Think You’re Smarter Than Bad Astronomy Blogger Phil Plait? Find Out With This Week’s News Quiz.

Test your knowledge of the week’s news.
Dec. 14 2012 5:15 AM

Play the Slate News Quiz

With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.

Welcome back to Slate’s weekly news quiz. I’m your host, 74-time Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings. 

Every Friday I’ll be testing your knowledge with 12 challenging questions on the week’s news events, big and small, including happenings in science, sports, politics, and culture both high and low. The questions are multiple-choice, and time is of the essence: You have 30 seconds to answer, and as the seconds tick away, the question’s point value drops from 50 all the way down to zero, so you’ll want to click on your answer as fast as you possibly can. There’s no penalty for an incorrect answer, so feel free to take a guess if your puny human brain fails you.

At the end of the quiz, you’ll be able to compare your score with that of the average contestant, as well as to the score of a Slate staffer whom I’ve talked into taking the quiz on the record. This week’s contestant is Bad Astronomy blogger Phil Plait.

Think you can ace my quiz and beat Plait? Good luck!



Let me apologize for not having a quiz for you last Friday. This had nothing to do with the travel I was doing for the launch of my new book. The quiz only works if 12 things happen in the world every week, and last week, unfortunately, absolutely nothing had happened. Luckily, things have picked up a bit lately, and this quiz was the result. Good luck.

Question 1 of 12

The White House announced this week that it will accept corporate cash donations—probably upward of $50 million—to cover the cost of what?

Corporations that donate $1 million can gain exclusive access to inaugural festivities including the parade and the inaugural ball.

Question 2 of 12

Last week, what did Sweden's new ambassador to Iran do that forced President Ahmadinejad to retaliate?

In Muslim cultures, showing someone the soles of your feet is apparently an insult, which inspired the leg-crossing battle.

Question 3 of 12

83-year-old widow Edie Windsor has become the unlikely face of what issue?

Windsor's longtime partner Thea died in 2009, costing her hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes. The Supreme Court is expected to hear Windsor v. U.S., a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, in the spring

Question 4 of 12

Facing cancer surgery over the weekend, what world leader designated Vice President Nicolás Maduro as his heir apparent?

Question 5 of 12

Which of these record-holders did not make headlines by coming to the end of their lives in recent weeks?

"Nefertiti," the first spider ever to return from space, died recently, as did 116-year-old Besse Cooper and 7-foot-8 Yao Defen.

Question 6 of 12

In a historic first, who said, "I bless all of you from my heart" this week?

Benedict XVI tweets as @Pontifex, but the Vatican says he won't be following any other users.

Question 7 of 12

It was announced Wednesday that former president George W. Bush will, for the first time, become what?

Bush's daughter Jenna is pregnant with her first child, due in the spring.

Question 8 of 12

"Kill those f***ing Yankees. Kill them all slowly and painfully." Who apologized this week for those sentiments?

The "Gangnam Style" rapper has a much larger American following and a much cannier PR team than he did in 2004, when he freestyled those anti-American lyrics.

Question 9 of 12

"It's a big step," President Obama told ABC News Tuesday, about his administration's decision to recognize what?

Question 10 of 12

A Filipino delegate named Naderev Saño broke down in tears at a mostly fruitless world conference in Doha, Qatar on what subject?

The Philippines had been savaged by an out-of-season typhoon just days before.

Question 11 of 12

Google revealed this week that what woman had been the most searched-for name of 2012?

Question 12 of 12

An institution called Story Book Farm has started a "Dollars for Darwin" campaign to raise money for what?

Darwin is the macaque monkey found in the parking lot of a Toronto IKEA on Sunday.

You got 8 out of 12 answers correct in 20 minutes 30 seconds.

Click to revisit answers

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December 14, 2012
The inauguration
Unpaid TARP loans
Hurricane Sandy cleanup
Christmas decorations
"Friend" him on Facebook
Mispronounce his name
Cross his legs
Wear a hat
"Right to work" laws
Gay marriage
Medicare cuts
Marijuana legalization
Mario Monti of Italy
Jacob Zuma of South Africa
Raúl Castro of Cuba
Hugo Chávez of Venezuela
The world's oldest person
The world's tallest woman
The world's largest tree
The world's only spider astronaut
Paul McCartney, new Nirvana frontman
The Pope, now on Twitter
Johnny Manziel, the first freshman Heisman winner
Koshik, a Korean talking elephant
A postage stamp
A grandfather
A lobbyist
A Simpsons guest star
Korean rapper PSY
Afghan president Hamid Karzai
Prince Harry
Red Sox DH David Ortiz
American Sign Language
Same-sex marriage licenses
Syria's opposition government
"FourthMeal"
Third-world debt
Terrorism
Women's rights
Climate change
Whitney Houston
Amanda Todd
Kate Middleton
Tanning Mom
A secular holiday to replace Christmas
A privately owned Mars base
A cloned woolly mammoth
A Canadian monkey

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Phil Plait
Bad Astronomy blogger

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Quiz Template by Chris Kirk and Andrew Morgan

Ken Jennings is a 74-time Jeopardy! winner and is the author of six books, most recently the Junior Genius Guides.

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