Answers for October 2010

ANSWERS for October 2010. I’m glad to see more answers coming in; sorry, I am stuck with the new format as it matches the rest of the Skeptics web page, or something. Further to my desperation, for this month’s WINNER I nominate another long-term fan, and welcome to the three-times-winner club:

Leon Down

Question 1

In Monty Python’s Cheese Shop sketch, how many types of cheese are named?



Additional Answers

  • I did know this number – in the 40’s, I think. I think there are a couple of versions based on the stage show and the TV sketch. I do know that no cheese actually appears in the sketch itself.
  • 42! [That would be about 1.4 x 10^51 – and I had better not put a ! after that]
  • 43
  • Named what? Finish your sentences if you expect sensible.
  • Sadly – none were named after this months winner Leon Down
  • The meaning of life – 42 – unless you include a sneaky reference to Greek feta in some recording
  • Thou shalt count to forty two, no more, no less. Forty two shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be forty two. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou forty one, excepting that thou then proceed to forty two. Forty four is right out.
  • When first shown in Iceland 42 cheeses were named. But one was a fictitious cheese. “Venezuelan Beaver Cheese”. Does that count?

Question 2

What does a narwhal use its tusk for?


Nobody has any idea. But Herman Melville suggested they use it as a letter opener.

Additional Answers

  • Bad re-enactments of Errol Flynn movies. Mostly Robin Hood. Sometimes Captain Blood.
  • We were taught digging up shellfish, but from : Myriad theories have been proposed: a weapon, a secondary sexual characteristic in males (males rubbing their tusks together is called ‘tusking’ (I bet!)), for breaking ice, a spear for hunting, a ritualistic appendage in establishing male hierarchy (eyeroll), a breathing organ (what, like a STRAW?!?), a thermoregulator, a swimming rudder, a tool for digging, and an acoustic organ or sound probe.
  • Getting stones out of horses hooves.
  • Playing the piano, or as Darwin postulated: “the same role of a peacock’s tail, or a lion’s mane, or conspicuous consumption for a man”.
  • Poking Icelandians and their cheeses. OK, Icelanders then. And generally waving about. Near Iceland.
  • Scientists studying the animal in Canada’s Arctic have found that more than 10 million tiny nerve connections tunnel their way from the tusk’s core to its outer surface. These give the tusk an extremely sensitive surface, capable of detecting changes in water temperature, pressure and particle gradients, scientists say. It also allows the whales to detect water particles characteristic of the fish that constitute their diet.
  • To impress the girly Narwhal with the long hard……..hmmmm this isn’t going well
  • While I am usually unhappy with researched answers, I was sufficiently curious about this to go to the Arctic and ask one. Here is the answer verbatim: I on’t ooze i’ or any’ing. I’ i a ain i e ar’e, o oo eak.

Question 3

Where was the fabled land, with bursting cattle, musical water, monthly-fruiting vines and wheat headed with loaves?


(sigh) – about where Iceland is. North of Hyperborea, or, west of Europe generally.

Additional Answers

  • My wife knows this one, I’ll just go and alaska… (errm..apologies for that)
  • Virgil’s northern land called Hyperborea, so, you know, Canada.
  • Canberra…where this months winner Leon Down lives.
  • I don’t know. Probably Iceland.
  • Nimbin after a couple of “special brownies”
  • Scunthorpe. The people there were upset by the influx of tourists this promotional material caused and popped the cows with a pin, replaced their vines with car yard bunting and ploughed the earth with salt to halt the bread cycle. The water couldn’t be diverted or dammed sufficiently to prevent the hydro-music, so English jazz had to be invented and made compulsory to drown it out.
  • Sounds like Canberra.
  • Middle Earth?

Question 4

When were terrestrial globes introduced into Europe?


1492. (People were aware of the Earth being spherical – but there were no spherical map projections.)

Additional Answers

  • In sculptures of Atlas, but in the modern era, 1492: then almost instantly out of date!
  • In 1597 thereabouts, unfortunately the delivery driver was using an old version and was eaten by a dragon just off the edge of the map.
  • Initially in 1953, but the long winter prevented successful germination in the spring. A second, successful attempt was made in 1959, but crops are supplemented by imports from India to this day.
  • Not sure, but they’ve all been replaced by those expensive energy saving ones now
  • On 7 Oct, in celebration of this months winner Leon Down’s birthday.
  • Trick question. Europe is located on a terrestrial globe.
  • Were they ever properly introduced? Europe, I would like you to meet a Terrestrial globe. 140 BCE? They weren’t popular in Europe until about the 15th century.
  • The rockband? I hope never.

