Answers for October 2000

Dr Bob for October 2000 H’mph – a pretty pathetic set of answers this month; the questions were probably no good. Surprise winner with the most correct answers is from Perth, WA:

Julie Grundy

Sorry these answers are late: I have been helping my mother to move house in Britain. The whole rail network ground to a halt due to metal fatigue just before the floods struck. The temperature was 5 degrees. It got dark at 4pm. We were living from tinned food to try and get the cupboard empty. Old tinned food. Old tinned British food. You can’t buy foreign food in the cafes (and they have not heard of latte coffee). Then it rained – a lot. The leaves fell off the trees and blew everywhere – then the trees blew down in the gales. If you tried to drive anywhere, even if you could get past the floods, you couldn’t get petrol because of panic buying. You get BSE if you eat the food (although everyone lived entirely on chips). The Home Secretary decided to release some pathological murderers from prison, and the national football team got a new trainer – from overseas. Then the Queen’s mother broke her collarbone. However a raid on the Millennium Dome was foiled by four policemen disguised as cleaners – if they had been disguised as visitors, the robbers would have suspected why there were so many.

Question 1

What is next in the sequence – Car, Scratch, Melt, ….

Intended Answer

These are the pictures on the self-titled LP’s (CD’s) of Peter Gabriel. Peter Gabriel Album Titles: I – Car (1977) II – Scratch (1978) III – Melt (1980) IV – Security (1982)

Better Answers:

  • ,
  • Security. Please do not force me to degrade myself in showing knowledge of my father’s music collection.
  • ‘Security’, ‘So’, ‘Us’. That was a little too easy, 99.
  • Security. Although I must say that either your dictionary has quite a few pages missing or we indeed have the same records in our bookshelf.
  • Technically, the question should read: “What is next in the sequence – Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel,…” (and then there should be a question mark, but now I’m getting picky) However the correct answer refers to the 4th LP “Peter Gabriel”, also known to some people as “Security” (but why?)
  • So, Us now know you have a Passion for Peter Gabriel – or are you merely Shaking the Tree to see what falls out?
  • Security. But see for a nice alternative…
  • The first six words of Q1. are a statement “What is next in the sequence -” So the answer is “What”.
  • Litigate! [This from one of our American correspondents. I suppose it is probably faster than counting by hand … and a lot more fun.]

Wild Guesses:

