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Bad Pickup Lines: Physics Edition Quiz

Or, "Failed Attempts At Grand Unification." Can you pick out the physicists who may have given each of these corny pickup lines? Good luck.

A multiple-choice quiz by adams627. Estimated time: 5 mins.

Author
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
353,183
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
906
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: bradez (7/10), Guest 50 (8/10), Captinkc17 (9/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. "Hey babe, you want to spend some time together? Let's get on a space shuttle together and travel near the speed of light, so that the time runs extra slow."

Which physicist might have adapted his theory of special relativity into that pick-up line?
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Question 2 of 10
2. "Hey babe, I feel like my whole world is revolving around you. I keep going round and round, but you're always the focus of my path."

Which astronomer might have attempted to meet a date using that simplified expression of his first law of planetary motion?
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Question 3 of 10
3. "Hey babe, I want you to observe an increase in the frequency of your voice. Why don't you come over closer?"

Which physicist might have crudely used this approach to explain his eponymous effect, which concerns the shift in frequency of waves in moving reference frames?
Hint

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Question 4 of 10
4. "Hey babe, I hope you're a boson, because I want to get so close to you that there better not be any degeneracy pressure between us."

Which modern physicist might certainly have felt "excluded" after trying that pickup line at the bar?
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Question 5 of 10
5. "Hey babe. Right now you may or may not love me, and the only way to figure out which one is to open up the box and let the wavefunction collapse."

Which scientist used that pickup line at the bar, then brought his date back to meet his cats?
Hint

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Question 6 of 10
6. "Hey babe, my heart starts throbbing at discrete energy levels whenever I think of you, like a star emitting photons of light."

Which physicist laid the groundwork for modern physics with his claim that light energy is quantized?
Hint

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Question 7 of 10
7. "Hey babe, I feel like an electron in the field of your proton. The attraction between us only increases the closer I move toward you."

Which scientist missed his mark on the pick-up line, but successfully hit upon the inverse-square relationship for the magnitude of the force between two charged particles?
Hint

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Question 8 of 10
8. "Hey babe, let's match our momenta. Then we could honestly say that you and I are on the same wavelength."

Which Frenchman probably wasn't talking about that wavelength when he hypothesized that all matter, even the computer you're reading this off of right now, could have wave-like properties?
Hint

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Question 9 of 10
9. "Hey babe, whenever you move away I see red. Come closer, and your recessional velocity will surely decrease."

Which American astrophysicist might have "telescopically" used that feeble attempt to attract his life partner?
Hint

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Question 10 of 10
10. "Hey babe, you are hot! Know what that means? You'll transfer thermal energy to your surroundings more quickly than a cool object."

Which brilliant physicist and mathematician might have tried using either his Law of Cooling or that lame apple story to pick up dates, explaining why he remained a bachelor his entire life?
Hint

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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. "Hey babe, you want to spend some time together? Let's get on a space shuttle together and travel near the speed of light, so that the time runs extra slow." Which physicist might have adapted his theory of special relativity into that pick-up line?

Albert Einstein revolutionized the scientific community in 1905, his "Annus Mirabilis", when he published four papers discussing, respectively, the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of mass and energy. Unfortunately, Einstein was already married to his first wife, Mileva Maric, by 1905, so it's unlikely that he actually used this pick-up line on her. However, Maric was a physics instructor in her own right, and some recent claims by modern historians even suggest that she might have aided her husband in the mathematical calculations behind his best-known discoveries.

Fortunately, Einstein's special relativity didn't require too much mathematical basis. (His other ideas do.) The underlying premise of his theory is that the speed of light is the same in every direction, in every inertial reference frame (the point-of-view of a person traveling at a constant speed). In a nutshell, here's how it works:

Imagine you're driving on the highway at 60 miles per hour, and your friend is just standing by the side of the road. Suddenly, a car comes racing down the road at 60 mph in the opposite direction. Compared to your friend, the car heading in the opposite direction appears to be traveling much more quickly, since you're moving forward at the same time.

Now imagine the same situation, but you're in space, and a star suddenly explodes. You're in a spaceship traveling very quickly toward the star, and your friend is not moving. From your vantage point, you may think that the light would appear to speed up, compared to your friend, who's not moving. But that's not what happens. Instead, your measurements of time and distance change so that the measured speed of light is exactly the same. When you travel near the speed of light, time seems to slow down.
2. "Hey babe, I feel like my whole world is revolving around you. I keep going round and round, but you're always the focus of my path." Which astronomer might have attempted to meet a date using that simplified expression of his first law of planetary motion?

Johannes Kepler, sixteenth-century German astronomer and mathematician, is mostly known today for his three laws of planetary motion. In addition to those discoveries, he studied optics and formulated a new type of telescope, like his scientific contemporary Galileo Galilei. And despite my joshing, he was indeed married.

