What do politicians know?

The UK General Election is being held next Thursday, so it is getting a lot of coverage at the moment. The Guardian's Life section decided to quiz the science spokesmen, of the three main partys, to see what they know about science. Unfortunately, the current Science Minister (Lord Sainsbury) refused to take part as he thought he might be caught out by a tricky question. Surprisingly perhaps, six of the ten questions were astronomy/physics related. They included:

  • "Does the sun go round the Earth, or the Earth round the sun?"
  • "How long does the Earth take to complete a lap around the sun?"
  • "Is Mars nearer the sun than we are, or further away?"
  • "Name one moon in the solar system with a substantial atmosphere."
  • "Dark matter is ... the stuff inside a black hole, undetectable galactic material or what makes coal absorb light but emit heat."
  • "Albert Einstein proposed 100 years ago that a) light travelled in little packets; b) atoms were real and molecules could be observed in Brownian motion; c) the energy of matter could be calculated by multiplying its mass by the speed of light squared; d) all of those; e) none of those."
The Conservative science spokesman got 7 out of 10 and the Lib. Dem. spokesman got 9 out of 10 although neither of them knew what Einstein got the Nobel prize for. I wonder how many of those questions an average politician would get right. Not many I suspect.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Thursday 28th Apr 2005 (15:18 UTC) | Permalink
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