Our solar system. Credit: NASA/JPL

Surely everyone, maybe except for kids, knows that the Earth orbits the Sun right? Well, one in four Americans does not. This, according to a new study conducted by the National Science Foundation. And even fewer Europeans answered the same question correctly according to another study.

The American study is conducted every other year with about 2,200 random residents in the United States. They get to answer questions relating to physics and biology. And the aim is to assess Americans’ knowledge and general interest in science.

The study certainly reveals a knowledge gap among many people, with only 74 percent answering the following question correctly; “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?”.

But even fewer people (66 percent) could answer that same question correctly within the European Union according to another study from 2005.

Also, 63 percent of the Americans knew that the man’s genes (x and y chromosomes) are what determines the gender of a child. 40 percent of the Americans involved believed that the universe was created by the Big Bang and less than half knew that humans evolved from more primitive species.

This American study also aims to assess superstition and pseudoscience beliefs, as 50 percent of the Americans believe astrology is a kind of science.

In contrast, another study in China has shown that 92 percent of people believe horoscopes to be unscientific. Both China and the EU also fared significantly better (66 percent and 70 percent, respectively) on human evolution.

The results of the survey are presented to the U.S. president, Barack Obama, and the Congress.

Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding