Answers for April 2000

Our loserwinner this month (sorry, I was thinking about cricket) is

Brian McNamara

From Blenheim, NZ. Don’t worry about the cricket Brian – it’s only grown men hitting a ball with a bat. Even if Australia did beat NZ 3-0.

Question 1

Which way round do microwave oven turntables generally go?


It’s random

Answers with more informational content:

  • Deasil
  • Widdershins
  • Dish at the top, motor underneath
  • Generally, microwave turntables have a lip, somewhat like a plate. They go in with the lip upwards to catch spills. If you put them in the other way, it’s generally the wrong way around.
  • Generally they are stationary, they only GO when in use, which is less often than not.
  • Horizontally, in most cases.
  • In circles
  • They generally go ALL the way round.
  • They go with the spindle pointing DOWN. I tried putting my turntable in ‘the other way round’, and not only did it make it impossible to transfer torque from the electric motor to the turntable, but you can waste a LOT of time balancing the mug of cold water on that tiny little bit of upraised metal.
  • Up, down, turning around, looping the loop and defying the ground (but they go the other way round in the Northern Hemisphere).
  • How many ways round a microwave oven are there? They generally go the shortest way round, avoiding corners.
  • Actually, the tables do not turn at all. It’s the universe which revolves around them.
  • If you stand on the turntable itself, it’s the rest of the universe that revolves counter-clockwise around you. And it’s nice to be the centre of the universe even if it is for a short time [at least, until your blood starts to boil]
  • My daughter tells me that watching microwave turntables is a certifiable mental disorder. Our microwave, since you made me study it, goes both ways alternatively which is a blessing for the neck muscles. Mind you, it’s better than watching the Australians thrash New Zealand 3-0 in the test series! (sob!)
  • You really are spending too much time with your microwave oven lately Dr Bob. Hinges and turntables, hinges and turntables, hinge and turn, h… and t…… Help! Dr (sic) Freud. I’ve got to get out of this trivia quiz and become a Branch Davidian so I can be safe.
  • Round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round. Except when they are stopped. This probably is accounted for by the fact they are driven by a single phase synchronous motor, which can go either way with equal facility, depending entirely on the phase of the moon and a certain amount of synchronicity.
  • With the back at the back and the front at the front and – DARN! Someone turned it on and now it’s the wrong way round! Oh, now it’s back the right way – now it’s wrong – now it’s right – now it’s wrong – now it’s right –
  • In the y-z plane generally, clockwise

Question 2

Finland in recorded history has fought approx 43 wars; generally (a) Who against? and (b) What’s the score?

Correct Answers:

  • (A) Against me, Chris Munroe; over territorial disputes mostly. (B) Finland 43, Chris Munroe 0. This is why Finland hasn’t been in many wars recently – I’m no sucker for punishment. Fool me 43 times shame on you, fool me 44 times…
  • My guess is against Russia and the score Russia 43 Finland 0.
  • (a) Enemies. (b) It’s either the record of points made by the competitors in a game or match, OR the aggregate of the points scored by a side or individual, OR the scoring of a point or points, OR a notch or scratch, OR a notch or mark for keeping an account or record, OR a reckoning or account so kept, OR any account showing indebtedness, OR a group or set of twenty, OR a written or printed piece of music with all the vocal and instrumental parts arranged on staves, one under another, OR the background music to a film, play, etc., OR… well there’s so many meanings for “the score”

Historically Liberal Answers:

