Answers for October 2008

ANSWERS for October 2008. After the August quiz, when I hid my favourite ship in every question, I tried to take a break from this topic – god knows, I tried – and this month’s quiz was suitably themed on telescopes and astronomy … well, at least I thought it was (and I’m the one who sets the questions). Sue McLeod gave a set of encyclopedic answers. But this month’s long overdue WINNER managed to get the Titanic into every answer. Now I am wondering if everything, everywhere, has a connection to this doomed vessel. It even came up (so to speak) as I was browsing Wikipedia about the movie “The Right Stuff”. Well done, and welcome aboard –

Michael Carland

… of Canberra. Gosh, that’s the name of a cruise ship built in the same shipyard as …. anyway, I hope you can get a place in one of the lifeboats.

Question 1

The first telescope in 1608 was refused a patent – on what grounds?


The idea was too simple

Additional Answers

  • Hans Lipperhey was refused the patent on the grounds that several other lens makers had also claimed invention of the telescope including Jacob Metius and Zacharias Jansen.
  • 2EZ
  • Because Galileo was under house arrest by the church?
  • Because it was too easy to copy… Imagine if they used that logic for mp3’s?
  • Comprising only an objective and a convex eyepiece, the image was upside down. So the patent clerk, not being one Albert Q Einstein, didn’t grasp the subtle possibilities and thought that the telescope therefore didn’t “work”.
  • Coz heaps of people were already using them. In the Middle East crude ones had been used for centuries and even as far as Brunei (following Muslim migration) – the Dutch may have got the idea from their travels to the East Indies? If you can’t have a good idea – steal one!
  • Hans Lipperhey applied to the States General in Den Haag for a patent for what we would call a telescope on October 2, 1608. While they were discussing it they received another request for a patent for the same thing from Jacob Metius. Very little investigation would have revealed that the idea of these things was circulating generally – in Spain, Italy etc Lipperhey certainly has a claim to fame for recognising the importance of the device (and wanting to cash in?) but obviously it was an idea whose time had come – there were a lot of very good lens makers around by this time and very little mucking about with a convex and a concave lens and the length of your arm will lead to discovery of the principle. The States General very sensibly declined to award a patent as it was a not sufficiently original idea easily copied – as demonstrated by the fact that Galileo made a vastly improved one after just hearing about one from someone who had seen one. Lipperhey should not feel too hard done by, as he did get a lunar crater and minor planet 31338 Lipperhey named after him.
  • I think a bloke called Lipperhey requested for patent but was refused because there were many requests for a patent at the same time by other people and the patents office decided the telescope was too easy to replicate.
  • It was a painted cardboard roll.
  • It was considered to be known to others
  • It was crap.
  • It was denied because the Dutch thought it could not be kept secret. Pretty strange Dr. Bob because a patent is a public document is it not… So the Dutch wanted to keep it a secret they denied a patent because you couldn’t keep it secret. Joseph Heller would have been most impressed.
  • It was patently absurd.
  • It was refused on the grounds of the Patent Office because the claustrophobic inventor would not enter the building.
  • It’s just a glass filled tube.. C’mon!
  • Jan Lippershey,a spectacular spectacle maker in Middleburg Holland is making glasses in his workshop. He is able to place two lenses together and see that birds appear closer to him than usual. He told his wife and children that the birds were the feathered variety, but they were indeed the two-legged female sunbaking topless type of birds. He was not able to properly process the patent as his wife had grounded him.
  • Lipperhey’s a witch! Plus already known/too easy to imitate.
  • More than one person had claimed to invent it. Crazy Dutch.
  • On the campus of some famous Italian academic institution, obviously.
  • The Dutch got confused about who invented the telescope so decided not to allow anyone to have a patent.
  • The patent for a telescope to Hans Lipperhey was refused “on the ground that it is evident that several others have knowledge of the invention”.
  • This was actually a situation that was a result of the patent holder to patents refusing to patent this new item. In fact, they had to wait their 20 years for the patent to run out on patents.
  • Too easy. Not the question – the telescope. It would have been unacceptable, even to the Dutch, to imprison every 12 year-old boy in the country for making one.
  • Waz it for eh? You tella me that and I give you a patent…you no tella me and I no give you a patent
  • We have two eyes not one, so what’s the point?
  • What’s the point in making things seem smaller than what they really are?
  • The patent clerk could not see the Titanic through it.

Question 2

Which way is the Tower of Pisa leaning?


