Answers for April 2004

WINNER for April 2004 goes by the curius name of

Mercurius

Onyer, Merc.


Question 1

When an earthquake shook the Microsoft building in Seattle, the alarms sounded properly but nobody left their desks. What eventually persuaded the staff to leave the building?

Better than the True Answer:

Clippy: “You look like you’re trying to get yourself killed. Would you like some help?”

True Answer

Until it’s virtual, it’s not real – When a message came on to their computer screens “Please evacuate the building! Have a wonderful day!”

Also:

  • Better offers from other software companies down the road.
  • The blue screen of death. A paltry earthquake is no reason to interrupt a riveting game of Solitaire.
  • They heard that Macintosh had evacuated first. (Or alternatively, too many of them evacuated so they had to leave. Boom, boom.)
  • Animal rights activists unshackled them.
  • 30 April already and I have barely had a chance to study the questions. Ah well, it looks like the wild guess again. Either a broadcast message that Bill Gates wanted to give them all a pep talk in the car park, or they turned out all the lights and shouted into the PA that Bill Gates was going to run down the corridors with his underpants on his head. …That is the most dreadful idea I have ever had.
  • A penguin wearing a sandwich board with the instructions in elvish, followed closely by a flea circus.
  • A rain of Frogs
  • An e-mail sent to all employees that read, “That is an evacuation alarm you are hearing you moron! Get out of the building.” One man was still at his desk when everyone returned. It was discovered that he had been dead for 2 days. [He was the guy who designs the virus protection]
  • Because their mobiles weren’t working.
  • Bill Gates ran through the office shouting “free coke and chocolate outside”. And then the electricity failed.
  • Free share options in the car park
  • I imagine it was when their coffee machines stopped working
  • It stopped shaking. I lived in California awhile. Best to hide under the desks and leave after the shaking stops.
  • Mr Gates tied an extremely large carrot to the back of his pants and told everyone that whoever caught it could have a piece of the pie (or the carrot in this case)
  • Someone announced over the PA system that the coffee machine was broken down, but Starbucks up the street was having an all-you-can-drink-for-$1 special. The dust didn’t settle for days, and the seismic disturbance caused by the stampeding nerds was incorrectly recorded around the world as an aftershock.
  • Stop-work meeting over the incessant noise of the alarms.
  • The counterstrike server going offline.
  • The follow-up announcement – “Yes, this is an actual alarm, not a bug.”
  • The LAN for Quake III was shut down.
  • The porno websites crashed.
  • The sarcasm machine was about to overload
  • The server crashed and all the staff could no longer use the net for jobs, so they left to go across the road to Starbucks and use the computers there.
  • The sight of bill gates’ new hairdo
  • The whole programming department was rolling their way, threatening to knock them down. And it is no fun being knocked down by fatsoes.
  • The work experience kids circulated a rumor that Captain Kirk was making an appearance in the starbucks across the street, and that he would be handing out signed pocket protectors. Gotta love work exp.!
  • Their system crashed and nobody could get the SOB going again.
  • Their Windows crashed! Hahahahaha!
  • These guys got up pretty quick http://www.codepoet.com/earthquake.htm
  • They cut off the power
  • They left when management threatened them with a return to quills and inkwells.
  • They ran out of coffee? They went outside to get a better cellphone signal? Maybe programmers are like other animals which can detect quakes before they happen but being Microsoft, they were late? Or is that an enhancement due in the next release?
  • They suddenly realised the earthquake was caused by the combined footfall of a million livid Windows 98 users chanting “Die, Gates, Die”.
  • They wanted a smoke
  • Well a couple of broken windows was nothing new. But, gasp, the cell phone system isn’t working. Dashes out to car park. Nope. Goes home.
  • Well, since computers going down in a Microsoft building must have been par for the course, I guess it was when the lights went out?
  • When the chains were removed…..
  • When, floating mellifluously through the PA, came the sound of Bill Gates “playing” a Philip Glass piece on his Icelandic nose flute. The staff did not leave. They fled.
  • Word (no…not THAT word, one that worked…) got to them that the cappuccino and twinkie machines were in danger and needed to be moved to a safer locale.

Question 2

The Magna Carta was signed by King John and the barons at Runnymede in 1215. How many of its approx 67 clauses are effective today?

Answer

None. Which is hardly surprising since the King breached it, even before 1215 was out. There were new versions signed in at least 1216 and 1217 – and the King breached those too, and so did the barons.

Expert Opinion would seem to be divided. (Scope for fees here):

  • I for one shall not rest until this clause is restored: “All kydells for the future shall be removed altogether from Thames and Medway, and throughout all England, except upon the seashore”
  • -1, not only are the clauses now invalid, but one has been lobbied against to the point where the inverse was made effective.
  • 1215? It’s 12:20pm now, I can’t believe I just missed it!
  • 2, 3 or 4, depending on which sad anorak you ask. Apparently, there are many groups, clubs and societies that spend a lot of time arguing about this. Good grief, don’t these people have trains to spot, or something?
  • 3
  • 4
  • 4 clauses remain valid in Britain, arguably 2 used to valid in the USA but probably aren’t any more. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!
  • 4 of the 63 clauses are still law (1, 13, 39 & 40). Fickle bunch.
  • According to Halsbury, four: clauses 1, 9, 29 and 37
  • 9
  • 34
  • 65
  • All of them – and it’s reason all of the new titles and offices for various leaders are changed today – so they might exclude themselves from accountability. If Dubya were King Bush, his actions would be dictated by the Magna Carta, but since he’s “President” Bush, he’s excluded from the rules. [So I notice]
  • All of them (and not just those in article 39). Every single one of them, because to change any part of it would be treason. Just ask these folks http://www.gtorrington.freeserve.co.uk/documents/Magna.htm .
  • All, although not many of us covet our neighbour’s ass these days. No, wait, that was some other set of laws.
  • apparently only 4 are still on the UKs books – from http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m1373/9_53/108114614/p2/article.jhtml?term=
  • Approximately 0. I rounded to the nearest 135.
  • As most Clauses are quite old when they take the job (it requires them to have a long white beard, after all), they have all died (of heart attack and drunk sledding, mostly)
  • At first I thought 0, but then I read “There shall be one measure of wine throughout our whole realm, and one measure of ale . . .” We still use that system. What’s that you say- Met-Ricks? (Note: Received from the USA).
  • Clause # 44 is the only survivor: that the English rugby team win the World Cup sometime in the next 1000 years otherwise all the players family members are to be beheaded in the local market square…that explains a lot…
  • Damn – didn’t fully read the whole text – please I would like to change my answer [Too late! your head is already rolling from the block] to three – clauses 1,9 and 29. 29 being the one about english kings not being allowed to imprison people without trial.
  • First the answer Dr Bob wants, 4 of the 63 clauses are still law (1, 13, 39 & 40). However, John agreed to the “Articles of the Barons” at Runnymede, and he didn’t sign it, he put his seal on it. [Agreed – he could not write]. Magna Carta was written back in London. The transcripts I have seen have 62 clauses but I suppose that’s “approx 67”. [Ah well that would because I used the later version, which has: 63 free beer, 64 more holidays, 65 more fun, 66 no more kings and 67: 1-66 cannot be repealed]
  • Halsbury claims that only clauses 1, 9, 29 and 37 of Magna Carta still stand today. This one should still be there: (45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.
  • I haven’t read Magna Carta for years, but I saw a copy of it in Salisbury Cathedral last year. Does that help? Considering that most of it relates to the feudal rights of the barons, not more than 37.
  • In a question like this, probably 0. Or 5. Or 13.6.
  • Just 1…Santa (Mrs Clause wasn’t recognised as an individual until 1428.)
  • Just one clause remains extant – santa, erf, erf. But I suppose you’re after the boring habeas corpus. Hang ’em all, I say!
  • Just one. The mandatory offering of butter to go on bread. Would you like some toast?
  • Just the one about the importance of sacrificing virgins to Pele the volcano goddess.
  • None, it is claimed that the one used to stop kings jailing people without trial is still in use but helloooo.. no kings.
  • None, they’ve all been superceded. Though I can’t see why with clauses like this: (54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned upon the appeal of a woman, for the death of any other than her husband. (http://www.civnet.org/resources/document/historic/magna.htm)
  • One – declaring that the king is not above the law. [Ha! That was probably the first one to go]
  • Signed? I was taught at school that John couldn’t write, hence he fixed his seal to the document? Probably all of them, including the one about the maximum number of questions on Iceland allowed in any quiz.
  • Two – as for the rest, to quote Lord Chief Justice Keeling “Magna Farta, what ado with this have we?”
  • Well they didn’t call it the Magna Carta at Runnymede [John probably thought it was the tablecloth for a picnic, or if he didn’t, the barons probably suggested that] and John put his seal on it not his signature. It is all “effective” as an agreement between the crown and the people. as to “relevant” that’s different and as to law, four.
  • Well they had to remove the Sanity Clause, because every one knows there is no such thing as Sanity Clause.

Question 3

One of Charles Babbage’s proposed Analytical Engines c.1830 would have used external data cards. The plan was for it to ring a bell during a calculation and display what data it wanted, then an attendant would select a card from a library of data cards. The machine would then have verified that the right card had been inserted. What was the machine going to do if the wrong card was put in?