  • (a) Russia/Soviet Union (b) Who knows? The Finns certainly don’t seem to, if the Finland FAQ is anything to go by:
  • (a) Against aggressive mad-dog bolshevik/imperialist music critics who don’t realise that all Finnish people want is enough time between wars to listen to the complete symphonies of Sibelius, so they can find out if they really are as dreary as everyone else says they are. (b) Er, I think Pakistan are 5 for 127 in the second innings.
  • (a) Other people. (b) Lots dead. There are no winners!
  • (a) McDonald’s and Disney. (b) There now is a McMielenkiintoisiapaikkoja and a character called Clacier Mouse. So you do the math.
  • (a) Santa Claus. (b)Hard to say, Santa Claus thinks he’s winning but what he doesn’t realize is that the Finns LIKE getting lots of coal.
  • (A) Almost invariably the enemy, the exception being the “Friendly War of 1772” in which they declared hostilities against New Zealand, the only nation with people who talks funnier than Finns. As troops from neither side could find the other, the casualty count (score) was 0. (B) They were 3 for 24 in the first innings but then some Indian bookie came along and dropped a bundle of money near the sight-board and the Finnish skipper, Hansi Kouppinnennenen, declared, dropped a catch, his pants and a few h’s (not necessarily in that order) and lost the test by an innings and 968 runs.
  • (A) Against the opposing side, I presume (B) The score is that apparently Finland has gone to war 43 times and maybe those fellows ought to figure out a more long term solution.
  • As Finland has only been an independent nation since 6 December 1917 this would mean they have fought a war every 1.93 years, or thereabouts. And I thought Swedish tennis fans were a bloody nuisance.
  • Finland def. Russia 22-21 in the Grand Final in overtime. We’re gonna win the cup! We’re gonna win the cup! Ee-aye-addio! We’re gonna win the cup!
  • Generally they have fought against the Russians and the Swedes, and generally they have lost. Generally the score was Finns, 0, Swedes, land; or, Finns, 0, Russians, more land, because, generally, the Finns had lousy generals, or as they say in Helsinki, “Vell, vell, Paavo, zeere-a gues zee neeeghburhuud!”
  • When Finland’s gone to war, it’s usually been against Sweden, or what is now Russia. They must’ve won at least once, since today Finland is an independent nation. Hostilities often broke out following a period of enthusiastic crusading by the Swedes, which drove the Finns to desperate action: “If you don’t stop shoving those stupid furniture catalogues under the door, we’re gunna come over there and show you where to stick your modular bloody lounge!” (Dr Bob quizzers may not know that Dr Bob and his Swedish wife have a favourite game called “Invasion Of Finland”, where Dr Bob wears nothing but a towel with the Finnish flag on it, and…. well, I can’t tell you exactly what happened next, because they got some of the whipped cream on the surveillance camera lens and I couldn’t see any more).
  • Why “approximately” 43 wars? Surely the Finns would know if they have been in any particular war or not, so it must be a definite positive integer? I mean a war is SLIGHTLY more alarming than a snowball fight or getting pickled herring stuffed up your nose. They do tend to make the daily papers, even in Helsinki. Perhaps the Finns are particularly blasé about wars and couldn’t be bothered counting, I don’t know – “Excuse me, Lars, is dis a war dot ve are havink?” “I’m not zo sure, Svenn.” Maybe once they only had part of a war, allowing the other side to win by forfeit after the half-time break. Maybe there’s no word for “war” in Suomi, which could mean anything from a quarrel over the curling puck up to a game of ice-hockey is counted as a war.
  • Why do you academic types keep ignoring UNrecorded history? Don’t care about us neanderthals and our cro-magnon pals, eh? Well if you don’t give a stuff about us then I’m not going to answer your offensive bloody question! Bloody chronist!

Question 3

Of the pure chemical elements, which is the most dense?


: Osmium (Os). In fact four have d>21: rhenium, platinum, iridium, osmium; four more with d>19: gold, plutonium, uranium, tungsten. The name is derived from the Greek ‘osme’ which means smell. This lustrous, bluish-white metal gives off osmium tetroxide gas, which creates the smell. It is twice as ‘heavy’ as lead, as rare as gold and not used for anything much.

Newly Discovered Elements:

  • Forget lead, tungsten, uranium, kryptonite, the most dense of the elements has got to be Administratium. A small amount has an unbelievably HUGE amount of inertia, so it must be really, really, REALLY dense. I have solid evidence for this; some people in admin positions who are obviously made out of Administratium are definitely the most incredibly dense people at my place of work, especially when you want to get them to do something useful, for example, oh, let’s say, the job they’re paid to do, YOU USELESS DRONES ….. (I’m not bitter, I’m not bitter, I’m not bitter…..)
  • A creation scientist. Oh, sorry, you asked for a pure chemical element, not a puréed comical elephant. But they are still pretty dense.
  • Brian Harradine – no other chemical construct is more pure, more elementary, or more dense.
  • Creationscientium. There is nothing denser (or thicker) in the entire Universe than creationscientium. Nevertheless, you could have a block of creationscientium 4.2 megaparsecs thick and one of the fundamental (but not fundamentalist) particles, the thoughtino would pass through it without interacting with it in any way. It’s knowing things like this that make us unclear physicists so much fun at parties.
  • DanQuayleite.
  • Hydrogen, since it is by far the most common pure chemical element in the universe; therefore, in the space that is the entire universe, it is also the most densely distributed element.
  • I don’t know, but Barium certainly isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  • In general, the elements (at a given standard temperature and pressure) increase in density as you work your way up the periodic table. Since I don’t have one in front of me, my best guess would have to be Plutonium. It would be incredibly ironic if it turned out to be Einsteinium or Fermium.
  • Iridium. It is as dense as the bloke who came up with the idea of spending $5 billion to launch 66 satellites in order to sell mobile phones that weigh half a kilo, cost over $3000 and do not work inside.
  • It depends on the definition of “Dense.” On an atomic level, the core of the Iron atom is the most dense, which is the reason that you gain energy when splitting atoms larger than Iron, and you also gain energy in the process of fusing atoms smaller than Iron.
  • Lead is pretty stupid. Often as a student, I was exhorted to get the lead out if I wanted to pass.
  • Nice to have a non-cricketing question. I believe that we in New Zealand have created a new state of matter, one where a vacuum, i.e an absolute lack of pure or impure chemical elements, can be so dense as that which exists between the ears of certain New Zealand selectors, not that I want to mention the cricket, again
  • Nobelium closely followed by iridium.
  • Os and Ir (Osmium and Iridium I think) both have a density of 22.6gm/cc at 300K. So they are both equally dense. Perhaps they should join the One Nation Party.
  • Osmium, named after Australia for some obscure reason, but in a typical northern hemisphere mistake they spelled it wrong.
  • Under what conditions of temperature and pressure? Iridium has a density of 22650 Kg/m^3 at some temperature and pressure. [But at another temperature and pressure it’s only 47½]
  • Ununbium. It’s a guess, it’s late & I want to go to bed.
  • When I asked my slack-jawed, in-bred, but still-virgin cousin “What is the densest pure element on earth?”, I thought he was joking when he said “I are”. Then I looked it up on the periodic table, and I found he was right. [Very good.]