South or SW, but it used to be North – the damn thing has swung around over the centuries.  Pretty alarming really.  You can view it in Google Earth and use it like a very slow version of a clock hand, to tell the time. I couldn’t find anywhere on the Web, the accurate compass angle to which it is leaning, but it must be known, in order that cables and counterweights could be applied to it.

Additional Answers

  • –>
  • “To the left to the left”, well it may as well be leaning over a toilet, because one day it is going to be in the “Sht” I would say that it is leaning a bit more to the left these days because those capitalists have let the world spend the money that we were going to have saved up and be able to spend when we finished working down the pit, so the tower, like the rest of us, are now a little bit to the left.
  • Ah Dr. Bob. Which way are you looking at it. Either to the left or the right or neither depending where you are standing. OK it leans to the south west but it originally started leaning to the south east but that’s another story.
  • Atheist, hopefully, and south
  • Away from the vertical
  • Down and sideways
  • Down! Seriously … towards the south/southwest at a 3.97 degree angle since remedial work was performed
  • Down.
  • Good question! It would appear that the tower is rotating to the south. It was constructed in three stages with long periods of inactivity in between (strikes? ran out of money? lost interest? too busy with fighting off invading armies? yes, tick all these boxes at various times). The inclination to the south first turned up during the second stage (1272-1278) the builders fudged it trying to adjust for it (obviously hoping that no one would notice till their bill was paid). By 1360 when they were constructing the belfry the builders were finding it hard to cover up – the base was still horizontal but there are six steps to the south and only four to the north – this corresponds to the correction of a rotation to the south of about one and a half degrees. It was definitely leaning in a fresco of 1384 but measurements over the next few hundred years show it to be relatively stable. Since 1992 it has had automatically recording inclinometers installed and despite various interventions, counterweights etc etc its rotation to the south has actually picked up from 4″ per year in the 1930s to 6″ per year in the 1980s but with the counterweight now at 870 tonnes apparently it is stable again. Neat diagrams of all this are at I am happy to say that they have an excellent idea there now that other tourist spots should emulate. You can buy a ticket for a prebooked time to see it! No endless queueing – you buy your ticket and go off to see the Duomo or bother the countless sellers of postcards, aprons with David’s torso, soccer scarves and gilded gewgaws then return at the right time and Dr Bob’s your uncle!
  • It isn’t leaning at all. Italy is just very fast (eg: Ferrari) and the tower of Piza is very tall.
  • It leans to the south west
  • Nowhere. The preposterous stories about it leaning are all a part of an evil Russian Government conspiracy in order to discredit Western architecture.
  • Off-center.
  • Rightish, but a few anchovies should balance it out. How many pisas in a tower, anyhows? Does it matter if they are thin and crispy?
  • SouthWest
  • The Tower is leaning towards Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant – North by North West
  • To the side. I could check it on Google maps, but I’m too lazy.
  • To the south.
  • Ttoward the centre of earth’s gravitational field
  • Towards the ground.
  • Towards the sun. The leaning tower is the first building to use photosynthesis.
  • Well, “away from the vertical”, certainly, but that’s not the answer you are looking for, is it?
  • Which way do you want it to lean, Dr Bob? I pick that way. Do I win? Do I?
  • Towards the Titanic

Question 3

Galileo had some correct, early ideas about relativity – particularly that experiments in a steadily moving environment should be identical to those in a stationary one.  To which set of persons did he speak, to confirm this hypothesis?


Sailors, who had fallen from the mast of a moving ship, who each averred that they had landed at the bottom of the mast, not further along the ship.

