Answers for May 2004

Near misses from Mr Mutwehir, Steve Merdith and Jeff Morford but the WINNER this month is the legendary –

Martin Binford

This one goes at the top of the file:
A historian and mathematician dined together and were debating which was the more important discipline. “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it,” says the historian. “But think of how mathematics has supported engineering and physics,” counters the mathematician. While the historian is temporarily in the bathroom the mathematician slips the waitress a big tip [leave room for Dr. Bob comment] and says “Answer the next question I ask with ‘the natural log of x’”. When the historian returns the mathematician continues, “Mathematics is so important I bet even the waitresses here need to know it.” The historian accepts the bet and the mathematician summons the waitress over and asks, “Can you help my friend and I settle a bet? What is the antiderivative of the function 1/x?” The waitress replies, “The natural log of x, plus a constant.”

Question 1

Members of the organisation “True Love Waits” decline to indulge in sex before marriage. Compared to the rest of society, how much lower is the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among this group?


About the same. If they change their mind about doing it, apparently buying a condom can wait too.

Other Answers

  • Not very. This group run buy the musician Tom Waits has one hell of an induction ceremony.
  • 0%. Just a guess – but probably an accurate one. My betting is that all the women in this group are gorgeous, and all the guys are nerdy dorks. The guys are just hanging around – trying to get one of these women to marry them. Such a silly world.
  • 100%
  • 25%
  • 38%
  • 45%
  • About 4 inches
  • About 75%. They develop a natural immunity due to the other organisms they pick up…
  • According to recent studies, it is slightly lower than that among young Tibetan goats. [But it is exactly the same as among South American llamas, and as to why this is, well, umm…]
  • Around 12 to 15 inches. Members of the organisation “True Love Waits” have their genitalia located below the left knee.
  • As life is an STD, and most religious people seem to think only the devil uses condoms, I’d say quite high.
  • Because they don’t have sex they cannot get a sexually transmitted disease – don’t you know anything??? RSI is an issue for both genders, however.
  • By definition 100%. Suppose a member of TLW named Johnny has an STD. Since Johnny has an STD he must be sexually active (though perhaps not by Clinton’s definition). Therefore he is not in True Love Waits. This contradicts the original hypothesis so Johnny doesn’t exist.
  • Columbia – Yale did a study on this and found that STD rates for whites who pledged virginity, the study found, was 2.8 percent compared with 3.5 percent for those who didn’t pledge. For blacks, it was 18.1 percent and 20.3 percent. But it wasn’t a very large group of students so the report says statistically there is no difference.
  • Depends how often “this group” has sex!
  • Either 100% or 0%, I know you wouldn’t have asked unless it was really low or really high [yes, and the percentage is really high too]
  • How many ways could we use these stats: Whites in TLW 2.8 Not in TLW 3.5 – Blacks in TLW 18.1 Not in TLW 20.3 – Whilst this might suggest black members of TLW are less honest, it clearly shows the white one fail more (There is a 25% increase in STD’s in whites cf 12.15% in blacks). I wonder why the web had the stats segregated on a racial basis, but didn’t bother to mention asians, or Icelanders for that matter?
  • I think I shall not take my chances typing “true love waits sexually transmitted diseases” on my search engine.
  • If “True Love Waits” are so boring they refuse to indulge in pre-marital rumpy pumpy I will stick to Tom Waits.
  • In view of the fact that these religious loonies are all practising hypocrites, the probable answer is that their incidence of STDs is higher than the rest of us. Most of whom practice safe sex anyway.
  • It is higher – presumably it is from learning from past mistakes that most of them decided to join in the first place.
  • It probably isn’t lower, I would say it’s probably 10% higher, I bet most of them don’t actually wait!
  • It’s higher. They’re forced to use their hands (which they forget to clean beforehand [sic]).
  • It’s not lower at all. A number of studies have found that those who pledge abstinence have higher incidences of sexually transmitted diseases, mainly because they are no better than the rest of us at avoiding temptation, but aren’t as prepared for it when it happens.
  • It’s not. Both rates are statistically the same. Apparently the frustration builds and builds until it becomes a case of “True Clods Collide” with a rush of blood(?) and passion and no condoms. Or else you really can catch it from the toilet seat.
  • It’s probably higher! I’ve read that communities that encourage abstinence programs such as “True Love Waits” also oppose condoms as an alternative. So when members break their pledge (and a significant proportion do break their pledge), they often have unprotected sex. It’s a crazy world.
  • Its roughly the same because most members, while promising future celibacy until marriage, are not virgins. “Ah, but I was not born a monk” -Chow Yun-Fat, Bulletproof Monk
  • It’s the same. Ha! Ha!
  • Let’s compute their percentage first. Hmmm, 0/0 is undefined.
  • Lower? than the groin? Hmmmm…. ah if they have toe fetishes, then about a metre lower.
  • No, no lower; it was generally about the same height as everyone else, around the groin area (though one incidence was recorded on a knee and another on a shoe, though these were later attributed to some delusional fetish on the part of the researcher and are probably apocryphal).
  • None – because they are all children of parents who had indulged in promiscuity. Hence their T-shirt slogan, “Thank you, Herpes!’
  • Not lower at all. Although teenagers in the “True Love Waits” campaign statistically have fewer sexual partners than other teens, they are also much less likely to use condoms when they do have sex. Hence their chances of getting an STD are the same as everyone else.
  • Not lower at all. The randy little buggers are just better at pulling the wool over their parents eyes, which is a skill highly valued by any teen, so good on ’em!
  • Not lower at all–they catch STDs in their mouths (“I did not have sex with that woman”).
  • Not much according to the Columbia-Yale study. Given that a smaller proportion of “pledge-takers” are tested for STDs it could well actually be higher.
  • Not sure that I want to know the answer to this one, Dr Bob.
  • Not that low if they have a very loose definition of sex.
  • Nun… sorry, bad pun.
  • Only by 1%… and with a statistical error owing of 95%, it doesn’t really count. In other news, the incidence of HIV is higher, as people turn from sex to drugs…
  • Pregnancy reduced by 40% (is this a sexually transmitted disease?) So I guess similar 39.5%
  • Surprisingly, the “True Love Waits” organisation has a higher rate of STD’s than a comparable cross section of youth in society. This can perhaps be attributed to the ‘Scoundrels last refuge” syndrome or the consequences of the loin twitching anti-sex erotica members are obliged to watch as part of their induction to the group.
  • The higher the public moral of a group, the more sure you can be they have a second one for everyday use. So, if they really wait until marriage, they will have more contacts to prostitutes and more gonorrhea etc…
  • The incidence of STD’s in members of this group are approximately 75% of that of the general public. This seemingly high incidence is because of the fact that many of the members were quite indiscreet when it came to intimate relations before they had their “revelation” of chastity. Often it is these prior promiscuities which prompt them to join the group. Seems you can have your “cake” [or pie] and eat it too
  • The same. They wait for their true love, but indulge in other “loves”
  • There should be nil incidences of sexually transmitted diseases, if of course they are true to their beliefs.
  • There is very little in it [I discovered that, before I resigned from the group ]. While True Love Waits kids have less sex than those who don’t take the pledge, when they do break their vows they are less likely to use condoms so they are more likely to get infected.
  • True Love Waits? Is this a new band collaboration between True North Brass, Courtney Love and Tom Waits? If so, I can’t wait for the first single to come out!!!
  • Well, as the Bearman-Bruckner study didn’t discriminate between True Love Waits and it’s spawn of a million other no-ring, no-nookie groups, it’s difficult to tell. There is a plausible argument that TLW, as a Christian group with a strong social support (read: loopy fundamentalist) network, might work somewhat better than the secular school based programs. You can’t prove from the study that the STD rates in the latter programs aren’t high enough to skew the results. Okay, it’s unlikely, but as the study didn’t test this hypothesis you just don’t know. So there. 🙂 Anyway, at least they are a bit older by the time they catch their syphilis.
  • Well, people want things more when they perceive them to be scarce or hard to obtain. So, perhaps their incidence of STDs is higher.
  • You really mean it’s lower? Surely this group is less likely to use a condom when they inevitably break their pledge, reinforce their guilt complexes and have sex.

