Study Guide

Physics Basics - Test Your Knowledge

Test Your Knowledge

What is Physics?

1. Which of the following is NOT in any way covered by physics?

a. Things that are alive like us
b. Quarks, protons, electrons and other tiny particles
c. Astronomy: planets, galaxies and the universe as a whole
d. Everything is covered by physics

2. What is the ultimate goal of physics?

a. To confuse people with equations
b. To make people think you’re clever
c. To come up with a theory of everything(TM)
d. To explain stuff that the other sciences can’t explain

3. Which of the following is NOT a topic in physics?

a. Chemical reactions
b. Forces
c. Relativity
d. Optics

4. Which of the following is NOT a common physics activity?

a. Firing rockets
b. Riding on elevators
c. Dissecting frogs (ew!)
d. Dropping eggs from roofs

5. What is the official definition of physics?

a. The branch of science that deals with the nature and properties of matter and energy, and their motion through space and time.
b. The science of absolutely everything ever.
c. The branch of science that deals with the composition and properties of substances.
d. The science of measurement and uncertainty.

Forces & Motion

1. Which of the following is the best definition of velocity?

a. How fast we’re moving
b. The rate of change of position
c. Not being stationary
d. The rate of change of speed

2. Why is understanding forces and motion important to sports-people?

a. Because we need to be clever to use the best strategies in sports
b. They’re not important to sports-people
c. Because otherwise a baseball game would take even longer than it already does
d. Because a person who is successful in sports is unconsciously using the physics of forces and motion

3. Which of the following is the best definition of acceleration?

a. How fast we’re moving
b. The rate of change of position
c. Not being stationary
d. The rate of change of velocity

4. What is the difference between the topics of motion and forces?

a. Motion deals with how things move, forces deal with why they move
b. Forces deals with how things move, motion deals with why they move
c. There is no difference between the topics – they’re interconnected
d. Motion deals with how things are moving at an instant in time, forces deals with how that motion is changing

5. Which of the following is NOT part of forces & motion?

a. Newton’s laws
b. Freefall
c. Circular motion
d. Energy transfers

Energy & Momentum

1. What happens to the kinetic energy of two cars when they crash into each other?

a. It turns into potential energy
b. Much of it turns into heat energy in the bent metal and through friction
c. It moves from one car to another
d. All of it turns into kinetic energy of the Earth itself

2. Which of the following is NOT a type of energy?

a. Chemical energy
b. Kinetic energy
c. Potential energy
d. Force energy

3. Which of the following would have the most momentum?

a. A space shuttle sitting in a museum
b. A fly buzzing through the air
c. A bullet from the muzzle of a gun
d. An aircraft breaking the sound barrier

4. Which of the following is true of an elastic collision?

a. They’re bouncy collisions
b. Kinetic energy is lost, producing heat energy
c. The objects connect together
d. They’re sticky collisions

5. Which of the following car safety features uses our understanding of momentum?

a. Seat belts
b. Crumple zones
c. Air bags
d. They ALL use our understanding of momentum

Thermodynamics & Fluids

1. What does thermodynamics mean?

a. The changing of heat
b. The rotating of engines
c. The movement of heat
d. The differences between amounts of heat

2. Which of the following laws of physics tell us that heat energy only moves from hot places to cold places?

a. The 1st law of thermodynamics
b. The 2nd law of thermodynamics
c. The 3rd law of thermodynamics
d. Newton’s 1st law

3. What is a fluid?

a. A liquid or gas
b. A liquid
c. A gas
d. A solid or liquid

4. How do planes rise into the air?

a. They’re blasted up like a rocket
b. The air (fluid) flowing over their wings causes there to be higher pressure above, and lower pressure below
c. The air (fluid) flowing over their wings causes there to be higher pressure below, and lower pressure above
d. Because they’re less dense than the air above them

5. What is the force that causes objects to float?

a. Lift
b. Buoyancy
c. Gravity
d. Fluid pressure

Electricity & Magnetism

1. Why is electricity & magnetism an important topic for everyone to study?

a. It isn’t – that’s just what our physics teacher wants us to think
b. Because it’s safer – that way we’re less likely to get electrocuted
c. Because we’re surrounded by electronic devices these days
d. Because it’s going to become more important in the future, even if it isn’t important now

2. Which of the following is NOT an example of a device that contains a magnet?

a. Light bulb
b. Microphone
c. Speaker
d. MRI scanner

3. Which of the following is NOT a term in the topic of electricity?

a. Voltage
b. Current
c. Power
d. Wavelength

4. Which of the following terms means the rate of flow of electricity?

a. Voltage
b. Current
c. Power
d. Wavelength

5. What is it that really flows around an electric circuit to make it work?

a. Protons
b. Positrons
c. Electrons
d. Electricity

Waves & Optics

1. What is a wave?

a. Anything that moves up and down
b. A vibration in space and time that carries energy
c. Anything that carries energy
d. Something that moves through a particular material

