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Quiz: 2020 Science News

Science News Quiz 2020 Collage

Though history will remember 2020 as the year the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, scientists continued to study the natural world and advance our understanding of it. Several scientific breakthroughs were announced in 2020, including the discovery of new species, the unearthing of surprising archaeological remains, and, of course, the remarkably fast development of a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. As we welcome in a new year, let’s take a look back at some of the scientific highlights from a difficult year. And be sure to nominate your favorite science news story from 2020 in the comments section.


1. A mammal with a duck-like bill and a tail like a beaver’s, the platypus is such a strange animal that some dismissed early specimens as fakes. What trait did scientists add to the platypus’ list of oddities in 2020?




Wild platypus in a creek in Tasmania. Credit: Klaus / Wikimedia Commons
Wild platypus in a creek in Tasmania. Credit: Klaus / Wikimedia Commons

Dust off your groovy old black light, because it turns out that platypuses glow when under ultraviolet light. They also hunt with their eyes closed using electroreceptors in their bills, but that’s old news.

2. What items were found along with the 9,000-year-old remains of a young woman in the high Andes of Peru?




An artist's impression of a vicuña hunt. Credit: Matthew Verdolivo/UC Davis IET Academic Technology Services
An artist’s impression of a vicuña hunt. Credit: Matthew Verdolivo/UC Davis IET Academic Technology Services

The discovery of a big-game hunting kit with the skeleton of a pre-historic young woman caused some anthropologists to suggest that hunter-gatherer women may have been more involved in big-game hunts than previously thought.

3. Google offshoot DeepMind developed an artificial intelligence network that made a huge leap in solving what grand scientific challenge?




The 3D structure of a protein predicted by artificial intelligence (blue) and experimentally determined (green) show a high degree of matching. Credit: DeepMind
The 3D structure of a protein predicted by artificial intelligence (blue) and experimentally determined (green) show a high degree of matching. Credit: DeepMind

Proteins are essential to life, and their function largely depends on their 3D structure. During a challenge in November, DeepMind’s AlphaFold 2 AI was able to accurately predict how proteins folded from 1D amino acid sequences into their final structure. The innovation is expected to have far-reaching impacts in the life sciences and medicine.

4. Following an unprecedented worldwide effort, a vaccine for COVID-19 was developed in under a year — an astonishing medical achievement. The COVID-19 vaccines are a new type of vaccines called:




The COVID-19 vaccines are a new type of vaccine that use mRNA to protect against infectious diseases. According to the CDC, “To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.”

5. A team discovered a trove of previously unknown species in the Bolivian Andes, including one of the smallest amphibians in the world, the…




The species were discovered in the Zongo Valley cloud forest, just 30 miles from La Paz. Other species found included the mountain fer-de-lance viper, the Bolivian flag snake, and the devil-eyed frog, which was thought to be extinct. Learn more about the expedition: Trove of new species discovered in hidden Bolivian valley

6. After the gas phosphine was discovered in its atmosphere, some astronomers pondered if there could be life on what planet?




Image of Venus and its thick clouds taken in two bands of ultraviolet light by the Venus-orbing Akatsuki, a Japanese robotic satellite. Credit: <a href="http://www.isas.jaxa.jp/e/about/what/index.shtml" target="_blank">ISAS</a>, <a href="http://www.jaxa.jp/about/index_e.html" target="_blank">JAXA</a>, <a href="https://global.jaxa.jp/projects/sas/planet_c/" target="_blank">Akatsuki</a>; Processing: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Meli_thev" target="_blank">Meli thev</a>
Image of Venus and its thick clouds taken in two bands of ultraviolet light by the Venus-orbing Akatsuki, a Japanese robotic satellite. Credit: ISAS, JAXA, Akatsuki; Processing: Meli thev

Phosphine gas is produced by microorganisms on Earth, but speculations about its presence on Venus — or even whether it exists on the planet at all — have proved controversial. The truth may be out there, but for now many astronomers await further observations and research.

7. What fell by seven percent during 2020?




According to the Global Carbon Project, carbon dioxide emissions fell by some seven percent globally in 2020, a side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though an encouraging development, scientists expect emissions to rise in 2021 and point out that coordinated, long-term efforts will be necessary to reduce the effects of climate change. Thanks to conservation efforts led by the Yakama Nation, the white sturgeon continued to make a comeback in the Columbia River basin.

8. What did Earth Institute scientists discover more than a mile under the ice of northwest Greenland?




The huge ancient lake bed was “the first-ever discovery of such a sub-glacial feature anywhere in the world. Apparently formed at a time when the area was ice-free but now completely frozen in, the lake bed may be hundreds of thousands or millions of years old, and contain unique fossil and chemical traces of past climates and life.” Read the full article.

9. Which of the following had devastating fires during 2020?




Natural-color satellite image of smoke and fire in California, August 19, 2020. Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC
Natural-color satellite image of smoke and fire in California, August 19, 2020. Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

The Western United States also experienced a record-breaking fire season, and with 30 named storms, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active ever. Scientists have linked increasing and intensifying extreme weather events to climate change.

10. In May, Earth Institute researchers announced that dangerous combinations of what two things were already emerging across the globe?




The study found that the warming climate was already producing potentially dangerous combinations of heat and humidity that have rarely if ever been experienced by humans. Read the full story.

2,3,2,1,4,2,4,1,4,3

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ludvikus69
ludvikus69
3 years ago

i GOT 100% CORRECT.

Taylor James
Taylor James
3 years ago

Heat and Humidity? Really?thats what happens during a Grand Solar Minimum. The planets Magnetosphere is thinned, making the planet more susceptible to Sun Activity…which ultimately; like it has always been, plays the greatest roll in climate change. This grand solar minimum is unique, because it coincides with other unique solar and planetary alignments.

It was a record early snow for multiple states in US in September 2020

Japan has record early snowfall

Record Freezing temperatures in Mongolia/China

Guatemala recording Record cold Temperatures

Barometric Pressures drop all over the planet causing record temperature drops

In Russia, 20 weather Stations set record lows…

ThiS conclusion is more of a “pay for science” than it is important scientific data. Heat and Humidity have always been threats to humanity. The REAL threat is how unstable Earths magnetic field has become because of astrological and planetary alignments; drawing and expelling electromagnetic energy from each other and our sun via magnetic portal connections. This not only effects crustal movements, stability and volatility but also impacts the magnetic stability in our planets North and South Poles. This is why birds are dropping dead and whales and dolphins getting beached in mass…the magnetic pole shifts have thrown off their migratory paths. This is also why there are extreme or unusual weather conditions across the planet. The status quo of regional climate conditions is changing rapidly because that regions climate is “repositioning” as the planets magnetic fields adjust to these rare solar and planetary alignments. Your Welcome

Sachintha Dilshan
Sachintha Dilshan
3 years ago

Haha
Your Score: You answered 3 of 10 questions correctly for a score of 30%. The average score for this quiz is 70%. Better luck next time!

a n y a
a n y a
3 years ago

4/10 ain’t too bad for never paying attention 😉

Rama Mantle
Rama Mantle
2 years ago

Wow. I got 60pervent only quiz. That’s why I want to thank you for the update for another week day of new info about our relationship with our planet. A friend of mine quoted.
“We are only visiters of the planet earth…. paying the rent here…so let us remember that our time here on this planet earth, may someday soon run out.”
Thanks
RM

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