  • Solicitor
  • Corgi
  • Abduction? Damn my car insurance, everyone else believes me…
  • Funeral
  • Anything. It depends on the parameters of the sequence, you could define the sequence as being “three letter word that stars with “C” followed by a seven letter word that stars with “S,” followed by a four letter word that stars with the letter “M” followed by the numeral 4, and then repeat. This would be a perfectly valid sequence. So my answer is 4.
  • Bugger!
  • Bum
  • Car, Scratch, Melt, … no, it won’t do – not catchy enough, not enough impact – you know what I’m saying, yeh course you do, I’ll call, we’ll do lunch, yeh, yeh, must go, another call …
  • Divorce
  • E N. No, wait, that’s the sequence with the first letters in the names of the numbers.
  • “Can”. Refined aluminum often starts as a Car body part. When the part gets a Scratch, the recyclers Melt the discarded part to eventually make a beverage Can.
  • Here I was thinking I’m going to fail this IQ test, when I come across Peter Gabriel. The next album in the sequence is Security. Why I even thought, if C (in car) = 3, scratch is taken as a decimal point, and M (in melt) = 14, then we have the sequence of numbers in pi (3.14)! [Very nice, even if M is 13 really]
  • Hmmm. the ‘cra’ in ‘scratch’ is the word ‘car’ with the last letter shifted to second place, plus an ‘s’ in front and ‘tch’ at the end. Therefore the next term is: SMTELTCH! Actually, Peter Gabriel’s next album was called “Security.”
  • Insurance claim?
  • Landfill
  • Mirror, signal
  • Morgue
  • Next is absent in the sequence. It does not appear. It is more correct to ask, “Where is ‘next’ in the sequence,” anyway.
  • Oops. The first word refers to the car in the casino carpark with one child inside. Scratch at the windows is what the said child does after 3 hours in the car, followed by Melting as the temperature hits 100 C. The next stage is when the parent return to the car and say ‘Oops’.
  • Road Rage, RACV, Sue, Court, Compensation, loss of rating 1.
  • Run (we are talking about the opening sequence in the Simpsons right?)
  • Sledgehammer
  • Sniff
  • Sodomy … sorry, I’m a pattern-seeking surrealist with an anal fixation due to a troublesome early childhood.
  • Security – that’d be the answer for YOUR reality. I prefer mine. It goes like this: “Car. Scratch. Melt. Justice.” This is a slogan from the upcoming advertising campaign for the 2002 Cadillac Deville. It refers to the optional proactive self-defense system, the “Justice Pack”. The slogan itself is actually the entire voiceover for the initial 30 second TV ad. The ad begins with a slow tracking shot of a silver ’02 Deville in an underground parking lot. The track finishes with the deep voiceover, “Car.” The scene cuts to shot of the car in the foreground with the focus shifting to an approaching menacing youth in the background. Cut to a close-up of the dashboard threat display, showing the detection of the youth and selecting Spanish as the appropriate language. Cut back to the car and youth, showing the car flashing its tail and parking lights and announcing, “Usted morirá si usted toca este coche.” Switch to a close up of the youth’s face, laughing off the warning. Close-up of the youth’s pocket, as he pulls out a keyring and chooses a sturdy key. Back to the dashboard display, with an inset extreme close-up image of the tip of the key. The instant the key touches the body of the car, the threat display shows the location of the touch, and the extreme close-up of the key zooms to fill the screen. In slow-motion, the key scratches the paintwork, as the deep voiceover announces, “Scratch.” The scene changes to a view of both the youth and the car, as jets of liquid from beneath the wheel arches drench the youth. A close-up of the miscreant shows his terror as his face begins melting. The camera zooms out to show the youth collapse and rapidly dissolve in the puddle of acid, while the deep voiceover says, “Melt.” The scene fades through black to a wider shot of the car with police car in front and a fire engine behind. A fire-fighter uses a high-pressure hose to wash away the remains of the offender, as the deep voiceover says, “Justice.” The scene agains fades to black, with the caption, “Justice is now available…” After a second, it changes to “Only from Cadillac.” The “Justice Pack” system involves the addition of a physical response deterrent to the many innovative technologies in the standard security in the base model ’02 Deville. These include an advanced pressure-sensitive substance called Peratech, combined with the paintwork and also applied as a thin film to the glass, challenge-response encrypted keyless entry, GPS tracking, and real-time communication with a central security monitoring centre. All of these come together to produce a vehicle that can detect when it is being stolen, vandalised, or otherwise damaged and notify the owner and authorities. The optional “Justice Pack” takes this one step further, adding short range radar and directable acid jets. The radar enables the car to detect approaching threats, and advise them (in three languages: English, Spanish and Ebonics) of the consequences of damaging the car. If the car is then for example scratched, it is able to determine the likely source of the damage, and dispense instant justice in the form of at four high-pressure streams of acid (sometimes five or six, depending on position). Extensive studies suggest that up to 98% of offenders would begin melting before they could retreat to a safe distance. Cadillac are also conducting market research to find out if there is a demand for their proposed “Vengeance Pack”. This works just like Justice, with the addition of a small biological sampling harpoon which strikes an instant before the acid. The car would then extract a DNA fingerprint from the sample, query the FBI National DNA Database, cross reference the results with the Department of Social Security Database, and finally contact the nearest branch of the Mafia and take out contracts on the five closest relatives of the offender. [Thank you David, don’t call us – we’ll call you]
  • Unctuous. Just a guess.
  • wipe
  • Yell, (cos the kids did it.)
  • Yoknapatawpha. The first three are the “working” ideas Faulkner used for his fictitious Mississippi county. The last is the one he actually chose. I’d say he made a wise decision.

Question 2

How did 19th-century German scientists explain the arched brow of Neanderthal skulls?

Correct Answers:

