Answers for October 1997

Our Novocastrian WINNER (as opposed to the other sorts of winner) this month is:

Peter Stoddard

Question 1

Was Sir Isaac Newton a nice bloke to know?


No, he was a vindictive old curmudgeon, especially later in life

Alternative answers:

  • All that alchemy left some pretty nasty nasty toxins around
  • He was supposed to help his widowed mother run the farm, and he ends up spending his time reading instead……. but then again he was a scientist
  • Anyone who invented calculus HAD to be a bastard!
  • No, because (1) If he was walking away from you he would keep walking away unless you exerted a force to turn him around, and (2) The faster he walked away the more force you needed to slow him down, and (3) Whatever you tried to tell him he said the opposite with equal force.
  • No – as Douglas Adams so succinctly put it “Nobody likes a smart-arse”
  • What was he doing *alone* under that apple tree? – Einstein would have had a pretty girl in his lap.
  • Yeah he was; there was an attraction between him and everyone he met.

Question 2

Is the Duke of Edinburgh taller than average?


No – unless he has grown since he spoke at Dr.Bob’s university’s annual dinner

Alternative answers:

  • He is a secret wearer of stilts.
  • Taller than the average what? European – then no. Corgi – then he just makes it.
  • He is more average than tall. [Oooooooohhhh]
  • No, but he has more than the average number of legs. My grandad only had one.
  • No, he’s been slouching ever since that whole Princess Diana thing.
  • The average height for Dukes of Edinburgh is 158cm, making the present one atypically tall.
  • Yes, because of the capital D and E and the tall letters b, d, f, h and k, none of which occur in the word “average”.
  • Yes – I’ve met him. [This from Tim Harding – presumably a dwarf or a person accustomed to standing in holes].

Question 3

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


Yes – the reason being thus explained by Steve Hodges of WA: Convention has it that opposite sides add up to 7. Since 1+2+3 < 7 then none of them can be found on opposite sides from another. With this constraint, any two of these numbers must share a single side with both of the others. This, in turn, means that all three must share a corner.

Alternative answers:

  • First of all who going to put away all the things I got out looking for those dice; couldn’t find them so have to guess – Yes
  • Yes (I have a 50% chance at this one)
  • “On dice” is Spanish. Is this a multi-lingual question? Isn’t this unfair to the mono-linguists? Does the answer have to be in Spanish?
  • The obvious answer is yes, but as a true skeptic, I won’t be convinced until I’ve seen every die in the world.
  • No. At least not on my ten-sided Dungeons & Dragons polygonal die.
  • No. In fact none of the sides of a die share the same corner with any other side; they are simply too random. They actually all coincide with a seventh side (known as the seal) that really holds the die together and is the real basis for the theory of chaos. Certainly the increased number of dice in Victoria has increased the amount of chaos.

Question 4

How many funnels did the Titanic have?


Four – but the fourth one was a dummy so the ship would look better. (It could be argued that it would have looked better on the surface rather than the bottom of the ocean, but now it’s too late)

Alternative (and better) answers:

  • Not enough, or it would have been able to outrun the iceberg.
  • About 12 – four big ones on the top, a couple in the kitchen and half a dozen oily ones in the engine room.
  • Many, how else could they get the vermouth into the martini without ‘bruising’ it?
  • None initially, then a number of others were added during construction and have probably since rusted or fallen off.

Question 5

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


He was eating a nice meal of pork with hot apple sauce and mulled (hot) wine when he was called away from the table on some kind of business. On return he observed the wine had cooled but the apple sauce had not, although both were largely made of water and had had similar opportunities for conduction and radiation. Gosh, he must have thought, why is this so? Now you can see why scientists should be given nice meals and kept in the conditions to which they would like to be accustomed.

Alternative answers:

  • Smoking.
  • Smiling.
  • Breathing. [I meant ……. oh never mind]
  • He was lying down with a nice hot cup of tea and a Bex.
  • Warming his bum by the fire?
  • Thinking of how great it would be to have his last name plastered everywhere for the S.I. unit for measurement of heat.
  • He was drinking a pint at his local alehouse when he suddenly realised why British Beer was never cold.
  • He was either sitting under an apple tree and lighting his farts, or smoking a bong with the Duke of Edinburgh, or watching smoke rising from the funnels of the Titanic.
  • This question perpetuates a most tenacious myth. My great-great-great Uncle, Ambrose, Lord Marsupial, the finest scientist of his day, discovered the principle of convection of heat while boiling a family retainer for the crime of poaching game (incidentally, this also led to the culinary custom of ‘poaching’, now found in the best kitchens). At the time he employed in the family sculleries a staunch lad of good yeoman stock, one Kevin Kelvin (my ancestor, in a fit of characteristic generosity, had bestowed upon him the honour of allowing him to have two names). This lad had served the good lord assiduously and was known around the estate as “the Lord’s Kelvin”. Unfortunately, the family amanuensis, one Thackeray, whose addiction to tipple rendered his handwriting incomprehensible in the later hours of the day, catalogued these events in such a way that later inky historians wrongly attributed the discovery to the servant. Uncle Ambrose, whose kindliness to the lower orders bordered on the socialistic, did nothing to correct this egregious error, regarding it as a ‘wizard jape’. I am pleased to have this opportunity to correct a gross fallacy in the historical record. [Thank you, Sir Jim R Wallaby, and goodnight.]