Additional Answers

  • A set of Scientologists, particularly Xenu (who had had even earlier interplanetary travel experiences and therefore knew lots about relativity).
  • Bellicose maritime gentlemen with big balls.
  • C-men
  • Filippo Salviati and Giovanfrancesco Sagredo
  • Galileo wrote his “Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo” as a discussion between 3 semi-fictional people:Salviati – a Copernican, Simplicio – a Classicist, and a layman named Sagredo. All three fictional characters were actually based on people that Galileo knew: Filipo Salviati, Cesare Cremonini, and Gianfranco Salvedo.
  • He read the comments on his Myspace page.
  • He spoke to his relatives. Relatively speaking.
  • He told a couple of drunks down at the bar while he was chugging back some fine bourbon.
  • I’m guessing that one of them was Kepler.
  • If you’re thinking what I’m thinking B2 then that would be Galileo’s Dialogo sopra i due massima sistemu del mondo tolemaico e copernicano (usually translated as Dialogue concerning the two chief systems of the world Ptolemaic and Copernican – Galileo ignores Tycho Brahe’s ideas or he would have another one to discuss). In this Dialogue, held over four days at his palace the Venetian Giovan Francesco Sagredo (1571-1620) – representing the ironic freethinker; a Florentine Filippo Salviati (1583-1614) who is the committed Copernican and a fictional chatacter called Simplicius a defender of Aristotelean tradition. The really sharp will have noticed that this discussion despite its title is not a dialogue. [Others will already have opened another bottle]
  • Let’s say sailors, cause they had a steadily moving environment at hand
  • Ships captains!
  • Some slow ones. Greeks detest jogging.
  • That guy who lived with him and smuggled his papers out.
  • The Accademia del Cimento in Florence
  • The Catholic Church?
  • The inquisition, who didn’t like the title. They forgot to read the rest of the manuscript before allowing it to be published and later condemning him to heresy.
  • The Pope, and the Grand Inquisitor.
  • Those who would listen.
  • Uncles and aunts – his relative mentors. I’m in condition today. [Yes, but what sort of condition?]
  • Well he certainly didn’t speak at the annual bankers conference did he? They see things go up slowly slowly building speed, then they crash at just under the speed of sound, enough for you to hear the bankers say “f” on the way down. I think he spoke to a bunch of kids, they have a very balanced view of the world and would have told him straight.
  • Well I don’t think it was the Jesuits. I think it was his mathematical professorial mates like Benedetto Castelli. Then again I may be wrong.
  • What, as in a mathematical set? FART = {CO2, H2S, CH4…} and all that? Really, I couldn’t care less.
  • Witches pushed off cliffs. And sailors.
  • Progenitors of the survivors of the Titanic

Question 4

The Earth orbits around the Sun at 0.01% of the speed of light.  At what fraction of the speed of light is the whole Milky Way moving towards something called the Great Attractor?


7000 km/sec – 2% of the speed of light

Additional Answers

  • .00000001%
  • 0.01%
  • 1/2 +/- 50%
  • 2.2%, relatively speaking
  • A little over 2%
  • At about 22 million kph
  • At the exact same speed as its moving away from something called the great detractor
  • Depending on who you believe the Milky way is moving somewhere between 150km/s to 600km/s or not at all. The speed of light being roughly 300000km/s. That would have the Milky Way travelling at something like 0.14% of the speed of light towards the ‘Great Attractor’.
  • Depends on what you define as a Great Attractor. If the Great Attractor is the dirty great black hole at the centre of all centres, then maybe somewhere between 0.002% and 0.05% of the speed of light. If, as you personally would probably prefer, Dr Bob, you visualise the Great Attractor as a nice large blonde lady somewhere in Iceland, then I’d guess it constitutes an actual part of the Milky Way, thereby making the whole question irrelevant.
  • Hmm, the speed is 22 million kilometers (14 million miles) per hour, so if my mathematics is OK, that is about 2.04% of the speed of light
  • I didn’t know Fabio ate chocolate.
  • I don’t see what the Earth’s orbit has to do with a chocolate bar moving towards a fat person’s mouth but, to humour you Dr Bob, I’ll say 10%.
  • I’d say about 2%
  • It’s impossible to tell, because of the Laumphrey-du Retarde-van den Wanker-Imperttinen-Thong Lieu Effect of zero instability within the viral cortex of Fartzinger-warped spacetime. I read about it in Cosmos! I think I did, anyway… my memory is like a… like a… like a… damn, forgot the word.
  • No idea, i’m guessing >1%
  • No idea. Once of the things I love about these quizzes is that it gives me something interesting to look up.
  • Not nearly fast enough!
  • Shucks, Dr. Bob! I would have said I’m only ‘Fair Dinkum’. 1/42nd SOL (very Douglas Adams-ish) = 2.4%
  • Something?? Just because the Love God is dead dinna mean he can’t still pull the ladies. Fractions don’t matter, baby, slow is good – all the way.
  • Such a small number who will ever notice? Don’t worry about it she’ll be right maaaaate bit of no-more-gaps a coat of paint ….. good as new.
  • The Milky Way is a chocolate bar, the Great Attractor is my mouth. It moves in there pretty damn fast. Mmmmmmm
  • The Milky Way is moving at a rate of 0.002% of the speed of light.
  • The Milky Way is moving towards the Great Attractor at around 1000km/s. As the the speed of light is close to 300,000 km/s, then the answer is 1/300 of the speed of light. QED.
  • The speed of light is a constant ‘c’ which represents 299,792,458 m/sec. Light doesn’t always travel at that speed, it slows down through water or glass for instance, but it can if it wants to. As Eric Idle has comprehensively shown ‘the Universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding in all of the directions it can whizz’ and has done since the Big Bang and it is doing it at the speed of light which as we all know is ‘the fastest speed there is’. Just recently however it has been shown that the Milky Way and the rest of our local group are being pulled sideways towards what someone has charmingly called the Great Attractor (Massey Ferguson? John Deere? What are they doing out in space?). The earth is hurtling towards the Great Attractor at 22 million km/hour or nearly 1,000 km/sec or nearly 1,000,000 m/sec. This seems very fast until you put it next to the speed of light (hey, is this what they mean by relativity?) The calculator I have here is not up to dealing with numbers that big but my son, who happened to be passing by, banged some buttons on his bells and whistles scientific calculator that you have to spend a day at least learning how to use, and assures me that it amounts to .003% or 3 x 10 to the power of -4 i.e. as it is 150 million light years away we don’t have to worry about hitting it any time soon. In any case we will collide with the Andromeda galaxy first.
  • With the speed and unsinkability of the Titanic