Question 4

The Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903 – how far did they get?


Less far and less high than the interior of a modern jumbo jet.

Other Interpretations:

  • WRIGHT, ORVILLE, MR, PAX Y-CLASS KYH KITTYHAWK TO OTH OVER-THERE AIRCRAFT WRIGHT FLYER (but his luggage still got lost and went to London)
  • After a failed attempt on 14 Dec 1903 by Wilbur, the Wrights flew the world’s first powered airplane at Kitty Hawk on 17 Dec 1903. Beginning at 10:35 AM, Orville flew it about 120-feet (in about 12 seconds), Wilbur, about 175 feet; Orville, about 200 feet, and, about 12:00 PM, Wilbur flew it 852 feet in 59 seconds.
  • Orville managed to get a hand up her sk… ah, sorry
  • “. . .As the velocity of the wind was over 35 feet per second and the speed of the machine over the ground against this wind ten feet per second, the speed of the machine relative to the air was over 45 feet per second, and the length of the flight was equivalent to a flight of 540 feet made in calm air.” Orville Wright.
  • 1st base.
  • A bit further than QANTAS at Rome airport
  • About 100m although like most septic tanks they wouldn’t have a clue how far that is. They can’t even spell it correctly. Have they found that Mars probe yet?
  • According to Encyclopaedia Britannica… It wasn’t their first flight, just the first powered flight. They had built numerous gliders and unpowered machines earlier. First powered flight was in “Flyer 1” (now popularly called “Kitty Hawk”). Dec17 1903. First flight lasted 12 seconds, Britannica doesn’t give details of distance covered or height attained. It does note that the last flight that day lasted 59 seconds and covered 852 feet.
  • Do you mean their first powered flight? If so, please say so. Their first powered flight went 120ft. They did much better in gliders in 1902 and 1903 when their best effort was 662ft in 1902. I couldn’t find a record of their best glider flight in 1903 but it was probably better than the paltry 120ft they achieved with an engine.
  • It was stopped 50 seconds into the 12th round, when Orville was declared the winner by a TKO after Wilbur bit his ear off. Hang on – Ahhhh! You said fLight. That’s easy. They got as far as the terminal, having been advised to remain seated until the aircraft had come to rest. This was slightly after the crew had “disarmed doors and cross checked”. It’s actually a trick question. It wasn’t the Wright Brothers who made the first flight – it was the Wright Brother as it was a single seater (they were bicycle mechanics, after all, not tandem mechanics). The brother who made the first flight was Orville —- or Wilbur. I know for a fact that it wasn’t DVP Wright, the great Kent and England leg spinner of the immediate post WWII period, because he wasn’t born until 1914. Maybe Frank Llllllloyd – naaah, I doubt it. Do I get a prize if I get it Wright?
  • Not far enough to get a bag of peanuts and a soft drink.
  • Not far enough…no, wait – are they good guys or bad guys?
  • Not very
  • Orville flew the Kitty Hawke about 120 feet. Wilbur never went anywhere. He stayed on the ground, flapping his arms, which worked about as well as it usually does.
  • Somewhere over Bermuda – then they disappeared. Or was that Glenn Miller?
  • The Wright Brothers did not have the first flight, sport. Sore point over here in NZ. A bloke down Timaru way was the first. Should have known better. Now we have cricket teams from Aussie-bloody-tralia thinking they can just fly over here any time and give us 3-0 thumpings.
  • The Wright brothers’ fist fight in 1903 was over a young lady – one Kitty Hawke – and they were arguing over who was going to get the first “ride”. The brothers were so evenly matched that they called the fight a draw, and decided that a menage-a-trois was in order. After a very short time, Kitty decided that this was not what she wanted and briskly walked back to town (a controlled and sustained flight of some 852 feet). As to how far the Wright brothers got – all accounts indicate that it was only “first base”, but they consoled themselves by going for a glide, which they had been doing since 1901.

