The great European litmus test: It's too late to enter our competition but for those who would like to reactivate the grey matter before the new year, we reprint the quiz here today - with the answers. Quiz set by Justin Arundale

During European Week for Scientific Culture (22-27 November), the Independent and the British Assocation for the Advancement of Science ran a competition for readers aged 14-18. Prizes included a trip to the European Laboratory for Particle Physics near Geneva; to the international observatory in the Canary Isles, thanks to the Science and Engineering Research Council; and to the Medical Research Council's laboratories in the Gambia. Winners will be announced early in the new year.

1 He became an Augustinian monk at 21, and an abbot in 1868. His experiments on plants helped him to develop two laws of genetic inheritance. Who was he and what is the Latin name for the genus of plants with which he experimented?

2 The first system for duplicating documents made use of a fluid made from vinegar, borax, oyster shells, bruised Aleppo galls and distilled water. The man who patented the system also made a vital improvement to the steam engine - adding a separate condenser. Which SI unit is named after him and what does it measure?

3 The first time these men did it, it involved a sheep, a duck, a cockerel and a lot of hot air. Only one of them went up himself. Who were they?

4 This chemist once worked in Paris, but is best known for investigating the strand of life in the Strand in London. Three people shared a Nobel prize for the discovery that followed, but this researcher died before the prize was awarded. What was the chemist's name?

5 When the scale with which he is associated was devised, it went from steam to ice, it didn't take its modern form until his colleagues at Uppsala turned it upside-down. Who was he?

6 Penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin have one thing in common - their chemical structures were worked out by someone who was born in Cairo, brought up in Sudan and whose work gained a Nobel prize. Who was this famous crystallographer?

7 He won a Nobel prize and wrote a book based on the legend that King Solomon had a ring which enabled him to talk to the animals. He was a great hit with his geese. Who was he?

8 One of the founding fathers of computing probably committed suicide after facing prosecution for being homosexual. Who was he?

9 Husbands and wives have shared Nobel prizes, albeit rarely. Parents and children have also been known to share prizes. But only one family has produced two husband-and-wife pairs sharing prizes in successive generations. Who were the younger pair?

10 When Joseph Meister was nine, he was bitten 14 times by a dog. He was treated with an experimental vaccine, survived, and later became a caretaker at the institute of the scientist who treated him. What process, used to destroy harmful microbes in food and drink, is named after the scientist?

11 William was an oboist in Germany. His sister, Caroline, trained as an opera singer. William's son John was a mathematician. They were a gifted family. William discovered four moons and a planet; Caroline discovered eight comets, and John took the first photograph on glass of the Sun's spectrum. What was the family name?

12 He devoted his life to astronomy after seeing his first partial solar eclipse, but that didn't stop him fighting a duel, in which he lost most of his nose, over a disputed point of mathematics. He was supported by two monarchs - one gave him Hven, the other (who was mad) gave him a castle. His measurements of the positions of 777 stars proved invaluable to later astronomers and he surely deserves the honour of having one of the Moon's most prominent craters named after him. Who was he?

13 Leonardo da Vinci was convinced that the key to understanding the world was 'knowing how to see'. In his codex on the eye, he described a device which, after much development, is now used by millions of people to help them see. What is the device?

14 Jean Ichbiah and his team named their most famous computer development after the only legitimate daughter of an English poet, who was herself associated with early developments in computing. What was her name?

15 The Abbe Lematre was ordained a Catholic priest and later became professor of astronomy at Louvain. He was one of the first people to propose a major cosmological theory. Which one?

16 One member of a family famous for its work with early hominids found footprints in the sand at Laetoli which proved that, more than 3 million years ago, our predecessors walked upright. Which member of which family?

17 In order to check the legend that Archimedes had set fire to the Roman fleet by reflecting the Sun's rays, he devised an experiment using 168 mirrors. He was interested in the vestigial toes of the pig and was keeper of the Jardin du Roi. He coined the phrase 'Le style c'est l'homme meme', and his masterwork on natural history was 44 volumes long. Who was he?

18 He was right about the Earth being a curved body poised in space but wrong about it being a cylinder. He was among the very earliest European scientists. Who was he?

19 He named his most famous book after a giant, but it was navigators who were most thankful to him. Who was he?

20 His father was an Italian consul in Algeria and he was instrumental in introducing zero into Europe. His sequence crops up in curious places, such as the growth patterns of leaves. Who was he?

Answers

1 Gregor Mendel performed his experiments upon Pisum - the edible pea. He did most of his work in the garden of his monastery in Brno.

2 The Watt is the SI unit of power, named after James Watt. The unpleasant-sounding fluid was the astringent fixative used in the duplicating machines manufactured by James Watt & Co, of which 150 were sold in the first year. The Bank of England disapproved of the machine on the grounds that it would facilitate forgery.

