Science blog

18 December 2015

12 Days Of Christmas - a festive science quiz

Fancy a bit of light relief in the run up to Christmas? Team ScienceBL challenge you to our 12 days of Christmas quiz - with a science theme of course.

List your answers in the comment section below or reply on Twitter – no cheating! Answers will be revealed later today.

(N.B. These questions first appeared in last week’s TalkScience Christmas quiz – our yuletide extravaganza of festive science puns and unashamed geekery)

Update: 11am; 18/12/15. Answers added below. Scroll down to find out the correct answers.


A Partridge in a pear-tree - Which ester is used to give pear drops their distinctive pear flavour?

2 Turtle doves - Is the dove heart smaller or larger in proportion to body size than the human heart is?

3 French hens - What name is given to an adolescent female chicken?

  1. Wattle
  2. Pullet
  3. Spur
  4. Capon            

4 Colly birds (or Calling birds) - What type of bird is a colly bird? 

5 Gold rings - What is the atomic number for gold?

  1. 72
  2. 77
  3. 79
  4. 80 

6 Geese-a-laying - What is the main protein constituent of the white of an egg?     


7 Swans-a-swimming - The Athena SWAN Charter to support women in science was established in what year?   

8 Maids-a-milking - What is the name of the family of proteins that make up 80% of all the protein in cow’s milk?

9 Ladies dancing - How many bones are there in the human foot and ankle?       

10 Lords-a-leaping - The International Telecommunication Union announced the decision to ditch “leap seconds” will be delayed until what year?             

11 Pipers piping - Which of these pipes will produce the highest note? (see image above)

12 Drummers drumming - A decibel is one tenth of one bel. Who is this unit named in honour of?  

(All images Public Domain - from Pixabay)



  1. Ethyl acetate/ethanoate gives the pear flavour. Isomyl acetate/ethanoate gives a banana flavour.
  2. Larger. this enables the bird’s cardiovascular system to support the high metabolic needs required for flying
  3. b) Pullet. Capon is a castrated male. Wattles are flaps of skin under the beak. The spur is the horn-like protrusion on the leg
  4. Blackbird. Colly is an Old English term for 'black,' from the word 'colliery,' meaning coal mine 
  5. c) 79
  6. Albumen (or Albumin/Ovalbumin) Egg white is ~90% water, most of the remainder is albumen.
  7. The Athena Swan charter was established in 2005. More details here:
  8. Caseins
  9. 26 (or 28 if you include the sesamoid bones at the base of the big toe)
  10. The decision has been delayed until 2023
  11. The answer is A. The shorter the tube, the higher the note.
  12. The bel is named after Alexander Graham Bell – more commonly known for inventing the telephone


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