Name That Scientific Law -- and the Big Brain Behind It


While no one is certain it plunked him on the head, what universal law supposedly came to Isaac Newton after observing a falling apple?

Although Newton never wrote to confirm it, several of his contemporaries claim he came up with the law of universal gravitation from watching an errant apple fall from a tree.

Newton also got some serious street cred with his three laws of motion. Which of these is NOT a law Newton discovered?

The only way to go is up is pretty catchy, but the remaining law, perhaps best known as an equation, is F = ma, or force equals mass times acceleration.

Last Newton question. He had a long-running feud with which scientist who discovered the law of elasticity?

Newton had such a strong dislike to Hooke that he actually had Hooke's portrait removed from the Royal Society.

Speaking of random, what scientist discovered three important scientific laws but also believed that the appearance of a 1604 nova was a sign that Native Americans needed to convert to Christianity?

Sure, Kepler discovered several laws of science. But he also was a bit obsessed with religion, which might have something to do with the fact that his mother was once tried as a witch. No kidding.

OK, so Kepler discovered three important laws. Which one did he NOT chance upon?

While the German astronomer did discover that depth perception needed two eyes to work, it's not a law.

Although there's a woeful lack of female representation in the discovery of scientific laws, which scientist's work (and intriguing death!) inspired Sophie Germain (1776-1831) to become a preeminent mathematician of her time?

Archimedes was supposedly killed when a soldier annoyed him by interrupting his study of diagrams that he was drawing in the sand. He is said to have muttered "don't disturb my circles" to prompt the altercation.

Archimedes is well-known for yelling out "Eureka!" upon one of his major discoveries. Which one made him (supposedly) shout the phrase?

Although it did lead to calculations of density, it was the buoyancy principle that led to Archimedes' exclamation.

John Dalton lent his name to "Daltonism," the red-green color blindness he studied (which impaired his own vision). His eponymous law, however, deals with which physical state of matter?

Dalton's law states that each gas in a mixture exerts a pressure as if the other gases were not present; the total pressure of the gases is the sum of the pressures created by each gas in the mixture.

Robert Boyle invented the litmus test to tell acids from bases, which is cool enough. But he also defined Boyle's law. What does it state?

Although it would be kind of fantastic to refer to the 10-second rule as "Boyle's law," gas and pressure were more up his alley.

These scientists are such overachievers. Which one not only defined the law of viscosity but also came up with the word fluorescence, after the mineral fluorite?

While George Stokes coined a new word, he also found that frictional force exerted on a sphere moving in a fluid is proportional to the fluid viscosity and the radius and speed of the sphere.

Which scientist with a thirst-quenching name wrote the law that investigated the relationship between the absorbance of a solution and the concentration of dissolved solute?

Beer's law does not, in fact, state that one more never hurt anyone.

Mr. Adolf E. Fick stated a law of diffusion: The steeper the concentration gradient, the greater the net flux of material by diffusion. What now-common item did he also create an early iteration of?

This was a tricky one. There were not one but two men named Adolf Fick (they were related) who contributed significantly to science. Adolf Eugen Fick drafted that law we mentioned while his nephew, Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick, is credited with creating the first glass contact lenses, which he tested on rabbits before giving them a go himself.

Sure, we all know Darwin gave us the theory of evolution by way of natural selection. But Darwin wasn't exactly in love with all of the biological world. Which part did he dislike?

Despite his dad's hopes to the contrary, Darwin could never be a doctor, since he couldn't stand the sight of blood.

This mathematician was such a wunderkind that he earned the title "prince of mathematics." He also defined a law in physics that relates to electric field and charge. Who was it?

Gauss started early, and by 24 had published an integral study of number theory. He went on to establish Gauss' law, among other contributions.

Einstein is known for many different theories and scientific laws. Which one of these is NOT Einstein's work?

Wouldn't it have been cool if Einstein had developed a third main theory of relativity, but he only released it to his good buddies? Alas, no very special theory of relativity exists (that we know of).

Here's another easy one. What Nobel-prize-winning physicist defined the uncertainty principle?

Werner Heisenberg made quite the commotion in the scientific community when he postulated that you can't be entirely certain about a particle's position AND momentum at the same time.

This scientist's name conjures up images of space. He also has a law AND a telescope named after him.

Edwin Hubble -- who has a ridiculously cool space telescope named after him -- defined the law of cosmic expansion, aka Hubble's law.

Daniel Bernoulli wrote his dissertation about the mechanics of breathing. Later on he developed his famous eponymous principle. What does it deal with?

That one was a gimme. Bernoulli turned to fluid dynamics after getting a firm grasp on the ins and outs of air. His principle often comes up when the topic of lift, um, arises.

The mathematician who defined the law of refraction also lent his name to another term, which describes the angle where a fish can see a person on the bank. (The phenomenon is determined by refraction). Who's the mathematician?

Indeed, stay out of Snell's window when you're trying to land a trout; you'll scare away your supper.

Amedeo Avogadro defined a blessedly simple law that said what?

Although his gaseous law was pretty simple, Avogadro also gave us "Avogadro's number," which is the number of particles (e.g., atoms, molecules) found in 1 mole of an element.

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About This Quiz

Chances are you've heard of many of the scientific laws we're about to mention, along with the geniuses behind them. The question is, can you put the two together?

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