  • In German. Badly.
  • In one of three ways: 1) They would compose a document which promotes their theories, 2) They would talk to a fellow scientist, attempting to verbally persuade, or 3) Yell and gesture wildly, because the person to whom they were explaining spoke only French.
  • Unt here ve hav ze high arched brow of ze… etc etc.
  • According to Prof Maciej Henneberg of Adelaide Uni at the Skeptics conference 1999 – the arched brow was due to frowning too much in his youth . You see what being gloomy can do to you. Cro Magnon man on the other hand was always bright and cheerful – especially when exterminating Neanderthal Man. In addition John Coffin found these quotes: ‘Rudolf Virchow, who was not only a great man of medicine but a highly respected archaeologist, examined the skull and dismissed it as unimportant. According to Virchow, the strange appearance of Neanderthal man was the result of an attack of rickets in his youth, which had twisted his legs and deformed his pelvis. He had triumphed over this handicap, Virchow declared, and had become a doughty fighter. The flat forehead and the massive brow ridges were caused by repeated skull fractures suffered during combat.’ — And — ‘An anthropologist named Pruner-Bey announced that the man of the cave had been “a powerfully organized Celt somewhat resembling the modern Irish with low mental organization.” Professor Mayer of Bonn suggested that the skeleton was that of one of the Russian Cossacks who had invaded Germany in 1814. Another authority disagreed: “The skull is so deformed that the man must have been diseased. He had water on the brain, was feeble-minded, and no doubt lived in the woods like a beast.”‘
  • Not sure what the general consensus was, but the most interesting explanation was from one of Fuhlrott’s colleagues who maintained that the skull was of a Mongolian cossack with rickets who had deserted the Czar’s army when forcing Napoleon across the Rhine in 1814.
  • The name Neanderthal (or Neandertal) derives from the Neander Valley near Düsseldorf, Ger. In a cave in the valley in 1856, quarrymen unearthed portions of a human skeleton; 16 pieces of the skeleton were rescued and described shortly thereafter. Immediately, there was disagreement as to whether the bones represented an archaic and extinct human form or an abnormal modern human. There are three major categories of causation that have been referred to in the literature:, arthritis, deformans (acromegaly), syphilis, and rickets. Somehow, the view that the Neanderthals were somehow pathologically abnormal still survives, despite abundant evidence to the contrary (including this years Cell scientific publication demonstrating that Neanderthals are indeed a separate hominid species based on PCR results from mitochondrial DNA). This comes from (surprise, surprise) our dear creationist friends; a “challenging” example is a study by the creationist Dr. Jack Cuozzo (Buried Alive: The Startling Truth about Neanderthal Man, 1998).
  • Well, where do I start? Fulrhott (marvellous name, must have been a Creationist!) said it was a cross between a Gorilla and a Human. Mayer said it was an old Mongolian Cossack from the Napoleonic Wars. My personal favourite is the one who thought it was an old Dutchman. Others said a Celt or a simple minded person with water on the brain. My next door neighbour (The Creationist) says that they were just people who missed the boat!
  • Although in the 1850s it was thought by the Germans to be a racial trait (ascribed to, variously: a population of people who inhabited Germany prior to the Celts, a Celt, an “Old Dutchman”, or a “Mongolian Cossack” who’d deserted the Czar’s army in 1814), Neanderthal man’s pronounced brow ridge was in fact an adaptive response to Neanderthals’ eyebrows being constantly raised in surprise at the world around them, for example: “Hell’s bells, look at the size of that mammoth!” “You want to *bury* Granny Urgle? All stretched out like that? With *flowers*?” “Bugger me, get a load of those scrawny Homo sapiens sapiens blokes, they’re practically hairless – it’s a wonder they don’t freeze to death, poor bastards, I think we’re looking at one of nature’s dead ends there…..”.

Answers Worthy of Further Anthropological Study:

