Questions for April-May 2017

1. Who was the director of the British MI6 who pointed out that semen made a good invisible ink for use by spies?

2. When James Dodson, at the age of 47, found that life insurance was available only for persons up to age 45, he decided to start his own insurance scheme that catered for all ages. Why didn’t it go ahead?

3. What was unusual about F.D.C.Willard, FRSC – who co-wrote a paper on low temperature physics with Professor Jack Hetherington?

4. What was it that Mick Jagger had, of enormous size, that greatly impressed the young journalist Lola Bensky?

5. What did Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II say, when someone who had not recognised her said that she looked like the Queen?


Questions for March 2016

Here’s this month’s stuff – enjoy reading, and feel free to post sarky comments. Answers next month.

  1. Eratosthenes derived the size of the Earth from the angles of shadows at Syene (Aswan) and Alexandria, knowing how far apart they were. How did he measure how far apart these places were?
  2. Did Lumpy Stevens bowl John Small?
  3. Why did the (Soviet) Russians build the Friendship Bridge, across the Amu-Darya in Uzbekistan?
  4. Rudolf Virchow opposed Bismarck’s financial policies. What is said to have happened as a result?
  5. Why is the Bob Dylan song “Ballad of a thin man” a.k.a. “Mr Jones” featured in the Danish TV series The Bridge series 3?

Questions for December

Here they are – please send sarcastic comments.

  1. How far does a NASA rocket have to travel before they say “We have lift-off”?
  2. Vladimir Putin was born in what was then Leningrad … when was the last time that Russia had a leader who was born in Moscow?
  3. When the explorer Fred Ommanney became stranded in Antarctica, how did he make a sign to be spotted by aircraft looking for him?
  4. A thief in Fareham, UK would climb over a wall with razor wire, and steal diesel fuel from the local builders’ merchants. By forensic science, how was he eventually caught?
  5. Who said, in self-disparagement “I am no Einstein”?

Questions for October

Here they are.  I already know the answers!  so post something witty or sarcastic as a comment.  You don’t have to try them all!

  1. In the film “Gravity” chess pieces are floating around the wrecked Russian module. What game objects are floating around in the Chinese module?
  2. Someone once noticed that Adolf Hitler was secretly adding something to his (AH’s) glass of red wine – what was it?
  3. Genghis Khan’s Mongol horde left its mark here and there, well, almost everywhere actually. How many people did each of his warriors kill, on average?
  4. Cleopatra contemplated various methods of suicide (yes, really) – why did she decide to choose dath by asp?
  5. The opiod chemical etorpine is a very powerful tranquillizer, useful for rapidly immobilizing elephants and rhinoceroses; how was its analgesic property discovered?

(messy) Answers for June2012


Sorry, I have to post this blind, but will tidy it up and find a winner when I can, which will be in mid-September. I’m in Kyrgyzstan now, and Internet is very difficult also I can post blind to it, but I cannot see the blog!! Dr Bob

Q1. Safety Beach was called …?
A1: Danger Bay? Lol, pretty close! ‘Shark Bay’
A1: Before I looked up via Google I guessed Shark Bay, so I wasn’t really surprised when the answer was Shark Beach. Given the prevailing attitudes to predators in their natural environment, now it isn’t safe for sharks either.
A1: Shark Bay Beach. Did that mean the first person (or, to be more specific, their surviving family) to get nipped at by a shark after the name change got to sue the advertising company/tourism board for false advertising? A1: The beach…in aboriginal. So were all the others, presumably.
A1: The Melbourne Board of Tourism has been undergoing significant development. Over the years they have tried naming it, “Unexploded Ordinance Beach,” “Discarded Medical Waste Beach,” “Taliban Beach” and “Shark Beach.” The most recent name only narrowly beat out “Self Immolation Beach” by a vote of 5 to 4.
A1: The place was originally flooded by loud carpetbagger real estate developers. The were known locally as those “Baying Sharks”. Over time the place name got as corrupted as the developers.
A1: Turd Beach, after the blind mullet that used to congregate there before Bleak City got around to installing a decent sewerage system. The beach could then be approached by Victorian bathers in relative safety, hence the new name. Visiting Queensland bathers would, of course, still not go anywhere near the place. Tasmanians do not bathe, so the matter is to them irrelevant.

Q2. Bulgarians say good DAY after …?
A2: They don’t. It’s never a good day in Bulgaria.
A2: From 1878 ’til the mid-70’s, since that’s Russian? Timewise, anytime in bed, or before 10 am. A2: …killing a British spy with an umbrella.
A2: After they get out of bed. The phrase ‘Good Morning’, said quietly with the correct inflection to the right person, carries the overtones of the aftermath of a ‘Good Night’ to consenting adults in private.
A2: Bulgarians only say “good morning” until the hovercraft is full of eels, then they say “good day for eel pie, ??????? “.
A2: I seem to recall from my really mediocre attempts at German it was after 12 noon that they changed greetings, but I wouldn’t trust my German skills. I failed dismally and it only ever seems to come back to me when I am screamingly drunk and can’t be understood anyway. So I’m going to guess: there are no polite Bulgarians so no-one says it. It’s just a ruse to work out who the tourists are.
A2: They stop saying Good Morning at 10am. 10am to noon is nap time for the entire country (which explains why they will never be a super power, although they are remarkably well adjusted.

