<bold><bigger> "The Pub Understanding of Science"
</bigger></bold> I am presently trying to devise questions for a
project which is part of a national strategy to broaden 'the public
understanding of science' in the UK.<bigger>
The particular project in which I am involved was dreamed up by my
colleague Mic Rolph, a professional illustrator. It is to introduce 30
beer (drip) mats into some 50 selected pubs in the S.E. and N.E. of
England The reason for this geographic distribution is that it will
include my local pub and his. The local element is central to the
concept. Each of the 30 beer mats will carry a scientific question on
one side and a relevant illustration on the other. The idea is that
customers, attracted perhaps by the illustration, will pick up a drip
mat and attempt to answer the questions, thereby promoting some modest
interest in matters scientific. In the hope that some of the questions
will be of interest to readers of Plant Education I attach them here.=20
I would be most grateful for comments and, in particular, for any new
and better questions relating to pubs, plants, science and the
environment that you might care to offer. I haven't included the
answers because you must surely know them all.
6, Biddlestone Village
Northumberland <bold>NE65 7DT
</bold>david at alegba.demon.co.uk
1) Gardeners on radio programmes often talk about "feeding plants" but,
in reality, green plants get 95% or more of their "food" from the air
rather than from the soil. True or false?
2) In the UK, thereby contributing to global warming, we release about
3 tons of CO2 per head of the population every year but at least this
amount has scarcely changed over the last 50 years. True or false?
3) In sunlight, green plants take up CO2 and give off oxygen but,
despite the fact that there are thousands of square miles of rain
forests, these make very little difference to the amounts of CO2 and
oxygen in the atmosphere. True or false?
4) Concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will double over the next 25
to 50 years, contributing to global warming but burning wood does not
contribute to increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. True or false?
5) Although governments worry about how much CO2 is given off by motor
vehicles we are just as much to blame ourselves. The air that we
breathe normally contains less than 0.04% CO2 but what we exhale
contain as much as 5%. True or false?
6) Brewers use yeast to make alcohol. Bakers use yeast to make their
bread rise. If a baker put his mind to it, might he recover a little
alcohol from the steam that rises from his baking bread? Yes or no?
7) Bubbles in beer and wine are mostly CO2 but SO2 is sometimes used to
preserve wine. What is SO2 ?
8) Would a bubble (equal volume) of CO2 weigh (a) the same as a bubble
of air (b) the same or (c) less?
9) Grapes are usually fermented by wild yeasts but fermentation can be
induced by very high CO2. True or false?=20
10) Seemingly the 'Greenhouse Effect' is not such a bad thing after
all. If it were not for the 'Greenhouse Effect'
<italic>average</italic> global temperatures would be (a) -18 0C,=20
(b) -8 0C, or (c) +5 0C?
11) "Hops and turkies, carps and beer, Came into England all in a
year". (Quoted by Isaac Walton in `The Complete Angler', 1653). Hops
are used (a) to make beer bitter, (b) to increase its alcohol content
or (c) to preserve it?
12) Yeast is a plant. Its Latin name is <italic>Saccharomyces
cerevisiae </italic>but<italic> </italic>there is a strain
called<italic> Saccharomyces carlsbergenensis , </italic>isolated in
Denmark in 1886,<italic> </italic>which can be used for making lager.
True or false?
13) Ale is produced by yeast which rises to the surface, lager by yeast
which sinks to the bottom. True or false?
14) Someone once said that 'grass' is not grass. Similarly there is
more to beer than hops but hops and 'grass' <italic>do</italic> belong
to the same family of plants (Cannabidaceae). True or false?
15) DNA is short for 'deoxyribonucleic acid'. It is spiral in shape
(Watson and Crick's "double helix"). In this regard, what has DNA in
common with the hops which go into beer?
16) It is important to take flowers out of a hospital ward at night
True or false?
17) Some 'vets' use CO2 for so-called 'animal euthanasia'. In the UK,
horticulturists often use CO2 in their greenhouses. Is this (a) to
kill pests (b) to make their greenhouses warmer or (c) to make their
tomatoes grow better?
18) Compact fluorescent lamps use about 80% less electricity than
conventional ones. Accordingly, less CO2 is released from power
stations. About how much less <italic>per lamp</italic>, (a) ton, (b)
a tenth of a ton or (c) one hundredth of a ton?
19) Atmospheric CO2 is increasing as a consequence of human activity.
The human race is also increasing (live births more than deaths)
<italic>each hour</italic> by (a) 15,000 (b) 5,000 or (c) 500?
20) In the neck of a bottle of beer, as you take the cap off, you can
see a little cloud for a moment or two. This is caused by abrupt
expansion of gases trapped beneath the cap and a consequent fall in
temperature to as low as -35 degrees C. True or false?
21) "We all live in a body made of cells". However, not all of 'our'
cells are human. We have 'house guests" (bacteria, fungi,
protozoa,parasitic worms, even yeasts etc). What percentage of 'our'
cells are human: (a) 90% (b) 50% (c) 30% or (d) 10%?
22) Many millions of acres are used to grow crops that go to make
alcohol (grapes, barley, sugar etc). Many more are used for food.
Without oil, however, we could not grow enough to keep us all in food
and drink. True or false?
23) An idle male needs about 2,400 Calories to maintain his body
weight. He could get this from eating 7lb of potatoes a day, 2lbs of
bread, 56lbs of lettuce or by drinking (a) 5 (b) 15 or (c) 25 pints
24) In Brazil many millions of tons of alcohol are made from sugar cane
etc. Some of it is drunk but most of it is burned. Why?
25) "All flesh is grass". True or false?
26) The oceans and seas produce two thirds of the world's vegetation.
True or false?
27) People have been around about 2 million years. The dinosaurs went
before we arrived but they lasted at least 100 million years. Yeasts
have been here a thousand million years. True or false?
28) About 2 billion years ago there was scarcely any oxygen in our
atmosphere. Now there is almost 21%. Green plants put it there. True or
29) censored for indelicacy
30) CO2 could be responsible for 50% of suspected increases in global
warming but, in equal amounts, methane is 25 times as damaging CO2 and
the 'CFCs' that are used in refrigerators and aerosols are ten thousand
times worse. True or false?
31) By the year 2100, it is said that the world's oceans will have
risen by 18 inches of which six will come from melting glaciers and ice
caps. Where will most of the extra 12 inches come from?
32) Fill a pint glass half full of ice cubes. Add water up to the pint
mark. Wait until the ice melts. Will (a) the level stay the same (b)
fall or (c) rise?
33) "If it blows, throw in an
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Until 1740, the strength
of spirit was determined by mixing it with gunpowder and igniting the
mixture. If it 'blew" the spirit was "proved". True or false?
34) Tonic water, as in G & T, contains quinine. This custom originated
in S.E.Asia where quinine was used to treat malaria. True or false?