Can you solve these real 'Jeopardy!' clues about the Earth?

Written by:
December 11, 2019
Kris Connor // Getty Images

Can you solve these real 'Jeopardy!' clues about the Earth?

When the current iteration of "Jeopardy!" began in 1984, the calm and alluring voice of Alex Trebek turned quiz-show formats inside-out by spearheading the use of questions to answer clues. No one at the time could have imagined that 35 years later, the game show would have set records for awards won while also winning over the hearts of millions of viewers.

Some say "Jeopardy!" made being a geek a cool thing and proved that being smart can make you rich. Over the years, many of the game contestants have enjoyed celebrity-like status and become household names. There's Ken Jennings, the Utah software engineer with a record 74 wins and $2.5 million earnings; James Holzhauer, who set a record of single-game winnings; and recent contestant Dhruv Gaur who made Trebek choke up with a sweet note he wrote in lieu of an answer in Final Jeopardy.

The show recently announced bringing back some past champions for a primetime TV event starting January 2020. It will feature Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer competing against each other for the ultimate title. For now, the contestants are probably brushing up their trivia knowledge on the hundreds of categories featured in the show. This includes the immensely popular "Before-After," "Stupid Answers," "Nature," "Hodgepodge," "Pop Music," "Sports," and "Potent Potables," to name a few. Of course, this would also give a chance for millions of viewers sitting at home to see if they can answer as quickly as the champions.

Stacker compiled real questions asked from 36 previous seasons of "Jeopardy!" related to the "Earth" category for those looking to challenge themselves. The questions and answers have been taken from J!Archive, a fan-created archive with over 381,000 clues as of 2019.

Clue slides will appear before answer slides. Stacker also included some interesting trivia with each question to add to the fun. Click through to test your knowledge on planet Earth. Don't forget to phrase your answer to each clue in the form of a question!

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Clue #1

- Clue: A rock formation shaped like a pillar of salt near the Dead Sea is named for this biblical woman.
- Value: $3,000
- Date episode aired: Nov. 21, 2019

Answer #1

Who is Lot's wife?

The narrative of Lot's wife begins in Genesis 19 in the Bible. It describes the time when the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were about to be destroyed. The story also describes how Lot and his family were commanded to escape without looking back at the destruction. It is said that Lot's wife did not obey the command and looked back, becoming a pillar of salt. The salt formation near the Dead Sea at Mount Sodom in Israel has thus been named Lot's wife. As per the Shulchan Aruch, commonly known as the Code of Jewish Law, one should recite the blessing "Baruch Dayan HaEmet," meaning "Blessed is the true judge," on seeing this formation.

Clue #2

- Clue: By mass, it's the most abundant element in the Earth's crust and in your body.
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: July 28, 2014

Answer #2

What is oxygen?

The most abundant element in the universe is hydrogen. However, if you are looking at the chemical composition of the Earth's crust, it differs greatly from the entire universe. By mass, oxygen is the most abundant element in the Earth's crust, making up 46.6% of the planet's mass. The second most abundant element is silicon. In the human body, oxygen makes about 65% of a person's weight, followed by carbon making 18% of the body mass.

Clue #3

- Clue: The largest peninsula on Earth is mostly made up of this Middle Eastern country.
- Category: GEOGRAPHY 101
- Value: $1,000
- Date episode aired: Aug. 1, 2013

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Answer #3

What is Saudi Arabia?

The Arabian Peninsula is the largest peninsula in the world, occupying more than 1.25 million square miles. Comprising seven countries, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Kuwait, most of the peninsula comes under Saudi Arabia, which controls about 830,000 square miles. The uninhabited Rub' Al Khali Desert and An-Nafud Desert, where sand dunes grow over 100 feet high, occupy most of the peninsula.

Clue #4

- Clue: A plume of magma rising from the Earth's mantle can split a continental plate in two and form this type of valley.
- Category: SCIENCE & NATURE
- Value: $1,200
- Date episode aired: Oct. 9, 2012

Answer #4

What is a rift valley?