Question 2

In 1492 did people generally think that the world was flat?


No. Columbus had been stirring about the world being round and niviagable since about 1472. Even the ancient Mediterranean crowd had a pretty good idea about it being spherical.

Other Answers

  • A.D. or B.C.? The Flat Earth Society claims to have been formed in 1492 B.C. By 1492 A.D. this was no longer accepted theory. Refer: Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians by JEFFREY BURTON RUSSELL, Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • According to the Flat Earth Society they were founded in 1492 BC. Oh I presume you mean AD. Well probably not according to my homework site, at least amongst the educated people.
  • Back then, they believed the world was an EVIL INVENTION OF THE DARK ONE BEELZEEBUTH and so speculating on its shape would have condemned one’s soul to hell.
  • Despite Copernicus’ theories from years before, the general populace in 1492 regarded the ’round Earth’ theory as heresy, in accordance with official church dogma. Furthermore, If the world was round, why didn’t we all fly off into space?
  • Doesn’t matter. The sphere is isomorphic to the plane (give, or take a point).
  • Educated Europeans have known since at least the time of the ancient Greeks that the world was a sphere. My uneducated guess is most people did not think about it one way, or the other anywhere in the world between finding food, dying young, etc.
  • I am sure most people did not leave their villages or towns and so there was no need to care about flat or round for them, as long as the cock’s cry awakened the sun every morning. Christian priests thought it important that the earth was the center of the universe, but the form of the earth itself was not determined by religion. But I remember drawings of the travellers arriving at the world’s end where they were looking through a hole into the universe.
  • I guess so, pretty much the same way most (insert time-worn cliche here e.g. Rednecks, Irish, Queenslanders, American Presidents…) think today! Only some of those who had open minds and access to higher education entertained the idea that the world was round and you could reach the east by going west.
  • I think Copernicus (or was it the other bloke?) said in 1543(at the risk of his life) that the world was round so I suppose in 1492 the answer is “no” particularly as there are still some (not skeptics I hope) who still believe in a flat earth. Anyway the world is not flat – most of us can see that it has mountains. (sorry Uncle Bob too obvious a quip from me)
  • In 1492 CE, no. Apparently there’s some weirdo kind of flat-earth society that reckons it was started in 1492 BCE, but then this is the same site that says “common sense allowed him to see through the globe myth while he was still in grade school. He contends that sensible people all over the world realize that the earth really is flat. “. Including, interestingly, Christopher Columbus himself!
  • In 1492 did people generally think?
  • In 1492, people thought whatever their local potentate TOLD them to think.
  • It was a toss-up. Flat people thought it was round, while round people, wished to be flat.
  • It’s difficult to say what the people generally thought in 1492 … probably like now, not a lot. Everybody in the know knew it was round (Did you notice the shape of the shadow in this months lunar eclipse ). The greeks even got the diameter (& hence circumference) pretty close, courtesy of wells and shadows and sums. Icelanders had no idea there was a world.
  • Most people didn’t care.
  • Most people probably didn’t think about it one way or the other, but most of those who did think about it probably did not think that the world was flat. Not in 1492 – might have been a close call a few centuries earlier though.
  • No – but it does make Columbus’ journey sound much more exciting. (
  • No – the circumference was unknown, but it was pretty much accepted by people at that time that the Earth was round. Incidentally, Columbus underestimated the size of the Earth by some 25%
  • No – the fools!
  • No of course not. That idea comes from a book by Washington Irving. Hey he thought he would sell more books if he wrote that. Anyway it wasn’t because of a flat earth that people tried to discourage Columbus. It was because he was a twit and thought it would be only about 2,400 miles west to get to the east. “No, no, no, they said it’s much further that that, you will never make it”. They were right he was wrong and if he hadn’t run into The New World by accident he would have been doomed.
  • No! Why should they? According to a famous and good-selling German book, Columbus just got the size of the earth wrong, claiming that the circumference was ca. 24.000 km – and not 40.000 km
  • No, a misconception. Most people thought it was round but were too scared to say so due to the pope who was the editor of a popular science magazine at the time.
  • No, at least not in Western culture. Mind you, the creationists and other flat-earthers soon made a comeback.
  • No, but the in 1492 I don’t think people really cared. They were more than happy with their country, no need for these newfangled continents and stuff
  • No, like me they knew the world was not flat because, chances are, like me, they had to walk up a rather large, steep hill everyday to get to work… Now I ask you, what sort of flat world would have hills?
  • No, they did not. They knew the earth was spherical because of the shape of the horizon. Also the belief that the sun and planets revolved around the earth further supported this “Spherical” belief. In Dante’s divine comedies (14th-15th century) an illustration of the levels of heaven clearly shows a spherical earth in the centre of the heavens.
  • No, they thought it had a torus like shape, which would change shape when heated.
  • No. That was in 1491. In 1492, people generally thought the world was an oyster.
  • No. Most educated people knew the Earth was round and had done for at least 500-1000 years. Most books on geography and maps assumed a spherical geometry in 1492.
  • No. Most people believed that the world was a sphere. It’s a urban myth that people thought it was flat. Very interesting to read the flat earth society web pages though. Did you know that the earth actually sits on the back of a turtle? [And the turtle stands on another turtle. What does that one stand on …. “You’re very clever, young man, but it’s turtles all the way down”]
  • No; or, at least, most Europeans (Or most knowledgeable Europeans) held the spherical-earth, Geocentric system. People from other cultures, and less educated Europeans, might have been more flat-earthy though.
  • Nope, people were smarter back then
  • Nope, the fact that there was a horizon at all led to scepticism about that.
  • nope… JW Howard is the only person ever to think the world is flat.
  • Not much thought was given to this issue. They were more concerned with IP version 2 – 2 octets only – they could see the writing on the wall alright.
  • Not quite flat, as such, maybe in need of a bit of a tune, but not completely flat (except for the Spanish Inquisition, they tended to put the dampers on any sort of melody really). Others, however, thought it quite sharp, especially those prickly bits on the fjords.
  • Okay. 1. In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue; 2. Everybody knows that; 3. Columbus is famous for thinking that the world was flat; 4. Everyone and their dog knows that, too; 5. This would suggest an obvious answer; and 6. Dr Bob would never ask such a trivial question. Taking these five premises, the answer therefore has to be “No”. Too bloody obvious otherwise. (Look Mum, no google.).
  • People generally in 1492 did not think the world was flat. They were too busy trying to avoid being eaten by bears or the giant European barking vole to be bothered whether the world was flat, round, an oblate spheroid or, indeed, as it is, square. No more people thought the world was flat as do nowadays, possibly slightly less. Except for the church who would believe anything that would help it increase their power and control over the simple and ignorant. Is that the last anti-religious rant Dr Bob? Only time will tell.
  • Probably. But a higher proportion of US Southern states Baptists still think so to.
  • Silly boy, in 1492 people didn’t think (they still don’t)
  • Some did, some didn’t generally speaking.
  • Some people, indeed. But mostly, they were quite sure about a sphere – shaped world. Mr. Colon was not ridiculed because he believed in the “world sphere” thing, but because he was a crappy navigator. If he hadn’t hit America on the way (which is kinda hard to miss.), he would surely have starved to death.
  • That depends on what you mean by “people”. I doubt the average peasant or foot soldier would have thought about it much. Most of them could not read so they would believe what they were told in church and the Bible says the world is flat. The better educated, however, would know that the Egyptians had proved the earth was round. Ferdinand and Isabella and Christopher Columbus certainly thought so. Generally, therefore, the people were flat earthers but among those who mattered this was not the case.
  • The world is flat (locally) as any Calculus III student knows.
  • Uneducated people did, educated people did not.
  • Well, I have no idea what people generally thought, but the concept that the world was round was already gaining some acceptance by then.
  • Well, the Greeks and Romans had the 3D Earth sussed a long time before, and for what it’s worth, Columbus’s crew weren’t worried about falling off the edge of the world, but whether their Vegemite would last the long journey.
  • Well, those in Europe did, and they’re all that counted right?
  • What, you mean it isn’t? This is a sceptics site isn’t it? I demand proof the world isn’t flat!
  • Yes because Columbus had just brought out the board game “Battleship” which depicted the world as such.
  • Yes, and some still do, I guess for them it’s STILL 1492.

Question 3

When Christopher Columbus died on 20/5/1506 was he rich?


Poor, insane, in obscurity, still believing he had been 3 times to India or China, and completely unaware of the ghastly discovery he had actually made.