Answer

Ring a louder bell and display “Wrong tabular number”. [Such a lost opportunity for industrial relations and workplace practice – judging by some of the answers below]

Other Answers

  • Do nothing, sit quietly and wait for Lady Lovelace to fix it
  • “The (Analytical) Engine will always reject a wrong card by continually ringing a loud bell and stopping itself until supplied with the precise intellectual food it demands.” Charles Babbage
  • Crap itself
  • Crush the hapless attendant with a large rock and then claim God ordained it. Just like 2004, really.
  • Ding! Ring a louder bell of course. What else? Blue cogs of death? I don’t think Charles would have though of that. Take it away Chas “and if the machine gets incorrect input it will set its engine to show unintelligble numbers with a special blue background and cease to function until rebuilt” Nah! Perhaps the operator could try one hand on the handle and one hand on the mill (CPU) then kick the bell. That might work, sometimes.
  • Display message “Can’t you read binary? Get me the right damn card!”. Then spit card at offending imbecile.
  • Eat it
  • Explode, killing the attendant and destroying all cards.
  • Fart
  • Give you the wrong answer. Alas, some things never change.
  • Halt
  • Hit the idiot repeatedly with a heavy object. At least that is what I would have told it. But in reality, it is probably something non – threatening and stupid, like a trumpet. [I would have programmed it to play a serenade on the Icelandic nose flute. That would teach the attendant not to make mistakes in future]
  • In the initial design, the machine would stop and the bell would ring continuously to attract the attention of the operator – later schematics show that a phased plasma laser pistol would emerge on an extendable arm and vaporise the person who had tried to crash the machine.
  • It would bid 3 clubs. The attendant would then alert the other analytical engines that this was a non-standard bid.
  • It would hurl the bell at the attendant.
  • It would print out “Error 404”
  • Nothing – because, of course, any response at all would be redundant.
  • Print a Blue Card of Death (BCOD) and require rebooting.
  • Release a deadly nerve gas to eliminate the incompetent attendant. Charles Babbage was an evil man.
  • Ring a louder bell and stop, then spit out a card with the details of the incorrect information on it. This is the machine equivalent of nagging, and the first recorded example of “locking up” of a computer – an example followed to this day.
  • Ring another bell.
  • Ring lots and lots of bells.
  • Same thing I’m doing now . . . nothing.
  • Say “Avon Calling!”
  • Set the card on fire and then eject it.
  • Spit it back out and cry for a solar power source?
  • Spit out the “blue card of death”.
  • Stink really badly
  • Store the request and the given card in a relational database on its HDD, so it could more quickly determine the error, were it to happen again.
  • Sulk
  • Swallow the card and suggest the user contact the bank on the next working day.
  • The Macarena, then reboot.
  • The U.S. version would demand a recount, the Aussie version would have that type of delivery banned, and the English version would have just sexed it up to be the card it wanted.
  • The vassal who entered it would be slapped with a codfish for each action, there is an equal and opposite etc, cant help bad luck
  • Unfold a small, oriental ultramarine papier-mache screen with a sharpened edge which it would use to ritually behead the clumsy operator. This is the first recorded example of the “blue screen of death”.
  • Verify that the wrong card had been inserted.
  • Write a visible annotation on the card and wait until the attendant fixes the problem
  • The machine would say in a heavy monotone voice: “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that”.

Question 4

What mathematical formula was voted as being “the best formula of all time” (follow up question: what formula came second best)

Answer

e^(i.pi) + 1 = 0 – which has five of the best concepts in maths in it

Runner-up Answer

V-E+F=2 (vertices, edges, faces of a solid)