  • Apparently, Neanderthal man was too stupid to duck.
  • As a bone protrusion above the eyes.
  • As an added anchor for those massive jaw muscles. Scientists now think that this is why they couldn’t talk–the jaw muscles were so massive, the only sounds that could come out were along the lines of “Uhhrrr! Ugh! Uhnnn! Gnnhhh!” Much like Marketing execs of today.
  • Creationists say it’s arthritic calcium deposits. And don’t be so impious as to ask how a condition of the joints could affect the skull.
  • Excessive rubbing when shielding the eyes
  • Extreme surprise at being whacked on the back of the head with a stone axe by a more advanced homo sapiens. Or possibly by being sodomised with a mastodon tusk – but let’s not go there, shall we?
  • I really don’t think the skulls do have brows (aren’t the brows really attached to the skin?). If you on the other hand mean the brow ridges, this had something to do with them being descended from apes, but I don’t feel like looking into that right now. I can always read the supposedly correct answer from your page next month, if it happens to interest me at that time.
  • Inbreeding… or possible excessive drug usage (or both).
  • It acted as an umbrowlla. Oh god I hope you don’t post this one.
  • It gave them an evolutionary advantage when living in low roofed caves
  • Neanderthal comes from the Cro-Magnon words “Neander” meaning to shrug and “thal” to hit. Neanderthals had hunched shoulders and thick skulls because when you ask a Neanderthal a question he went HU? and shrugged his shoulders and when you tell him the answer he goes DU! and hits himself in the forehead. The Arched brow also explains why Neanderthals were able to wear baseball caps backwards and still keep the sun out of their eyes – a trend that continues in the shallow end the gene pool to this day.
  • Neanderthals used it to crack coconuts?
  • One reference I saw from a 19th century American source proposed that Neanderthals were the ancestors of modern “negros” and explained how this was further proof of the mental inferiority of Africans. They then went on to explain why the earths oceans don’t drain as all that water flows over the edge (at night, when everybody is asleep, the Giant Turtle quickly swims to the bottom of the Great Waterfall and catches it)
  • Only the lower jaw was Neanderthal, the rest was a shark.
  • Pre-christian, obviously they must have been Jewish!!!
  • Straight eyebrows weren’t in fashion.
  • Surely it must have provided extra cranial capacity for the Aryan Overman. Or maybe they thought it was a deformed Cossack invader who crawled into a cave to die after the natives got to him.
  • Surprise at the prolific number of Atlanteans and Lemurians polishing their crystal balls
  • That neanderthals were the thirteenth tribe of Israel, and that the large features were proof of their horrid racist theories.
  • The arched brow of the Neanderthals was caused by eating too many crunchy peanut butter covered bananas while worrying about Cro-Magnon-Hughes, who was supposed to deliver the washing machines.
  • They were CAVE men, they obviously keep hitting their heads on the stalagtites.
  • They were not Aryan so therefore they were a lesser race than the Germans and obviously not important.
  • This one was difficult to find! Probably something to do with ricketts or arthritis (of the skull?!?) – that was a common theme at the time. I did, however, find out where Neanderthal Heaven is:
  • To keep rain and snow out of their eyes.
  • To provide a convenient go everywhere eyeshade for those times when you left your sunglasses back in the cave.
  • Well, they lifted one eyebrow to indicate to the masses they really had no idea.
  • You are questioning my faith here by trying to suggest that Neanderthal is anything but a deception planted by Satan to try to move the elect away from the truth of our beliefs.
  • They thought they were Manchester United supporters
  • They said that they were obviously of French descent

Question 3

Thomas Huxley was known as “Darwin’s Bulldog”. Who (alive now) has been called “Darwin’s Greyhound”?

The Fittest Answers:

  • John Horgan is a master thumbnail artist … Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist whom Mr. Horgan clearly dislikes, is “an icily handsome man, with predatory eyes, a knife-thin nose and incongruously rosy cheeks … a finely tuned, high performance competitor in the war of ideas: Darwin’s greyhound.” (from
  • Richard Dawkins, but given that greyhounds are actually extremely lazy beasts that for preference would rather lie around and do nothing – more like furniture than actual dogs – this label isn’t entirely appropriate. I think he should be called “Darwin’s Standard Poodle/Rottweiler cross”, for the very civilised and cerebral maulings he deals out to Stephen Jay Gould from time to time. If they ever tee up a cage fight wrestling match, I’ll be shaking my pompoms for Dawkins. [I’d like to see that]
  • Best guess Richard Dawkins – next best guess Kate Moss – who then is Darwin’s long nosed bandicoot? or even bandy nosed longicoot?
  • Richard Dawkins, heaven knows why, and who is Darwin’s Shi-tzu?
  • Richard Dawkins. Interestingly (perhaps) Darwin didn’t release his work on the origin of species as he was working on his synthesis on molluscs for eight years. One wonders if Dawkins is equivalently delaying his grand unified theory while working on pine nuts.
  • Richard Dawkins – and the AiG crowd are Darwin’s dogs’ chewtoys.

Answers Worthy of Neanderthals:

  • Let’s think… no that doesn’t work.
  • By simple decompiling of this obvious code, the word Darwin’s obviously relates to Thomas. The hound component of greyhound is of the species canis, thus a dog, therefore can be transposed to GreyDog. By alphabetic substitution ‘dog’ relates to ‘ley’, bull relates to Hux, therefore Grey equals ‘Mlqa’. So it was Thomas Mlqaley…I knew that Spiderman decoder wheel from ASIO would come in useful…
  • Darwin’s Greyhound – the one that came in 3rd at Ashburton last Friday?
  • DeShondri Jones, a 6’5″ point guard out of Darwin College. He’s got a killer jumpshot and runs the 40 in 4.3.
  • Didn’t Darwin’s Greyhound win at 30 to 1 last week at Sandown? Actually, I think it was Richard Dawkins (no relation to John D)who was described that way by a gentleman called Horgan (?) who wrote for the Scientific American (sometimes dangerously close to an oxymoron there)
  • Dr Bob. He’s a sleek, swift, savagely sceptical stiletto [and a serious sinner from Samaria]
  • His son was known as Darwin’s Doberman due to the continuing and disgusting habit of mounting Darwin’s leg and humping it. Darwin was very upset, he never calls and never writes…
  • hmmmm… I’ll get back to you later on that one.
  • I have no idea but I am sure he or she is not a 19th century German scientist. Do I get half a point?
  • Jerry Falwell.
  • Milly’s Delight, two year old brindle bitch. Has won over 500 meters, but next outing could be tougher.
  • Mr Harold Blumenthal of 24 Victoria Square, Birmingham. How you knew that I’ll never know [is this admiration of my knowledge of your ignorance?]
  • Oh, that’s the bus that goes from Alice Springs to Darwin. It wants to get there fast cos it’s so hot.
  • The question is not so much as who, but what they did after being called that. Ranting comes to mind.

