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# Quirky Quantum and Nuclear Physics Quiz

### Quantum physics is an extraordinary field in every way imaginable. Here is just a taster of the strange way that physics manifests itself at the atomic level. This focuses on wave-particle duality and the nucleus. Enjoy!

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

Author
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
284,704
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
3810
Awards
Editor's Choice
Last 3 plays: Guest 137 (9/10), Guest 108 (8/10), triviasindri (0/10).
Question 1 of 10
1. Which quirky and eccentric scientist won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his work on the laws of the photoelectric effect? Hint

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Question 2 of 10
2. The German physicist, Max Planck, is thought of as a revolutionary in physical science. As one of the founders of quantum theory, his name was given to the constant, 'h'. The Planck constant is [6.63 x (10^-34)Js] where 'J' stands for energy in Joules and 's' stands for the time in seconds. The Planck constant is used in the calculation of the energy of which of these particles by use of the equation E = hf? Hint

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Question 3 of 10
3. Using Einstein's theories (no calculations necessary), what can be said about the characteristics of a photon as it travels at the speed of light in a vacuum? Hint

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Question 4 of 10
4. By combining Einstein's equation E = mc^2 and another equation for energy, E = hf, it is possible to derive yet another formula which really does simplify the entire concept of wave-particle duality. The equation eventually simplifies to p = h / (lambda) where 'p' represents momentum, 'h' represents the Planck constant and 'lambda' represents wavelength. After which of the following scientists was this equation named? Hint

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Question 5 of 10
5. Unstable nuclei form the basis of radioactivity and nuclear decay. Despite not being able to predict when an individual nucleus will decay it is possible to represent, via an exponential decay graph, what time related concept? Hint

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Question 6 of 10
6. In the early 20th century, Ernest Rutherford and his team of physicists revolutionised how scientists view the nature of the atom. This was done by firing a beam of alpha particles (helium nuclei) at a leaf of gold and detecting the scattering of the particles thereafter. Which atomic model proposed by JJ Thomson did this experiment end up rejecting? Hint

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Question 7 of 10
7. Physics isn't complete unless there are units involved and every student and fan of the science grow to cherish them. So, I think I will share my fondness with you! Experiments carried out have suggested that the diameter of an atomic nucleus is in the region of x10^-15m which is incomprehensibly small. What is the unit given to distances of around 10^-15m? Hint

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Question 8 of 10
8. Nuclear fission and nuclear fusion; two similar names but two very different phenomena. One of these processes involves (very) light nuclei joining together thus creating one larger nucleus, but which of the two processes is it? *See hint*

Answer: (One Word - Fission or Fusion)

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Question 9 of 10
9. The atom derives its name from the Greek word atomos which means uncuttable or indivisible. This is somewhat a misnomer as the atom can be divided into smaller subatomic particles. CERN, a particle and nuclear physics research body, conducts many experiments related to the elusive Higgs boson which include the use of which of the following? Hint

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Question 10 of 10
10. Marie Curie, one of the greatest physicists and chemists of all time, was ultimately killed by her work and discoveries which ironically saves so many lives in the modern age. As a result of Curie laying the foundations of radioactive study the humble smoke detector could evolve. Which form of radiation does the smoke detector use? Hint

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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Which quirky and eccentric scientist won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his work on the laws of the photoelectric effect?

Albert Einstein is deified amongst scientific communities. His style, inimitable; his physical knowledge, paralleled by an elite few. A common misconception is that Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize for his work on the Theory of Relativity. However, this is false as he received the prize not for his almost ubiquitously known equation, E = mc^2, but for his work on the photoelectric effect, a magnificently interesting field of particle physics.
2. The German physicist, Max Planck, is thought of as a revolutionary in physical science. As one of the founders of quantum theory, his name was given to the constant, 'h'. The Planck constant is [6.63 x (10^-34)Js] where 'J' stands for energy in Joules and 's' stands for the time in seconds. The Planck constant is used in the calculation of the energy of which of these particles by use of the equation E = hf?

