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Planet Earth

Goldilocks Would Never Use Banned Substances (a quiz)

InkfishBy Elizabeth PrestonOctober 2, 2010 1:56 AM


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It's time to find out how well you've been following the news! This week was a big one for both space and Spain.

1. Astronomers are pretty excited about a newly discovered planet called Gliese 851. The planet orbits its star in a so-called "Goldilocks zone," which means it is:

a. in close orbit to a small planet, a medium planet, and a large planet

b. just the right size for humans to be able to walk around comfortably--unlike a huge planet whose gravity would pin us down, or a tiny planet where we'd bounce around uselessly

c. just the right temperature for liquid water to exist

d. blond, with a propensity to sit in the wrong chair

2. Speaking of outer space, congress just passed a

new NASA bill.

Under President Obama's plan, the space organization will do all of the following EXCEPT:

a. return to the moon by 2020

b. fly to an asteroid and/or Mars

c. fund private spaceflight

d. retire the NASA shuttles for good

3. If you live in a mid-Atlantic state, you might be currently overrun by stink bugs. What makes these triangular brown fellows such formidable opponents?

a. They have a sulfurous odor that becomes overwhelming when they're in large groups.

b. They were introduced from Asia and have no natural predators here.

c. They have a fondness for biting people's ankles and fingers.

d. They are impervious to pesticides.

4. Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, who's won the Tour de France three times, was suspended this week over a positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol. He insists the drug came from a contaminated steak. (Though if it's true that plastic residues were also found in his blood--suggesting a blood transfusion from a plastic bag--the steak excuse is not going to get him very far.) In addition to cheating cyclists, other users of clenbuterol include all of the following EXCEPT:

a. horses

b. asthmatics

c. farmed fish

d. Hollywood types trying to lose weight

e. cheating baseball players

5. A Spanish team took home the prize at the 2K BotPrize 2010 robotics competition this week (presumably without the help of banned substances). Contest judges played against both humans and robots in a video game, and tried to guess which avatars were which. The Spanish team had the most convincing robot, with a "humanness rating" (how often it was guessed to be human) of 31.8%. For comparison, the actual humans had humanness ratings ranging from:

a. 85-95%

b. 60-90%

c. 50-85%

d. 35-80%

Answers are in the comments.

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