Other Answers

  • His dead body got a lot richer as the day wore on.
  • Yes. Quite. He owned a city in Ohio, a circle in New York City, a variety of avenues in the New World, and a district around the Potomac River.
  • According to the south americans, he did have a rather buttery taste.
  • Apparently he was filthy rich with his Hispaniola sugar plantations.
  • Dead bodies do not own anything, therefore he was not.
  • Depends, was having a pound of platinum a good thing back then?
  • Do you mean Mr Latham’s rich, or Mr Howard’s rich, Dr Bob?? Richness is such a relative thing ( I wish mine were richer). Poor ole Chris managed to offend the Spanish crown and lost his titles and wealth, but just before he died he was awarded “a generous financial settlement”, but no titles, by King Ferdinand.
  • He had claims on something like 2% of all materials in the new colonies but those claims were under dispute with the Spanish royal family at the time he sailed to his own private valhalla. So he was virtually rich but practically poor. He was rich in experience though (fnarr…)
  • He was Admiral of the Ocean Sea and Governor of the Indies, so by any sane standard, yes. Strangely, we know the details of the time and place of his death, but not where he is buried.
  • He was not.
  • He was quite poor and rightly so. Stumbling upon America (which was not as undiscovered as he would have some people believe) was pure dumb luck.
  • He would have been, if his plan to take tobacco and tomatoes to italy had come off.
  • He would not have received a tax cut from Senor Costello’s recent budget – not even close, so no, not rich.
  • He’s not dead. He lives near me, the old guy on the corner with the bad accent and terrible cough – you know him don’t ya? – sure you do.
  • How do you define rich? Rich in monetary terms, or in life experiences? The fact that you haven’t defined it – means that he wasn’t rich in monetary terms. Probably in life experiences though
  • In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In 1506 Columbus lived quite comfortably although the Spanish kings did not pass on quite as much of the plundered wealth as he’d have liked and his patron having died two years earlier … What? What’s that? Well you try to find a rhyme with ‘six’ that sums all that up then.
  • In fiber, yes. His native cleaning woman (Barbara) was so upset by the evacuatory stain his bowels made upon her hand woven tea cozy (CC was using it to keep his “kettle” warm) that she swore to never reveal secret of El Dorado…or is it the Fountain of Youth…or maybe how that guy in Florida moved all that coral to build his castle. Damn…I have it written around here somewhere. Mom! Mom! Can you stop doing the crossword for a minute? Dammit Mom – this is important! Sorry…family crisis – I’ll have to get back to you later.
  • No (I even checked D.O.D. in case you were being devious) Perhaps rich in memories? UGH
  • No -not by today’s standard
  • No, he sank all his money into a fleet. Which then proceeded to sink with all his money
  • No, he was still “Christopher”. “Rich” (Sir Richard Francis Burton or “Richo” to his mates) died in Trieste on October 20, 1890.
  • No, not in wealth, but yes, in knowledge.
  • No. (He may have been rich when he died on other days)
  • No. He spent his earnings still trying to find the New World
  • No. His descendents were given honours, wealth and glory but he died a poor man.
  • No. It was then like always: there are people who have the work and others, who have the money…
  • No. Queen Isabella reneged on her promises of wealth, saying that “anybody” could do what he did. Then follows CC’s fabulous retort with the hard-boiled egg, a great story, but a bit too long to tell here.
  • No … he was a poor bugger… trying to prove the world isn’t flat. As IF!
  • Nobody knows, he took it all with him.
  • Not by modern standards. He didn’t have a TV, microwave, dvd player, home internet connection, or even a mobile phone!
  • Not until they marinated him.
  • Of course, he had a cut of all the proceeds from the americas. The first italian protection racket?
  • Oh yes he had plenty of money. He didn’t get the titles he wanted but he left quite a lot in his will. Not bad for a guy who underestimates the circumference of the world by 7000 miles and “accidentally” discovers two whole continents. I don’t think he ever figured that one out though. He always thought Asia was just past that bit of land that kept getting in the way.
  • Only rich in experience, having lived a full life! filled with adventure! action! excitement! lonely sailors! jail! possible acts of genocide!… And whatnot.
  • Richer than he would have been on 21/05/1506, after the relos got hold of his money. Today is 19/05/2004, tomorrow is the 498th anniversary of his death and he is starting to pong. Isn’t that interesting. Is that the reason you put the question, Dr Bob? Columbus was offered 10% of anything he could glom off the natives, by somebody with neither the authority nor the right to do so, so he probably became quite well off. What would be a much more interesting question would be where he made his first landfall. Even one of the authors who has written about it has questioned his own conclusions. Very odd.
  • Wealthy –
  • Well he was certainly very poorly and soon after death he would become very ‘rich’ but I suspect he had nothing when he died…dust to dust etc etc
  • Well, if you’re dead, you’re not really still actually in possession of any wealth are you? So, I really have to say that – the instant before he died – he was probably skint. After all, you don’t go around trying to find the East Indies and end up travelling half way around the world to discover another continent without blowing the budget somewhat. Besides, the frequent sailor points program was really just in its infancy and, in fact, it really had come close to folding when Eric the Red put in for his rewards, but then they were saved because no one could actually prove where he’d been because the Viking Sea Probe (as Eric had like to call it) had actually failed to unfurl its sails properly due to a lack of NASA (Nordic Atlantic Sea Adventures)funding, and the voyage had to be terminated shortly after they arrived on the New World, with nary a photograph taken.
  • What do you mean by rich? Strong flavoured? Wealthy? Huh?
  • When he died, he wasn’t much of anything. But his heirs weren’t getting rich on their inheritance either.
  • Who cares? The important thing here is that I’m NOT rich. The world is full of injustices.
  • Who cares … but did you know he sailed to iceland in 1477? Now that’s important. [I agree it is important – this fact, this most rare of facts concerning Iceland was hitherto unbeknownst to me. It is “most rare” because it may be the only fact that I did not know about Iceland. I am humbled.]
  • Trick question. There is no 20th month. Can’t pull one over on us Yanks.

Question 4

Why was the British pop group The Edgar Broughton Band often referred to as “The Legendary Edgar Broughton Band”?


Because Edgar’s mother drove the tour bus.