The concept of the photon really did signify the dawning of a new physical age. Up until Planck's research into black body radiation, light (a part of the electromagnetic [EM] spectrum) was believed to have travelled as a continuous wave. However, it was later suggested that visible radiation was emitted in the form of a bundle (or quantum) of energy known as a photon. The significance of this is that light does not just behave as a wave, but, in certain circumstances, it can also behave as a particle!

The equation E = hf means that the energy of a photon is equal to the Planck constant multiplied by the frequency of said photon. As the Planck constant never changes, the energy of the photon is dependent upon only the frequency. There are other variations of the equation which can be used when the wavelength of the photon is known but not the frequency. This equation is E = hc / (lambda) where once again, 'E' is the energy of a photon and 'h' is the Planck constant. The letter 'c', the same as that used in Einstein's famous equation, represents the speed of light in a vacuum (300,000,000 metres per second). The Greek letter lambda represents the wavelength of the photon.
3. Using Einstein's theories (no calculations necessary), what can be said about the characteristics of a photon as it travels at the speed of light in a vacuum?

Answer: The photon has no mass

It has been established that only things with zero mass are able to reach the speed of light and a photon is one such entity. There have been experiments undertaken by physicists which aim to accelerate particles to the speed of light, 'c'. However, they have realised that as the particle (which has a mass) approaches the speed of light, it gets increasingly difficult to provide the energy necessary to undergo further acceleration.

They have also discovered that as the particle is accelerated extremely close to the value, 'c', the particle would need an infinite amount of energy to actually accelerate further to the value 'c'.
4. By combining Einstein's equation E = mc^2 and another equation for energy, E = hf, it is possible to derive yet another formula which really does simplify the entire concept of wave-particle duality. The equation eventually simplifies to p = h / (lambda) where 'p' represents momentum, 'h' represents the Planck constant and 'lambda' represents wavelength. After which of the following scientists was this equation named?

Lambda in this instance is named the de Broglie wavelength. The equation is split in two halves, where 'p' (momentum) illustrates the particle nature of a photon (light) as waves cannot have a momentum. The other half is 'h/lambda' (Planck constant / de Broglie wavelength) and this illustrates the wave nature of particles.

This is self-explanatory as waves must have wavelengths. As both of these phenomena occur simultaneously, it is given the title, wave-particle duality. A rather amusing term was given to the idea of a photon amongst other things exhibiting wave-particle duality and that is "wavicle". Simply genius!
5. Unstable nuclei form the basis of radioactivity and nuclear decay. Despite not being able to predict when an individual nucleus will decay it is possible to represent, via an exponential decay graph, what time related concept?

Halflife is defined as the time taken for half of the nuclei of a radioactive substance to decay. The concept of halflife is what characterises an exponential decay graph. As the halflife of a particular radioactive substance will predominantly be constant the gradient of the line on a graph will start at time = 0 and the percentage of undecayed nuclei will fall with a steep gradient.

As more halflifes pass the gradient gets progressively less steep. Ultimately a curve will be formed.
6. In the early 20th century, Ernest Rutherford and his team of physicists revolutionised how scientists view the nature of the atom. This was done by firing a beam of alpha particles (helium nuclei) at a leaf of gold and detecting the scattering of the particles thereafter. Which atomic model proposed by JJ Thomson did this experiment end up rejecting?

Sir Joseph John Thomson was a Nobel Prize winning physicist who greatly contributed towards the development of the modern atomic model. This is not just due to his assertion (now regarded as ultimately incorrect) of the plum pudding atomic arrangement but also due to his discovery of the electron. The electron is at the very foundation of modern science as it helps explain anything from botanical processes such as photosynthesis to chemical geometry and the shape of molecules.