Rift valleys are lowland regions created when Earth's tectonic plates move apart. One of the most famous rift valleys of the world is the Great Rift Valley in East Africa that runs from north to south for around 4,000 miles, and it is visible from space. The subterranean movements that caused this formation are still active today, with 30 active and semi-active volcanoes and hot springs along its length.

Clue #5

- Clue: These waves, from Greek for "shake," that pass through the Earth's rocks are caused by earthquakes.
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: March 1, 2011

Answer #5

What are seismic waves?

The sudden breaking of rock under the Earth's surface or a sudden explosion may cause waves of energy called seismic waves. The scientists who study such waves and earthquakes are called seismologists, and the waves are recorded on seismographs. Seismic waves traveling under the surface of the Earth are called body waves, and those on the surface are called surface waves. Usually, body waves have a higher frequency than surface waves.

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Clue #6

- Clue: The comet-shaped magnetosphere that surrounds the Earth is shaped by the stream of plasma known as this.
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: Nov. 13, 2017

Answer #6

What is solar wind?

The solar wind is made up of charged particles flowing outward from the sun. They are caused by the hot solar corona—the outer layer of the solar atmosphere, which is the rim that's visible during a complete solar eclipse. When solar wind interacts with the Earth's dipole magnetic field, the side facing the sun or the dayside is compressed, while the opposite night side field is stretched, forming a comet-shaped magnetosphere. This tail is known as magnetotail.

Clue #7

- Clue: By volume, this gas makes up about 78% of Earth's atmosphere.
- Category: ELEMENTARY
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: May 11, 2017

Answer #7

What is nitrogen?

Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere. It is followed by oxygen (21%) and argon (0.9%). In its gaseous form, nitrogen is colorless, odorless, and generally inert. It does not support combustion making the atmosphere a safe mixture of gases. Did you know that nitrogen has an important role to play in the display of the northern lights or aurora borealis? Nitrogen and oxygen molecules from the atmosphere collide with fast-moving electrons from space, resulting in the phenomenon.

Clue #8

- Clue: The name of this Earth layer that extends to about 60 miles in depth is from Greek for "stone ball."
- Category: WORLD PIECE
- Value: $1,200
- Date episode aired: June 6, 2016

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Answer #8

What is the lithosphere?

The lithosphere or "stone ball" is the outermost layer of the Earth, including the Earth's crust and part of the mantle. From the surface of the Earth, it extends to about 44-to-60 miles in depth. The lithosphere is not a continuous surface but divided into huge slabs called tectonic plates. It is the interaction of these tectonic plates—their collision or sliding against each other—that gives rise to many natural geological events such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and the formation of mountains, valleys, and deep ocean trenches.

Clue #9

- Clue: Earth's atmosphere is about 1% this alphabetically first noble gas.
- Category: World Piece
- Value: $2,000
- Date episode aired: June 6, 2016

Answer #9

What is argon?

While argon makes up about 0.9-1.28% of the Earth's atmosphere, it is still the third most abundant gas in the air. It is a colorless, odorless, and non-toxic gas. Besides being named from the first alphabet, it is also the first noble gas to be discovered in 1894 by Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay. Argon is named after the Greek word for "lazy," acknowledging its inert nature, a property that finds its use in welding. Argon is also a good insulator and is pumped into deep-sea diving suits to keep divers warm.

Clue #10

- Clue: Scientists use triangulation to locate this, the point on the Earth's surface right above a seismic event.
- Value: $1,600
- Date episode aired: Oct. 19, 2015

Answer #10

What is the epicenter?

The epicenter is the point of the Earth's surface that's directly above the hypocenter or the focal point from where seismic activity begins. Usually, seismologists use three different seismographs to locate the epicenter by creating an arc whose radius is proportional to the time of travel of seismic waves to different observation stations. The point at which all the arcs meet is the epicenter.

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Clue #11

- Clue: The continent of Africa, as well as its surrounding oceanic crusts, are part of the African one of these rigid pieces that make up the Earth's surface.
- Value: $600
- Date episode aired: Sept. 18, 2015

Answer #11

What is the African Plate?

