Saturday, April 11, 2015

10Q (April 10, 2015)

[For most of the images, larger versions can be viewed by clicked on them]

1. What are the people in this video clip, known as Foley artists, doing? The name comes from that of Jack Foley, a pioneer of this technique.

2. On December 15, 2009, this Google doodle marking L.L. Zamenhof's 150th birthday, honoured what invention of his?
3. Identify this person, Chairperson of the government-backed Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council.

4. Informally called "the Big Book", the title of this book came to be used for the organisation that published it. What organisation?
5. This word was originally used for a legendary creature or type of hobgoblin, its name derived from an old Celtic word for evil spirit or goblin. In medieval England, it was depicted as a creepy animal that lurked in the woods to scare children. In a modern context, the term serves as a metaphor for something which is annoying or irritating, a pet peeve. More rarely, it is used as another term for a scarecrow. What word?

6. In which city are international cricket matches played at the Keenan Stadium, named after John Lawrence Keenan, a former general manager at Tata Steel?

7. In 1985, Ugo Vetere, the then mayor of Rome, and Chedli Klibi, his counterpart in Tunis, signed a symbolic peace treaty to officially end which series of conflicts that had, due to lack of a previously documented ending, lasted 2,131 years?

8. His first film, in 1992, was a cult hit, and led to an unsuccessful sequel. His second big hit, made in 1997, resulted in two sequels. His third major role came in 2001 and led to a four-movie franchise. In commemoration of the second of these movie series, his star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame was positioned in front of an adult store called the International Love Boutique. Who?

9. Connect these images to the name of a place.

10. These are some examples from across the world of what?
– Sweden: Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced “Albin”)
– China: @ (“Translated into Chinese, [the symbol] means ‘love him’.”)
– Sweden: Metallica
– New Zealand: 4Real
– Germany: Hitler
– Denmark: Anus

Sunday, April 5, 2015

10Q (April 5, 2015)

[For most of the images, larger versions can be viewed by clicked on them]

1. To begin with, a question in two parts. The person shown on the left below was the only important non-British general whose advice was constantly sought during wartime by Winston Churchill. He was invited to the Imperial War Cabinet in 1939, and appointed a Field Marshal of the British Army in 1941. On the right is a scene from a movie in which Athol Fugard played the man, perhaps the only context in which most of us would have heard of him. For 1 point each, who is this general, and which movie was this?

2. A communication within the Internet Engineering Task Force titled RFC ('request for comments') 920 sent in October 1984 resulted in a set of five of these. A sixth was added during the first implementation. This list remained static for about 15 years when several new items were added to the list. That opened the flood gates and since then new entrants have come in every so often. The whole business is currently maintained by something called the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. What are these (1 point)? For additional points, what were the original six? (No additional points for getting less than four; half a point for getting four or five; 1 point for getting all six.)

3. For what purpose did India, in May 1959, introduced the 'External Rupee'?

4. What denomination is this US currency note, and who is the person depicted on it? (1 point for each answer)

5. The English word for this snake comes from the Latin 'natrix', meaning 'water snake'. Its modern form comes from what is termed in linguistics as 'faulty separation', a process that also gave rise to such words as 'apron', 'auger', 'nickname' and 'umpire'. What snake?

6. In Hindu mythology, who is referred to as Vajrabhrit (bearing the bolt), Vajrivat or Vajrin (armed with the bolt), Vajradaksina (holding the bolt in his right hand), and Vajrabahu or Vajrahasta (holding the Vajra in his hand)?

7. This bullet developed by scientists at QinetiQ and British Aerospace for use against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2010 has a hollow steel head giving it more range and effectiveness. By what nickname is it known, one which might give a potential target a distinctly unlucky feeling?

8. Listen to this audio clip of a concerto written by the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi in 1725 and identify the unusual solo instrument (unusual for Western classical music, that is) it features. For those who don't know, a concerto in Western classical music – in contrast to a symphony which is composed for the entire orchestra – is written for a soloist playing a specific instrument, backed by the rest of the orchestra.

9. This is a 1913 zinc etching by Mexican printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada titled 'La Calavera _____' ('The Elegant Skull'). The image has since become a staple of Mexican imagery, and often is incorporated into artistic manifestations of the Day of the Dead in November, such as altars and calavera costumes. The etching was part of his series of calaveras, which were humorous images of contemporary figures depicted as skeletons, which often were accompanied by a poem. The blanked-out word in the title is the feminine form of the Spanish word for 'elegant'. Which 'elegant' skull in Bollywood is attached to a second half that means 'pleasure' or 'high spirits'?

10. Born of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, and the brainchild of Department of Justice attorney Gerald Shur, this programme has successfully worked with more than 18,000 people since it first began operations in 1971. What programme, central to numerous American movies and TV shows?

