Quiz: Which happened first?

The team get stumped by some tricky questions...
04 April 2017

Interview with 

Andrew Pontzen, UCL, Sarah Shailes, eLife, Philipe Bujold, University of Cambridge, Sarah Madden, University of Cambridge


Chris Smith pits the panel against each other, with Andrew Pontzen and Sarah Shailes facing off against Philipe Bujold and Sarah Madden to win the coveted victory. This theme is very simple: you have to guess which event happened first. It’s as simple as that...

Andrew - Are we allowed to confer?

Chris - Yes. You two are on a team together so absolutely.

First one - Giza, that’s the pyramid of Giza predates the extinction of the Woolly mammoth... Do you think that’s true or false?

Sarah S - I think that’s false.

Andrew - Yeah. I suspect it’s false too. We’re going for false.

Chris - Most mammoths went extinct 10 000 years ago, but small groups are thought to have survived until only 4,000 years ago. So there were mammoths roaming the Earth at the same time as the pyramids were constructed!

So it’s nil points for team one so far. Philipe and Sarah M - lets see how you get on. You’ve got everything to play for. 

What happened first? The evolution of the dinosaurs or the evolution of grass? And just to clarify because we have a drugs person here, that’s not cannabis we’re talking about, it’s the stuff that grows and we mow it with the lawnmower.

Sarah M - Well, they had grasses during the dinosaurs so.

Philipe - I have seen Jurassic Park and they did have grass.

Chris - So that’s a reliable source to go by: Jurassic Park.

Sarah M - Well, Wikipedia, Jurassic Park.

Chris - So you think that grass came first?

Philipe - I would say so.

Grass didn’t arrive until after the first dinosaurs were stomping around, but it did crop up before the dinosaurs went extinct.

Chris - So back to you Andrew and Sarah S.

What happened first the invention of the Fax machine or the discovery of Neptune? What do you two think about that? Which came first?

Sarah S - I’ve only used a fax machine once. I don’t know how long they’ve been around.

Andrew - I’m going to go for the discovery of Neptune.

Chris - You’re saying Neptune came first? The Fax machine actually predates the discovery of Neptune by two years! Neptune cropped up in 1846, the fax machine was 1843.

Andrew - I just don’t believe it, you’ve got Wikipedia...

Chris - Chairman’s decision is final. Zeroes so far and you get minus one for complaining - just kidding! Right, level pegging on zeroes still, let’s see if you can improve on this.

Philipe and Sarah which is older: sliced bread or wheels on suitcases?

Philipe - You’ve really got some good ones.

Sarah M - I think sliced bread came first. What do you think?

Philipe - Because I would say that yes, let’s go with that.

Chris - Victorians did a lot of traveling though, didn’t they.

Philipe - You made me eat a pepper so I will not trust you. I will go with the other one, yes.

Chris - You’re going with sliced bread - you are correct. Sliced bread dates from 1928, over 40 years before the patent for wheeled suitcases.

Chris - Back to Sarah S and Andrew… Which is older: Cambridge University or the Aztec empire?

Sarah S - Cambridge is over 800 years old. How old are the Aztecs?

Andrew - Surely older than that.

Sarah S - Oh. I don’t know because when the Spanish went over to South America they were still there, right? Aztecs maybe?

Andrew - That’s what I would have assumed...

Chris - You're going Aztecs right?

Andrew - No. Because we’re going for the opposite of what we think it would be. We’ll go for Cambridge University.

Chris - Cambridge University! Cambridge was founded in 1209, over 200 years before the rise of the Aztecs. Very even stevens here today. Both teams on one point. Right this is it - this is the decider. So Sarah M and Philipe... 

Which is older: the theory of plate tectonics, or special relativity?

Philipe - I read something about plate tectonics recently. Other than the title I couldn’t tell you what it is.

Chris - It was a useful read then?

Philipe - Yeah, it was a very useful one.

Sarah M - I would assume special relativity. What would you?

Philipe - Have a go at plates. Just because I would assume special relativity.

Sarah M - OK. Do you want to go with that then?

Philipe - Are you OK with that one?

Sarah M - Yeah, I’m OK.

Philipe - Perfect.

Chris - I’m really sorry, special relativity in 1905 was proposed 10 years before the theory of continental drift and it was accepted about 40 years earlier!

Chris:  So you both go home even stevens because you’ve both got one point. Very well done.

Andrew - I would have had the right answer to that one. I did actually know the answer to that one so could we have an extra half point and win.

Chris - I’ll think about it.


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