TechYes, or TechNo: Quiz

We put our expert panel to the test with a Naked Scientists quiz!
06 November 2018


Long exposure image of a question mark in neon lights


Chris Smith puts the panel through its paces to see who'll be crowned Naked Scientists brain of the week! Team 1 - Tim Revell from New Scientist and Danni Green from Anglia Ruskin University, team 2 - James Pope from the British Antarctic Survey and Laura Carter-Penman from Bourn Hall clinic...

Chris - Tim and Danni what colour dye do you get if you boil the sea the sea snail which is called Murex? You may confer of course.

Danni - Blue?

Tim - I'll defer to Danni.

Danni - It’s really embarrassing if I get it wrong. I'm going to say blue

Chris - We’ll give you three choices. You can have red or yellow or purple.

Danni -  Purple!


Chris - Yes it is a bing. Tyrian purple. It's made by boiling sea snails. The snails normally use the secretion in question to sedate their prey. It turns purple when it gets exposed to the air. It takes tens of thousands of these snails to yield just gram quantities of the dye and that's why the purple was traditionally a colour that denoted high status because it was so rare. Okay plus one for Tim and Danny, very good, you’re in the lead so far, so good. Given you only have one question and no competition.

James and Laura, a giant squid is the same length as A) a London Underground carriage, B) a mini bus or C) a double decker bus?

James -  My gut says it’s going to be the longer one. I’m trying to think what’s longer, a tube carriage or a double decker bus.

Laura -  My son is going to kill me, he tells me these sort of facts on a regular basis. We're going to go with the underground one do you think that's going to be the longest?


Chris - No, unfortunately, actually these squid - Danni you must know the answer to this do you?

Danni - Is it a double decker?

Chris - It is the double decker answer yes. They get 12 to 13 metres in length, the giant squid, double decker bus is about 12 metres so a colossal squid actually can be even bigger 15 metres. So tim and Danni in the lead so far.

Round two: round two is a matter of time. Tim and Danny; there are trees alive older than the Egyptian pyramids, is that true or is that false?

Danni - True. Because the Methuselah tree - wasn't that five thousand years old? How old were the pyramids?

Tim - A few thousand!

Danni - So yeah the Methuselah tree’s five thousand years old.

Tim - I think that's older than the pyramids. Let’s go yes.


Chris - It is. There are specimens of bristlecone pine in California and Nevada and they are at roughly 5000 years old capable of predating the pyramids, the oldest of which were erected 4600 years ago. They are not the oldest living thing though there are patches of - do you know what Danny - another marine thing to put you on the spot, which are two hundred thousand years: sea grasses. Seagrasses have been documented as 200 000 years old and they live in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a clonal organism that’s been growing there in these patches for 200 000 years.

James and Laura: can you redeem yourself? So these guys are on two, so far you've got zero. So you're doing well. Let's see if you can improve on zero. Time passes faster for your face than it does for your feet. Is this true or false?

James - Crikey! It’s all to do with gravity, isn't it? I guess gravity at your head is different to the gravity at your feet as you’re further away from…

Chris - We ’ll assume you're standing up!

James - So, I don't know. I'm still guessing either way as I’m not a physicist. What're your thoughts?

Laura -  I don't know - your age shows more in your face, doesn't it? I mean that's a basic one to go with. We're going to go with face.

Chris - Time passes faster for your face than your feet. True or false. You have to give me a true or false answer.

James - Faster for the face. Face is older. True.

Chris - The logic was dubious, but the answer was correct. Assuming you are standing up, Einstein’s theory of general relativity - which of course you should be very familiar with as a fertility nurse Laura - it states that the closer you are to the centre of the earth the slower time passes. At the top of Mount Everest, for example, a year is 15 microseconds shorter than at sea level. So time does actually pass a bit faster for your face than it does for your feet. You're off the bottom. Okay if they get this wrong it goes to tiebreaker if they get this right then you really are not the biggest brains of the week. Okay here we go, this round is all about technology and we want to know does this technology exist. In other words is it tech yes vs. techno. Do you see what we did there it was cool wasn't it? Okay, Tim and Danny.

Radiation blocking boxer shorts: tech yes or techno?

Danni - Maybe in Japan because they have a lot of issues with radiation don’t they, like with nuclear power plants and things… 

Tim - Boxer shorts it is a weird phrase here because don't they sometimes put things in front of you if you’re having various scans to protect vital bodily organs, so they might not be boxer shorts, but they...

Danni - But they’re always inventing things. I think it might be true. They might not work.

Chris -  Are you going tech yes or no?

Danni - Tech yes.

Chris - Yes! It’s unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. “Spartan's radiation blocking boxer shorts” are made from a fabric which incorporates silver fibers woven into the cotton so they block radio frequency signals from smart phones and then they can’t irradiate your privates so Laura would be very interested in this,  you can refer all your -

Laura - Tim needs these clearly!

Chris - I just saw him and thought of this, that but I was thinking for your patients you could say ‘look you could get a set of these.’

The other bonus is that the silver means that the underwear is also antibacterial. So that will keep coliforms at bay in your nether regions. Well -  you have lost but you want to see if you can get two points anyway? Your tech yes or no is: trip-sensitive shoes that can summon help if you should fall over. Is that a yes or a techno.

Laura - Tricky because there’s lots of technology helping tripping definitely, along with the techno theme.

James -  My gran had the sort of panic buttons when she fell.

Laura - You can get things that tell you not to leave the house now for dementia patients and stuff like that.

Chris - Are you going tech yes or no?

James- I think we’ve got to go yes!


Chris - Yep, E-vone have made some smart shoes. They've got the accelerometers, gyroscopes and pressure sensors in them so they can detect if you should take a tumble so they're potentially very helpful as you say for elderly people but also they have their eye on hikers and climbers whose adventures might lead them into remote locales where they could take a tumble. And apparently, these shoes come with their own sort of network subscription so they can send data and that kind of thing. So I guess you could say they come with a "running cost"!


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