QUIZ: Polar bears, Tobacco & Darth Vader

12 March 2019

Interview with 

Adam Murphy, Ljiljana Fruk, Tim Revell & Sam Virtue

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Its time to put our panel through their paces with our monthly quiz. Team One was physicist Adam Murphy and chemist Ljiljana Fruk who battled their brains against Team Two, technology journalist Tim Revell and physiologist Sam Virtue.

Round 1 is called More or Less.

Chris: Ljiljana and Adam, what weighs more: A polar bear or a shire horse?

Ljiljana - first of all Adam, what is a shire horse?

Adam - Shire horses are those giant giant horses you see police officers riding. They are very scary.

Ljiljana - Okay.

Adam - But polar bears are also equally large and very scary.

Ljiljana - Yes and they have lots of fat. They need to have lots of fat to keep them warm. Is the fat heavier than the muscle?

Adam - Muscle is heavier than fat right?

Chris - I'm gonna have to hurry you.

Adam - Horse I think.

Ljiljana - You think horse?

Adam - They might be trying to trick us but I'm gonna go with horse.

Chris - You're going horse?

Ljiljana - Yes.

A: Shire horse

Chris - Indeed. A polar bear weighs in 720 kg, but a shire horse, a massive 900kg! Just shy of a ton, so they’re very very big.

Team 2, Tim and Sam - Which costs more, a kilo of human blood or a kilo of tobacco?

Tim - Oh, that is a tricky question. Is that wholesale price or after tax?

Sam - Yeah. I was thinking the exact same thing. It feels like it should be the blood doesn't it?

Tim - I would go with that as well.

A: Tobacco.

Chris - In the UK, blood costs around  £275 per kilo, once you’ve done the purification process, the storage etc; tobacco though, right, is more expensive, the price is about double that. So it’s about £500 for a kilo of tobacco. So you’re not doing so good!

Right back to team 1 who is Adam and Ljiljana, you’re in the lead with one point.

This round, round 2, is called techYes, or TechNo. Did you see what we did there? Can’t take credit for that, Izzie Clarke came up with that, but, are these ridiculous technologies tech yes, or tech no, in other words are they ones we made up earlier or do they really exist...

- A "Darth Vader" face mask so people can not hear your private conversations in public places. It bleaches them out by playing sounds of animals, ambient noises or even Darth Vader effects, while soaking out the sounds you make!

Ljiljana - This is probably yes.

Adam - I will never underestimate people’s ability to create weird things.

Ljiljana - Yes, and particularly Star Wars inspired. Geeky stuff

Adam - Star Wars yeah, absolutely.

Ljiljana - We think this exists

A: Yes!

Chris - You’re on fire! The Hushme as a crowdsource funding thing, a few years ago. You close the two halves together round your face a bit like a clam shell, around the lower half of your face. It syncs up with your smartphone so you converse in private over Bluetooth with the phone and this absorbent material soaks up the sounds you’re making. And at the same time plays sounds from the library of your phone in to the ambient air, so you mask any sounds that might escape. So you can actually if you want to sound like Darth Vader. You will end up looking like Tom Hardy’s character "Bane", in Dark Knight Rises...

Team 2 - Tech yes, or tech no...

A gaudy-looking ring that measures how much vitamin D you’re making in the sunshine so you can supplement as necessary...

Tim - I mean that could exist. You have tricked us with something plausible.

Sam - I feel no, just in my bones.

Tim - I think we should trust your bones..

Sam - I know but what I’m hoping is it’s like a trick question and it’s a gaudy looking necklace.

Tim - Are that’s it. It’s not a ring it’s necklace. I think we say techno

A: No!

Chris - Although it is a real idea! The Helios Smart Ring was launched for crowdfunding with the aim of calculating sun-generated vitamin D. Unfortunately for the inventors of the concept, the sun didn’t shine on their funding proposal and it got pulled.

Right, Round 3 is called: OUT OF THIS WORLD

Team 1: If an Earth-dwelling Naked Scientist stands on some scales and gets a reading of 68 kilos, would their mass be greater, or smaller on the Moon?

Ljiljana - I’m relying on you Adam.

Adam - Hang on. Their mass stays the same, their weight would change.

Ljiljana - Change - exactly.

Adam - But the mass would stay the same.

Ljiljana - Yes. We say is not going to change

A: The same

Chris - It was indeed a trick question. Their mass - the amount of stuff they are made from - would be the same anywhere in the Universe. Their weight, on the other hand, which is the effect of gravity acting on their mass and is what we measure when you put a mass on a set of scales, would be a lot less on the Moon - in fact about a fifth of the weight - on Earth. Three points to you. Do you want the last question, team 2, because you have actually lost?

Tim - We could do double or nothing?

Chris - Double or nothing on this one… Shall we let them do double or nothing?

Ljiljana - Yes! Let’s do that

Chris - Okay Tim and Sam, Team 2 - Jupiter is 1000 times the mass of the Earth

Tim - True or false, is that the… Mmm, it’s probably about that.

Sam - It’s very big. I kind of almost wonder if it might be bigger than that because how many Earths can you fit in The Big Red Spot? That’s like some huge number isn’t it?

Tim - That’s a lot isn’t it. I think we should say no it’s bigger.

Sam - I think it’s no, it’s bigger

A: No

Chris -  It was the right thing to go double or nothing on, because you were right, for the wrong reason - Jupiter is only about 300 times more massive than the Earth.

Adam, do you know how we know this?

Adam - Probably how fast it goes round the Sun.

Chris - Not bad, actually, the reason that we know that is because we’ve got very accurate measurements of the moons of Jupiter going around and you can infer, because we know what the moons are doing, and we know their orbit, how fast they’re going, and how far they are from their host planet Jupiter so you can work out therefore, what the mass of Jupiter must be, by relating it to the Earth, so it’s about 300 times the mass of our own planet. 318 actually is the close number.

So that means we’ve got a tie break situation now. So what this means is that I read you a statement, you have to work out what you think is the number closest to the answer and if you’re the team with the number closest to the one in front of me you get the point, and therefore you clinch the game. The question is:

What is the lifespan of an average tiger?

Tim - I’ll start with a number and say more or less.

Sam - Yeah, looks about right.

Chris - Adam and Ljiljana have you got a number?

Ljiljana - Yes we have.

Chris - Okay. We’ll just toss a coin. Tim and Sam, watch your suggestion? What do you think?

Tim - We’ve done a last-minute change and we’re going for 30.

Chris - 30 years says Tim and Sam. Ljiljana and Adam, what do you think?

Ljiljana - We actually wanted to say 30. Now we are going with 35.

Chris - Are you sure? You’re going with 35

Ljiljana - Yes.

Chris - Sam and Tim... you are the winners! You clinched victory from the jaws of defeat, the answer’s going to surprise you, it’s fifteen, same rough life expectancy as your average pussycat.

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