[Happy Lunar New Year! Or, as they say in much of the world, "Happy New Year!" Rah Rah Rat, celebrating the new Year of the Rat which begins today, is by very occasional L&TM5K commenter Margaret. Used by permission.]
And what more auspicious start to a new lunar cycle than to partake of the age-old tradition of:
The Thursday Quiz!
The Thursday Quiz is an "Is It or Isn't It" game. From the list of twelve items, your job is to determine whether each IS or ISN'T a true example of the week's category.
Remember always the Laws of Nature:
No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. The ThursdayThis Week's Category will submit you to a rigorous, methodical inquiry!
Quiz is a POP quiz. Violators will lose standing in the scientific community.
Real and Bogus: the History of Science
Which ones really happened? And which ones are a tissue of lies and seductive half-truths?
1. 1676 - Danish astronomer Ole Romer makes the first reasonably accurate calculation of the speed of light. He pulls this off by carefully timing how long eclipses of Jupiter's moons seem to last, depending on whether Earth is approaching or moving away from Jupiter.
2. 1735 - Robert Hooke discovers chromosomes within cell bodies and postulates their role in the heredity of traits. His hypothesis will not be proven for another 60 years; eventually, it will prove very influential in the development of evolutionary theory.
3. 1750s - American statesman Benjamin Franklin determines that electricity has positive and negative charges, develops the concept of grounding, and devises the famous "kite" experiment that proves lightning is electrical.
4. 1811 - Amadeo Avogadro hypothesizes that, at any given pressure and temperature, a given volume of any gas will have pretty much the same number of molecules, no matter how big or complex those molecules are. Oddly, it turns out he's right.
5. 1828 - Friedrich Wohler synthesizes urea in the lab. By showing that organic chemicals do not rely on a special life-force, this discovery means that biological science has to discard its assumption that living beings are distinguished by a "vital spark," or physical incarnation of the soul.
6. 1850s & 60s - Gregor Mendel looks very closely at 28,000 pea plants, takes good notes, and publishes a theory of heredity based on his findings. No one cares. Thirty-five years later, his work is rediscovered and becomes the basis of modern genetics.
7. 1859 - Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species, in which he argues that human social and economic systems should function according to the laws of nature, which he describes as "survival of the fittest." Others subsequently develop the notion of biological evolution that is implicit in this idea.
8. 1870 - Scottish geologist Charles Lyell develops the idea of "uniformitarianism," the concept that the Earth's interior is composed of an undifferentiated mass similar to the minerals found at the planet's surface. This will later be proven incorrect, but is now regarded as an important step forward from earlier theories of a hollow Earth, or of a literal underworld or hell within the Earth's interior.
9. 1905 - Einstein publishes his "Theory of Relativity," which holds that the speed of light changes relative to the position, direction, and velocity of the observer. Within five years, this simple insight will result in revolutionary changes in how physicists conceptualize the universe.
10. 1912 - Alfred Wegener introduces the first serious theory of continental drift. The new idea remains controversial for half a century, finally becoming generally accepted only around 1960.
11. 1953 - James Watson and Francis Crick, cribbing from the data of a young female research associate, publish a paper describing the structure of DNA. This conceptual breakthrough pretty much kicks off the field of molecular biology.
12. 1972 - Astronomer Cherryl Trillick uses magnetic imaging to detect AO-054, the first major "Astronomical Object" to be found in the outer solar system. Since this object is never seriously nominated as a planet in its own right, despite being almost exactly the same size as Pluto, it will eventually undermine that unhappy sphere's planetary status.
Submit your hypothesized answers to peer review in the comments.