Other Answers

  • Ah yes, you see they were quite popular on the Continent, particularly in Germany, and with the Broughton’s mum driving the tour bus they became known as the ‘Legendary’ Edgar Broughton Band. Why? Well isn’t it obvious?
  • Anyone can call themselves legendary. Doesn’t really mean much, does it?
  • As I have never heard of them, probably they WERE a legend. [But they were most popular in Germany, where you live]
  • BCos that was their original name. Next question…
  • Because King Arthur was it’s drummer.
  • Because no one ever heard of them.
  • Because of their participation in an exhibition entitled “Out demons, Out”. To this day it remains legendary.
  • Because the Pope has not got around to beatifying them yet. He’ll get to them eventually though.
  • Because their manager thought they’d sell more records being called legendary?
  • Because they had the same publicist as Michael Jackson, perhaps?
  • Because they never actually existed. Some people may have heard of the legend of Edgar Broughton and his phantom band of wailers who, on the eve of every anniversary of Jimmy Hendrix’s death, gather their diaphanous forms on the parapets of old theatres and strum away on their air guitars and sing covers of songs from everyone big and dead in Rock ‘n’ Roll. Quite often Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper join in to decompose a few melodies. But, as soon as the sun rises they all go back to party on at Keith Richards’ place (who is also dead, but doesn’t know it).
  • Because they rather astutely put out an album with that title.
  • Because they were always has-beens.
  • Because young men suffer from delusions of grandeur.
  • Because, like Russell Morris, they didn’t seem to exist.
  • Coz they were living legends (OK, I have no idea)
  • Delusions of grandeur?
  • Don King was their promoter.
  • Dr Bob!! About the only really good(???) reason I can find that earns them the title “Legendary” would be that they performed at Glastonbury 71 with some mob called Hawkwind with whom they were occasionally compared. Other reasons might be: all their tracks were rumoured to consist of only two chords; they only performed the one track wherever they went – “Out demons out”. Perhaps they worked miracles at exorcism meetings?
  • Edgar Broughton is not a member of the band, it’s just the name.
  • For the oldest reason in the world – Just Because. Or perhaps because they brought out an LP called “Legendary EBB”. Ain’t nothing like a bit of self-promotion.
  • From a brief google search, I think it’s because of the number of fans who can’t stop using ‘legendary’ to describe everything to do with them
  • I have no idea. There was a compilation album released in the 1980s with that title. From what little I can glean it had something to do with traveling in Germany and the Broughton’s mother who was driving the bus but that is as far as I can go. And life is too short to waste any more time on it.
  • I wasn’t born when they were around. It doesn’t matter. [But I would have thought being born was quite important]
  • It sounded better then calling them “The whatsisname broughton band”.
  • It was a misspelling of “lesionary”
  • It wasn’t. No reference I can find says so, though some of them suggest that some of their songs are legendary. Perhaps the confusion arises because the Edgar Broughton Band was actually mythical, i.e. a legend.
  • It’s just so catchy.
  • Legendary was a misnomer. It should have been Landsendary as that is where Edgar came from (Landsend) but a somewhat tired and emotional secretary in the publicist’s office misspelt the word and the rest is history.
  • Legere, latin, means to collect. Maybe because the records collected dust on the shelves.
  • Mum’s legendary bus driving.
  • Must not make more math puns. Must not. Must not. ARGGHH. They changed some variables in the band and sounded the same whether they played their songs backwards or forwards. That is they were their own inverse. Gasp. Gasp. Weep. You did say Legendry Edgar Broughton Band, right? [AAARGHHHH!!]
  • Never heard of them… are they Icelandic? As googling reveals, perhaps the release of the 2cd Legendary Edgar Broughton Band is the reason – available from at the remarkably low price of $38
  • Never was…brilliant career move so much easier than becoming dead see Janis, Jimmy, Elvis, Buddy……careers never looked back after death
  • Probably because that is how they referred to themselves. Or perhaps cause his mum used to drive the tour bus
  • The Buxton Festival?
  • The title of their record release in 1984. Not related I think to the group Brother Grimm – Peter Brown and his Battered Ornaments – Broughtons’s Mum was driving the tour bus so they called it the Legendary Edgar Broughton Band.
  • They gave a lot of free concerts … … maybe because of political reasons
  • They were “The Band That Refused To Die”, and continued playing into the late 1990’s despite their last hit singles being in 1970 and 1971
  • They were named after the only character enid blighton created but was never seen in print. Dame Enid was terrified by an early morning visit from the constabulary after her manuscript was found to contain traces of nuts
  • They were shameless self-promoters.
  • This was the name of a double album released in Germany in 1985
  • Why not?
  • Wouldn’t have a clue. Edgar Broughton was a legend?

Question 5

A circular iron hoop has an iron bar welded across its diameter. When the whole thing is heated up, does its shape distort?


No. I pinched this question from Prof Julius Sumner Miller. The circumference is pi x D, which is linear in the diameter D, therefore if D changes the proportions do not change. A metal sheet with a hole in it will expand as if the hole were full of the metal, I have no idea why this should be, but my year 8 physics teacher told us that, and I believed him.

