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Science 2020 quiz: 15 questions for your family Christmas video call © Getty

Science 2020 quiz: 15 questions for your family Christmas video call

Published: 23rd December, 2020 at 17:04

From SpaceX landmarks to new dog nose discoveries, how many of the biggest science stories of 2020 can you remember?

Looking for a science quiz for your family Christmas Zoom/MS Teams/video call chat? You came to the right place.


As you might have noticed, quite a lot of science happened in 2020. But not necessarily just the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout the past 12 months, we've witnessed remarkable discoveries, huge landmarks in space exploration and some downright strange new insights into nature.

But, how much of this year’s science news do you actually remember? Time to find out with these 15 questions.


  1. In August, Elon Musk was joined by a pig as part of a press conference. Why? (Bonus point if you get the pig’s name).
  2. For obvious reasons, coronavirus dominated the headlines this year. But what does the ‘19’ in “COVID-19” stand for?
  3. In September, NASA unveiled plans to launch the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. What is the programme name this mission will be a part of? A) Apollo B) Artemis C) Hermes
  4. In April, researchers discovered the longest animal ever recorded, a siphonophore in a deep-sea canyon. How long was it? (Closet to the answer gets a point – two points to anyone to get the exact length).
  5. What was the name of the NASA Mars rover that was reported to have found signs of life in March 2020?
  6. Dr Kathryn Sullivan, an American geologist and former astronaut, became the first woman to do what in June 2020?
  7. In March, scientists discovered exoplanet WASP-76b. What was so special about its weather system? A) It rained molten iron B) The entire planet was covered in thunderstorms C) Its clouds were bright green.
  8. In May, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the first astronauts to be launched into orbit by a private company. What was the name of the rocket that took them to space? A) Dragon B) Falcon C) Starlink
  9. In November 2020, SpaceX launched another four astronauts and a toy of what Star Wars character to the International Space Station?
  10. Ninety-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination after its UK approval. But what was the name of the second person to get the jab? A) William Shakespeare B) Bridget Jones C) Jane Austen
  11. In December, which country became the second nation to plant its flag on the moon? A) Japan B) India C) China
  12. March 2020 saw scientists discover that dogs are able to detect what with their noses? A) movement B) light C) heat
  13. July saw the unveiling of eBOSS, a 3D map of the cosmos that suggested the expansion of the Universe accelerated six billion years ago. What do scientists call the mysterious force behind this shift?
  14. In January, scientists analysing a meteorite that fell to Earth in the 1960s found it contained material older than the Sun. How old was this material? A) seven billion years B) one billion years C) 116 billion years
  15. Using a technique called cryo-electron microscopy, scientists were able to take a picture of what in June 2020? A) Individual atoms B) Bigfoot C) The Higgs Boson particle


  1. The pig, called Gertrude, had a microchip inside its head that functioned as a brain-to-machine interface. "It's kind of like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires," said Musk, head of tech company Neuralink.
  2. 2019 – the year the virus was first identified.
  3. Artemis.
  4. 46m. A siphonophore is a colonial organism made up of lots of individual animals called ‘zooids’ that reproduce asexually.
  5. Curiosity, a rover that first landed on Mars in 2011. In March 2020, it was announced the rover had discovered organic compounds known as thiophenes, found in coal, crude oil and white truffles on Earth.
  6. Dr Sullivan became the first woman to reach Earth’s deepest point, the Mariana Trench, nearly 11km below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
  7. It rains molten iron. Located 390 light-years away from the Earth, temperature on the planet can reach 2,400°C – that's hot enough to vaporise metals.
  8. It was the Falcon-9 rocket that took them into space. The two-man crew were seated in the Dragon capsule.
  9. Baby Yoda
  10. William Shakespeare
  11. China
  12. Heat. A study has found Dogs’ noses are cold so they can detect the heat radiating from objects nearby.
  13. Dark Energy
  14. Seven billion years
  15. Individual atoms. The new technique can picture structures 1.2-ångström (one ten-billionth of a metre) in size.

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Thomas Ling
Thomas LingStaff Writer, BBC Science Focus

Thomas is a Staff Writer at BBC Science Focus and looks after all things Q&A. Writing about everything from cosmology to anthropology, he specialises in the latest psychology and neuroscience discoveries. Thomas has a Masters degree (distinction) in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield and has written for Men’s Health, Vice and Radio Times. He has been shortlisted as the New Digital Talent of the Year at the national magazine Professional Publishers Association (PPA) awards.


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