Top 10 Science Fact Quiz: Take John McNally’s True or False Quiz with Some of the Best Weird Science Facts

Author John McNally sorts science fiction from science facts with 10 of the best crazy “true or false” posers – how many can you get?

Science fact or fiction: take our quiz with John McNally’s 10 craziest science facts

Does a Polo Mint really glow in the dark if you cut it in half?

Can a pig be killed, frozen and then brought back to life?

What’s more deadly – a great white shark or a mosquito?

Author John McNally’s latest book Infinity Drake and the Sons of Scarlatti is the first in a new series of adventure thrillers.

The hero, Finn, finds himself with his mad scientist uncle on a secret race to destroy an escaped biological weapon – the Scarlatti Wasp – before it destroys life on earth.

Here, McNally sorts science fiction from scientific facts with his top 10 crazy science “facts”, true or false.

Take the quiz and see if you know the difference between them.

  True. Look at this diagram of a hydrogen atom. Notice the distance between the nucleus and the electron. At true scale this distance is enormous. If you imagine the nucleus as a pea in the middle of a football stadium, then the electron would be a gnat whizzing around the very edge of the top row of seats. If you could bring the gnat right up close to the pea and eliminate all the empty space in between, then you could reduce humanity to the size of a sugar lump. In the book Finn's mad scientist Uncle Al builds a machine that can squash out some of this empty space, reducing Finn and a bunch of soldiers to 150th of their actual size."},{"options":[{"text":"True","correctAnswer":false},{"text":"False","correctAnswer":true}],"questionText":"You can take an insect, turn it into a bullet and fire it out of a gun. True or false?","resultText":"False. It would vaporise and there'd be bits of legs and guts everywhere. It might make your enemy go "Ur.." but it wouldn't kill them. Although you can weaponise an insect and turn it into a killing machine in its own right. In World War Two the Japanese dropped infected fleas over China to spread cholera, killing nearly half a million people. During the Cold War each side developed horrific insect killing machines - hybrid fleas, mosquitoes and other insects that would carry and spread diseases and other lethal biological or nerve agents. The plan was to drop them over enemy cities or armies. In the book, the Scarlatti Wasp was developed during research into just such a program, but the project was shelved because it was so horrific. And then someone released it..."},{"options":[{"text":"True","correctAnswer":true},{"text":"False","correctAnswer":false}],"questionText":"Our sense of smell works, not chemically by scent molecules locking onto receptors in the nose, but by quantum vibration, whereby smells wobble some strange bit of our noses in a way we don't really understand. True or false?","resultText":"True. Possibly. For many years medical science has assumed smell is a chemical process. Some scientists now think that scent molecules wobble about in such a way they emit an electron that can be picked up by smell receptors in the nose. In part it could explain the fantastic sense of smell some animals and insects have. Bloodhounds have a sense of smell 10 to 100 million times more powerful than a human's. A silkworm can smell a mate seven miles away. In my book the Scarlatti wasps can pick up each other's scent over tens of miles."},{"options":[{"text":"True","correctAnswer":false},{"text":"False","correctAnswer":true}],"questionText":"There are 14 million insects on earth for every single human being, or in other words 14 million insects that can be apportioned to you personally. Call them your own private army. True or false?","resultText":"False. In fact there are at least 140 million insects per person. Do the math. The number of insects in existence is thought to be 10 to the power of 18 or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000; the global human population is thought to be 7,100,000,000: making a neat 142,857,142.86 per head. Let's just hope they never turn on us... In my book Finn collects just a tiny fraction of his share, which seems fair enough. If you go to his website he'll show you how to set up a lamp trap and start a collection of your own."