Answers
1. Jan Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa for two periods (1919-24 and 1939-48), whom Mahatma Gandhi came up against during his early political activism in South Africa. The movie, of course, was 'Gandhi'.
2. Internet top-level domains, or TLDs – the first five were .com, .edu, .gov, .mil and .org; .net was added at the time of first implementation
3. For circulation in those areas outside India that used the Indian Rupee. Only the States of the Arabian Gulf used the Indian Rupee at this time, so the notes designated as External Rupees soon became known as 'Gulf Rupees'.
4. It's a 100,000-dollar bill, the largest ever issued by the US Federal Reserve, and it features President Woodrow Wilson. Since I had forgotten to mask out the name 'Wilson', I'm cancelling that part of the question.

5. An adder, which started off as 'a nadder'
6. Indra (sorry, can't give points for India and Indira, even though those are probably spelling errors)
7. It's called a 'Dirty Harry round' ("Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?")
8. It's the Mandolin Concerto in C major
9. Katrina Kaif. In the title of the painting, the word is spelt 'catrina'. 
10. U.S. Marshall Service Witness Security Program (WITSEC)

Friday, March 27, 2015

10Q (March 27, 2015)

[Most images can be clicked on for larger versions]

1. In the 18th century, 'redhand' was a legal term used in Scotland meaning 'in the act of crime', but it was this particular author who used that to coin the phrase 'caught red-handed'. He is generally credited as being second only to Shakespeare as an individual source of English neologisms, with such now-common phrases as 'cold shoulder', 'blood is thicker than water', 'go berserk', 'lock, stock and barrel' and a whole range of others emanating from his pen. Who?

2. In February 1840, the Governor of New Zealand, William Hobson, named the new capital that he set up after the Earl of Auckland, then Viceroy of India. In what way – topical these days – does the family name of the Earl of Auckland connect the NZ city to the city that was the Earl's base in India?

3. This person has an avid interest in cosmology, and participated in BBC coverage of the opening of the Large Hadron Collider in September 2008. He has also played Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman in the play QED. This is a sound clip of him talking about the Emmy win that he was personally most pleased about (he has won six in all). Identify him.

4. According to legend, passing blacksmiths at work one day, this person found that the sounds emanating from their anvils being hit were beautiful and harmonious. He went to the blacksmiths to learn how this had happened by looking at their tools, he discovered that it was because the anvils were "simple ratios of each other, one was half the size of the first, another was 2/3 the size, and so on". This led to his applying scientific law to music. Who?


5. The Dvorak layout, patented in 1936 by Dr. August Dvorak and his brother-in-law, Dr. William Dealey, was an attempt to improve what now-ubiquitous design?

6. This is the logo of the Mumbai branch of which organisation, established in 1969 by Meera Mahadevan after she witnessed "the plight of neglected children… on the site of the Gandhi Centenary Exhibition in Delhi"?


7. 'Fylfot' (meaning 'four-footed'), tetragammadion ('four gammas'), 'sun wheel' and 'tetaskelion' ('four-legged') are all alternative names for what symbol?

8. After calling Prince Charles a "little grovelling bastard" on live television in 1994, he later faxed the prince, "I suppose a knighthood is out of the question?" In reality he and the Prince were very close friends, and he was made a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) (honorary because of his Irish citizenship) in 2000. He had once quipped that he wanted his headstone to bear the words "I told you I was ill." He was buried at St Thomas's Church cemetery in Winchelsea, East Sussex, but the Chichester Diocese refused to allow this epitaph. A compromise was reached with the Irish translation, and additionally in English, "Love, light, peace" [see picture below]. Name this irreverent comedian.


9. In 2010, Stephen Hughes a physicist at the University of Queensland in Australia surprisingly uncovered an error in dictionary definitions that had stood uncorrected for almost a century. He found the word described thus in the Oxford English Dictionary – "noun: a tube used to convey liquid upwards from a container and then down to a lower level, the flow being maintained by atmospheric pressure" – but pointed out that the flow is maintained not by atmospheric pressure but by gravity. It's a very basic principle, but the definition had stood uncorrected for 99 years! What is the word in question?

10. This is a shloka from the Bhagavad Gita: "Ananyas chintayanto mam ye janaha paryupasathe thesham nithyabhiyukthanaam yogakshemam vahamyaham" (meaning: "For those who are always absorbed in thoughts of me, and who worship me with single pointed devotion by every means, I myself carry their necessities and take care of their well being"). What organisation takes its motto 'Yogakshemam Vahamyaham' ('I shall take care of the well being') from this verse?

Answers
1. Sir Walter Scott
2. The Earl of Auckland was George Eden, and his family name links Auckland's cricket ground Eden Park to Kolkata's Eden Gardens. 
3. Alan Alda, who won a writing Emmy for an episode of M*A*S*H to go with his five acting/directing awards.
4. Pythagoras
5. Typewriter keypad (and now computer keyboard) layouts. 
Dvorak proponents claim the Dvorak layout uses less finger motion, increases typing rate, and reduces errors compared to the QWERTY keyboard. 
6. Mobile Creches
7. The swastika
8. Spike Milligan
9. Siphon
10. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

String Theory set 15

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071. A generic term used to describe the Latrodectus genus of venomous arachnids (best known in the context of the dangerous L. mactans, L. hesperus, and L. variolus).