3 Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne de Montgolfier first lifted animals off the ground in a hot-air balloon in 1783. Flights involving humans followed, but Etienne never went up, and Joseph made only one ascent.

4 Rosalind Franklin investigated the double-helix strands of DNA in a laboratory in King's College on the Strand in London, demonstrating among other things that it had a helical structure. The Nobel prize for medicine and physiology was awarded to Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins in 1962 for their work on DNA; Franklin died in 1958. As a result, the rule that a Nobel prize may not be shared by more than three people was not tested.

5 The Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius is credited with devising a thermometric scale in 1742, taking the boiling point of water as 0 and the melting point as 100. In 1747 his colleagues at Uppsala observatory inverted the scale and put it in its present form.

6 Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was born in Cairo; her childhood in Africa and the Middle East left her with a lifelong interest in archaeology. She developed the X-ray diffraction method of determining the structure of a molecule, and applied it to complex organic molecules.

7 Konrad Lorenz, the Austrian ethologist, won the Nobel prize for medicine and physiology in 1973. His book King Solomon's Ring is an account of his experiences and theories. His geese were particularly affected by his yellow boots.

8 Alan Turing described a theoretical computer in precise mathematical terms in 1937; he later supervised the construction of the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the National Physical Laboratory. He died in 1954, probably by his own hand, after facing prosecution for homosexuality.

9 Irene and Frederic Joliot-Curie were awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1935; Irene's parents, Pierre and Marie Curie, received the prize for physics in 1903.

10 Pasteurisation is a process involving the use of heat to destroy microbes, named after Louis Pasteur. In 1880 Pasteur began to study rabies, but was reluctant to experiment on humans. When, in 1885, Joseph Meister was bitten by a rabid dog, it was a chance to test the vaccine. The next year, Pasteur treated 2,671 patients, of whom only 25 died; his success led to the foundation of the Institut Pasteur, of which Meister became caretaker.

11 William Herschel entered the Hanoverian Guards as an oboist at the age of 14; he went on to discover Uranus, two of its moons (Titania and Oberon), and two moons of Saturn (Mimas and Enceladus). His sister Caroline trained as a concert singer, but later became her brother's assistant while pursuing her own interest in comets. His son John was a distinguished astronomer and photographer.

12 Tycho Brahe was perhaps the greatest pre-telescopic observational astronomer. The nose damaged in a duel was replaced with a false nose made of silver. Frederick II, King of Denmark, gave Brahe the island of Hven and the funds to build the observatory of Uraniborg (named after the Greek god and not the planet]). In 1596 Brahe was forced to leave Hven, and he ended up being given a castle near Prague as an observatory by the mad emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Rudolph II.

13 The idea of floating lenses on the fluids on the surface of the eye - contact lenses - was one of the ideas put forward by Leonardo for improving sight. His famous maxim 'sapere vedere' - understand how to see - makes it clear why the matter occupied his attention.

14 Augusta Ada King, Countess Lovelace, was the daughter of Lord Byron. Jean Ichbiah led a team of computer scientists commissioned to write a programming language for the United States Department of Defense; they named their language Ada after the Countess in recognition of her work with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine, a prototype computer. She and Babbage turned their mathematical talents towards trying to predict the outcome of horse races, as a result of which Ada died heavily in debt and at the mercy of blackmailers.

15 The Big Bang theory for the origin of the universe was proposed by Lematre after he found a solution to Einstein's relativity equations that suggested an expanding universe.

16 Mary Leakey found two sets of hominid footprints in a layer of volcanic debris during an expedition to Tanzania in 1976, providing indisputable evidence that man's ancestors walked upright 3.75 million years ago.

17 Georges-Louis Buffon was a naturalist of distinction, but he applied his scientific mind to a wide range of problems (for example, he introduced calculus into probability theory). The Jardin du Roi was the natural history museum and botanical garden of Paris; his experience there helped him in preparing his Natural History, a vast and beautifully illustrated survey of the natural world. His experiment to test the legend about Archimedes proved that it is possible with mirrors to ignite timber at a range of 50 metres.

18 Anaximander was one of the early scientists associated with the city of Miletos, and a pupil of Thales. He is credited with a number of novel ideas, and he was probably the first Greek to make a map of the whole known world.

19 Gerardus Mercator, also called Gerhard Kremer, made a map of the world in 1569 using the new projection which now bears his name, and which allows navigators to plot their course as a straight line of constant heading, corresponding to a great circle on the globe. His Atlas, published after his death, was named after the giant who, according to the Greek poet Hesiod, was condemned to bear the world on his shoulders as a punishment for rebellion.

20 Leonardo Fibonacci's father was Pisan consul in Algeria, and the son was educated from the age of 12 by an Arabian mathematician. Fibonacci's work, and in particular his Book of the Abacus (1202), resulted in the widespread adoption of the Arabic system, including the use of zero. The Fibonacci sequence is a series in which each successive number is the sum of the preceding two (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 . . .).

(Photograph omitted)

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