},{"options":[{"text":"True","correctAnswer":true},{"text":"False","correctAnswer":false}],"questionText":"Niels Bohr – the father of sub-atomic physics and a true genius of the 20th century and possibly the brainiest man ever to walk the planet – used to be a footballer. True or false?","resultText":"True. He used to play in goal for the Danish side Akademisk Boldklub, and his brother played in mid-field (was so good in fact he played for Denmark). Everybody in Denmark loved Niels, he was brainy, personable, an all round super star and national hero. So much so the Danish brewer Carlsberg built him a house and gifted him a lifetime supply of free beer. Hic. If it weren't for him, Uncle Al would never have been able to build the Boldklub Accelerator which reduces the size of atoms. Other notable if unlikely goalkeepers include Albert Camus (French existential novelist), Pope John-Paul 2nd (last Pope but one), Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) and Che Guevara (Cuban revolutionary)."},{"options":[{"text":"True","correctAnswer":true},{"text":"False","correctAnswer":false}],"questionText":"Polo mints possess a quality called "triboluminescence" which means they will light up when snapped in half.","resultText":"True. Find a very dark place and snap or crush a Polo mint and it will release a tiny flash of light. It is thought this is caused by the electrons trapped in the crystalline structure of the sugars being released suddenly and violently: they rush about to find a new place to go – hence the glow. The same can be observed when opening a strip of sellotape along the line where the adhesive bond is being unbroken. Also it's a property of certain minerals. In the book Finn wears round his neck a piece of the mineral sphalerite which belonged to his father, then his mother, and which passed on to him after her death. It will glow simply by being scratched and he likes to keep it next to his heart."},{"options":[{"text":"True","correctAnswer":true},{"text":"False","correctAnswer":false}],"questionText":"Trees blow up when lightning strikes. True or false?","resultText":"True. The water inside them instantly boils and expands blowing most of the tree to smithereens. This isn't in the book, I just love it as a fact."},{"options":[{"text":"True","correctAnswer":false},{"text":"False","correctAnswer":true}],"questionText":"Great White Sharks are more deadly than mosquitoes. True or false?","resultText":"False. Bite for bite, sure the shark is nastier, but in terms of slaughter there's no comparison. Mosquito bites – which spread diseases like malaria – kill an estimated one million people per year – mostly children under five – while less than six are killed by shark bites. In fact hippos, deers, bees, dogs, ants, jellyfish, cows, horses spiders and snakes are all more likely to kill you than a shark. But then who wants to see a horror movie call Moo? So don't be concerned that a few insects get wasted in the book. There's a lot of machine gun blood and guts action against spiders, ants – wasps certainly – very few of which are innocent."},{"options":[{"text":"True","correctAnswer":true},{"text":"False","correctAnswer":false}],"questionText":"Pigs can be killed, near frozen and brought back to life. True or false?","resultText":"True. Scientists have anesthetised pigs, drained their blood, nearly frozen them (getting down to 10C) , then reversed the process and brought them successfully back to life with an electric shock. They don't technically die, they are kept in a state of suspended animation. Many insect species (with the right type of blood) can be kept at a temperature of -10C for very long periods and still come back to life. The larvae of one type of midge can be kept in liquid nitrogen at temperature of -200C for three days and still pop up as good as new. The Scarlatti wasp is kept on ice in a state of suspended animation for many years before being brought back to life."