Ernest Rutherford and his team, which included Hans Geiger whose name is given to a radioactivity detector, were also interested in the atom and wanted to determine its structure. The experiment, described above, showed that the alpha particles would either travel undisturbed, be slightly deflected or would be backscattered in the direction of the source. This determined that the atom wasn't as JJ Thomson had stated but remarkably different; the atom was mainly empty space with electrons in orbitals around a small, positively charged nucleus containing the majority of the atomic mass.
7. Physics isn't complete unless there are units involved and every student and fan of the science grow to cherish them. So, I think I will share my fondness with you! Experiments carried out have suggested that the diameter of an atomic nucleus is in the region of x10^-15m which is incomprehensibly small. What is the unit given to distances of around 10^-15m?

As physicists encounter the increasingly large and the extremely small they need to have more extreme units to quantify exactly what it is we are observing or hypothesising. Such quantities are mind-boggling when we consider how difficult humans find splitting up even the tiny distance between one millimetre and the next on a ruler!

At the atomic level the units used are far smaller than the millimetre. The diameter of an entire atom is approximately x10^-10m which is given the name ångström after the Swedish physicist of the same name. Smaller again is the nuclear size of roughly x10^-15m which is a femtometre.
8. Nuclear fission and nuclear fusion; two similar names but two very different phenomena. One of these processes involves (very) light nuclei joining together thus creating one larger nucleus, but which of the two processes is it? *See hint*

Nuclear fusion is an important concept for satisfying the future energy demands of an increasingly global, industrialised population. The idea behind nuclear fusion is to release energy, id est an exothermic reaction, but this reaction itself requires energy. The energy needed to be put into the nuclear reaction is so that two positively charged nuclei (which would usually repel) can fuse and in so doing will release energy. There is a greater amount of energy given out after the fusion than is supplied to satisfy the reaction requirements. This type of nuclear reaction takes place naturally on the Sun and other stars.

Nuclear fission is the opposite where an atom, often uranium, is bombarded with a neutron. The uranium absorbs the neutron and subsequently splits into smaller nuclear fragments. Energy is given off in this reaction also.
9. The atom derives its name from the Greek word atomos which means uncuttable or indivisible. This is somewhat a misnomer as the atom can be divided into smaller subatomic particles. CERN, a particle and nuclear physics research body, conducts many experiments related to the elusive Higgs boson which include the use of which of the following?

The Large Hadron Collider or LHC is a very high energy accelerator of particles. The LHC attempts to collide particles travelling in opposite directions at over 99% of the speed of light, 'c', but never reaching the full speed of light. This is in the hope of discovering smaller particles within the nucleus of atoms. Amongst such particles supposedly lies the Higgs boson which is what particle physicists believe is the source of mass in matter. Whether it exists or not is of crucial importance to the current Standard Model hypothesised in the physical science. If it exists the model can be further developed; if not, it is back to the drawing board!
10. Marie Curie, one of the greatest physicists and chemists of all time, was ultimately killed by her work and discoveries which ironically saves so many lives in the modern age. As a result of Curie laying the foundations of radioactive study the humble smoke detector could evolve. Which form of radiation does the smoke detector use?

Marie Curie, who died of leukaemia, was an inspiration to generations of female scientists as she is one of the most decorated and celebrated physicists in history. Not only did she receive a Nobel Prize in 1903 for her work in the field of physics but also received a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1911. This made her not just the first female recipient of a Nobel award but also the only person to receive a Nobel Prize in two different sciences in over 100 years! In a scientific discipline that is as traditionally male dominated as physics, her achievements and determination seem all the more inspiring.

The near ubiquitous smoke detector is an important use of alpha radiation (helium nuclei) and saves many lives worldwide each year. Within the smoke detector there is a radioactive source and a receiver which detects the flow of alpha particles. When smoke particles interrupt the flow, the receiver detects this and the alarm is sounded.

Thanks for playing the quiz and I hope you enjoyed the topic.
Source: Author jonnowales

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