Question 4

How long did it take Copernicus’s theory (that the Earth orbits the Sun instead of vice versa) to be accepted?

Dr Bob’s Answers:

  • By Mr N.Copernicus – not long
  • By most of the rest of the world – 100 years
  • By the catholic Church – 450 years
  • By creationists – still waiting

Answers on the Banned List:

  • Copernicus’s theory of a heliocentric model ‘De revolutionibus’ was published in 1543. Taking this as a starting point of t = 0 years, then the time taken for this theory to be accepted: 1) by some of the more mathematically inclined minds of Europe (e.g. Italy’s Galileo Galilei and his contemporaries in other countries where the Inquisition had less immediate influence on private citizens) in the 1600s: less than 100 years (the next seminal work on the topic, Galileo’s ‘Dialogue’ was ready for publication in 1630, but preparation of the manuscript had taken him more than the previous decade). 2) By the Catholic Church: either 2a) 279 years implicitly (in 1822, the Holy Office ceased to forbid publication of books that taught the motion of the Earth around the sun), or 2b) 449 years explicitly (in 1992, the Vatican ‘forgave’ the ‘Galilean heresy’ of discussing the Copernican theory, and publicly endorsed the heliocentric theory and Galileo’s idea that the Bible was intended to be a spiritual guide rather than a physics text book. Cheeky bastards.). 3) By me: not yet – I prefer the autocentric model, i.e. I believe that the entire universe revolves around me. Oh, and Archbishop George Pell would like to know who Copernicus is.
  • 2 orbits
  • 457 years, and counting. Bible literalists still believe the Sun goes around the Earth (Joshua 10:12-14). Although the Catholic Church only took about 215 years to delist Copernicus’ book, “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestrium,” from its Index.
  • A Florida newspaper says: ‘In 1992, the Pope formally proclaimed that the church erred when it condemned Galileo for supporting Copernicus’ theory, which had been denounced in 1616 as dangerous for the faith. It remained on the church’s Index of prohibited books until 1822.’ Of course here in the US we’re still struggling.
  • Accepted by who? The Kansas Board of Education? Perhaps … creationist physics may be the next step.
  • Accepted by whom? Copernicus accepted it quite quickly, but half the USA still hasn’t caught on.
  • Accepted by whom?? In reality, it never was – Kepler proved that Copernicus was incorrect in assuming circular orbits.
  • Accepted! and you call yourself a skeptic! Not until I get a good look at the earth from the sun am I going to believe anything so radical – no matter that the Catholic church makes rush judgements every 500 years or so. PS Does not “Copernicus’s theory” pre-date Mr C. like most a dead Greek thought it up first.
  • 1 eon
  • As a flat earther, I still refute his spherist herisy. The Sun is an optical illusion created with large mirrors, the oceans as a reflecting pool, and a massive bonfire, located on the flip side of the earth. This was proven by the archbishop Ussher. And among all those of my church this is still canon.
  • At least 144 years – from the publication of his theory in 1543 to Newton’s proof of universal gravitation in 1687. Pretty gross really. [Groan]
  • At lot longer than Copernicus. Due to his habit of searching for nose treasures when he was talking to people. This coupled with his rather unpleasant body odour from eating pickles with peanut butter sandwiches.
  • Accepted by who? Galileo, the Spanish Inquisition, the Medici family?
  • Copernicus’ theory was accepted shortly after he finished forming it. He found himself to be a very receptive audience. For acceptance by more than a few rebellious thinkers however, he had to wait around 174 years for Newton to provide some numbers to back his claims. He wasn’t up to task, and died 144 years too early.
  • Does the earth really orbit the sun? I can not be certain of that before I get to see it in my own eyes, therefore the answer must be above 457 years.