072. This spoofy Marvel character, whose real-life alter ego is called Peter Porker.

073. An abbreviated name used (originally pejoratively) for the communications technology activity that uses this symbol, and which is officially governed globally by the IARU.

074. The band that you'll hear on this audio clip. The album on which this song first appeared was one of the earliest released by a major band as a digital download, under the 'pay what you want' business model. [Alternative link]

075. Term used for this kind of readout used by modern aeroplane pilots.

Answers to questions
070. Grass widow
071. Widow spiders
072. Spider-ham
073. Ham radio
074. Radiohead
075. Head-up (or Heads-up) display

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

String Theory set 14

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066. A name for the round pad sometimes used under the legs of furniture, which it shares with a common term for the physical deformity officially called congenital talipes equinovarus.

067. A two-word term for an infantryman that has come to be used for any person who is assigned the most mundane tasks (also the low-level antagonists in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise).

068. The title of this 1970 movie (billed at the time as "the most savage film in history)", inspired by events of the 1864 Sand Creek massacre in the Colorado Territory.

069. The genre of music you'll hear in this clip. [Alternative link]

070. A common name used for this North American plant, the Olsynium douglasii, from a term first used by Sir Thomas More in his Dialogue of 1528 to refer to an abandoned mistress. According to the the famous Anglo-Indian dictionary Hobson-Jobson, the term was used during the British Raj to refer to wives sent away during the hot summer to the hill stations while their husbands remained on duty in the plains.


Answers to previous questions
065. Country Club
066. Club foot
067. Foot soldier
068. Soldier Blue
069. Bluegrass
070. To be revealed later



Monday, September 22, 2014

String Theory set 13

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061. A four-word phrase meaning 'ordinary, nothing exceptional' that has its roots in descriptions of mass-produced clothing from the early 20th century.

062. A name used for this type of hitch used to tie the mouths of sacks containing heavy materials, such as grains.

063. This book, the first in the Inspector Rebus series.

064. One of the three disciplines of the equestrian sport of eventing, along with dressage and show jumping.

065. This company, which bills itself as "India’s largest leisure infrastructure conglomerate".

Answers
060. The Blade Runner
061. Run of the mill
062. Miller's knot
063. Knots & Crosses
064. Cross-country
065. To be revealed later



Saturday, September 13, 2014

String Theory set 12

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056. The product for which this is an early ad.

057. The television reality show (full name, please) for which this video clip was part of the call for entries. [Alternative link]

058. The common name of this bird.

059. This thing.

060. The name of this book, more famously used as the title of a film based on an entirely different science-fiction book.

Answers
055. A Room With A View
056. View-Master
057. MasterChef India
058. Indian roller
059. Roller Blade
060. To be revealed later


Sunday, September 7, 2014

String Theory set 11

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051. The title of this 2014 movie.


052. The nickname given to the sceptical apostle checking out Jesus's wounds in this painting by Caravaggio.


053. The full name of this literary and cartoon character.


054. The term used on board a ship to describe the area where the propulsion systems are situated and managed.

055. The movie for which this clip is part of the trailer. [Alternative link]

Answers
050. The Circle of Reason
051. Reasonable Doubt
052. Doubting Thomas
053. Thomas the Tank Engine
054. Engine room
055. To be revealed later

Monday, September 1, 2014

String Theory set 10

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046. A common feature of US and European circus sideshows and carnival freak shows of the 19th and early 20th century, such as P.T. Barnum's Josephine Clofullia and Ringling Bros.' Jane Barnell.

047. The nickname of this First Lady of the United States, the title of this jazz standard [Alternative link] and the name commonly used for a member of the Coccinelidae family of beetles (this biological term derived from the Latin 'coccineus', meaning 'scarlet').

048. One of 41 species of birds in 14 genera, one of which appears on the flag of Papua New Guinea.

049. The name of this key road junction in Secunderabad, taken from that of the famous establishment in the background.

050. The title of this 1986 debut novel.


Answers
046. Bearded Lady
047. Lady Bird
048. Bird of Paradise
049. Paradise Circle
050. To be revealed later




Monday, August 25, 2014

String Theory set 09

[Most images can be enlarged by clicking on them]

41. This book, which shares its name with a 2009 Hollywood movie based on it.

42. Fromage de chèvre (such as that seen in this photo), in English.

43. Picturesque phrase, first used by Groundskeeper Willie in a 1995 episode of 'The Simpsons' to describe the French, which has become something of a journalistic catchphrase since.

44. Three-word English name used for this tree, Araucaria araucana, supposedly from an early English viewer's reference to the difficulty the animal named would have in climbing it.

45. The name of the venerable old character in this movie clip (the one doing most of the talking). [Alternative link]

Answers to previous questions
040. Godmen
041. The Men Who Stare At Goats
042. Goat cheese
043. Cheese-eating surrender monkeys
044. Monkey Puzzle Tree
045. To be revealed later