The Earth's lithosphere is not continuous but made up of huge slabs known as tectonic plates or the continental plates. These are of two types—the one under the ocean, forming the ocean crust are oceanic plates, and the ones forming the continents are the continental plates.

The African Plate is a major tectonic plate straddling the equator. It contains both the entire continent of Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. Its west neighbors the North American Plate and the South American Plate. About 250 million years ago, there was just the Pangaea supercontinent that joined them all together.

Clue #12

- Clue: 1/360th of the Earth's circumference.
- Value: $3,000
- Date episode aired: July 27, 2015

Answer #12

What is 1 degree?

One degree is 1/360th of the Earth's circumference. The Earth is divided into imaginary lines of longitude and latitude, and the unit given to them is 1 degree. Longitudes are imaginary lines or meridians from the north to the south pole around the circumference of the Earth. There are 360 degrees of longitude. Latitudes are imaginary lines parallel to the equator and one another, and there are 180 degrees of latitude. Knowing the degree of longitude and latitude helps know the geographic location of a place.

Clue #13

- Clue: Of the layers of Earth's atmosphere.
- Value: $1,200
- Date episode aired: March 10, 2011

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Answer #13

What is the troposphere?

The different layers of the Earth's atmosphere are the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the thermosphere, and the exosphere, starting from the troposphere nearest to the surface and ending with the exosphere. But alphabetically last is the troposphere. It extends about 6-to-10 km from the surface, and most of the mass of the atmosphere is in this region. All the weather activities also take place in the troposphere.

Clue #14

- Clue: Sort of Earth's garter belt, this line marks the southernmost points where the sun is directly overhead in winter.
- Value: $800
- Date episode aired: June 6, 2009

Answer #14

What is the Tropic of Capricorn?

The Tropic of Capricorn is the parallel of latitude that is approximately 23.5 degrees south of the equator. It is the farthest southern latitude where the sun can appear overhead in the winter or the summer solstice. Any latitudes south of this point are located in the south temperate zone. The northern hemisphere equivalent of the Tropic of Capricorn is the Tropic of Cancer.

Clue #15

- Clue: ...that contains 70% of Earth's freshwater resources.
- Value: $800
- Date episode aired: June 11, 2008

Answer #15

What is Antarctica?

Seventy percent of the Earth's freshwater is trapped in the ice sheets of Antarctica. It also has about 91% of all ice in the world. Despite this, Antarctica is considered a desert and one of the driest regions in the world because of a lack of precipitation. Of the rest of the available freshwater, only 1.2% is surface freshwater from rivers and lakes. Yet, it is this small amount that provides the water we use every day.

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Clue #16

- Clue: Of 20, 30 or 50%, the percentage of the Earth's land Asia occupies as the world's largest continent.
- Value: $800
- Date episode aired: July 10, 2007

Answer #16

What is 30%?

As the world's largest continent, Asia covers 30% of the land area on Earth, and around 60% of the world population as the most populous continent in the world. Russia, straddling across Europe and Asia, is the largest country in the world. China, the most populated country in the world, is also in Asia. The continent is also home to the highest mountain on Earth—Mount Everest, with a height of 8,850 meters.

Clue #17

- Clue: He figured out moving bodies on or above the Earth tend to drift sideways, so the "effect" bears his name.
- Category: PHYSICS
- Value: $2,000
- Date episode aired: Jan. 3, 2005

Answer #17

Who is Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis?

The Coriolis effect is named after the French mathematician and physicist Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis. He was the first to use the word "work" to define the product of force and displacement. But his most pioneering work was revealing that moving bodies drift sideways.

Clue #18

- Clue: Some ocean sediment is radiolarian ooze, made of these parts of tiny protozoans.
- Value: $1,000
- Date episode aired: April 28, 2004

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Answer #18

What is the role of protozoan skeletons?