Kepler's three laws describe the movement of bodies subject to a central gravitational force. He had already accepted the Copernican assertion that the Sun lay at the center of the Solar System, and he used the data from his predecessor Tycho Brahe to make broad claims about planetary orbits. His first law runs contrary to popular expectations and states that planetary orbits are elliptical (ovular), not circular. The Sun lies at one of the foci of the orbit.

Kepler's second law states that "equal areas are swept on in equal amounts of time", or, the further away from the Sun a planet is, the slower it will move. This fact is actually a consequence of a fact that angular momentum, an important quantity for rotational dynamics, remains the same all around the orbit.

Finally, the third law of Kepler states that the radius of a planet's orbit, cubed, is proportional to the period of its revolution, squared, which can be used to estimate the time it takes for a planet to go around the Sun.
3. "Hey babe, I want you to observe an increase in the frequency of your voice. Why don't you come over closer?" Which physicist might have crudely used this approach to explain his eponymous effect, which concerns the shift in frequency of waves in moving reference frames?

Most people recognize the Doppler effect in the context of the change in pitch of an ambulance siren. When an emergency vehicle is moving toward you, the sound that it's emitting doesn't actually change. But, each subsequent sound wave takes slightly less time to reach you, so your ear perceives that the frequency, and therefore the pitch, is increasing. Analogously, once it passes you and moves away, the ambulance siren seems to decrease in pitch.

Christian Doppler was a nineteenth century physicist from Austria who originally applied the principle to stars, not emergency vehicles. He too was married and had five children.
4. "Hey babe, I hope you're a boson, because I want to get so close to you that there better not be any degeneracy pressure between us." Which modern physicist might certainly have felt "excluded" after trying that pickup line at the bar?

Wolfgang Pauli won the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physics for the conception of his namesake "exclusion principle", which really isn't simpatico with close physical contact. That probably is appropriate--Pauli was famously difficult to get along with, and although he married twice, the first marriage lasted less than a year.

The general thrust of the Pauli exclusion principle is this: small atoms generally like to bond to each other--it's favorable in nature. If that's the case, how come not every atom in the universe is bonded into a gigantic dense goop?

Pauli showed that there is a repulsive force when certain particles get very, very close together, which prevents the particles from "overlapping". For example, two electrons are forbidden from being in the same quantum state at the same time. This effect matters on the microscopic scale as well as the macro-scale, where it helps explain why stars are propped up against their own gravity. Not all particles are subjected to the Pauli principle--those that aren't, called bosons, will collapse into a single quantum state, or Bose-Einstein condensate, an interesting substance which is often called the "fifth state of matter."
5. "Hey babe. Right now you may or may not love me, and the only way to figure out which one is to open up the box and let the wavefunction collapse." Which scientist used that pickup line at the bar, then brought his date back to meet his cats?

Erwin Schrodinger revolutionized quantum mechanics. His namesake equation is used to give the energy of quantum systems and the wavefunction--a mathematical description of exactly how the system will behave as a function of space and time. He won the Nobel Prize in 1933. He also wrote a famed biology text titled "What is Life?" which influenced Watson and Crick's formulation of the structure and function of DNA.

To the layman, though, Schrodinger's probably best known for the Schrodinger's cat thought experiment. A cat is placed inside a box, along with a vial of acid and a source of radiation. There's two possibilities: if the radioactive atom decays, then the vial shatters and the cat dies. Otherwise, the cat's alive. Therefore, the system has two possibilities, or quantum states: alive cat, dead cat. If the box isn't opened, then we can't know which quantum state is occupied at the moment, and, in fact, it's a superposition of the states--both must be considered occupied. If you open the box, then the wavefunction "collapses"--the superposition of states disappears, and now only one is occupied.

Notoriously, Schrodinger had an open marriage and developed his namesake equation while on a ski trip with his mistress. So he probably didn't need to rely on any fancy pick-up lines. That said...Season 2 of "The Big Bang Theory" opened with an episode very similar to the premise of this pickup line, and it (sort of?) works out for Leonard and Penny, so maybe the cat is the way to go for physicists?
6. "Hey babe, my heart starts throbbing at discrete energy levels whenever I think of you, like a star emitting photons of light." Which physicist laid the groundwork for modern physics with his claim that light energy is quantized?

If Schrodinger revolutionized quantum mechanics, Max Planck invented it. He first came to public attention by solving a long-unresolved question about black bodies--theoretical objects that absorb and emit all colors of light.

Classical predictions suggested that as the frequency of light increases, the radiation from the black body should also increase--up to infinity. But this wasn't observed. Instead, at very high frequencies, the radiation starts going down again.

Planck solved the problem in the year 1900 by suggesting that all energy radiated from a blackbody is "quantized"--meaning that it is only released in very small discrete units. Imagine a thermometer where the only possible temperatures are multiples of 5 degrees, and there are no possible temperatures in between. That's what quantum mechanics boils down to: small, indivisible units of energy. Nowadays, we know that the energy is quantized by a very, very small value equal to 6.626*10^-34 Joule-seconds: a value called Planck's constant.