Q3. If you use the lift (elevator) in a fire …?
A3: REAL ANSWER: Nothing – the lift will go to the ground floor and stay open.
A3: If you don’t die, the NYPD or LAPD or whoever they are will arrest you when you get out at the ground floor before handing you to Homeland Security who will then render you to Abu Ghraib where out-of-control military police will attach electrodes to your genitals and hang you upside down until you cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die that next time you will take the wretched elevator all the way down to the basement.
A3: Large Nubians stare you down until you get out? As Douglas Adams knew, elevators are cowards, and at the first whiff of smoke, return you to the main floor, lock their doors open, and must be Freudianly re-set with a key. A3: Depends entirely on your star sign, could have some ups or downs. A3: Fires don’t have elevators. Buildings do. Trick question…?
A3: Unless the fire is on the ground floor, in the basement or in the lift well or associated machinery, you get out alive. Unless some idiot turns off the power to the lifts, in which case you probably suffocate.
A3: You can sue your workplace and the lift company for letting you get into a lift in a fire. Well, once again, I suggest it might be your surviving family who could do that. I think you’d bake like a Sunday roast.
A3: You get a hernia as they are way too heavy to use in the event of a fire. That’s why firefighters use water.

Q4. Narwhals rubbing tusks are …?
A4: REAL ANSWER: It just feels good. Oh, those naughty narwhals!!!
A4: Don’t ask, don’t tell (see ‘tusking’ below). We were taught digging up shellfish, but from ‘narwhal.org’ [!]: Myriad theories have been proposed: a weapon, a secondary sexual characteristic in males [males rubbing their tusks together is called ‘tusking’ (I bet!)], for breaking ice, a spear for hunting, a ritualistic appendage in establishing male hierarchy [eyeroll], a breathing organ [what, like a STRAW?!?], a thermoregulator, a swimming rudder, a tool for digging, and an acoustic organ or sound probe. A4: They’re gay, and want to have it off with each other.
A4: Attemting to achieve the Narwhal Sea Scouts Badge of Camp Fire Competency. A4: Juvenile delinquents wanking behind the bike sheds.
A4: Part of the inspiration for Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader’s combat scene from Star Wars. It was after seeing Narwhals perform this interesting ritual that George Lucas came up with the concept of the Light Sabre. However unlike Darth Vader, both narwhals live to fight another day. A4: That it probably just feels good.
A4: They are lobbying pollies for gay marriage rights, or just trying to freak Tony Abbott out when he’s in an ironman comp.

Q5. Mongolia’s second claim to cultural fame?
A5: Other than Mr Khan, Mongolia can rightly claim world leadership in donations to charity. Mongolians will give ’til it yurts. A5: Yoghurt? Yaks? Yurts? Please don’t say ‘PingPong’.
A5: Kublai Khan!
A5: Portable housing. The yurt is the ideal form of residence for today’s contract worker. Why put down permanent roots when you can take your yurt almost anywhere provided suitable transport can be arranged? The yurt is also eco-friendly because when it is abandoned or overcome by natural disaster it is quickly absorbed back into the local ecosystem – it is made from 100% recyclable components. A5: They provided the basis of the modern language of Hungary.
A5: We also have Madeline Khan, star of the classic Blazing Mongolian Saddles and our reknowned philosopher Genghis Kant.
A5: Yurts. I’ve seen movies made in Mongolia (I loved the weeping camel one). They have yurts, camels, sand and satellite tv in the towns. Or perhaps the guide said ‘a movie industry’.


Dr Bob, did you know Plato was a mathematical totalitarianist? I didn’t either, so there you go. It is my aim to teach you something new every quiz. (It’s good to be back, but I’ve gone in early this month and so I haven’t seen whether it’s my name in lights this month. I do suspect it will be because I was incredibly funny last month!)

Congrats on the rejuvenation of the Quiz, Dr. Bob, and Bon Voyage!

I’ve never been to Mongolia but I once visited Victoria. Is there any difference?

Enjoy your trip, Dr Bob. Sounds terrific.

Mail address!

Sorry, I am in Kyrgyzsytan and there is hardly any internet, and what there is, appears to be censored. Please send answers to

quiz1 @ skeptics.com.au

Any (more) problems, or to write to me direct, use

steve @ steveroberts.com.au

Dr Bob

Questions for July 2012

Q1 Descartes said that the only thing that is certain is the existence of doubt. How could he be so sure?

Q2 The freeway speed limit in France is 130 kph. What happens if it rains?

Q3 You normally ride a motorbike sitting on the seat, with feet on the pegs. What happens to the handling and centre of gravity if you stand up on the pegs?

Q4 What problem did the Beefeaters, who live at the Tower of London, recently have with their house insurance?

Q5 How did the 16th-century mystic and spy, John Dee, sign his letters to Queen Elizabeth I?