Question 5

What could you measure in units of a “barn-yard-atmosphere”?


Work. The barn is a measurement of area (of atomic nuclei); yard is length; atmosphere measures pressure = mass/area. Barn-yard-atmosphere is therefore [LL.L.M/LL] or length x mass and can be used to measure work – more specifially, very small amounts of work.

Alternative Answers:

  • A unit of work is the barn-yard-atmosphere (equal to 9.3 × 10^-24 Joules). I’m learning way too much here.
  • The unit of ‘barn-yard-atmosphere’ is not, as some pedants who collect obscure units trivia will tell you, a unit of work equivalent to about 9.3 x 10^ -24 Joule, but is in fact a unit used by the EPA to measure the strength of the smell of animal manure coming from a chicken farm or dairy. (These days, all new pongometers have a scale to measure in barn-yard-atmospheres, but if you only have an old imperial one, the correlation between b-y-a and the m-f-r (male-flatulence-rating) scale used for sewage farms is very close.)
  • A micropoofteenth of a metric handful per femtofortnight^2.
  • Ammonia; Hydrogen sulphide; Dust; Allergens in hay; Sex pheromones; Suspended particles of pigshit – Take your pick.
  • Anything you wanted to. It would just depend on how you defined “barn-yard-atmosphere”.
  • Aromas? Chicken density? Crop Circle dimensions? Barns?
  • Beer
  • Bullshit. This is a product you get when you mix equal parts of Creationscientium (see above) and Filthy Lucre, by volume.
  • Cow farts. And Question Time.
  • I would measure bachelor and spinster balls in terms of a barn yard atmosphere, I would measure certain Melbourne pubs the same way. Perhaps thats why when I go there to pick up chicks I end up with either a pig or a cow.
  • I’m not sure you could get close enough to measure it.
  • Mmmmmmm. A barn is a very small area, a yard is a distance and an atmosphere is a pressure. Pressure is equal to force over area, so area cancels out. What’s left is force times distance, which is work. Because F=ma, work is mad, which explains why I’m sitting here avoiding it like the plague.
  • Most high school house parties.
  • Oh, man – Dr Bob, you really haven’t reality-checked the wording of some questions this month, have you… [really?!] Ah well…here goes: The number of large, flatulent, bovine-type animals which can be placed in a 10m by 10m room for one hour without seriously endangering their lives.
  • The amount of work Ive put into this months quiz … very little! According to, 1 barn-yard-atmosphere is equivalent to 9.3 x 10 to the -24 Joules.
  • The Australian cricket team’s dressing room. What with all the crowing, cock a hooping,and braying going on, it must have been full of bull, chicken and horse manure.
  • The efficiency of face masks.
  • The rise in bloodpressure after a roll in the hay.
  • The trip to oz?
  • Which reminds me – old Two Ronnies joke: Mr Douglas Smith, senior cow-hoof inspector for the Foot And Mouth Board for 20 years, has been honoured today with an OBE. He said, “This is not the first time I have had a pat on the back.”


  • <incredibly funny opening remarks>, <self effacing comment>. <reference to unintentional error on Dr Bob’s part>. <pointed comment referring to past quizes>.
  • a couple of your questions were vague enough to cause confusion. [Shit, only a couple?]
  • Another good question is “why is water wet?”. [Oh that’s easy, the surface tension and the tenedencyof the O-H bonds to hydrogen bond to human skin …]
  • Great quiz, Dr Bob, though it’s a bit over the top to have all the cricketing questions just to rub your superiority in. Bah!
  • I get no kick from champagne. Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all, so tell me why should it be true, that I get a kick out of you? [Thank you Barry. Did you know the lyrics were censored, it used to be “I get no kick from cocaine”]
  • I recently read an article about Mac Kocan, an overweight (300 pound) American hamburger king who got the electric chair for murder. The headline read: Big Mac Kocan Fries (Am I trying too hard?)
  • If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.
  • I’m been meaning to ask, what’s so sceptical about this quiz? And what with the spelling of sceptic?
  • I’m bored and that’s why I’m here.
  • I’m not a complete idiot – it’s just that some parts are missing.
  • Living too long is fatal
  • nice quiz
  • not too hard questions this time!
  • PLEASE DONT WRITE BELOW THIS LINE _________________________________ Okay
  • Regarding Q2 – have you noticed that ‘civil’ wars are often the least so?
  • Sorry for all the smart-ass answers, I just didn’t know most of these and I’m sleepy.
  • The answers are blowing in the wind.
  • These are my final answers. I will accept the winners prize by cheque and preferably in US dollars. G’Day
  • This quiz took about a microcentury to do.
  • This space has unintentionally been left blank.
  • Uninspired questions. Dazzling answers.