},{"options":[{"text":"True","correctAnswer":true},{"text":"False","correctAnswer":false}],"questionText":"If aliens on a planet 65 million light years away are looking at us right now, all they'll see are dinosaurs. True or false?","resultText":"True. When you look out into space you're not just seeing a place, you're also seeing a time – the time it's taken the light to travel to you. The universe is both very much smaller and much larger than we tend to think. A light year is the distance travelled by light in the course of a year. Or 5.88 trillion miles. So 5.88 trillion times 65 million makes… a Lot. Indeed the total size of the observable universe is 46 billion light years – and that may be only the start of it. It may be infinite, and one of an infinite number of parallel universes… What's out there? God? Aliens? More science?
Such thoughts make my brain ache, but here's another thought to bear in mind across the Infinity Drake series. Finn's father, Ethan Drake, went missing during an experiment into this kind of thing. Nobody knows how it happened, and nobody knows where he is. But maybe, somehow, somewhere out there… there is an answer. Keep reading!"}],"remarks":[],"shuffleQuestions":false,"title":"John McNally's top 10 science facts - true or false?","resultText":" ","subType":"quiz","features":{"showVpaidControls":"true","commentsEnabled":"true","chameleon.cookiePolicy.enabled":"false","pubmaticIdEnabled":"false","tag.amphtml.enabled":"true","thirtythreeacrossDisplayPrebidEnabled":"true","prebidLibrary":"false","authUI":"true","googleOneTap":"true","trackTaboolaVisibility":"true","loadPrebidAtRuntime":"true","quantcastCMPEnabled":"true","openxDisplayPrebidEnabled":"true","MediaTrustEnabled":"true","PWA":"{ "cacheFirst": true, "combinedPrompt": true, "scope":"/","options": { "pushStyle": "headline", "pushSticky": true }}","monitizer":"true","navWithArticle.enabled":"true","prebidTestLibrary":"false","bypassGigyaFacebook":"true","disableOzoneScriptOnDragonfly":"true","pubmaticIdDisabled":"true","fbia.mantisRecommender":"true","RRET-227.cutOffDate":"2020-06-30T10:30:00","":"true","enableSlideInSkinnySignUp":"true","amazonVideoTagEnabled":"true","amazonTagEnabled":"true","videoPlaylistEnabled":"true","domain":"","webPushNotifications.serviceName":"airship","hidePreviewImage":"false","publicationId":"4aee8d63-a977-4435-ba9c-e1d66557f500","lotameLightningTagV2":"true","ampVideoCacheBuster":"true","pubmaticDisplayPrebidEnabled":"true","deleteAccountFromProfile":"true","adHiddenLoading":"true","adslotsFixedSize":"true","sovrnDisplayPrebidEnabled":"true","video.header.bidding.enabled":"false","chatEnabled":"true","webPushNotifications.appKey":"gN76xwKsRiOVd2MC6vAatQ","newslettersURL":"","monitizerScriptUrl":"","enableAboutTopics":"true","converse.widget.enable":"true","viafouraComments":"true","adMobileBottomSlotLarge":"true","video.jwplayer.playerId":"DxFYn2Ov","flagsFromDataLayerForFBIA":"true","collectiveDisplayPrebidEnabled":"true","fbia.converse.enabled":"true","irisClientToken":"4221396001","disableA2HS":"true","spotxVideoPrebidEnabled":"true","ixVideoPrebidEnabled":"true","modularCss":"true","globalTrayEnabled":"true","manualReconsent":"1","mpulse.enabled":"true","og.image.for.section.and.topic":"","publicationName":"Mirror","video.jwplayer.enabled":"true","loadIrisManually":"true","delayAdsUntilCMP":"true","disableAdvertMaxHeight":"true","preloadFonts":"true","viafouraEnabled":"true","PWA.enable":"true","readNextEmbeds":"true","removeSSO":"true","chartbeatHeadlinePageTypes":"["home","channel","topic","section"]","felix.endpoint":"","breakingNewsPull":"true","adFixedMobileBottomSticky":"true","magniteDisplayPrebidEnabled":"true","footerNewsletterConfig":"{"endpointUrl":"","profile":"Reach_Mirror","pure360MailingListId":"Mirror - Daily Newsletter","MailingListId":"b0af3113-1774-49e1-8953-84dbcdbf55ae","PublicationId":"4aee8d63-a977-4435-ba9c-e1d66557f500"}","xandrDisplayPrebidEnabled":"true","consentText":"We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. 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Question –1 in 10
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Each of us is made up of seven octillion atoms (7 followed by 27 zeros) which are mostly empty spaces. If you could squeeze all the empty space out of these atoms, you could reduce the entire human race to the size of a lump of sugar. True or false?

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