How much do you know about science?

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Photo: Andrey_Kuzmin/Shutterstock

A survey of general scientific knowledge found that Americans aren't so science-savvy. How will you do?

Question 1 of 12

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This picture shows an object in space that has an icy core with a tail of gas and dust that extends millions of miles. What is this?

More than three-quarters (78 percent) of Americans knew this was a description of a comet. This was one of the easiest of the 12 questions asked by the Pew Research Center's Science Knowledge Quiz.

Question 2 of 12

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light beam
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What does a light-year measure?

A light-year is a unit of distance, not time. It's what astronomers use to measure distance in space, approximately 9 trillion kilometers or about 6 trillion miles. This question stumped 28 percent of quiz takers.

Question 3 of 12

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Denver skyline with mountains
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Denver, Colorado, is at a higher altitude than Los Angeles, California. Which of these statements is correct?

This was a tough one. Only about a third (34 percent) of people knew that water boils at a lower temperature in high altitudes. Water normally boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), but due to lower air pressure at higher elevations, it boils at around 202 degrees in Denver.

Question 4 of 12

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two women covering their ears
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The loudness of a sound is determined by what property of a sound wave?

Another hard one, only 35 percent of quiz takers knew that amplitude or height determines loudness in a sound wave.

Question 5 of 12

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nuclear energy symbol
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Which of these elements is needed to make nuclear energy and nuclear weapons?

Either Americans paid attention in chemistry class or we watch an awful lot of Bond movies. This was one of the easier questions, with 82 percent of respondents aware that uranium is what is necessary to make nuclear energy/weapons. Interestingly, 90 percent of men got this one right and 75 percent of women.

Question 6 of 12

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Which of these terms is defined as the study of how the positions of stars and planets can influence human behavior?

Seventy-three percent of Americans can distinguish between astronomy and what Pew Research points out is commonly considered a pseudoscience: astrology. Twenty-two percent incorrectly guessed that astronomy is the study of how the positions of stars and planets can influence human behavior. That's just a sampling of the Pew science questions (take the full quiz here) and we've got a few more questions up our sleeves.

Question 7 of 12

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What is the most common gas in the Earth's atmosphere?

The thin layer of gases that surrounds our planet is composed of 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, 0.9 percent argon, 0.03 percent carbon dioxide, and trace amounts of other gases.

Question 8 of 12

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curling tape measure
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What do hertz measure?

The hertz (Hz) is the standard unit of measurement used for measuring frequency. It's equivalent to cycles per second and was named for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the German physicist who proved the existence of electromagnetic waves.

Question 9 of 12

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periodic table potassium
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The letter K stands for which element on the periodic table?

The chemical symbol "K" comes from kalium, the Latin name for potash, which led to the name potassium.

Question 10 of 12

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man falling
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Who discovered gravity?

Einstein was most famous for his theory of relativity, Darwin had evolution, and Edison had many inventions, including the phonograph and the electric light bulb. But Isaac Newton was the English physician and mathematician who developed the law of universal gravitation.

Question 11 of 12

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molecule display
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Which is smaller?

Atoms are the building blocks of molecules. Atoms of different elements (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon) often combine. A molecule is two or more atoms that are chemically joined together. A compound is a molecule that contains more than one element.

Question 12 of 12

Score: 0

pie with pi
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What is pi?

Pi (π), the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet, is the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. No matter how large or small a circle is, pi will always be the same number. Pi is both irrational, meaning it can't be written by a ratio or simple fraction, and it's transcendental, meaning that it's not algebraic.

You scored out of 12
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