Answers for October 2011

ANSWERS for October 2011. WINNER is

Alan Christiansen

Well, answers like those should get some recognition, and the Nobel Prize for Exasperatingly Lengthy Attempted Seriousness has already been awarded.

Question 1

The Vatican City plans to be come the world’s first carbon-neutral state; how will they accomplish this?


By planting a forest in another country (Hungary).

Additional Answers

  • Solar panels over the pope’s audience hall, planting a non-existent forest by a shady (hah!) developer since gone bankrupt, and dumping shite, virtual or literal, over all catholics around the world.
  • By banning black (& white) smoke next time round. Progress and outcome will be announced CO2 free to the faithful via Facebible and iPope.
  • By planting forest trees in Hungary, a project with very limited capacity for carbon dioxide reduction. Seems to have had problems finding, er, seed money. And by installing solar panels all round the dome of St Peters to absorb the radiance of God’s love. And by using smokeless wood when broadcasting news of papal elections. Oh, I misread the question. What does it plan to be, come the world’s first carbon-neutral state?
  • The material it uses to emit the white smoke after the choice of a new pope is carbon free. In addition, there will only be one emission per papal election, so no more black smoke to indicate when a ballot has been inconclusive. No black smoke = no carbon.
  • The same way they do things every day, Pinky. By stealing an idea and claiming “That’s what we meant all along.” Vatican City will be ‘carbon-neutral’ by stealing a bit of forest in Hungary. Romania would be more appropriate. Transylvania particularly.
  • Well first they have to stop that whole holy smoke thing by electing new Popes. This will be achieved by keeping the old one long past it’s use by date…oh hang on that’s in place already. Then there is solar power and planting forests. Of course they don’t have enough room for a forest in the city so outside it goes into someone else’s place. They didn’t take the recommendation that increased breathing put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere therefore STFU on moral issues and just STFU in general
  • They have a cunning plan. While that answer is in and of itself complete, The plan is: (as real solutions to complex problems are complex, instead of just pithy sound bite solutions such as reduce population, stop wasting fossil fuels, the answer to this question is unfortunately long.) As the original creators of the offset trading system in the forms of indulgences they will continue is this grand tradition of creative moral accounting by utilising a related multifaceted holistic approach. By making a return to fire and brimstone sermons, those that do attend church will be so busy quaking in their boots that less CO2 will be expelled while yawning. As a beneficial side effect the general lowered use of motor vehicles taking people to church in the first place will also count. A continuing ban on the use of contraceptives and premarital sex will significantly reduce the amount of heavy breathing in the backseats of FJs and various other makes of car. The resulting extra pregnancies will produce copious children that sequester carbon as biomass for several decades, and then in turn produce more offspring that otherwise would not have been to sequester more carbon, hence the sequestration is not only permanent, but this effect alone due to exponentially compounding moral virtuosity will in the comparatively near future sequester all the carbon in the visible universe! This effect will be converted to its NPV (as per the precedent of the REC system for calculating future power generated by PV systems.) This is expected to generate sufficient carbon credits to offset the entire Vatican city.

Question 2

What did Dr Johnson sneak out to buy in person, rather than embarrass his servant by sending him out to buy it?


Oysters for his cat

Additional Answers

  • His cat’s oysters: I took a picture of the Hodge statue!
  • Haemmorrhoid cream. (As the chronicles attest, the good Dr J had piles of both money and fun, and was a bit of an arsehole as well.)
  • A copy of the raunchy tales of Gertrude Perkins
  • A golliwog for his nephew’s birthday.
  • A sausage.
  • Footwear. His left foot took a different size to his right, so he employed the services of a bespoke cobbler.
  • Same thing he bought every day, Pinky. He would buy oysters for his cat. I mean to say! Cat food? Clearly a job better suited to a LEXICOGRAPHER, (n. A pestilent fellow … etc, etc.)

Question 3

What is the bigggest country that has no river in it?


Bahrain (758 sq km), just ahead of Tonga (747 sq km) and Kiribati (726 sq km)

Additional Answers

  • Libya
  • Depends how you define “biggest”, Dr Bob, but Kiribati wins hands down on an area basis. (During extended droughts, the clear winner is Australia…)
  • A country with 3 g’s in its name. G’Lybia’ggh. It used to be run by G’gg’Daffy, a guy who spent every day plotting to take over the world. Pffft. Should have given the job to a couple of lab mice. Pinky and the Brain (brain, brain, brain.)
  • A wild stab in the dark would be Bermuda but then if I have to mention the triangle in conjunction I may just go the wild stab for fun
  • Central African Republic does not contain a river as there is no V and its size is 19.
  • Libya, if it still counts as a country and you ignore the rivers of blood. Oops, cancel that. I’ll need to look up the meaning of “bigggest”.
  • Saudi Arabia. This explains why the country never grasped the concept of baptism.

Question 4

If a basketball team, over one or more games, scores X points and has Y points scored against them, what is the formula for the percentage of their games that they are generally expected to win?


100% times X^14 / (X^14 + Y^14) – the “Pythagorean theory” of basketball

Additional Answers

  • OMG, there are pages of statistical evaluation for this: “Correlated Gaussian Method: A method that relates winning percentage to points scored, points allowed, the standard deviations of points scored and allowed, and the correlation between points scored and allowed.” tfbdr (too gerund boring, didn’t read). Wkwc? Who knew, who cares? Basketball: pfft: a game for genetic freaks, even if it WAS invented by a Canadian. Not exciting like world cup RUGBY! Where the Canadians won a game! Or rather two, when they beat the AllBlacks tonight! OK — I’ll say ‘if’ (mutter mutter, damn my skeptical realism . . .)
  • Basketball? What a silly game – tall people thrashing up & down a short court while toting a large ball in front of a small crowd for no discernible reason. Netball is, by comparison, riveting. I refuse to answer this question on the grounds it may inanimate me.
  • 100 (?X/?Y). Just a wild guess as I haven’t practised in maths since Matriculation. Must have left out a bit as it is possible to exceed 100% via this formula.
  • Could it be as simple as 100X/Y?
  • Quite a simple calculation Pinky. W=(X/(X-Y))+50. Or, if the team consists entirely of lab mice (Series 2, Ep 16, Hoop Dreams) W=SFA/(X/X-Y) where W = Win ratio, and SFA = any real, whole, rational number between -1 and 1.
  • The expression is typographically most easily defined in C. Expectation functions do not represented what will actually happen just the ‘a priori’ PDF, given a certain amount of known information. As we have so little information that actually is relevant to determining a persons expectation of the outcome of match the formula provides a loose bounds. Making the minimum extra assumptions possible: P(win) = (person==fan) ? 100% : 0%
  • Ummm Basketball, no tackling, no hitting things with sticks, no arrows or other projectile devices, no kicking allowed…no sorry don’t know what it means
  • This question is in fact ambiguous. Like many formal mathematical questions posed by someone not expert in the field there remains unspecified a priori’s that must be assumed. My answer to Question 4 was the layman’s answer and hence the assumed solution. What follows is a more formal mathematical analysis by reduction to a previously solved problem, of a definite integral: Q4: Without drawing unwarranted unsubstantiated extra a priori assumptions about the skill levels of players, their consistency, their offensive or defensive capabilities, and also not assuming that any of these as yet unspecified qualities have time independent PDFs…. In truth, to establish your answer you must integrate over the entire scenario space of possibilities multiplying each situation/scenario by its a priori PDF value. As a first step I will establish the values at various bounds of the possible. Basket ball teams vary in their ability to intercept attacks and their ability to score points. There thus remains a degree of freedom in your question such that a team could approach being infinitely good at defence and infinitesimally good at point scoring. Such a team would require an almost infinite number of games before X points would be scored for or Y against them. Thus due to venue constraints most games could in the limit be declared draws. In this limit a vanishingly small percentage of games do not end in a draw. Thus the percentage wins/(total games) _*both*_ for and against is 0% as most games are nil all draws. Some teams are better at scoring than others, in the limit some teams are much better. A team might score every time it gets the ball, and thus only ever at worst draw with the opposing team. As such a possibility is outlandishly rare in the limit the probability of there being two such teams may in the limit be discarded, as it is an 1/X^2 term (x->inf). Such a team wins 100% of its games and loses 0%. In the limit some teams are inconsistent in their quality of play, in the limit some teams are much more inconsistent than others. When this inconsistency takes in the limit the form of a heavy side step function. Then all the points scored by the team may be scored in one game. Such a team wins 1/N of its games and loses N-1/N. Which in the limit approaches wins 0% loses 100%. While a person naive to the ways of statistics might average these three scenarios, and achieve 33% wins and 33% losses (wins for the opponent) these events are not equiprobable (well actually they are) but all the intermediate outcomes are not equiprobable. As this has more than exceeded the limit of the space allowed for answers to questions. It is assumed that the former solution is the Expected answer to the implied question and the ambiguity of your question is resolved as being reduced to a formerly solved problem – see A4 in the quiz. Performing the definite integral across the PDF of scenario space between these outer bounds is left as an exercise for the reader. [I think X^14 + Y^14 is simpler – and has the added beauty of being probably the only equation to use 14th powers]

Question 5

Why is bubble gum pink?


It happened to be pink when first invented, and over time people got to expect that colour.

Additional Answers

  • The only dye colour available. Plus it wouldn’t colour the mouth and tongue as, for example, does black licorice.
  • Because the bloke who invented it was gay.
  • Because it is being viewed under pink light. If it was viewed illuminated by white light it would appear to be whatever colour it is.
  • Because it strips the lining of the tongue and cheeks due to the toxins present. It was developed by big pharma so as to create another niche product to poison children. Of course you need to buy herbal, quantum flux, Wooster, organic gum to protect your children. In fact homeopathic gum is recommended as it does not cause unsightly marks or become messy when you get it stuck on your boot as the gentle and soothing lack of any active ingredient means it is very good for dehydration if taken in large quantities.
  • That was the only food colouring available at the time, and as bubble gum was so immediately popular, no one has ever thought to stop doing what they do every day, Pinky.
  • Twas the only food colouring substance available in the Fleer Chewing Gum Company. Sad that Deimer didn’t make a dime from his invention.
  • Why is sand yellow? Why is the sky black at night (except for the moon and stars)? In this case, pink is the natural colour of the latex from which bubble gum is made. To dye it any other colour would make it too expensive for that proportion of the population who think that blowing large pink bubbles through their lips until they explode is an exercise which enhances their social standing in the eyes of the rest of the public.

Question 6


This is a Mini Hatch, stuck in Melbourne traffic. Why does its exhaust pipe have that distinctive design?


Just before the mockup (concept model) was to be shown for the first time, it was noticed that it had no exhaust pipe, so a couple of beer cans were frantically pressed into the material

Additional Answers

  • On the previous models, folks were getting their legs burnt on the exposed dual exhaust when getting cargo out of the boot/trunk, so Cooper tucked them into the bumper of the later models.
  • For the same reason that the photo is horribly out of focus?
  • As was the case every day, Pinky, the designers were ‘seeing pink elephants’ when they came to preparing the model, so used a couple of beer cans for the exhaust pipes. Little known fact. The modern ‘Mini’ is so comparatively large because the designers were the same people who built Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge, and they were determined to not make the same mistake twice.
  • It runs on something other than petroleum, maybe a hydrogen mini
  • Oh God, not a question about cars. Is it really a hatch? OK, I’ll bite. It must be improved performance or better fuel consumption or more pleasing noises or something to burn your legs on when you raise the “hatch” door. I’m nowhere near the mark am I?
  • The exhaust system was probably designed in Ireland, to be sure, to be sure. Never being mechanically minded, I imagine that the engine includes a device called a twin overhead cam, whose performance is enhanced by having a dual exhaust.
  • While you may get many first layer of truth (lies to children) answers to the question, in truth the actual causal reason is: In order to extract the maximum amount of money from the mark. aka product differentiation. Consider the likelihood of such a feature making it to market if it did not achieve that aim. Consider the likelihood of such a feature making it to market if in fact a different design worked better but would be less efficient at separating marks from their marks. Thus the causal reason why that car has that feature is… product differentiation.
    As that is perhaps the _only_ correct answer to this question that you will receive, I win? [Yes]


  • You never seem to ask questions about me, Dr Bob. Is it because Wikipaedia wouldn’t give the answers?
  • Dr Bob doesn’t not need straight answers, no matter how twisted some of these answers appear, by and large they contain straight shooting truths the author holds to be self evident. While the instructions extolled me to mimic what has amused Dr Bob in the past, I am confident that the most amusing things are new things not old things wrapped up in new paper.
  • What a shame that the quiz is hidden from casual visitors to the website. If one did not know where to find it then one would never know where to find it. Or that it existed, for that matter. Please ask Mr/Ms Webmaster/Webmistress to put a prominent click-thru button on the home page, Dr Bob, and not bury it under “Features”. Thanks!

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