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Alan Alda in Scientific American Frontiers

Teaching Guide
Hands On, Minds On
Planetary Problem Solving
Self Propelled Learning

Noah's Snowball

1. Before the Cambrian Explosion 600 million years ago, what kind of life form dominated the planet?

a) microbes
b) dinosaurs
c) plants
d) mammals

2. What do the scientists think triggered the Cambrian Explosion?

Handmade Humans

3. Anthropologist Mary Marzke thinks "Lucy" did what with her hands?

a) used sign language
b) painted cave drawings
c) threw stones to kill prey
d) pitched a baseball

4. Which part of the human hand is unique among apes?

a) Opposable thumb
b) five fingers
c) fingernails
d) flexible joints in the index and pinky fingers.

Robot Independence

5. Who designed the Lego "crane" designed to lift a 100-gram weight (which Alan broke)?

6. What biological process does the computer apply to its artificial creations?

Alien Worlds

7. Name two ways to detect an extra-solar planet.

8. Paul Horowitz is looking for what type of signal from an alien world

a) radio signal
b) laser beam
c) gravitational wobble
d) e-mail message

I, Robot

9. What human capacity makes us different from other animals, according to philosopher Daniel Dennett?

10. To what does Dennett compare each cell in the human body?

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