2. Which of the following can waves travel through?

a. The vacuum of space
b. Water
c. Air
d. Depending on the type of wave, it can travel through any of the above

3. Which of the following is NOT a feature of a wave?

a. Wavelength
b. Frequency
c. Trough
d. Tip

4. Which of the following is NOT a reason that light waves are special?

a. Human sight is an important sense
b. They can travel through the vacuum of space
c. Life on Earth wouldn’t exist without them
d. They only move through fluids

5. Which of the following CANNOT be explained by the bending of light waves?

a. Microscopes
b. Telescopes
c. Mirrors
d. Reading glasses

Measurement & Graphing

1. Which of the following is an SI unit that can be used in physics?

a. Feet
b. Pounds
c. Inches
d. Meters

2. Are newtons an SI unit? Why or why not?

a. No, because newtons is not one of the seven basic units.
b. No, it’s an old fashioned unit we don’t use in physics.
c. Yes, it’s derived from the basic SI units – it’s really a meter-kilogram-per-second-squared.
d. Yes, it’s one of the seven basic SI units.

3. Which of the following is plotted on the y-axis of a physics scatter graph?

a. The independent variable
b. The dependent variable
c. The controlled variable
d. We can plot variables any way we fancy

4. Which of the following terms describes how many digits our measurements are made to?

a. Precision
b. Accuracy
c. Correctness
d. Experimental error

5. The difficulty in pressing a stopwatch at exactly the right time every time, is an example of which kind of experimental error?

a. Random error
b. Human error
c. Instrument error
d. Systematic error

ANSWERS

What is Physics?

1. Which of the following is NOT in any way covered by physics?

d. Everything is covered by physics

Physics attempts to explain the universe on a fundamental level – to come up with basic laws that explain everything. That means that everything is covered by physics, from the very tiny to the gigantic.

2. What is the ultimate goal of physics?

c. To come up with a theory of everything(TM)

Since the business of physics is to come up with laws that explain the universe, the ultimate goal is to find a coherent set of rules that explains literally everything. It’s like the Holy Grail of physics.

3. Which of the following is NOT a topic in physics?

a. Chemical reactions

Chemical reactions come under the science of chemistry. Although you could argue that even chemistry is really explained by the laws of physics, it isn’t generally a topic that is studied as part of physics classes.

4. Which of the following is NOT a common physics activity?

c. Dissecting frogs (ew!)

Dissecting frogs is more of a job for biologists than physicists. Physicists are more interested in the particles that make up the frog, and the forces that affect it when it’s hopping along the ground.

5. What is the official definition of physics?

a. The branch of science that deals with the nature and properties of matter and energy, and their motion through space and time.

Physics deals with the nature and properties of matter and energy, and their motion through space and time. In some ways this definition is less impressive than the whole truth: physics deals with the fundamental laws that make the universe work the way it does.

Forces & Motion

1. Which of the following is the best definition of velocity?

b. The rate of change of position

Velocity is defined as the rate of change of position. While it’s true that it does relate to how fast you’re moving, it also includes your direction, so that alone is not enough to define it.

2. Why is understanding forces and motion important to sports-people?

d. Because a person who is successful in sports is unconsciously using the physics of forces and motion

Forces and motion is vital to playing sports, because to be successful you have to absorb the laws of physics and use them without even realizing it. The minds of sportspeople have to complete physics calculations almost instantly to be successful.

3. Which of the following is the best definition of acceleration?

d. The rate of change of velocity

Acceleration is defined as the rate of change of velocity. Something could be moving, but not accelerating, so it isn’t enough to simply not be stationary.

4. What is the difference between the topics of motion and forces?

a. Motion deals with how things move, forces deal with why they move

Motion involves describing movement – how is your position changing and what direction are you going? Forces are the cause of any change in motion, so forces are about why things move.

5. Which of the following is NOT part of forces & motion?

d. Energy transfers

Forces and motion includes topics like freefall, motion graphs, newtons laws, friction, circular motion, and gravity. Although energy is related, it is usually studied as a separate topic.

Energy & Momentum

1. What happens to the kinetic energy of two cars when they crash into each other?

b. Much of it turns into heat energy in the bent metal and through friction

When two cars crash into each other, they stop. The kinetic energy they once had the vanish; even though energy is neither created nor destroyed, it can be transformed. Most of it turns into heat energy and friction. Though it’s true that some of it is absorbed by the Earth itself – just not all.

2. Which of the following is NOT a type of energy?

d. Force energy

Examples of types of energy include chemical, kinetic, potential, electrical, light, sound, and many more. However, force energy is not a thing. Forces and energy are quite separate from each other.

3. Which of the following would have the most momentum?

d. An aircraft breaking the sound barrier

Momentum is about velocity and mass. An aircraft breaking the sound barrier is both moving incredibly fast, and has a gigantic mass. It therefore has more momentum than any of the alternatives mentioned. A gigantic object like the space shuttle that is sitting in a museum has zero momentum, because it has zero velocity.