Other Answers

  • Depends on how high you heat it up.
  • I assumed it waited until marriage to get “heated”.
  • I can’t bring myself to try this with my body piercings
  • If unsupported, yes. Downward.
  • If you are looking at it through the heat wave – yes, as the mirage will make it look a little like a Dali watch.
  • I’m not an engineer. They’re the ones who have to work out things like this… and fail…
  • It gets bigger, but the shape stays the same. This is because the metal expands in an amount proportional to its length, and the circumference of the hoop is proportional to the length of the diameter
  • It will change. Does this mean same as distort?
  • Let’s see. Heat it up to 200C, nope no distortion. 500C it’s a bit bigger but still the same shape. 1000C still fine Dr Bob how hot should we go? 1550C oops it seems to have distorted now, well melted anyway. 2870C it seems to be boiling Dr Bob is that distorted enough for you?
  • My friend transcribed my experiment as follows: Well let’s see I’ve emptied a barrel of wine I have handy (hic)to get the hula hoop- no it’s not (hic) hula (giggle). I’ve have just welded a schmall crow bar in place. It’s really my bar not the crow’s (giggle). Now I’m heating up the whole thing by holding it over the stove’s burner <i>(Hums Jeopardy theme)</i> .Ow shit, damn, yow, quit typing you $#%@$ &%^&%$ and get some ice.
  • No because both the circumference and diameter increase by the same amount (assuming the bar and hoop is thin)
  • No the ratio between the diameter and the circumference is a constant.
  • No, the structure in question could not be created. A structure that could not be constructed should not change shape when heated.
  • No. Heat will spread evenly through the object, causing equal expansion
  • No. It behaves like a solid disk
  • No. The diameter is directly proportional to the circumference and as one expands so does the other. I asked the question on the ABC’s Self Sevice Science Forum and one response was “any expansion is distortion. If it’s labelled as being “outer diameter 30 cm +- 0.00000000000cm” and you make it expand, it’s no longer that size. it’s distorted. The question would have to ask if it remained circular or not.” It seems a definition of “distorted” may be required. You can see the full discussion at
  • Not if it’s heated uniformly…
  • Not only does the shape distort, but so does the person being tortured.
  • Not quite enough information, Dr Bob, but I suspect that the answer you are looking for is “it doesn’t distort if it is heated up evenly, that is, all parts staying at the same temperature”. Which is an interesting problem in thermodynamics, but let’s not go there now….
  • Obviously yes, if you heat it up enough (You should have asked the temperature at which it distorts). Why do you want to know anyway? Did your belt buckle warp last time you crossed the equator, or are you developing some sort of weird B&D harness and you’re worried about the stability when it all gets a bit heated?
  • Of course not.
  • Of course. The iron will expand – and so distortion takes place!
  • Only if you sit on it.
  • Put the bar on the x-axis. It expands proportionally to the temperature change. Since the hoop is thin in the direction of the x-axis and I only look in the x-direction it doesn’t expand as much. Ergo distortion. Wait, the hoop can be thought of as a bent bar and it will expand proportionally to the change in temperature, too. Since the bar changes by length *constant*delta temp and the hoop changes by pi*length*constant*delta temp we still have a circle. Damn how did I ever pass physics?
  • Surely at least a fraction of a millimetre if anything
  • The hole thing gets bigger. The whole thing does not distort.
  • This depends on the heat … … if the heat is high enough the whole stuff will melt!
  • This is a trick question. If the iron hoop was hypothetically made out of gunpowder Im sure it would change its shape and the shape of everything around it, including my car If my car was hypothetically parked on top of it.
  • This is thermodynamics I suppose. I could never handle the coefficient of linear expansion. It was the mathematics I think. I have a 50% chance of being wrong, unless there are three options in which case a 2/3rds chance of being wrong, so I will use logic… Plan B. An iron hoop when heated will distort. Now will the iron bar across the middle prevent the thing from distorting or merely make it go in a funny direction, as the iron bar will also expand in the heat. I think it will probably go pear shaped. [Like this answer]
  • To test this I created an iron hoop & welded an iron bar across it. The hoop was 1 metre in diameter and the bar was 10 mm in diameter. I reduced the temperature of this contraption to absolute zero, ensured that the hoop was perfectly round and then heated it to 3 degrees above absolute zero. The hoop remained perfectly round, however the bar had become pretzel shaped and wished to be called Daisy in future. Not what I expected, that’s for sure!
  • Topologically, no. It still has two holes. If however one heated up one point enough to rip space-time causing two dimensional points to repair the rip, then yes it could ?
  • Wouldn’t it depend on how hot?
  • Yes – when the temperature reaches the melting point of Iron. At lower temperatures, I would say no.
  • Yes and no. The concentric plasma arc generated by heating the device renders – through a yet to be fully understood catalytic process – local oxygen into hydrogen disulphide (rotten egg gas). So repugnant to the olfactory nerves that this process is, that it makes the hoop APPEAR to distort; a common mental delusion to terrible smells (or, coincidentally, the consumption of fast food).
  • Yes, definitely. It twists into a pretzel. Applying even more heat completely distorts it into molten iron.
  • Yes, it becomes a beautiful butterfly, and wooshes away to Pluto.
  • Yes, metal expands with heat, as such it would get bigger.
  • Yes, so you get a funny not-quite-circular burn mark with a line through the middle instead of a proper “no entry” sign. Sigh. Do it yourself branding fails again.
  • Yes. As the iron heats up it expands. The horizontal bar expands lengthways and the lack of support on the rest of the expanding circle induces the whole thing to become slightly ellipsical [And so have I, yes I do believe I’ll have another one, thank you]
  • Yes. The diameter is shorter than the circumference (gee I am smart) so will increase it’s length by a smaller amount. As the diameter is the longest chord of a circle the hoop has to distort and become a 3 dimensional ellipse (like a squashed circle) with the iron bar forming it’s minor axis. Well at least I convinced myself .
  • Yes. Bar expands more than hoop.
  • Yes. It becomes an iron bar with a circular hoop around it
  • Yes. It distorts into an ellipse with the iron bar forming the minor axis.
  • Yes. The metal in the welds is a different alloy and expands at a different rate, leading to distortion.
  • Yes; if you heat it up far enough, surely the thing melts.
  • You betcha. It takes on the shape of a small bulldog following a full grown poodle on heat. If you pour cold water on it and look quickly you can see its disappointment through the steam.

Question 6

These four stills are taken at regular intervals from a short movie with a song. What was originally shown on the white card in the fourth picture?


1 / 2 pi log T. The picture is of John Derbyshire, author of Prime Obsession – see, but do not under any circumstances actually play the video clip. (Mr Derbyshire looks exactly like me – imagine my bewilderment and distress. And his, when he finds this out).