  • Far too many rotations and revolutions of the above named planet than it should.
  • His Mum accepted it straight away, except she thought the sun shone out of his arse.
  • How many times do you people have to be told! There goes the sun now, right over my head, so it MUST be orbiting the earth. Whoa! Look, there it goes again! Hey, that’s so groovy it’s COSMIC, man! [Gee, this cough medicine is sure STRONG!]
  • I for one, will never accept such nonsense.
  • I teach high school science and math and can tell you that in parts of the Los Angeles area it still hasn’t caught on.
  • I was convinced as soon as I heard it. However, certain people may have taken longer, especially Steven Seagal.
  • It will never be accepted by the elect. You have questioned my faith yet again! Three times in a row. The Earth is flat and the sun orbits the earth: Psalm 24:1-2: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” Daniel 4:10: “… I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.” Matthew 4:8: “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. Job 38:12-14: “Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth…..
  • It’s only a theory, you can’t prove it! The aliens from Queegle 7 told me the earth is really a rectangular prism made of vegemite!
  • Mr Copernicus accepted it immediately ( well it made sense to him). Mrs Copernicus took a little longer. The man in the corner store wasn’t too sure, but eventually came round. [After Copernicus walloped him on the head?] As for your man with the pointy hat in Rome, he only came to the party earlier this year, and there’s a fair few of that mob in America that won’t have a bar of it.
  • Not as long as it takes me to find all the answers to Dr Bob’s Skeptical Quiz! ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!
  • Personally, about 10 minutes.
  • The Catholic Church knew for centuries, they just covered it up from us by torturing whoever stepped out of line, to prevent us all from going crazy
  • Well, many people still think it orbits versa, though it is no longer fashionable to call it vice versa. After all, they do at least acknowledge that the earth is in orbit around it, and not vice versa.
  • Well, Newton (the cat-flap guy) gave it a theoretical underpinning in 1687, so I make that about 150 years. However, what do you mean accepted? I have a next door neighbour who still thinks vice versa! Mind you, he has stopped worrying about falling off the edge if he sails out too far.
  • What do you mean, accepted?
  • What? That load of rubbish has been accepted? All those photos we see from the space shuttle, showing the earth as a sphere orbiting the sun, it’s all smoke and mirrors. By the way, everyone knows the world is flat, not round. Just one look at Belgium will confirm that.
  • Whoah, tricky one this. Accepted by whom? The Church? The Copernican heliocentric view of the heavens was not published until the very end of his life, under the title “On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres” (De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, Nuremberg, 1543: Copernicus is said to have received a copy of the printed book for the first time on his deathbed (He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 24th May, 1543). In 1741, Benedict XIV bid the Holy Office grant an imprimatur to the first edition of the Complete Works of Galileo, who was indicted for his heretical support of Copernicus’s theory in 1633. The final word, however, came in April 1993 where Pope John Paul II acquitted Galileo (and Copernicus by default) in his address to the Pontifical Biblical Commission, so that makes about 450 years!
  • You cumon down heah Cletus and look what this fancy edoocated city fellah’s dang put on this heah internet contraption. I think we’d bettah pay a little visit to this Doctah Bob and set him right on a few things – Wasat Cletus? Yeah, you bring that banjo son, you never know your luck.
  • The Earth orbits the sun?

