natural sciences trivia

By | 1 August 2021


  1. at what rate is the moon leaving us, in centimetres per year? for an extra point: at what rate do poets reduce the moon to the page per year? are these figures related?
  2. where do whales go?
  3. true or false: women who cut themselves in high school are twice as likely to take cuttings of green life to fill their nests?
  4. who killed the last Great Auk?
  5. if the speed of light is 299 972 458 m/s and the universe is expanding in all directions at 72 km/s per megaparsec, how long will it take for all the light in the world to pass through you?
  6. what is the weight of an adult human heart?
  7. rounding to the nearest thousand, how many atoms have you lost in handshakes and kisses with strangers? how many have you given away?
  8. what, according to Li-Young Lee, is the oldest sound? what is the oldest sound according to your mother?
  9. what is the scientific name for the study of sighs? bonus points for giving its three alternative spellings.
  10. what have you been left with?


  1. estimates suggests she withdraws 3.8 centimetres for every year we spend as sunflowers, and pulls away more quickly in response to our excesses—the breaking apart of supercontinents, melting glaciers and large-scale wailing. poets are unable to leave the moon alone; every poem contains the moon and she is indifferent.
  2. the same place a flame goes when extinguished; the same place Oumuamua went after seeing what we’d done; the same place a single new sock disappears after the wash; the same place eyelashes go once they’ve been wished on.
  3. experience tells us: yes.
  4. three men and their fear of witchcraft, and by extension: women, the sea, healing and the loneliness of mothers.
  5. a trick question; you are the light.
  6. 200 litres salty tears, 560 grams violence (self-inflicted), 682 instances of forgetting, 850 cups tea (various), 206 birthday cards, 83 moments of inappropriate laughter, 77 kilograms unclassified secrets.
  7. also a trick question; these atoms were never yours to lose, neither yours to give away. on a subatomic level you never end and i never begin and the space inside molecules of air, water, carbon, is the space inside us.
  8. water; but your mother knows it to be blood and tears and a soft wet squelch.
  9. exhalation; exaltation; existentialism [archaic].
  10. lichtenberg figures and the ability to shock.

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