Other Answers

  • 1/2pi log T – this is a song by Tom Apostol: Where are the zeros of zeta of s? / G.F.B. Riemann has made a good guess: / “They’re all on the critical line”, stated he, / “And their density’s one over two pi log T.” I took the singer’s (John Derbyshire’s) advice and didn’t to listen to it. [Very wise – on the web site he says his daughter said this was “scary”. I know, (a) I have listened to it and it haunts my dreams and (b) I sooled MY daughter on to it, and she now thinks I am even more crazy than I actually am. I have not heard the full version though – I have not dared.]
  • The colour RED – he is sending off an audience member for excessive snoring.
  • A cheque for $500,000 made out to Dr Bob (Leon will accept 10% finders fee…. I may be easy but I’m not cheap)
  • A frisbee that has been rescued from a tree where it lay for a long time, melting in the summer heat. Duh!
  • A landscape photograph where the gentleman in pic 2 photograph had lived.
  • A picture of Christopher Columbus circa 19/5/1506
  • A picture of Mr Gauss, perhaps.
  • A piece of music, but quite frankly, those pictures disturb me more so than anything else I have ever seen.
  • A recent photo of Bert Newton. The exciting musical short was about one guy’s theory of how all men can look like Bert, given enough crackpot theory and cheap booze.
  • An aerial shot of a shallow grave somewhere in New Guinea, with a beard sticking out.
  • An ape.
  • Another early photograph. This one, however was of a landscape in Florence. It held no significance other than the fact it was pretty.
  • Another picture. Or, preferably, black paint so the poor fellow in the picture could hold it in front of his face to hide his identity. The photographer has an evil sense of humor catching those particular facial expressions.
  • Christopher Columbus heating a circular iron hoop. The song was by “The Legendary Edgar Broughton Band”.
  • Donald Dumbsveld until he was expunged from our memories and all history itself following his successful media campaign in Iraq circa 2004.
  • Dr. Bob naked. Hence the look of horror on the guy’s face.
  • Eat at Joe’s
  • Einstein
  • Has to be a photo of one of the infinite number of non-trivial roots of the zeta function. That’s still a hypothesis of course, and I believe is being investigated in Iceland as we quiz.
  • Help, thumones thtolen me teef
  • I hereby bequeath my photo and this card to the man deemed to have the most unclear diagrams in Europe.
  • I was going to say a naked lady, but you gave us a wonderful clue in the answers to April’s questions. The man is a mathematician. Thank you Dr Bob, now I know. What was originally shown on the white card in the fourth picture was e^i*pi + 1 = 0. This is obvious now. Though I still think it should be a naked lady.
  • James Garfield, 1831-1881
  • John 15:12 [I’ll quote it as you heathens will not bother “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” Why not choose instead Daniel 8:20 “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia”]
  • Oh. Umm. Picture is of Einstein sticking his tongue out? Curve is something to do with Fermat’s Last Theorem? Don’t know, can’t be bothered finding out, too tired. Sigh. Aspies, mathematicians, SCAers, wargamers, Bill Gates, sci-fiers, autists. None of them are good in bed, but hey, they’re easy. Right, and now I’ll have to somehow erase that ghastly image before I can get to sleep.
  • OK. It’s Riemann. Now, I don’t know enough math history for a mathematician (or someone with a math degree anyway) so I go to MacTutor. Riemann studied among other things how to view multivalued functions as single valued in certain spaces. He relied on Dirichlet’s Principle. I think Hilbert goes on the card because, “In 1901 Hilbert mended Riemann’s approach by giving the correct form of Dirichlet’s Principle needed to make Riemann’s proofs rigorous.”
  • A full mouth x-ray
  • Photons
  • “Please send help, the walls are booby-trapped”
  • Refrigeration!
  • Say why don’t you get some of those curves get out of their Riemannian manifolds so they can start bifurcating. . . Oops typed this in the wrong window. Better go apologize to the folks at the -er- “chat room” for telling them the real parts of their roots are all 1/2.
  • Somebody who looks interested in what these people are doing.
  • The person on the card in picture 2 surfing… (the background is about wind and wave currents right???)
  • The same guy, shaved. This is a shaving cream salesman who claims that his stuff can deal even with the worst cases.
  • The song was “Strawberry Magnetic Fields Forever” written by Peter Ilyich Lenin and Karl Marx. It is a sad tale of love and loss in the millieu of life, based on a metaphorical trist involving a girl, the beautiful Aurora, some hypersonic magnetic particles, and Van Allen, a lonely astrophysicist; a truly moving and emotional epithet of particle physics and longing. The blank card originally showed Van Allen’s belt (and the shiny new buckle he had bought for it), but the censors thought it slightly risque as Aurora appeared to shine a little too brightly when she was near it…
  • The white card is in fact a blank white card – and the curve represents a formula for removing pictures from photographic paper so that it can be recycled. As you can see from pictures (2) and (4) it also changes the shape of the paper on which the photo was printed. As an added bonus, I have provided captions of what was being said in each photo: (1) “Prepare to be amazed as we delve into the deepest mysteries of the human mind” (2) “This is a picture of my Grandad” (3) “Oh bugger – I used a permanent marker” (4) “Abra Cadabra! Now – do I win the Skeptics Challenge?”
  • The words to the next line of the song? A request to sing “On The Way Home”? A steganograph of the first picture? The closing credits?
  • These film stills come from the controversial Belgian film “Kill Roger Whitten.” The man singing is not Roger Whitten, nor is the photograph of Roger Whitten. Roger Whitten, however was the only person invited to the film but his neighbor, Joshua Voolgan. The film premiere (it’s only showing, in fact) occurred one Saturday evening in Mr. Voolgan’s backyard. The film was projected from the garage behind his house, and shown on a flowered off-white bedsheet purchased specifically for the occasion. According to police reports, Mr. Voolgan was convinced that Mr. Whitten had killed his father by poisoning his ear. The images below capture the “evidence’ gathered by Mr. Voolgan. The first Slide shows Mr. Voolgan pretending to be his sleeping father, whho had a rare ocular condition that allowed him to snore through his eyeballs. The second frame shows Mr. Voolgan’s father in the prime of adolescence, sleeping. The third frame has Mr. Voolgan pointing to his abstract ear canal. The final [Mercifully the browser automatically cuts answers off at this length]
  • This is a family tree. The tree splits in 3 because the man is a Mormon. A picture of both his wives should be on the card.
  • This is the print out of your DNA test: your real father is not the gentleman in picture 2 but…. Hitler or John Howard – take your choice.
  • Uhh, “The Legendary Edgar Broughton Band”???? No, wait!!! The iron hoop and bar, distorted in the background as you can see.
  • Where do I begin to even start looking for the answer to this?? (I know, I know – it is ye who asks ze questions)
  • Zucchini???
  • Penises. The white card originally was a color picture of the wavy penises shown urinating in the background. First naked ladies, now phallic mathematics. Have you no shame, Dr. Bob?
  • Try this for everything you might want to know (or not want to know about Riemann – in Germanof course –