  • 1 + 1 = 2 1 + 1 = 3
  • 1+0=1 1 + 1 = 2
  • 1+1=2 1 * 1 = 1
  • 1 + 1 = 2 0 x 0 = 0
  • 1 = 1 ………… aaand that old favourite 2 = 2
  • 42 = 42. That’s it, there is nothing more to add, as it is the second best formula too.
  • Not very scientific, is it Dr Bob. Voting for a mathematical formula. Who did the voting? Mathematicians or morons or politicians (if that is not tautology). I know we are all supposed to love mathematics, but I no longer understand it. How about E = mc2 (superscript 2)? That is mathematics I presume. 2 + 2 = 5 is very popular in my neck of the woods. Particularly in the company I work for. Now, for the second most popular. Do I look worried?
  • 3.14 = pi is the best of all time and E=mc2 was second best. I naturally prefer Binet’s Formula for Fib(n), but only because I like the natural nature of Fibonacci.
  • A + B = C was first and obviously D + E = F was second … well they were, at the Northbridge Kindergarten last week anyway
  • According to ‘Nerds monthly’, 1st was Beer+Me=SEXY_BEAST 2nd was some load of nonsense by Ian Steen or someone…
  • Apparently Euler’s formula (e*i.pi = -1) is a real turn-on for mathematicians, although I have no idea why. Perhaps it’s because it neatly combines inexactly knowable and imaginary numbers, resulting in John Howard’s IQ.
  • Barney the dinosaur was responsible for this one… 2+2 is 4! and everybody, sing together! 2+2 is 4!!
  • Best for what purpose? The Ten Commandments are considered the best formula ever for people to live together, and it is sort of mathematical (at least, it has some numbers in it) [including zeroes for the amount of killing, adultery, coveting etc that is permissible] so then the second best would be “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
  • Bloody boring e=mc whatsit is probably correct, but I rather prefer the elegance of Formula One, even though it is not strictly mathematical. If F1’s not the best formula of all time then it should be. Second best? Hmm, maybe this: Let paC be the probability of aliens riding on a nearby comet and let fA be a vanishingly small integer, then paC=4*5fA/8/5 or, in other words, four fifths of five eighths of fuck all.
  • e=m(c squared) c=2*pi*r
  • E=MC2. Second best – If M = number of men and W = number of women and if M>W then party will be a flop
  • Euler’s formula. The second best was also Euler’s formula, in a different variation.
  • Formula 1, followed by Formula 3000, Formula Ford and then the formula for Cascade Premium.
  • Hah! Loophole . . . I call the meeting to order. Please tell the best mathematical formula in your opinion. I rather like the Pythagorean Theorem. Meeting adjourned. So, as I see it Pythagorean Theorem 1 vote. All the others, 0 votes!
  • How about Eulers Formula – e^i*pi = -1? Second maybe Fermats Theorem??
  • I have as much chance of knowing this as I have of becoming the queen of England.
  • I nominate the formula for LSD
  • I’ll take a guess at 1. Fibonacci sequence or some such highbrow stuff. 2. Gambler’s Demise, because it makes so much more sense.
  • It must have been the statement of Euler’s formula as e^(i.pi) -1 = 0 (which contains the 5 most fundamental mathematical constants.) Mathematicians see as aesthetically beautiful. Mathematicians manage surprisingly well in wider society, but are much better kept in little enclaves of their own. There is a move to have “mathematician” defined as one of the points on the autism spectrum in the latest DSM, along with everyone else the authors don’t like.
  • It would have to be E=mc^2, if only because it’s probably the best known amongst the general population. For runner up, I vote for a=pi*r^2. This equation is particularly dear to me, because in grade four I did a project on basic geometry (warning to parents: see what happens if you leave old textbooks lying around?), and during class presentation used the phrase “take the root”, at which the entire room erupted into laughter while the teacher dragged me to the principal’s office to explain my “appalling language”. [The principal didn’t know what a root was?] This episode engendered a certain amount of enjoyment for me as – 1) the principal had more maths than my teacher, and I had the pleasure of watching him tell her what an utter idiot she was, [Pleasure! I would have given $1,000,000 for this] 2) he required her to apologise to me in front of the class, [splutter! splutter! $1,000,000,000] and 3) I had a brief respite from geekdom with two days of intense playground popularity as the kid who said “root” in class, and got away with it. [Two days! A lifetime at the very least. And a brass plaque on the wall.]Anyway Sam, after all this, your answer is completely wrong anyway.Wrong? Wrong? Since when does correctness have any place in Dr Bob’s Quiz?
  • Knowledge of Maths + People who don’t understand maths = $$$$$$$ Second best? Probably 1 + 1 = 2.
  • McCauber’s therom. Followup answer TANSTAAFL
  • pi = 3 for calculatory convenience. runner up pi = 5 for those people who *really* are numerically challenged.
  • Probably something short and meaningful… I go with Pythagoras. For second place, Fermat’s Last Theorem.
  • Pythagoras’s infamous triangle thingy. 2nd best. the quotient rule in calculus for calculating the derivative of a quotient system.
  • The cocktail mix at mathematical conference mixers, with the bourbon and coke mix coming in second.
  • The formula for the standard normal distribution (bell) curve is pretty funky, it has both pi and Euler’s number in it, I have no idea what won but it would get my vote.
  • The quadratic formula, followed by 1 + 1 = window
  • Voted by who? I don’t know, but these two are pretty good: 1. Einstein’s Mass-energy formula: E=mc^2 2. Euler’s equation: e^(pi*i) + 1 = 0
  • We gave our children Enfan(tesi)mal. My-sister in law swears by [M]edia(n)sure. Breast milk is best though. Couldn’t pun Gerber . . .I did learn a bit about a mathematician (re)named Geber. http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Jabir_ibn_Aflah.html
  • Well it depends on who is doing the voting. If one was a betting man this formula might win: ¼ x Team Winning Pct. + ½ x Opponents’ Winning Pct. + ¼ Opponents’ Opponents Winning Pct. The guys who wrote this http://www.who2beton.com/articles/ltprofits/ltprofitsrpi.php think it’s the best mathematical formula they have ever come across. Second best? How about E=MC^2.

