Round one - Who am I?

23 June 2020

Interview with 

Jack Dixon, Whipple Library


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We kick off by giving our panel a series of clues. Can they get the famous scientist it relates to? Adam Murphy and Phil Sansom test our panel; chemist Ljiljana Fruk, astronomer Matt Bothwell, AI researcher Beth Singler, and mental health expert Olivia Remes, starting with the first clue for Team One, Ljiljana and Matt...

Eva - I was asked to be the president of Israel in 1952.

Adam - So asked to be the president of Israel. Any ideas?

Ljiljana - Yes. Is it Albert Einstein?

Matt - That was going to be my guess as well.

Adam - So is that what you're going with? You're going with Albert Einstein? Are you going to give me an answer?

Ljiljana - Are you going with this Matt?

Matt - Yeah, I don't know for sure, but that would have been my guess. If it was your instinct, then I think we go for it, yeah.

Adam - Risky taking a shot after Clue 1! Let's see if that was it...

Phil - Well done! Amazing!

Adam - Yeah, absolutely! Right in at first question! No-one I put that to got that as the right answer, so I'm fairly astounded by that.

Ljiljana - Sorry to interrupt you, but it's a such a serendipity that I was reading yesterday an anecdote about Albert Einstein. And there was a little bit of a mention about his musings on being a president. And that's why! This was probably what made me think of this.

Adam - Just right in there, knocking my hard question out of the park, right at the first gate. Well, brilliant. So that is 2 points right away to Matt and Ljiljana. So we're going to move on now. We're going to go to Team Two, which is Beth and Olivia. Are you ready for your first voice ‘Who Am I’ round?

Beth - I'm not sure we're going can live up to that...

Olivia - I know! I feel a bit intimidated too!

Adam - Right-o, well we will see how well you do with this first question about a second 'Who Am I'.

Eva - I was born on Christmas Day in 1642.

Adam - So a Christmas baby. And before everyone gets at me on Twitter, that is the Julian calendar, so the one we don't use today. What do you think - any ideas of Christmas baby scientists?

Beth - 1642...

Adam - I could give you another clue if you want to see?

Beth - Shall we take another clue?

Olivia - Yeah, I think that's the way to go.

Beth - Okay.

Adam - Right-o, so I will give you your next clue, which is...

Eva - Some of my light experiments involved staring at the sun for hours to see what would happen.

Adam - And I should emphasise, the Naked Scientists in no way recommend staring at the sun for hours to see would happen. It is very bad.

Beth - Oh no, I'm not really sure. I want to say Newton because he did experiments with light and rainbows and prisms. But my sense of history is so poor, I may be a century or two out.

Adam - What do you think?

Olivia - Is it three clues that we get?

Adam - There's one more coming up if you want it.

Olivia - Yeah, let's take the third one.

Adam - Right-o then, third clue coming up.

Eva - I have a unit of force and many laws named after me.

Beth - Oh okay, then I think it is Newton. Because there is a Newton as a force unit, I think?

Oliva:Yeah, yeah, let's go with Newton.

Adam - Okay, so we are going with Newton on Clue Three - and... well done, that is it! Should have trusted your instincts, you were right after after number two...

Beth - I know, I know...

Olivia - I'm going to give you a virtual high five.

Beth - Oh yeah, okay. I'm doing my half. There we go.

Adam - Socially distanced high five through a computer screen.

Phil - Team spirit on Team Two is absolutely knocking out the park.

Adam - That is the first one down. And I think we know how these questions are going to work. Back to Ljiljana and Matt -  we have another 'Who Am I' for you, and in this one we're going a bit different. So I'm just going to read them. And the first one is: this British palaeontologist was born in 1913.

Ljiljana - Oh. Matt, do you have any guesses?

Matt - I mean, I don't know many palaeontologists full stop.

Ljiljana - Same here.

Matt - I think there is... I have a vague memory of there being a famous lady who dug for fossils down on the South coast and discovered dinosaurs, but I think she might've been earlier. I'm basically drawing a complete blank, I'm sorry.

Adam - Shall we go with Q2?

Matt - I think so.

Adam - Clue number Two is that: across her career she also discovered 15 different species of animals.

Ljiljana - So Matt, I think it is the lady.

Matt - Yeah. I'm struggling so hard to...

Adam - Still stumped! Shall I give you the third clue, see if that jogs any memories?

Matt - I think so, I don't think I'm going to come up with it on my own, I'm afraid.

Adam - Right-o, number three: her most famous discovery might be the Laetoli footprints in Tanzania. Any names there? I heard a gasp from Ljiljana...

Matt - I think it's Mary something? I want to say... oh, this is like drudging my memory. Mary... Mary Mary Mary...

Adam - I don't know that many Mary Mary Mary Marys, but you might need a surname.