Question 5

How many people are airborne over the USA during the daytime?

What Dr Bob Read Somewhere:

136,000. But several respondents below quote a figure of 61,000.

Let’s Fly These Answers:

  • According to the Air Transport Association (, there were 635,400,000 passenger ‘enplanements’ in the US in 1999; 582,300,000 domestic and 53,100,000 international. Dividing 635,400,000 by 365 gives a result of: 1,740,821.91780821917808219178082192 How many of them checked their baggage?
  • All of them. There is a thin layer of air between each person’s feet, derriere, or whatever, and the ground. Pay no attention to the dubious claims that something like 61,000 people in the USA are airborne at any given moment during the day.
  • All the ones who take off in fixed wing aircraft, helicopters or hot air balloons. Plus the suicidal ones jumping off bridges and buildings, they probably count too. For a few seconds, anyway.
  • Are we counting all the people who’ve been captured in the UFO’s? If so, the answer must be: “much more than expected”.
  • Counting those OBE’ing (astral travellers without passports), as well as abductees being experimented on (do alien/human genetic mixes growing in vials count?) there must be a trillion and forty two.
  • Depends on whether or not the latest crop of Acapulco Gold, or Maui Wowee gets harvested and if the DEA get to it first.
  • Did you even READ my answer to the last question? Hundreds or thousands of people are getting high all over the USA every day – and more at night I expect.
  • Do you mean at any moment? Or in total during all daytime hours? Including Hawaii and Alaska? Any particular day or averaged over a week, a month or a year? Including military planes, cropdusters joyriders, paragliders and hanggliders? Including just territorial waters or economic exclusion zones? Er, I don’t know.
  • I don’t know, but it has got to be inversely proportional to the number of people with their arses on the ‘sofa’ eating Peanut Butter Cups and watching Rikki.
  • I smell a trick question here! The USA has multiple time zones so it is not “daytime” everywhere at once. In any event, I do not think that pregnant women over 8 months are allowed to fly.
  • Let’s see, planes, helicopters, sky-diving, falling off cliffs, leaping tall buildings in single bounds, um…..dunno
  • Let’s see. Superman, Hawkman, Captain Marvel (no, wait, he’s dead), the Blue Falcon, Birdman and Birdboy, the Powerpuff Girls, and my brother, who’s just attempted an ill-advised skateboard trick… 9.
  • None. Except the very small virus people who fly into my ears at night.
  • None. People are poorly shaped for attaining an airborne state. Those that try are usually either passengers in a suitably designed vehicle (aircraftborne), or just ballistic objects (falling). The only exception to these two cases would be genuine yogic flyers (the fakes are merely ballistic) and other practitioners of the levitative arts. However, as their mass is borne by “other” means, they don’t qualify as airborne either. Oh all right… The average number of people in aircraft above the USA is 61,000.
  • Quick back of the envelope calculation: M = major airports in US ~25 F = flights per major airport per day ~200 P = passengers per plane ~50 m = minor airports in US ~100 f = flights per minor airport per day ~20 p = passengers per plane ~25 n = percentage of passengers taking multiple flights ~10 a = % of population who perform aerobics every day ~5 t = % of population who practise trampolining (but not aerobics) every day ~0.01 y = % of population who fly using yogic meditation per day ~0 s = % of people who swim (but don’t trampoline or aerobe) every day ~2.5 d = % of swimmers who use diving boards ~25 U = US population ~250000000 A = number airborne during day = U(a + t + ds/100)/100 + (MFP + mfp)(100-n)/100 = 2500000(5.626) + 0.9(250000 + 50000) ~ 15000000So, 15 million. Unless you only count planes in which case it’s 270 thousand.
  • Way too many.
  • That depends if you count the 15% of the population that has been abducted by Martians at any one time, any transcended masters strolling through the astral plane, and anyone jumping off tall buildings
  • Do you mean the 1 million (approx) normal people in aeroplanes, gliders and hotair balloons, or do mean members of the Maharishi’s bouncy mattress brigade? Anyway, 65% arrive on time but 10,000 lose their baggage which curiously is about the same number who are overbooked by the airlines (Do I smell a conspiracy here)
  • Depends on which day you are referring to. Before December 17, 1903, the only people truly airborne in the USA were doing one of the following; jumping onto an empty carriage of a slow-moving westbound goods train, going over the Niagara Falls in a barrel, falling down stairs, disused wells or mineshafts or falling out of trees while rescuing cats. Since that day, the number has been increasing steadily. I can’t give a final figure for yesterday because of the following dilemma – would those in the space shuttle count as airborne over the US, even though they are outside the atmosphere and not in a geostationary orbit?
  • Approximately 12 million. If one includes pigs, 12 million and one.
  • 42. Or perhaps considering that there are no flights in the USA starting at dawn which finish at dusk then no one is airborne over the USA during the whole daytime.
  • All except the 173rd Airborne, which is now over Italy
  • 24,381. If you count Ralph Hinkley, he still hasn’t gotten the hang of his flightsuit.
  • Approximately 61,000 people are airborne over the US any given hour (, so depending how you define “daytime” ie which day in the year as the hours of daylight change, daylight savings for the number of hours, etc. etc.
  • 130,498
  • 231,427 or thereabouts
  • 357,212. Go on, prove me wrong.
  • Population USA: 275,562,673 (July 2000 est.) less- too old too young: 0-14 years: 21.25%, 65 years and over: 12.64% Leaves, 15-64 years: 66.11% Less in Gaol 5% – unemployed 5%- Too poor 5% -Too drunk 10%- Not drunk enough 2% – On drugs (already airborne) 5% – Too fat 5% – Watching TV (and none of the above) 29% Remainder 1% Less those sitting in airport because plane is late 0.6% Answer 0.4% or 1,102,251
  • Counting the angels, 55,000,000,000. Angels are people too. Or have you the guts to take on the US Angel lobby?
  • Not enough of them.