Question 5

There are legends of “four perfect hands” of 13 cards of the same suit happening randomly in a game of bridge. Apart from its extreme improbability, what other reasoning indicates that this has never happened?

Answer

Because there are no legends of only 2 perfect hands occurring, which is vastly more likely. (Irish answer: and no legends of only 3 perfect hands…)

Other Answers

  • 53,644,737,765,488,792,839,237,440,000 to 1 against. Sorry, bridge hasn’t been invented long enough to play that many games! (Even if it did, it would just mean that pack hadn’t been shuffled, which the players would immediately do…)
  • A hand is played. Cards are stacked roughly by suit. Uncle Claude curses because he goes down by one trick. Uncle Claude grabs a mouthful of peanuts and shuffles once. He gulps a mouthful of beer and spews peanuts as he yells at Aunt Vera for trumping his king in the last hand. He shuffles a second time and deals. The cards of the same suit are still near each other after 2 shuffles. The process of dealing puts cards of the same suit in different hands. During bidding Aunt Vera misses an invitation to a slam. Uncle Claude curses as he plays 4 clubs.
  • Ahh.. the great 1971 bridge coverup. Well, the only thing that points to it never have happened is that we know where you live. Don’t you dare letting a single word slip…
  • Because I only play poker. And nobody other than me is perfect.
  • Because I’ve never gotten one, NO-ONE has ever gotten one.
  • Dimensional analysis from the year 4000, when information was sent back through time to show that not only had this not happened in our dimension, but it had not happened in any one of the 1005 dimensions being monitored at the time.
  • Guns
  • Hell has not yet frozen over.
  • Here is a weak attempt by a non-bridge player: If one person was dealt a perfect hand, why would they show their hand to the competition? Thus each player would be unlikely to know that the other players had received a perfect hand until afterwords. [But they would certainly waffle on about it afterwards, if the bridge players I know are anything to go by – they talk about nothing else ]
  • Holding a “perfect” hand; one which will produce 13 tricks in No Trump, irrespective of the opening lead or the composition of the other three hands, are 169,066,442 to 1. A hand holding all 13 cards of a suit does not qualify, since such a hand will not take even a single trick. Most players think of a hand containing four aces, four kings, four queens and a jack as the perfect hand. However, such a hand represents only four of the possible 3,756 perfect hand combinations, the most dramatic of which might be the 168 possible deals with hands holding ten cards to the ace, king, queen in one suit with three singleton outside aces. Number of different hands a named player can receive = 635,013,559,600.Number of possible deals = 53,644,737,765,488,792,839,237,440,000.Number of possible auctions with North as dealer, assuming that East and West pass throughout = 68,719,476,735.Number of possible auctions with North as dealer, assuming that East and West do not pass throughout = 128,745,650,347,030,683,120,231,926,111,609,371,363,122,697,557.[Wow! The number of possible auctions vastly exceeds the number of possible deals. I always thought bridge was a bit strange]
  • I would have certainly heard of it if it had happened. I haven’t so it didn’t. After all at 2,235,197,406,895,366,368,301,559,999 to 1 it would have been the MOST AMAZING thing to have ever happened. Dr Bob would have no doubt heard about it also and so not set this question.