4. Which of the following is true of an elastic collision?

a. They’re bouncy collisions

Elastic collisions are bouncy collisions, inelastic collisions are sticky collisions. Kinetic energy is lost to heat energy only in inelastic collisions.

5. Which of the following car safety features uses our understanding of momentum?

d. They ALL use our understanding of momentum

Momentum is at the heart of all car safety features.

Thermodynamics & Fluids

1. What does thermodynamics mean?

c. The movement of heat

Thermo means heat, dynamics means movement. So it’s the movement of heat.

2. Which of the following laws of physics tell us that heat energy only moves from hot places to cold places?

a. The 1st law of thermodynamics

The first law of thermodynamics says that heat energy only (spontaneously) moves from hot places to cold places. The second law of thermodynamics is about disorder in the universe. The third law of thermodynamics wasn’t discussed in this learning guide, but it’s about a special temperature called absolute zero when molecules themselves stop moving.

3. What is a fluid?

a. A liquid or gas

A fluid can be either a liquid or gas.

4. How do planes rise into the air?

c. The air (fluid) flowing over their wings causes there to be higher pressure below, and lower pressure above

planes rise into the air because the air flowing over their wings creates a higher pressure below the wing, and a lower pressure above.

5. What is the force that causes objects to float?

b. Buoyancy

Buoyancy causes objects to float in a fluid like water. Lift on the other hand is causes planes to rise into the air.

Electricity & Magnetism

1. Why is electricity & magnetism an important topic for everyone to study?

c. Because we’re surrounded by electronic devices these days

Electricity and magnetism explains how we generate electricity, and how that electricity is used in the electronic devices that surround us. That’s the main reason it’s vitally important in modern life.

2. Which of the following is NOT an example of a device that contains a magnet?

a. Light bulb

MRI scanners take images of the body using a gigantic magnet, microphones turn sound into electrical signals using a magnet, and speakers do the opposite – turn electrical signals into sound using a magnet. Out of all the options, only a lightbulb does not generally contain a magnet.

3. Which of the following is NOT a term in the topic of electricity?

d. Wavelength

Wavelength of the term in the topic of waves and optics, not electricity.

4. Which of the following terms means the rate of flow of electricity?

b. Current

Current means the rate of flow of electricity around a circuit – the rate of flow of charge. Each of the other terms of something different, though they’re all used in physics.

5. What is it that really flows around an electric circuit to make it work?

c. Electrons

While electricity flows around an electric circuit, that electricity is made of something: is made of negatively charged electrons.

Waves & Optics

1. What is a wave?

b. A vibration in space and time that carries energy

A wave has to carry energy and be cyclic. Cyclic doesn't necessarily mean up and down as sound waves are longitudinal. Since light and heat waves travel to us from the sun through vacuum, waves don't necessarily need a medium.

2. Which of the following can waves travel through?

d. Depending on the type of wave, it can travel through any of the above

Electromagnetic waves (like light) travel through the vacuum of space, water waves travel through water, and sound waves travel through air. Different waves tend to travel through different mediums (materials), or different combinations of mediums, or even no medium at all in the case of electromagnetic waves.

3. Which of the following is NOT a feature of a wave?

d. Tip

Features of waves include wavelength, frequency, crest, trough, amplitude, and time period. Tip is not a term for a feature of a wave.

4. Which of the following is NOT a reason that light waves are special?

d. They only move through fluids

Light waves can move through the vacuum of space, which is the main way that they are special. So they certainly don’t only move through fluids. Light waves are also especially important for humans because of how important sight is to us, and also because the heat from the sun (that gets to us through light waves) is necessary for life on earth.

5. Which of the following CANNOT be explained by the bending of light waves?

c. Mirrors

This one is about using the right words. When light reaches the mirror it bounces (or reflects) off that mirror – it doesn’t bend. Light bends (or refracts) when it moves from one material into another, like from air into water, or from glass into air. This happens in the case of lenses like those found in microscopes, some telescopes, and reading glasses.

Measurement & Graphing

1. Which of the following is an SI unit that can be used in physics?

d. Meters

There are only seven basic SI units: meters, kilograms, seconds, amperes, kelvin, moles, and candelas.

2. Are newtons an SI unit? Why or why not?

c. Yes, it’s derived from the basic SI units – it’s really a meter-kilogram-per-second-squared.

Newtons are not a basic SI units, but they’re still an SI unit – there combination of several of the basic SI units. A Newton is really a meter kilogram per second squared.

3. Which of the following is plotted on the y-axis of a physics scatter graph?

b. The dependent variable

The dependent variable is plotted on the y-axis, and the independent variable is plotted on the x-axis. Controlled variables do not get plotted at all.

4. Which of the following terms describes how close together our measurements are?

a. Precision

Precision is how many digits measurements are made to, accuracy is how correct they are.

5. The difficulty in pressing a stopwatch at exactly the right time every time, is an example of which kind of experimental error?

a. Random error

Stopping a stopwatch of the right time isn’t easy, but it’s considered an example of random error. Human errors are mistakes that humans make and need to be corrected immediately.

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