  • “Bother” said Pooh as he strafed the lifeboats.
  • “The singular shall include the plural and vice versa and words importing the masculine or neuter gender shall include every gender.” – and we wonder what we pay geneticists for when its quite obvious the lawyers had a perfectly good solution for it all _centuries_ ago…
  • “Uiowa” wasn’t a typo – it was my domain name. My actual location could be determined by approximately 30 seconds of research (which is more than I did for these questions)
  • As its my birthday this week do I receive special consideration? No?
  • As Pauline Hanson would undoubtedly say: I’m sure I have no idea, so please explain, as I just want to know what’s going on, and: let me in Pauline, or I’ll huff and I’ll puff…. (Mr Oldfield locked out of One Nation Office)…..
  • Esto es muy extrana, pero la me gusta.
  • Ever thought about asking a question about mendel? Not just about his ‘too perfect’ results on genetics of beans (actually fixed by a misguided aide) but about the fact that he didn’t actually believe in the modern notion of discrete genomes, prefering a ‘mixing’ method of species creation (as Darwin did, in fact). This is why Mendel preferred his experiments on Hawkweed, where characteristic genes are not on discrete chromosomes as in beans, thus giving the impression that new species could be created and therefore God existed (and just ‘set the ball rolling, as it were). – I don’t recall very well, it must have been good stuff]
  • Hello Dr Bob. I was very excited to find your quiz, and only wish I had found it earlier. Unfortunately I don’t know many answers to this month’s. I hope to get better. [Do you mean in the sense of “I hope to recover”?]
  • Help me, Dr Bob, I’ve got this strange compulsion to do push-ups!
  • Hmmm. Peter Gabriel, huh?
  • I didn’t think my last lot of answers were so bad that you had to ignore them… oh well, I hope you find these more palatable.
  • I’m Baaaaccck!
  • Keep up the good work! Oh yeah, and how many times does Darwin use the word ‘evolution’ in ‘The origin of species’?
  • Me bad at quiz and english.
  • My first time – the last one stumped me but I surprised myself with the rest…
  • Myristicivorous
  • Oh dear, I don’t think I am going to win. In fact, I am extremely sceptical about my chances.
  • OK, some optional comments needed: let me think. Things like this keep me awake at night: 1) How did the kiwi, tuatara, moa and weta, none of which can swim or fly, get to New Zealand after they got off Noah’s ark? 2) If 95% of illicit student-teacher sexual liaisons are between heterosexual male teachers and heterosexual female students, why doesn’t the Moral Majority want both groups banned from schools? 3) Which books of the Christian bible did the Council of Nicea edit and/or discard in about 400AD? Why, and on whose authority? 4) If playing the national anthem backwards gives satanic messages, then if we played those satanic messages backwards do we get the national anthem? (And how could we tell?)
  • P.S. It’s a little-known yet marvelous mathematical fact that e^(i*pi) + 1 = 0
  • Please be tolerant of my grammar, punctuation and spelling. I am an American, so English is not my native language.
  • Sometimes – when I think about witches doing spells together, I do a little spell by myself.
  • Sorry about Questions 2, 3 and 4 – I just spent a few hours on Dr Dino’s home page, Dr (he wishes) Kent Hovind.
  • The world hopes that the Nov 10-12 World Skeptics Conference will be as successful as the recent Olympics [It was even better – everybody won]
  • This reply was brought to you by ‘Too much free time’
  • Too easy. What happened to the really obscure questions? [Now that’s a really obscure question]
  • um, hmm. Nope, no inspiration is forthcoming.
  • Why no questions about anhingas?
  • You insulted my intelligence, Bob. I have a five year old, and I asked him the questions from last month’s quiz and all he asked for was a smooth peanut butter sandwich.
  • You must be totally insane to come up with this kind of questions. Whether it’s a good thing or not, I’m not sure. [You vacillate if you like – I am really certain of it]
  • You should find these answers more appealing than last month’s. Unless you actually liked all that crappy pornography and hysterical paranoia. [Consider the teachings of Paul, the Biblical apostle of Christianity, and Norman Vincent Peale, prolific and energetic author of earnest Christian tracts. It has been said that Paul’s writings were appealing whereas Peale’s were appalling. OK OK, I am going back into my burrow now]
  • You’ve really got me stuffed this month, Dr. Bob. Five times, no less! [No comment]