March 2015

When Do Planes Crash?

The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 — along with recent accidents involving Malaysian and Indonesian jetliners — has focused the world’s attention on airline safety. We wonder: During which phase of flight do most fatal commercial aviation accidents occur?

A. While taxiing on the runway
B. During takeoff and climb
C. While cruising
D. During descent and landing

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Ivan Smuk /

For CO2, Below Average Is Good

Global carbon emissions reached almost five tons per person on Earth in 2013 — the highest level on record. While emissions appear to have stalled in 2014, they need to fall much further to limit the extent of global warming. We wonder: Which major country is closest to the global average of five tons of CO2 emissions per person?

A. United States
B. Germany
C. China
D. India

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Legacies of American Slavery: A Historical Perspective

Recent acts of police brutality in various U.S. states as well as the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday during the Civil Rights Movement have underscored what still needs to be achieved before true equality is reached for African-Americans. We wonder: Which of the following statements are true?

A. There are more African-American men in prison today than there were in slavery at its height.
B. North America was the world’s biggest importer of African slaves.
C. The African-American population is proportionally about the same today as it was just after slavery.
D. African Americans are still discriminated against on voting rights.

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Plastics, Plastics Everywhere

First invented in the 1860s and developed for industry in the 1920s, plastic production exploded in the 1940s, when it became one of the fastest-growing global industries. We wonder: Which of the following statements is true about the global plastics industry today?

A. Annual global plastics production amounts to nearly 300 million tons.
B. The average American or European consumes about 100 kilograms of plastic a year.
C. China takes in more than half of worldwide waste plastic each year.
D. Millions of tons of plastics end up in landfills and oceans each year.

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