Question 5

Who had interchangeable noses?


Tycho Brahe, after losing his real one in a duel (the outcome could have been worse).  He wore a false nose of gold/silver alloy, but the skull of his dead body bore traces of copper.  It is therefore believed that he had different noses for different occasions; the copper one was lighter, and was easier to wear for everyday use.  The heavy gold one was for formal occasions.  Gold Nose days, and the like.

Additional Answers

  • Actually, Dr Bob, the nose of ship is called the Bow. The Titanic and the Olympic’s bows were interchangeable. The Titanic actually had the wrong bow attached for its maiden voyage. It had the Olympic’s, which was billed as ‘sinks at the very mention of an iceberg’. [Damn, this was going to be a future question!]
  • Any number of syphilitic people
  • Blimey, what a schoolbookishly easy question! Of course… it’s that great Danish astronomer after whom that huge lunar crater is named. (Presumably, it was comparable to the crater left in his face after his nose was amputated.) By the way, his actual given name was Tyge.
  • Don’t know.
  • I reckon that it is the great Tycho Brahe. As we know he lost his snoz in a duel when he was 20 after a night on the turps (must have been pissed as the duel was in the dark) and for the rest of his life wore a realistic false one. Most of the time he wore one made of copper however when going to a big do he would wear one made of gold and silver so he would be the centre of attraction like the Earth. A big party boy our Tycho.
  • John Howard– I am sure George W Brazilian has quite a collection of Howards’ noses
  • Leslie Nielsen did in “Flying High”, but again that’s probably not the answer you were after.
  • Michael Jackson
  • Michael Jackson . . . oh, but past tense, so Tycho Brahe
  • Mr and Mrs Potato Heads could swap their noses anytime they wanted to. Or, if you really want to know, Tycho Brahe had several different metallic noses for different occasions.
  • Not sure about interchangeable noses, but certainly someone with more than one replacement nose was Tycho Brahe who lost his original (careless that) in a duel.
  • Pinocchio. And that actress a few years back after she snorted far too much cocaine.
  • The Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe.
  • The rhinoplastic barbie doll – no lunatic asylum should be without one. She was a favourite victim of the Texas Transplant Barbie who comes with a Ford SUV (with Texas plates), a knife to stab other Barbies in the back, and tons of makeup.
  • There must be a Titanic question in here somewhere … maybe it was a Pinocchio doll carried by one of the passengers
  • Tycho Brahe as a 20 year old student attending a Christmas dance at a professor’s house got drunk and involved in fighting a duel with another student using rapiers in the dark. What on earth was that important? The upshot of this series of bad decisions was that young Tycho lost part of the bridge of his nose. To cover this disfigurement he wore a prosthesis made of electrum (a mixture of gold and silver)held on with a cream adhesive. When his tomb was opened in 1901 (what is it with opening famous people’s tombs? I can see why Shakespeare put a curse on his) the area around his nose on his skull was discoloured with verdigris so he must have had a lightweight copper one and kept his electrum one for best
  • Wall.e
  • What? There are others besides Michael Jackson?
  • With the advancement of plastic surgery who DOESN’T have interchangeable noses nowadays?

Question 6

What cosmic event is depicted here?


The Creation of the Earth by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, arhh harrh.  That’s his Noodly Appendage.