  • If it had ever happened, the other three people playing would be so annoyed by the implication that the dealer had been playing funny buggers with the deck that they’d beat the dealer up with handbags and drown him/her in his/her own Bovril, and the print media would’ve picked up the story to run under the “Odd Spot” or “Lighter Side” section reserved for humorous items.
  • If it had ever happened, there would have been a news story about four people sitting around a card table with four perfect hands simultaneously dying of heart attacks.
  • In an infinite universe? plenty of time yet…never say never
  • It can’t have happened otherwise Russell Crowe would have starred in the movie of the event
  • It is contrary to the will of the Creator God for this to happen (He’s against card playing).
  • No one has four hands
  • No one would win? (I must add that I have never played bridge, so I wouldn’t have the foggiest about what a “perfect hand” is) [No, whoever had 13 of a suit would immediately bid 7NT. If they did not get the contract they would be sure to lose]
  • No-one actually plays bridge. [No, they eat, sleep and breathe it instead]
  • Omar Sharif never mentioned in his column how to play a hand with all 13 spades. By the way most web sites list the probability as 1 in 1 in 2,235,197,406,900,000,000,000,000,000 when it is plainly 2,235,197,406,895,366,368,301,560,000. (Numerator 24 ways to distribute 4 suits, denominator 52C13*39C13*26C13.) Sheesh.
  • On the question of improbability, however, why is it more improbable to be dealt a “perfect” hand like that than to be dealt, say, 4 aces, 4 kings, 4 queens and the jack of spades. The odds should be identical. Are you also saying it is more improbable for four perfect hands to happen in a hand of bridge than four of the other one?
  • Only one hand could be “perfect”. Regardless of what they contain, the others won’t take a trick.
  • Presumably because that is just what they are. Legends. We sceptics like to see such phenomena, suitably verified, reported by a respectable source or in a quality magazine, preferably on bridge. Has it never been reported Dr Bob? In other words the only reports are from somebody’s brother-in-law’s second cousin’s hairdresser’s bridge playing half sister’s husband’s third cousin twice removed. Is that what you are saying.
  • Someone would have told us with factual back up.
  • The bloodiness of the inevitable death struggle between 4 players with a perfect bridge hand each would ensure that nobody lived to tell the tale.
  • The fact that they are legends??
  • The guy was obviously JOKERing.
  • The probability of any named distribution of the cards is exactly the same, surely, and being extremely improbable doesn’t prevent them from happening. Anyway, if it did happen, the dealer would be accused of cheating and forced to redeal.
  • The Reverend Internet says it did happen, to good old Hilda Golding and her bridge cronies in Bucklesham (big party town by the sounds of it). http://www.manchester.com/interactive/exta2.html
  • There has been no recorded instances of four simultaneous heart attacks down at the local bridge club, so no 4 bridge players (who are, by definition, over 80) could ever have gotten those hands.
  • There’s always someone who loses a card from the deck … damn that Ace of Spades
  • They would not be “perfect” because they are not guaranteed to be winning hands – just the opposite in fact. At odds of 2,235,197,406,895,366,368,301,559,999 to 1, the probability is roughly the same as an error-free version of Windows or a non-controversial quiz from Dr. Bob, & we all know that some things will just never happen…
  • Thirteen is an unlucky number.
  • Uri Geller doesn’t play bridge.
  • What’s bridge? I’ve never played it.
  • Who would be awake during Bridge to notice?

