Sunday, July 01, 2007

IMG_1263As if by magic, following on from IAF's comments on innumerate singers the Observer has asked a panel representing the worlds of art and science a series of scientific questions. I'll comment on the responses later, but first I thought it would be fun to ask you lot, just to find out how many you can answer (answers in the comments section please).

1. Why does salt dissolve in water?
2. Roughly, how old is the earth?
3. What happens when you turn on a light?
4. Is a clone the same as a twin?
5. Why is the sky blue?
6. What is the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

The paper provides what they see as the right answers, but some of them possibly are not all they might be (whither the photon and electron in 3? And do the "charges pick up electric energy" or are they actually a manifestation of electrical energy?). But the true entertainment - in a Big Brother-ish "Oh, dear God" way - is in the answers. Of particular note is Kirsty Wark's answer to question 5: Why is the sky blue?
Because it's a reflection of the oceans on the planet.

Ms Wark is this week's winner of the "Ah bless, but it's got a certain logic I suppose, but what would be doing the reflection, space mirrors? Hang on, she presents Newsnight, doesn't she? She's supposed to intelligent and educated enough to tackle any interview on any topic? Is anyone else feeling rather ill? And rather hoping she never has to interview a Creationist?" Award for Permanent Damage to Credibility jointly sponsored by Brass Eye and Philippa Forrester.

But having said that most of her answers could be described as funny if they weren't tragic. Whereas mine... would have come unstuck on the age of the Earth (have you ever tried learning the dates of geological eras, periods and epochs? It's worse than braking distances) and the 2nd Law, because I remember the principles, just not which of 0-4 each is under.

And in other news, does anyone know why I saved a link to The Cat Came Back on the 17th May? I vaguely remember there was a huge train of mildy amusing logic spilling out from it, but I can't think what it was. Anyway, I'm now going to have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the week, as indeed will you dear reader.


PS. He thought it was a goner.

I'd just like to point out that Mr. Fact has nothing to do with science reporting in the Observer. If he must read the papers it's probably just for film reviews. Or, if you read something completely different, travel. Okay, travelling to low budget airline destinations, to be specific.
By the way, if you're ever in Glasgow, may I recommend Gandolfi Fish? It does suffer a little from new restaurant syndrome, but is generally excellent. Not sure about the black pudding and squid starter, but at least it wasn't deep-fried with a Mars bar.

BTW, returning to the quiz: 4.5/6. Exact number of thermodynamics, schmanics rule, etc. I can name them all, but not "number 1 is......" apart from that I'm going for "what Robert Winston said..."
You understood Mullholland Drive? But wasn't that the one he stretched into a film when the series pilot he had already made got rejected? Hence the flailing attempts in the last third to close up the season's worth of ambiguities he'd artfully produced in the earlier part?

The travel one, on a domain I read as, appears to have gone walkabout.

I think they should have called the Glaswegian restaurant Gandolfish, if only to confuse LOTR fans.

And why were you in Glasgow?
Well, you might read it as - but it's originally from the Daily Mail.

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