Additional Answers

  • A close up of what happens when you don’t use Head & Shoulders shampoo.
  • A comet (guess)
  • A Nazi ship over the Titanic near the birth of a black hole. Or the constellation to the left of the pointer looks like Il Pagliacci.
  • Alas your sixth question has stumped me. No astronomer I.
  • Continuing on from the previous question, it looks like something about brown noses, but perhaps we shouldn’t go there??? Love the fake star background….
  • I am sure it is Philip Glass’s baton conducting (?) an orchestra outside at night. A guess but it’s a comet going past the Southern Cross.
  • I can just make out a chocolate coloured object side-on in the bottom right of the pic so must surmise that the cosmic event is a Milky Way moving at 10% of the speed of light towards a fat person’s mouth.
  • I don’t know – it looks like the Youtube images from the Hubble Space Telescope so I guess that it is part of a sequence looking into Deep Field or Ultra Deep Field checking out the Dark Matter of the Great Attractor or perhaps gravitational lenses (keeping to the theme of telescopes). In 2004 Hubble used gravitational lensing as a natural telescope and achieved the deepest view yet in to space or perhaps they are waiting for the galaxy collision that is happening right now where two small galaxies are in the process of colliding. Or is it just looking for where Pluto used to be?
  • Is it Pie?
  • Mistaking Earth for Alderaan, Gran Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader order the Death Star to fire a yellow energy ray at planet Earth instead of the normal green one in the movie.
  • Moths being attracted to light
  • My birthday….somewhere somewhen out there it is always my birthday – an amazing thought [and a great excuse for another drink to celebrate it, yes I don’t mind if I do, thanks]
  • No cosmic event at all – that’s a picture of my neighbours sky rocket launch last New Years Eve.
  • Nothing of note. A whole bunch of stars and the end of somebody’s phosphorescent magic wand showing a bunch of astronomy students the location of the spout of the Teapot Constellation. (It’s probably pointing at something completely different, but you know how it is with parallax…)
  • Perseids meteor shower (?)
  • Re-%3-y
  • Some stars, but hang on, someone forgot to clean the lens as there is a bit of a streak on the screen
  • Someone is watching a video on YouTube that doesn’t involve disgusting teenagers discussing their ‘feelings’.
  • Someone waving a yellow stick at the night sky.
  • The first test of a lightsabre (they didn’t calibrate the crystal’s flux field properly so it didn’t terminate at the end with destructive interference and shot out into space)
  • The immediate after-effects of being poked in the eye by a pointy bit of brass
  • The invasion of outer space by a man-made object
  • The moment before the first naked-eye gamma ray burst. It must have been in Triangulum, judging by all the little triangles in the picture. Ever noticed how many crosses there are in the Southern Cross? And as for all those virgins in Virgo…
  • the Roswell Crash
  • The Titanic sinking.


  • Am just back from Spain, Dr Bob. You will be pleased to know that Barcelona metro stations carry lots of advts for psychics, mystics and clairvoyants. Don’t know why – perhaps so one can predict the chances of surviving the journey.
  • CU 11/08
  • Good questions to tease the brain – perhaps more on the areas of biology and/or geology too?
  • Hi! I should be working on an essay but here I am writing out quiz answers instead!
  • I ate a big red candle.
  • I never done none of your astrology .. hehe … astronomy quizzes before. It’s a bit boring really… Can we do one on Australian flora next time? I’d dominate!
  • Interesting questions again, as usual I am guessing with the photo question 😦
  • It’s a real email address even though it looks like spam. Thanks for taking the time to make these quizzes. I realize how ultra-moronic I truly am when answering.
  • no cheating this month, and I’m sure the results speak volumes for this!
  • No Iceland. No Hitler. No Titanic. No idea. Very depressing. I’m sure you feel better. By the way Dr. Bob did you catch Philip Glass’s opus in Melbourne this month. The one in Sydney was crap. I didn’t go but I am sure it was crap. [Yes I did catch it. Yes it was crap]
  • OK, I’m ignorant. Thanks for confirming this.
  • OOOOOOOOO… An astronomy quiz this time, Doc? What’s come over you? P.S. Can we have a quiz on our Glorious Environment sometime?
  • Perth rocks, Dr Bob. Or at least Meckering does occasionally.
  • Thanks for your hospitality to Michael Shermer when he visited Australia.
  • To infinity and beyond!
  • Where are you now, Dr Bob? Greenwich? London? And much more interesting that the patent on the first telescope is the story of the first periscope – but there’s not enough room for that here.
  • You know how hard it is to read those numbers? Or is it like that kids-only ring tone? The older your eyes get, the harder it is to read? You ageist, you.