  • I hope you realise that, if you wish Good Luck to everyone that enters, then, assuming your wishes increase the luck of all receiving entrants, it would probably do so by a constant amount, thus resulting in no actual benefit to any particular entrant.
  • Ah Bob…….what a day
  • Apart from the picture, pretty easy this time Dr Bob
  • Bah! To hell with this. – C. Montgomery Burns.
  • Bigger than you, too, Dr Bob. Nice quiz, squire. Wouldn’t want it to get… broken. 😉
  • Bugger, there goes the reference for Mensa.
  • Comment? How about an excuse instead? It was sun spots that’s what made me do it.
  • Dear Dr Bob, I enjoy your quizzes month after month and I pray to Allah that he may see fit to protect you from his followers.
  • Do you think getting Iceland into all the answers, might get me some brownie points? [Yes. Oh yes, yes]
  • Dr. Bob, can you please get me off of this hot iron bar?
  • From now on I pledge to stop procrastinating. Or maybe I won’t…
  • Got ’em all correct this time – although perhaps there may be some debate about my answer to Q.(fill in your own number here)
  • Have fun!
  • Hi Dr Bob. I’ve got no idea what’s going on here but I arrived via a Carl Sagan site so I’m willing to give it a try!
  • Hi, love the site!
  • I actually know half of these, but funny answers are always better reading, and besides which, if I know them, others must too (hence, no name for me…).
  • I am dashing off to hear Salvatore Accardo play Tchaikovsky. [I tuned my radio and heard it too, the match was very one-sided – whop 15-love, whop 30-love, whop 40-love, whop first set Accardo, whop 15-love, … I think if Tchaikovksy had been alive he would have played a lot better]
  • I give this quiz 2*pi on a scale of 1 to 10 in honor of question 5. By the way if you have a belt around the equator snug to the Earth’s surface. (I know you are skeptics, but play along) and add one foot to the belt would you be able to roll a baseball under the belt? OK I’ll bite -(A) No, not if you have one foot added to the belt. (B) No, I don’t have a baseball (C) Only on the land bits of the equator – although baseballs float so you could sort of roll it on water. (D) This question is a bit below the belt
  • I look forward to reading the “real” answers, but now I have to stop creative writing and get back to essay writing. I only stopped off here because the quiz is due today and the essay is due tomorrow…
  • I refuse to comment on the grounds I may entertain myself.
  • I submitted my answers to the quiz this week, but I have a funny feeling that I forgot to add my name. Maybe I should have remained anonymous (depending on how well I went)? [No worries, I did get the answers with a weird webmaster-style address on them, but I get a lot of anonymous replies and they go into the pot like all the others. Without a name you can’t be the winner, but as you’ve won it 3 times already ….]
  • I think I have way too much time on my hands.
  • Me fail Dr. Bob’s quiz? That’s unpossible! [Interesting word, likesounding Newspeak – doubleplusungood verging crimethink, inventor advisenecessary desist alternative unpersonfate]
  • Nice mix of questions this month – a great pleasure to fail.
  • Nice site. But the skeptic inside me begs the question, ‘Is it real?’ It may in reality be a tree falling onto a clapping butterfly in the amazon. Think about it, its profound if you’re stoned.
  • Nicer questions this time around…
  • Please have a look at, as I’ve only just started my business and need more people on the hit counter.
  • Previously I have only admired the quiz from afar, despite knowing some answers instantly, like 4’33” and Jervois Quay (which isn’t that far from the water, actually – Lambton Quay might have been better), but having some unexpected spare time I’ll give it a go. As I say to my children at opportune moments, “Trust me, I’m a librarian.”
  • Some weird thing which looked like a cross between a badger and Dr. Zoidberg sucked out my sense of humour, so no funny answers this month. Maybe next month…
  • Thanks for awarding me the winner of the quiz a while ago, Dr. Bob. [No worries, but please send him back when you have finished with him] The fact that I have not answered a question correctly in more than six years of participation in the quiz has never deterred me!
  • Thank-you. Although my general knowledge can often leave one wanting, my creativity will leave one wanting ever more (or at least that is my hope) I did, however, truthfully know the flat earth one. I learnt it only today at uni.
  • The more skeptical you are – the easier this quiz is to answer without knowing a thing! Is it cheating to enter a pub trivia quiz, and use a phone and google to win it?
  • The song question is a bit of a bastard, Dr Bob.
  • This picture question doesn’t have anything to do with “The American Mathematical Monthly” does it, Dr Bob? I couldn’t find any links, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it did. [No. And I forgot where I got it from. I had heard of his book about Riemann and I was thinking of buying it. I think I saw a link to the song clip on another site. I’ll try to recall by searching my web activity. In fact Derbyshire’s other writings are pretty good and I …. wait, I remember how I found it – he has written a book called “An African in Greenland” and I was Googling on the word “Greenland” … P.S. Can you recommend a good psychiatrist? I am starting to think that I need one.]