Radiolarian ooze is mostly composed of silica made up of the skeletons of the tiny protozoans called radiolaria found in the upper layer of all oceans. The ooze mainly occurs in the equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. These silica-secreting, single-celled organisms create intricate skeletons useful in identifying individual species and also serve as indicators to scientists to understand the properties of the water where they are found.

Clue #19

- Clue: Venice is sinking because Italy is actually part of this continent's plate and it's sliding under Europe's plate.
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: April 28, 2004

Answer #19

What is Africa?

Italy is part of the African geological plate, which is slowly but surely drifting north, and sliding under the European plate. This is causing the Alps to rise higher and Venice to sink. Decades ago, scientists also realized that pumping groundwater from beneath the city and the many stone buildings in the city are enhancing the subsidence of the ancient city. In November 2019, a state of emergency was declared when high tide caused by climate change led to severe flooding in Venice.

Clue #20

- Clue: It's the next line north of the equator that has been named as well as numbered.
- Category: DOWN TO EARTH
- Value: $100
- Date episode aired: March 31, 2000

Answer #20

What is the Tropic of Cancer?

The Tropic of Cancer marks the latitude 23.5 degrees north of the equator. It is the northernmost point on the planet where the sun is directly overhead during the June solstice. At this time, the sun is positioned on the Cancer constellation, and that is how the latitude was named Tropic of Cancer. Mexico, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and India are a few countries this imaginary line runs through.

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Clue #21

- Clue: Surprisingly, the Earth is closest to the sun during this winter month.
- Value: $600
- Date episode aired: Nov. 4, 1999

Answer #21

What is January?

The Earth is closest to the sun in January when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and farthest from it in July when it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere. This is because the Earth's orbit around the sun is not exactly a circle but elliptical, resulting in two points where during its annual revolution, Earth is closest and farthest from the sun. The closest point to the sun is called the perihelion.

Clue #22

- Clue: Na is the symbol of this element that makes up about 2.8% of the Earth's crust.
- Category: Elements
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: March 7, 2019

Answer #22

What is sodium?

Sodium is the sixth most abundant element found on Earth. However, it is very reactive and never found free in nature. It is so reactive that it ignites when it contacts even a bit of moisture. Therefore, sodium is stored in moisture-free environments and is used most commonly in street lights, producing a brilliant yellow light. Table salt, baking soda, caustic soda, and borax are all compounds of sodium.

Clue #23

- Clue: At over 36,000 feet, it's the deepest spot in the North Pacific, or anywhere else on Earth.
- Value: $1,000
- Date episode aired: Jan. 19, 1998

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Answer #23

What is the Marianas Trench?

Earth's deepest place is the Marianas Trench, a crescent-shaped trench in the Pacific Ocean. The southern part of the trench is known as the Challenger Deep and is the deepest spot in the ocean. In 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sent sound waves through the ocean to measure its depth to be 36,070 feet. In 2012, film director James Cameron descended to this region to 35,756 feet.

Clue #24

- Clue: Gravity from its single moon causes most places on this planet to have two high tides a day.
- Category: THE PLANETS
- Value: $100
- Date episode aired: Nov. 9, 1995

Answer #24

What is Earth?

The Earth's rotation and the moon's gravitational pull lead to the two low tides and two high tides every day, or more specifically every lunar day, which is equal to 24 hours 50 minutes. High tides are caused at the points on Earth that are facing the moon, and the ocean water experiences the strongest gravitational pull. Low tides are experienced in areas that are not facing the moon. As the Earth keeps rotating, there are different areas that face the moon, causing the tidal cycle all around the planet.

Clue #25

- Clue: The velocity of the Earth's rotation at the equator is about 1,050 mph, while at the poles, it's nearly this.
- Category: GEOLOGY
- Value: $800
- Date episode aired: June 22, 1988

Answer #25

What is zero?

The Earth's circumference at the equator is about 40,000 km, and one rotation is completed in 24 hours. This gives the velocity as 460 meters per second or 1,050 mph. But as you move north or south towards the poles, the parallel of latitude narrows, the distance covered in 24 hours is less, and therefore, the speed is less. Hence, at the poles, the velocity of the Earth is zero.

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