Triviola Time!
Basic physics... that many physics students don't know!

OK, here is a list of questions I gave to physics students who most couldn't answer one. Soooo, have fun with this list. Don't feel condescended because you don't understand the question. They were designed for physics students. I've found it funny how many people are actually more aware and knowledgeable than those they think are smarter! (They are not, just different education!) Below is how I first presented the questions.

Throughout my career, I've been asked some very basic questions about physics. Not knowing the answer to basic questions can be embarrassing or cause problems when another person provides a good-sounding answer (albeit wrong) with flawed reasoning. Management tends to listen to those who can explain why their answer is right over those who just provide answers. Most of the questions below I've encountered while working. Obviously, I had much harder questions asked of me but quick judgments of one's knowledge and skill are typically based with very simple issues such as the below.

Instructions — No partial credit. Whenever possible, justify your answer. Without justification, the complete answer is considered incorrect even if the right answer is provided. Remember, many will believe what is wrong when provided with a good-sounding explanation than what is right with none. Some questions are phrased in such a way to lead you to think a certain way, the wrong way. In the real world, this is typical of how some problems are encountered.

  1. What are the primary colors?
  2. If heating a liquid allows more to be dissolved in it, why does a warm can soda have more bubbles trying to escape than when cold?
  3. On a hot day, a fan can help keep one cooler. What effect does the fan have on a cold beverage?
  4. If the resolution of the eye is 1.0 arcminute, what can we presume about the size of the stars we see at night?
  5. What two colors make yellow?
  6. When using a simple magnifier, if we could measure distance to the magnified image, would the magnified image measure to be closer of farther away than the actual object?
  7. Filling a barrel with water increases the optical path length. Will this make the bottom appear closer or farther away?
  8. If it takes Bob three hours to paint a house and it takes a Duck five hours to paint the same house, how long with it take if they work together.
  9. Which way is up?

Show Me The Answers!

Official Triviola Point Score!

No partial credit. No credit even if the right answer was guessed but you can't explain why. No exceptions.

Non-physicists and other normal people
0 = just another one of the masses.
1-2 = must watch a LOT of the Discovery channel
3 or more = lemme guess, you have designer pocket protectors?

Physicists and those who've taken physics in college
0 - 1 = Have you been fired from a job because you couldn't figure out how a shovel works?
2 - 4 = Scraping the bottom of being average. Should you ever get a job, don't expect a promotion before you retire.
5 = Above average but not by much. You'd probably be well suited to managing those using shovels.
6 = Not bad but be prepared to be able to say "ya want fries with that?" with a big smile just in case.
7 - 8 = So close to perfection?!?!?! Can't you do anything right?
9 = You must really love this stuff, maybe a bit too much. If your idea of going out to dinner is using the vending machines near the laboratory, you're beyond all hope.

  1. A trick question in that there are two answers. No credit if both answers aren't given. For additive color, red-green-blue. for subtractive color, red-yellow-blue
  2. Gas laws remain constant regardless of being dissolved. Any heating of the liquid to allow more gas to be dissolved in it is negated by gas expansion due to increased temperature. The expansion of solids in a liquid due to temperature is relatively small. Do note that dissolving or mixing to chemicals is not the same as having them chemically interact with each other.
  3. The passing air will increase the energy transfer rate between the air and beverage than if in still air causing the beverage to reach ambient temperature more rapidly, i.e., it warms more rapidly.
  4. Nothing about size. In this situation, the eye is acting as a detector of light and not an imaging system.
  5. The only way to make this happen is to use additive color - Red and green... don't believe me? Check out the colors used on any TV, computer monitor or projector – they all have adjustments for red, green and blue color (related to question #1)
  6. As magnification increases, the image would measure farther away. What confuses most is that angular magnification, or apparent size, is confused with being closer. Simple experiments show this.
  7. Closer. If you missed this one, you must never been near water and should consider a trade for a living such as panhandling.
  8. 1.875 hours. Yes, this is math but much of physics in practice is being able to simply understand and setup the problem. If H=house, then Bob's painting rate = 1/3 H-per-hour and Duck's painting rate is 1/5 H-per-hour. Adding the two together (working together) will yield the answer if they worked together to make a new painting rate of 8/15 H-per- hour. Total time to paint the same house - about one hour and 53 minutes.
  9. Generally, "Up" is the direction opposite the pull of gravity.