Question 6

This is a sketch of one of two space aliens seen in a UFO sighting in Connecticut in 1957. In the NICAP write up of this incident, what was said to be the alien’s “distinguishing characteristic”?

Answer

Its square head … (well, it was 1957 and nice people didn’t talk about such things …. …. …. (no sir, they just got on with it ….)) “Their arms were upraised (apparently the right arm of each and no hands were seen). They wore a kind of jacket, and she thought they were stewards, carrying trays – except that their heads were unusual. They were square or rectangular, of a reddish-orange, with a brighter red ‘bulb’ in each (the witness suggested the possibility of some kind of helmet.) The feet were out of view below the portholes. Then a third man entered from the left., and Mrs. Starr leaned forward to try to see his face more clearly than the others.”

Other Answers

  • “All the lab boys think she’s a spy. She’s got Betty Davis eye.”
  • A disproportionately large, prominent and turgid copulatory organ.
  • A gigantic erect penis, even bigger than the average Australian’s.
  • A highly irregular beer gut
  • A love of showtunes and impeccable table manners.
  • Apart from the jackets they wore, the upraised right arms carrying trays, the rectangular heads with red light bulbs in them, the fact they were only 4 feet high and the UFO they were in at the time? Let me see…did they have a Tasmanian accent? [Naah … that would be weird]
  • Big nose
  • Exactly the same as the oft-mentioned John Howard. Its odour of malice and short stature.
  • I believe it was the size and perpetual erectness of what scientists believed to be its penis, Dr. Bob. [H’mph. You see what belief does for you. If you lie, your nose gets longer. If you believe …. hey! I believe! I believe!]
  • I know what this is. It’s a full body condom for a Dalek.
  • It doesn’t have one. This was a fairly common sight at the time.
  • It has a big nose.
  • It looks a lot like Frosty the Snowman with a giant erection.
  • It was Gay as in “I’m a little teapot short and stout, here is my handle here is my spout”. No? How about that big thing poking out the front(?) of it …. I give up. But it looks like a Dalek in his rain coat and hat.
  • Its addiction to Viagra
  • It’s eyeball gave it a very enlarged view of its sexual self
  • It’s fat? IT’S A SQUARE!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!! OH GOD PLEASE NO!! NOT THE SQUARES!! I wonder if it has glasses and really bad acne?
  • It’s footwear – Dr. Scholl’s sandals.
  • Its German type square head and exposure to thalidomide
  • Its height
  • It’s tendency to keep whining plaintively for Uncle Davros, and another chocolate biscuit. Oh, and it’s perpetually giving everyone it meets the finger.
  • Nazi dwarfs
  • No feet.
  • Odd grey colour and perfectly flat bottom.
  • One ball.
  • Short, bald and bowlegged? Oh that’s me, sorry wrong alien.
  • Speaking German
  • Spoke with a lisp
  • Square head with red glowing “bulb” on the inside. There were actually three reported. They all wore snazzy jackets, “like stewards”. Really amusing.
  • That he would bring joy to a maiden’s eye, or a blush to her cheek, depending on the status of her maidenhood. Though the concept of an alien with a schlong more then 2 1/2 foot long sticking out of the middle of it’s chest is quite mind-boggling. It actually looks rather like a finger. The alien looks like a cross between a dalek and the flying fickle finger of fate. The moving finger writes and having writ, disappears at high speed in the general direction of up.
  • The 2 foot long member is fairly distinguishing.
  • The alien was initially described as “Ned Kelly with an erection”. Unfortunately, as no Americans know who Ned Kelly is, the draft text was changed to read “fire hydrant…”
  • The bloody picture did not come through despite my assaults on the “Refresh” button, so will guess it’s their lack of a belly-button. But it could also be the absence of a foreskin (unless the aliens were female or Jewish or just ordinary blokes understandably concerned about penile cancer, of course).
  • The Edger J Hoover style of lacy underwear underneath its silver raincoat [Yes I can see that too. I can see it in all the pictures]
  • The four foot linear measure that accompanied it everywhere
  • The giant dill pickle attached to the alien’s chest wall. You know, this alien looks something like the Daleks in Dr. Who. Exterminate! Exterminate!
  • The lack of hands
  • The little bump about three-sevenths of the way up from the ground on the right-rear surface of the tablecloth that’s covering the stool-and-table arrangement.
  • The obvious is square head? you are joking – it has to be a large thumb, not like little Tom Thumb more like his cousin Large Richard.
  • Their square orange heads with a bright red bulb inside. Mention was also made that they had a good navigator… Like they were planning on making their Earthly debut in a backyard in Connecticut.
  • This alien is uncircumsized. Therefore it is a Gentile alien, or if it is Jewish then he is the child of forgetful or squeamish parents.
  • Tis me :o) Don’t let on in Lagos though. http://www.scamorama.com/stu-kalo.html
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah . . .Insert phallic joke- what I find more interesting is this quote: “Knowing that at that time of year all the other cottages near her were unoccupied, Mrs. Starr did not expect any corroborating witnesses,…, CSI places it in the authentic category.” [Source: http://www.temporaldoorway.com/mufonct/report/571215.htm%5D It appears a lack of witnesses bolsters your case. That being said I submitted the correct answers to the February quiz and I think they just got lost somewhere on the Internet. No one saw me do this. Can I claim half the prize from last month?
  • You expect me to say “the 2 feet long penis”, right?. But I’m gonna say… let’s see… it sang Icelandic folk songs. Ha!
  • The picture could have very humorous overtones, but when I found the article and it is an arm – well it ALL made sense. Unlike the article.

Comets … sorry, Comments:

