Answers for February 1997

Winner for February 1997 is: (taraaaa) –

Malcolm May

Question 1

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

Dr Bob’s Answer

20m diameter. As has been demonstrated by the Wessex Skeptics, who the following morning had to shoo away various gurus who kept turning up, pronouncing it genuine and waffling on about “No human being can possibly have done this”, etc.

Other responses:

  • Big enough for the mother ship to land
  • How long is a piece of string?
  • If the “simple garden tools” include a box of matches, then 500-50,000 metres
  • I worked on a farm in my childhood and the boss would expect you to not only flatten, but also strip, sheave, and bind at least 2 acres before lunch. [Dr Bob says: Oh, you got lunch!]

Question 2

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

Dr Bob’s Answer

Hamlet. He is in a play that is all about him. Come to think of it, so was Julius Caesar but look what happened to him in Act I. Another contender is Falstaff, who spoke more lines than Hamlet but spread over three different plays. Actually, Falstaff spread over most things. Runners-up are Richard III, Iago and Henry V.

Other responses:

  • Prologue
  • Fellatio
  • You can’t beat kings for crapping on, my money is on Henry V
  • Juliet

Question 3

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?

Dr Bob’s Answer:

The hole nearest to halfway up the tank. Recall that the tank is standing on LEVEL ground so water spurting out of the bottom holes falls to the ground pretty soon. Pressure energy of the water is converted to sideways kinetic energy, imparting a velocity which is constant until the water falls by gravity to the ground. Algebraic proof is easy.

Other responses:

  • While the tank is full, the water wouldn’t have spurted out yet would it? [OK, you got me – Dr Bob]
  • The bottom hole
  • The bottom hole
  • The bottom hole
  • The bottom hole
  • (Etc)

Question 4

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


George Formby. A survey was conducted, presumably with copies of the names of respondents and their answers being sent to the NKVD. No other politician or public figure would have been a safe choice (especially those in enemy countries). However film stars were a pretty safe way out and the troops obviously had been fed a diet of Mr Formby’s efforts, notably that film where he parachutes down into a Nazi rally and punches Hitler on the nose.

Other responses:

  • Churchill
  • Greta Garbo
  • Elvis Presley
  • Whoever it was, he/she wouldn’t have lasted long once Stalin had observed that he/she was catching up in the popularity stakes.

Question 5

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

Dr Bob’s Answer:

7. But science tells us only THAT it is 7, not WHY it is 7. If we knew why it was 7, then we would know more than we know now, and there is a Mafia-Vatican-Clinton-Hussein conspiracy at work to prevent us knowing, er, knowing … knowing what?

Other responses:

  • 6
  • 3
  • 9
  • 4
  • 5, I mean 3, er, um, no 7 – wait a minute!, 9, that is, 3 (have I done 3 yet? Oh?)