Planck married twice, so the magnitude of his ability to smooth-talk women was evidently not microscopic. One of his sons was executed in Nazi Germany in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler. Planck, a Christian with many Jewish friends among the German physicist crowd, resigned a university position in protest of the Nazi regime.
7. "Hey babe, I feel like an electron in the field of your proton. The attraction between us only increases the closer I move toward you." Which scientist missed his mark on the pick-up line, but successfully hit upon the inverse-square relationship for the magnitude of the force between two charged particles?

The phrase "opposites attract" owes much to Charles Coulomb, the Frenchman who published a law in 1784 regarding the forces between charged objects. It's not just that opposites attract, either. Coulomb showed that the force between two objects increases if the actual charge on the objects increases, and the force decreases as the two objects move further apart. This law lays the basis for how most electronics work--for instance, a battery relies on the force that drives electrons through a circuit from one terminal to the other.

As far as I can tell, Coulomb never married, though he did have a son out of wedlock. He also lived through the drama of the French Revolution, evacuating Paris when the guillotine came a-chopping. In this regard, he had better luck than other French scientists, like Antoine Lavoisier.
8. "Hey babe, let's match our momenta. Then we could honestly say that you and I are on the same wavelength." Which Frenchman probably wasn't talking about that wavelength when he hypothesized that all matter, even the computer you're reading this off of right now, could have wave-like properties?

It's pretty unexpected to win the Nobel Prize for your Ph.D. thesis, but that's exactly what Louis de Broglie did in 1929. de Broglie was the first to propose "wave-particle duality"--the idea that particles or other "normal" objects could behave like waves, and waves could sometimes act like normal objects with mass. The idea was first demonstrated with light, which acts like a wave when it diffracts through a slit, but, according to Einstein, behaves like a particle in the photoelectric effect. The idea was vital in the development of quantum theory.

The wavelength of matter is given by a simple equation: the product of momentum (mass times velocity) and wavelength is a constant. (Actually, it's Planck's constant!) So, the smaller an object is (like an electron), the greater its wavelength. For instance, electrons usually have wavelengths in the X-ray range. Tennis balls? The wavelengths are really really really really small...so no matter how fast Serena Williams serves, you're probably not going to see tennis balls diffracting through slits any time soon!

de Broglie never married. However, he remained in the public eye, for instance, as one of the greatest advocates for the development of CERN.
9. "Hey babe, whenever you move away I see red. Come closer, and your recessional velocity will surely decrease." Which American astrophysicist might have "telescopically" used that feeble attempt to attract his life partner?

Edwin Hubble's namesake law states that the recessional velocity, or how fast an object is moving away from the Earth, is directly proportional to the distance the object is from the Earth. This single result has major consequences for cosmology, since it suggests that the universe must be expanding. The measurement of recessional velocity of a galaxy or star actually relies heavily on the Doppler effect--just like an ambulance siren, if the star is moving away from Earth, then the light it gives off will have a lower measured frequency over time. That's called a redshift.

Hubble was also the first astronomer to prove that there were other galaxies beyond the Milky Way, a realization that made him the namesake of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hubble was married. Hubble and his wife Grace were Hollywood hangers-on, good friends of Aldous Huxley, and were also notorious Anglophiles and racists. But they got away with it, largely because he was kinda the most important astronomer since Galileo.
10. "Hey babe, you are hot! Know what that means? You'll transfer thermal energy to your surroundings more quickly than a cool object." Which brilliant physicist and mathematician might have tried using either his Law of Cooling or that lame apple story to pick up dates, explaining why he remained a bachelor his entire life?

Isaac Newton, polymath of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, evidently revolutionized modern physics before it was cool, because even with the law of universal gravitation, a theory of tides, a theory of color, and calculus, he never married. Come to think of it, maybe inventing calculus didn't really endear him to that many people...Newton didn't apparently want any relationships with women, though. In a letter to John Locke, he declared that the philosopher was trying to "embroil" him in affairs with women--presumably a detriment to his physics career.

Newton's Law of Cooling probably doesn't even crack the top 10 of the physicist's great work, but it is vital for understanding the transfer of heat from hot objects to the surrounding environment. Newton predicted that the rate at which a hot object transfer heat is directly related to the difference in temperature. So, a hot plate cools faster than a tepid plate, and would cool even faster if you put it in a cold room.

Sounds obvious? Well, consider that the plate loses heat to everything that it's touching on the ground, too. And that, as the plate cools down, the surrounding air heats up. And there was no easy way to measure the rate at which heat was being transferred in the 1700s except with a thermometer. Newton's Law was empirical, but engineers everywhere use it as a basis to predict how oil is heated up in a refinery, how water is boiled in a power plant, or how food gets cooked in an oven. Not too shabby for a guy better known for...pretty much all of the rest of classical physics, too.

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor rossian before going online.
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