  • As you can easily tell, all my answers for this quiz were made up. Oh, and the pic of Blob the Molester was really amusing…
  • Best picture of yet of my cousin!
  • DO I WIN??????
  • Dr. Bob, can you prescribe something to help me get the Kim Carne’s song out of my head that I used as an answer to #6? [Yes – the Icelandic nose flute]
  • Every so often I know one of these answers. This wasn’t one of those months.
  • First time participating. Looking forward to seeing how poorly I have performed.
  • For how much longer are you Melburnians going to tolerate the destruction of your hallowed traditions, eg your iconic MCG, your wondrous Flinders Street Station and, most sadly of late, your sanctified criminal underworld?
  • Good fun Doctor Bob. As a quiz virgin I hope you’ll treat me gently…
  • Great fun
  • Have you run out of Iceland questions? [NO!!! Heh heh heh]
  • Hey, w’sup Doc? My Media teacher decided that this would be more fun than giving us an assignment for the holidays so I kinda had to do this (albeit halfheartedly). [Indeed, what a gentleman and a scholar. Please send him my regards.] He’s the kind of creepy teacher that always knows if you’ve done your homework or not, without asking. So anyway here’s my question, well really I have two but, meh. 1.Whats with the writing behind the alien picture? (or am I the only one who can see that? but seriously, I can see the words!) [Two alternative answers: (a) It’s a bright scan from a cheap book, and the printing comes through from the other side of the page, or (b) It’s a special hidden message from the alien in the picture and ONLY YOU can see it!] 2. You seem like an intelligent person, why did you stop believing in fairies and the like and why? [Three answers. (a) You’re right, I do SEEM like an intelligent person, but …. (b) I know all about fairies, some of my best friends ARE fairies, but we don’t go down that road here, do we? (c) You don’t need to ask twice]
  • Hi again. Long time no see 🙂
  • I am annoyed not to have sussed the question on “Katarina Ismailova” last month. I have actually seen the opera, which is good, but I prefer the symphonies. Also, nowhere can I find reference to Thomas Cromwell being arrested under his own conspiracy act. He was attainded basically for being too ambitious, being a cocky sonofabitch and not providing his master with suitably beddable women. Your source would be gratefully accepted.
  • I have returned. I’m back to promote the guilty and persecute the innocent. Of course it is easier the other way round, but not as much fun.
  • I wasted far too much time on this, and discovered there’s a very strange world out there on the net! [Then it was surely time well spent]. Something strangely addictive about this site, and it’s only my first time here! Not my last, though…
  • I’m allowed to make jokes about mathematicians because I married one 🙂 [and because your spouse is smaller than you]
  • Just a quick one on Friday night this month. [OK I’ll be behind the bike sheds at midnight then]
  • Just wanting to correct your correction from the photo question in the March quiz – Tomorrow and Toomorrow were two separate entities. Tomorrow, featuring Keith “Excerpt from A Teenage Opera” West were formed in Britain in 1968, and indeed had a hit with “My White Bicycle.” Toomorrow, featuring Our Livvy, was created by pop mogul Don “The Monkees and The Archies” Kirshner, and were to be marketed via film and record, but sank into oblivion faster than you can say…well, anything really. [Thanks for that, I wrote the answers in haste (as I always do – it probably shows) and I can believe that you are right. I remember Excerpt From a Teenage Opera (“Grocer Jack”) it was a hit in August 1967. The bloke I knew in Toomorrow was called Louis Cabot, a very minor actor who was in the cast, at least for the end number. Now disappeared without trace.]Only thought I’d mention this to you because I sit with your quiz online once a month, head spinning and wondering how you come up with such questions and where you get the answers (ie I’ve never submitted any) [Probably very wise. You can see what happens when people DO submit their answers (I cut all the ‘normal’ responses out) I get the questions mostly from reading obscure books. I hardly ever get them from the Web – when Google came along it changed the nature of my quiz forever. I reckon Google will go down in future history books as the big thing that happened around these years. Dr Bob P.S. Glad you enjoy it. (the quiz that is) ]
  • Lots of excitement at my workplace these days, Dr. Bob. We think the school president, Jesus Junior, may get fired! Yes! String him up! [A more appropriate method of execution comes to mind]
  • More Useless Magna Carta trivia: during an archaeological dig in his office, last week the boss unearthed a file from 1957 showing that tradesmen from DSTO Maribyrnong were engaged to build a display cabinet for the only copy of the Magna Carta to travel outside the UK. I’m now convinced that anorakdom isn’t just an airborne disease, it actually seeps up out of the ground in this place….. [Ah. Well I have seen it! In 1988, and in a glass case, no less. In Canberra. Hmm another trivia question comes to mind – I wont spoil it here]
  • Much too busy to comment but have a nice day.
  • No answers printed last month gave me something to aim for this time around.
  • NOW DO I WIN?????
  • Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant and a grape?A: |Elephant|*|grape|*sin(theta)Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant and a mountain climber?A: You can’t cross an elephant and a mountain climber because a mountain climber is a scaler.[And when the Ark began to get too full and Noah grabbed a couple of useless snakes: “You can’t take us away – we’re adders”]
  • Sorry, I get sillier every month.
  • Still recovering from your holiday? [Yes – recovering from the second holiday that is – I came back from the first holiday to find a message waiting, summoning me to Tokyo – at someone else’s expense! I felt compelled to take another week off, all over Japan. Which is why the March answers were also late.]
  • The absence of naked lady pictures on this website is something good. [But surely, while it lasted, the presence thereof was something even better. Look at this month for example – pictures of a mathematician.] This is a skeptic website, not a pornography website. So–to show defiance of my anti-naked ladies stance, do you intend to debunk breast enlargement products with detailed pictorial reports? To have pictures of breast cancer self-examination? To debunk bogus weight loss schemes with naked before and after poses? To demonstrate with pictures how bad breast enlargement surgery is?
  • Visit http://www.thegreatescape.org.au/index.htm and sponsor my team. We accept all sponsorships. Money is good. [And some things are even better. However I can’t do that with the whole team]
  • Welcome back from your vacation. I’m dreading what you learned.
  • Whee!
  • Whereabouts do you appear on the Melbourne underworld hitlist Roberto?
  • Why do we have a standardised rail gauge, but no standardisation between the states for the names of the glasses beer is served in?
  • Your not going to send me all kinds of crap r u? I wouldnt like that [Be assured I have never released the e-mail addresses]
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