Question 5

In warfare, what is the safest distance (under 5 km) for a foot-soldier to be from an enemy tank?


About 6 inches. (Any closer, and you might get your clothes greasy or dirty).

Additional Answers

  • 0m, directly underneath the tank. possibly in a hole, better in a bunker probably.
  • As close as possible – right up its clacker.
  • Right behind it in the tank tracks
  • 4.9 Km. Behind a large rock. In Iceland. Your average modern western tank gun has an effective range of about 3,000 meters.
  • Behind it!
  • Distance is less important than bearing relative to the big gun on the roof.
  • Inside the said tank. Chico: “I wouldn’t go out there unless I was in one of those iron things. What are they called?” Groucho: “Tanks.” Chico: “You’re welcome.”
  • Less than 1 meter. Cannot hit me now!

Question 6

Where was this traditional dance enacted?


These are Norwegian and Russian coal miners on Spitzbergen. Those long dark nights …

Additional Answers

  • Carpathia? Transnistria? Somewhere in eastern slavic europe….
  • Southern Poland, and they’re all single men from the feathers in their caps and their big hatchets (insert Hitler invasion joke here).
  • As far from Leon Down (this months winner) as physically possible – the Leonoid antipodes.
  • As they are lumberjacks and they’re OK, I am led to believe it is British Columbia.
  • Icelandic mother “don’t go running with scissors”. Icelandic son “No, just dancing with axes”. So, New Zealand?
  • On the streets outside Insane Clown Posse gigs. In this way, members of the Mentally Competent Woodsman Collective seek to goad the Juggaloes and Juggalettes to open street war.
  • The dance is an age old martial arts dance known as the dance of the nasty men with sharp things. It predates the more widely known “”runs with scissors” dance enacted by school age children. Judging by the rather nifty hats I would suggest it is from a Scandinavian country though my inability to google pictures may be hindering me here.
  • Timbaland


  • Dr Bob, I must castigate you for your wording of Q3. The use of the phrase “Dark Ages” (plural, not singular), a concept created by Renaissance Europe, is pejorative, and has religious implications that are now considered inappropriate in a multicultural and multireligious society such as ours. Acceptable forms include “medieval” (or “mediaeval” if you prefer the older spelling) if you have a penchant for Latin, or “Middle Ages” if you prefer a more “pure” “English ” form. And you can consider yourself fortunate that it was I and not my wife who answered this question. My wife is a medieval reenactment enthusiast. She owns a 33lb bow (naturally, being medieval it is non-metric) [But what about the bow?] and several arrows and shoots the latter with the former very accurately. Enthusiasts of the medieval are quite particular about this “dark ages” stuff and tend to deliver answers such as mine at arrowpoint, which I understand can be quite painful. You know, the old “stabbed in the rotunda through the portico” gag? If you are ever in our town you should come along to a reenactment day. It’s great fun: fighting with various weapons, feasting, ales, wenches – wot’s not to like? And any questions about how this might be different to a Friday night in any pub in St Kilda will be treated with the disdain they deserve.
  • I nearly said Iceland for no 6. Dr Bob. Should’ve I?
  • Come to sunny Australia, they said. Eat your Christmas dinner on the beach, they said. Bah! It’s colder than an Icelandic volcano around here. BRRR!
  • Ok, really not finding the connecting theme this month, time to rethink my medication regime.
  • Prenaming this months winner. It worked once. Think of it as a test of replicability in true scientific method. As insurance – a large plain brown envelope, filled with unmarked bills of various denominations, is in the mail. Gas bill, water bill, electricity bill, daughters’ mobile phone bill, ISP bill.
  • Regards from the Netherlands!
  • The adjective “peristeronic” is rarely qualified with obscenities. See
  • This year our CWA’s country of study is Iceland, so this year you finally might end up being the centre of attention of a lot of women plying you for information. Yes, yes, be still your beating heart.
  • You can tell a narwhal by the size of his tusk and you can tell a man by the size of his narwhal.
  • You cheeky sod! Naming self as winner. No one has ever taken my advice before….see mess Oz government is in today as prime example. You are obviously a fellow of taste, breeding, insight, education and culture.

Have a go!

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