, dude. I should make my own list of things that everybody should know. It would look VERY different from yours.

  7. Comment by courtney:

    I don’t know many of the exact answers, but I do have enough of an understanding of the subjects you brought up to be able to quickly find the answer, in most cases. Some people have extremely freakish memories and they remember everything they’ve ever been taught (like my dad. what a freak.) but not everyone is like that. I think the real purpose of education is not to teach facts, but to help us learn to find answers when we need them. Looking at your list, I think I’ve realized my education has been fairly sound.

    Obviously these questions would depend on your culture, but use of language should definitely be on that list somewhere. Grammar, ability to write well, speak well, etc. I don’t know how you’d put that in list form, but I think it’s necessary.

  8. Comment by Pixel:

    Ashley:
    Aw, Thanks. You rock. And please: Memeize me. I know my list is flawed, but I can’t figure out a great way to change it. Perhaps your list can show me the light.

    Courtney:
    That’s actually all I wanted. I think most people should have a general idea of the items on this list as part of their primary education. I didn’t think about the language, but I agree that there should be more history and perhaps some social and cultural questions. I go a little science heavy because it’s easier to frame those sorts of questions.

    p.s. According to my stats page, you’re now the ninth most prolific commenter on my blog. Congratulations.

  9. Comment by Anonymous:

    :cool: i belive everyone have there own answer to these question. there answers or oppinons would befrent. some of these question can not be answer but there people call sciencetic belive they know the answer to everything but to me they guesttimate. :shock: