Questions for all 1997


Phil Giffard January 1997
Malcolm May February 1997
Keith A. McGuinness March 1997
Chris Vernon April 1997
Brian McNamara May 1997
Ian Boehm June 1997
Mike Garrett July 1997
Mike Garrett August 1997
Jim Goulter September 1997
Peter Stoddard October 1997
Glenn Brady November 1997
Steve Hodges December 1997



Q1 What percentage of adults lose faith in their religion?

Q2 If you see a polar bear coming charging towards you, which way should you jump?

Q3 A man was forty-eight years old on his first birthday. In what year was he born?

Q4 What European country exports the most hippopotamuses?

Q5 A celebrated cartoon joke shows two ski tracks, one going each side of an isolated fully-grown tree. Give several essentially different explanations as to how this might have been done.



Q1 In a field of ripe wheat, how big a circle can one man flatten in 30 minutes with simple garden tools?

Q2 What Shakespeare character talks the most (i.e. speaks the most lines)?

Q3 A large metal tank of water stands on level ground. Many holes at various heights are suddenly made. While the tank is still full, what is the height of the hole from which the water spurts out furthest?

Q4 Who was the second most popular living public figure (after J.V.Stalin, of course) among Russian soldiers in 1944?

Q5 What is the 1,000,000th decimal digit in the decimal expansion of pi?


March 1997

Q1 3,000 detailed predictions made by astrologers were gathered up and monitored; what proportion came true?

Q2 Meaning of “Mamihlapinatapai”, as spoken on Tierra del Fuego.

Q3 A bucket of water, full to the brim, stands on bathroom scales which read exactly 40kg. A large block of wood weighing 5kg is dropped in, and it floats freely. What is the final reading on the scales?

Q4 What does the constellation Sagittarius spectacularly resemble?

Q5 What was Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party membership number?


April 1997

Q1 What proportion of American households buy no books?

Q2 What is the ratio of men to women who are killed by lightning?

Q3 How many PhDs did McDonalds hire to work on the development of carrot sticks?

Q4 What Shakespeare play begins with the words “Who’s there”?

Q5 How was the Moon formed?


May 1997

Q1 In what year was the stage magic trick of “sawing a lady in half” first performed?

Q2 In what year were male spermatozoa discovered?

Q3 On Xmas Day, 1860, the explorers Burke, Wills, Gray, and King all shook hands with each other. How many handshakes took place?

Q4 What Pharaoh of ancient Egypt had the nickname “Horse Face”?

Q5 Which is the world’s tallest mountain, measured from its base to its top?


June 1997

Q1 What nation has a flag of only one color?

Q2 How old was Joan of Arc when she was burned at the stake?

Q3 In 1867 how many different kinds of hammer were being made in Birmingham (UK)?

Q4 What is the total national population of Kalallit Nunaat (formerly Greenland)?

Q5 A room contains Astronomers, Belgians, and Christians. No Astronomer is a Belgian, but all the Belgians are Christians. Therefore which one of these statements follows?
(a) Some Christians are not Astronomers
(b) None of the Astronomers is a Christian
(c) All the Christians are Belgians
(d) There must also be people present who are neither A nor B nor C


July 1997

Q1 What proportion of people distinguish belief from truth?

Q2 Approx how many different compact discs of Greenlandic pop music are there?

Q3 If the Bible was stored on a computer hard disk, uncompressed but without unnecessary spaces, as flat ASCII text, how many megabytes would it occupy?

Q4 The great 19th-Century physicist Lord Kelvin believed that the Earth was only a few thousand years old because its molten nickel/iron core would have cooled down in a longer time. Since we now know that the Earth is very old, why is its interior still hot?

Q5 LAX is the international airline code for Los Angeles. Where is LXA?
Is it Lhasa, Tibet – Lagos, Nigeria – Xian, China – or Laxdaela, Iceland?


August 1997

Q1 Do the sides of the base of the Great Pyramid of Khufu align North-South?

Q2 What is the weight of 1,000 steel balls, each of diameter 2 millimetres?

Q3 What is the weight of a 1-metre diameter sphere of cork?

Q4 You row a boat at 7 km/hour, upstream on a river which is flowing at 4 km/h. Your hat falls off and floats, but nobody tells you until an hour later, then you begin to row back downstream to get it. From that time, how long does it take you to catch up with the hat?

Q5 How many of these quotes were actually said by the (real or fictitious) characters?

Laurel and Hardy – “That’s another fine mess you’ve got us into”

Sherlock Holmes – “Elementary, my dear Watson”

Long John Silver – “Aha! Jim lad”

Bogart (Casablanca) – “Play it again, Sam”

Juliet – “O, Romeo! Romeo! where art thou, Romeo?”

Winston Churchill – Blood, sweat and tears”

Queen Victoria – “We are not amused”


September 1997

Q1 If standing outside in a thunderstorm, should you stand with your feet together?

Q2 Did Central Americans know about the wheel before the Spanish conquest?

Q3 Did Galileo drop balls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Q4 Does Norway export camels?

Q5 Can you be skeptical of skepticism?


October 1997

Q1 Was Sir Isaac Newton a nice bloke to know?

Q2 Is the Duke of Edinburgh taller than average?

Q3 On dice, do the faces with 1, 2, and 3 spots touch each other (share a corner)?

Q4 How many funnels did the Titanic have?

Q5 What was Lord Kelvin doing when he discovered the principle of convection of heat?


November 1997

Q1 In 1664-6 Isaac Newton was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, but why was he loafing around an orchard at home when he discovered the principle of gravity?

Q2 Cinema critics were surveyed and overall, they ranked one 20th-century film well above any other for its artistic merit. Which film?

Q3 Complete this quote by Jean-Paul Sartre:
“She believed in nothing – only her skepticism kept her from being ….”

Q4 In their earlier incarnation as Italian Renaissance artisans, which one of Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo died while still young?

Q5 What is the densest planet in the Solar System?


December 1997

Q1 A famous French folk song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon” commemorates the great bridge over the Rhone, built in 1188. What happens if you cross it?

Q2 How many people were killed by the Great Fire of London in 1666?

Q3 What is the principal threat to the survival of tigers?

Q4 How many people were killed by the 4-day smog over London in 1952?

Q5 How, or on what occasion, did Attila the Hun die?