Matt - I'll just go with a single Mary. Mary Attwood or something, maybe? I don't know. Oh, I'm sorry.

Adam - I'm afraid that's not it. What about over there on Team 2? Have you got any idea as to who that might be?

Olivia - Uh, no...

Adam - Right.

Olivia - Oh gosh, I'm scraping my brain, but I can't seem to recall.

Adam - Well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to close that one down, and I'll put yous all out of your misery and say that that one was Mary Leakey. So those footprints she found? They're 3.7 million years old. And they're the first evidence that humans were bipedal and can walk on two legs. Matt, I think you were reaching for Mary Anning, who was the Victorian palaeontologist.

Matt - Oh, that's probably who I was thinking of, yeah.

Adam - No points there on that question.

Phil - Right, well Team Two, Olivia and Beth. Let's go back to you. I'm going to give you three clues. Clue number one: this West Virginian mathematician was born in 1918. Who am I talking about?

Olivia - 1918. That's when the First World War ended. Virginian mathematician...

Phil - Shall I give you clue number two?

Olivia - Yeah, I think that'd be helpful.

Phil - Number two: John Glenn would refuse to go to space unless she'd checked the numbers.

Beth - Ahh, okay. So someone from the film Hidden Figures possibly? I'm trying to remember any names. Mathematician, female... no, they're all just completely gone from my mind.

Phil - I'll tell you what: the third clue isn't going to help you much. I'm going to give it you.

Adam - Nope, sorry.

Phil - The clue is: she was played by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. You're going to hate me for that.

Beth - I can get a no prize for knowing that there's a film about her! But I can't recall her name. Oh that's so bad, I have seen the film.

Adam - Well let's throw it over to Team One in that case. Matt or Ljiljana, any ideas?

Matt - Yeah, I think it was Katherine Johnson, right?

Ljiljana - Yes, I agree.

Phil - Was it Katherine Johnson? Alright! Let's give half a point to Team One. Well done guys.

Adam - Just swooping in and taking it away there.

Phil - Beth Singler, I really am sorry, I can understand that tip of the tongue feeling. Let's redeem it in the next few questions.

Adam - Matt and Ljiljana, last question of this round. Last 'Who Am I'. And your first clue is: this physicist had a particular fondness for pigeons.

Ljiljana - Ahh, I know! Matt, I think this is Nikola Tesla. And you know why I probably know that? Because he was born in Croatia and I'm Croatian. So we know a lot about Nikola Tesla, and I remember recalling that he was living in New York, and he had the ritual of going out and feeding pigeons. So everybody saw that he was very eccentric.

Adam - You happy to go with that Matt?

Matt - Yeah, I would never have guessed this by myself, but you saying this rings a bell, and you hit out of the park with Einstein, so yeah, absolutely. I will trust you implicitly.

Adam - Right-o. We'll see if it's Nikola Tesla...

Ljiljana - Wow, yes!

Adam - Ljiljana is absolutely smashing this round! I think hopefully you would have gotten at the last round when I said he was a brand of electric cars; I think maybe that would have given it away. I wasn't expecting anything on the first one. Well done there, nice job.

Ljiljana - It's really a little bit of serendipity that there are all of these eccentric physicists involved.

Adam - Brilliant. Well done to you two, and we'll move on to Team Two's last question now.

Phil - Alright, Beth and Olivia, here we go. Clue number one: this mathematician had a deep, deep revulsion of beans.

Beth - Bees or beans?

Phil - Beans.

Adam - Refried, kidney variety.

Olivia - Right, so he'd been eating them.

Beth - I'm so tempted to say Alan Turing, but...

Olivia - I'm just wondering when this mathematician lived or how long ago.

Beth - Yeah, we might need another clue...

Phil - Question Two might help you with that one. Shall I give you Question Two? Clue Two, I should say. This is clue number two: he was born around 570 BC.

Beth - Definitely not Alan Turing!

Adam - Probably not, no.

Olivia - Ooh. I think that's ringing a bell. 570 BC...

Beth - Is it Archimedes? I'm trying to remember all my Ancient Greek people.

Phil - I'm going to have to press you. Shall we move on or shall I accept that answer?

Olivia - Can we have the last clue?

Beth - Yeah, go on.

Phil - Alright. Every schoolchild knows his name for his work with triangles.

Olivia - Yeah, I know it: Pythagoras.

Phil - Congratulations! That was not an easy one, and you triumphed. Very well done.

Olivia - Thank god for clue number three!

Adam - Always bet on clue number three.

Beth - I feel like I'm learning a lot though, because I didn't know about his relationship with beans. So that's a good... oh no, of course! Because he that's they killed him.

Phil - Well that brings us to the end, everyone, of Round One.


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