Can You Pass the Test Thomas Edison Gave to His Potential Employees?

April 12, 2017

How is leather tanned? What part of North Atlantic do we get codfish? What is the chief acid in vinegar? Did those questions make you squint for a few seconds? If yes, then you’re welcome to join the ‘failed’ club as you would probably be unsuccessful too in landing a job with Thomas Edison back in the 1920s.

Thomas Edison’s Test

A test was designed by Thomas Edison and was given to his potential employees to assess their intellectual level. He came up with the test after being frustrated when his college-graduate applicants were unqualified and mentally unfit for the job. Edison preferred employees who could memorize large amounts of information as he deems those kinds of people to be good at making business decisions for his company.

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

It’s one cruel and unfair test if you ask me. The best thing about this Edison test is that it’s 146 questions long! If I had to do this test in an interview, I’d have given up by the 35th question, pack up my bag, head up to the mountains and reconsider my life decisions. One of the test takers, Mr.Hansen, who failed the test 96 years ago has managed to remember 141 questions and leaked it to the New Yok Times in May 1921. Hansen said “I want you and the public to judge whether a full-blooded man who has been out of college and out in the business world for the past ten years could average 50 per cent on this silly examination”.

Edison's published intelligence test from the New York Times in May 1921.

[Image Source: The New York Times]

Even Albert Einstein, who did the test, was reported to have failed it for not being acquainted with the numbers that compose the speed of light. Edison’s son, Theodore, was also in the league who failed the test despite the fact that he was a bright student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Test Yourself!

To share with you the pain of anyone who has failed Edison’s intelligence test, we have selected 15 questions from the original 141 that was published in the New York Times. Not to be harsh to you, like Edison was, we have taken the answers from Gizmodo’s digitalized version so you can check how you did.

To get an honest gauge of your intellectual capacity, do the quiz without using the internet to answer the tough questions. Also, do not scroll down to the answers until you’ve finished answering the questions by yourself. Put yourself in the shoes of those poor souls who braved applying to Edison’s company and was stunned with this intellectual test. Good luck!

Questions

1. What is the greatest known depth of the ocean?

2. What is the name of a famous violin maker?

3. Where do we get domestic sardines?

4. Name three powerful poisons.

5. Name three principal alkalis.

6. What part of Germany do toys come from?

7. Who invented the cotton gin?

8. What is the price of 12 grains of gold?

9. What place is the greatest distance below sea level?

10. Who discovered the Pacific Ocean?

11. What was the approximate population of England, France, Germany, and Russia before the war?

12. Is Australia greater than Greenland in area?

13. What are axe handles made of?

14. Where did we get Louisiana from?

15. Who was Solon?

 As promised, here are the answers to the selected 15 questions. Are you ready?

Answers

1. What is the greatest known depth of the ocean?

31,600 feet at Nero Deep, near Guam. 

2. What is the name of a famous violin maker?

Stradivarius

3. Where do we get domestic sardines?

Maine and California

4. Name three powerful poisons.

Cyanide of potassium, strychnine, and arsenic.

5. Name three principal alkalis.

Soda, potash, and ammonia.

6. What part of Germany do toys come from?

In the Nuremberg region.

7. Who invented the cotton gin?

Eli Whitney

8. What is the price of 12 grains of gold?

The US Assay Office price, during May 12, 1921, was 56.693 cents.

9. What place is the greatest distance below sea level?

The Dead Sea at 1,300 feet below sea level.

10. Who discovered the Pacific Ocean?

Balboa

11. What was the approximate population of England, France, Germany, and Russia before the war?

England (34 million); France (40 million); Germany (65 million); Russia (180 million).

12. Is Australia greater than Greenland in area?

Greenland seems much bigger on the square, flat maps on Mercator’s projection, however, Australia is, in fact, three times larger than Greenland. 

13. What are axe handles made of?

Ash is used in the East and Hickory in the West.

14. Where did we get Louisiana from?

By purchase from France.

15. Who was Solon?

A statesman, poet, and lawmaker from the ancient city of Athens.

Here you go! Let us know in the comments sections below how you got on. You can also challenge your friends and family with this test.

via Gizmodo

SEE ALSO: 5 Unknown Inventions from Thomas Edison that Changed the World

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