Saturday, May 10, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting May 11, 2014)

What An Idea, Sirji!
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. This concept, which you would come across today, if at all, as a fanciful phrase in poetry or fiction, was once an established scientific concept. Pythagoras thought that planets and stars moved according to mathematical equations, which corresponded to musical notes and thus produced a symphony.  What four-letter phrase is generally used to refer to this 'musica universalis', as Kepler referred to it?

2. Manufactured and marketed by Modern Food Industries based on a formula developed at Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, what was launched at the annual trade fair at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi in November 1977?

3. Which US politician in the 1950s, notorious for his views and actions on another front, was behind campaigns such as this one, which saw the provision of public health services as a conspiracy to weaken America? (Reminds me of similar rumours spread about the polio prevention programme here in India.)

4. Switching barriers or switching costs are terms used in microeconomics, strategic management, and marketing to describe any impediment to a customer's changing of suppliers. In many markets, consumers are forced to incur costs when switching from one supplier to another. These costs are called switching costs and can come in many different shapes. A common term for this phenomenon comes from a device of everyday use – I'm using it right now – whose layout has been proven to be not the most efficient, but which continues to be used because it would be too expensive and inconvenient to convert to an alternative. What is this term?

5. Angampora is an ancient martial art from Sri Lanka. It combines combat techniques, self-defence, sport, exercise and meditation. According to its traditions, adept fighters needed to master ten separate disciplines to become experts at it. Who, according to legend, was its ultimate exponent, someone who is still worshipped by some practitioners prior to commencing training or fighting?

6. Legends and literature have long characterised 'enneads' as having a special, in some cases magical, significance. The ancient Egyptians organised their gods thus; even today, their principal group of gods (headed by sun god Re-Atum) is called the Great Ennead of Heliopolis. The word traces to the Greek word 'ennea'. What does it mean?
Hint: It would apply to a group of PSUs here in India.

7. Born John Chapman in 1774, this person became an American legend while still alive, largely because of his kind and generous ways, his great leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to a certain fruit. Raised on a small farm in Massachusetts, his favourite place was his father's orchard. Whenever settlers passed by, he heard of fertile soils, and that inspired him to plant these fruit trees throughout the frontier. What nickname, based on this proclivity, was he better known by?

8. As a young boy, this person was groomed by the Theosophical Society for 20 years to be the ‘World Teacher’, a spiritual saviour they believed appeared on Earth periodically to propel humankind to a higher evolutionary stage. A special organisation, the Order of the Star, was formed to herald his ‘arrival’ as World Teacher. But he had no intentions of being a messiah, and in a famous speech in 1929, he told everyone ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Subsequently, he disbanded the Order of the Star, cut all allegiances with the Theosophical Society and spent the next 50-plus years travelling the world, writing and lecturing – in other words, being a World Teacher. Who?

9. In 1969, French writer Georges Perec published 'La Disparition', a novel that was an example of 'constrained writing'. It was translated into English in 1995 by Gilbert Adair as 'A Void'. Perec subsequently joked that he incorporated what he had not used in 'La Disparition' in the novella 'Les Revenentes' (1972). 'Les Revenentes' was translated into English by Ian Monk as 'The Exeter Text: Jewels, Secrets, Sex'. What was the 'constrained' aspect of the writing in the two books?

10. In linguistics, this is the common, informal name for the ability of question words and relative pronouns to drag other words along with them when brought to the front of a sentence, as part of the phenomenon called Wh-movement. For example, in "For whom are the pictures?", the word 'for' is dragged by 'whom' away from its declarative position ("The pictures are for me"). From what children's story does this phenomenon take its informal name?

1. Harmony of the Spheres
2. Double Seven, the soft drink that 'replaced' Coca-Cola after the Janata Party government had effectively thrown the US multinational out of India.
The clue was in the date.
3. Joseph McCarthy, the man behind the Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s
4. The QWERTY Effect
I've given points for any answer that mentions 'QWERTY'.
5. Ravana.
According to Lankan legend, his ten heads represent the ten disciplines he mastered.
6. 'Nine'. An ennead is a group of nine (like a 'triad' is a group of three).
7. Johnny Appleseed
8. Jiddu Krishnamurthy
9. The entire novel 'La Disparition' did not include the letter 'e'; while 'Les Revenentes' only used the one vowel.
I've given separate points for each of these answers.
10. It's called 'pied-piping'
I felt this was quite guessable but no one even gave it a shot, except for Sajan.


  1. 1. Music of the Spheres
    2. Modern bread
    3. Joe McCarthy
    4. Qwerty
    5. Huh?
    6. Jewels, I guess (as in 'ratnas')
    7. Johnny Appleseed
    8. Jiddu Krishnamurthi
    9. It's a lipogram. The first book has no letter 'e' and the other book, I suppose, has far too many 'e's.
    10. Dunno. Winnie the Pooh?

  2. 1.
    2. Rasna
    3. McCarthy
    4. Keyboard
    5. Ravan
    8. Sri Aurobindo
    9. Old / New testament?

  3. 1.
    4. QWERTY - isn't being replaced by DVORAK
    5. Ravana
    9. The first contains no e's. The second contains only one vowel - e.

  4. 1 music of the spheres
    2 Complan
    3 Joseph McCarthy
    4 QWERTY
    5 Ravana
    6 Nine
    7 Johnny Appleseed
    8 Thirthaji (The Vedic mathematics guy? )
    9 No letter 'e' and an 'e' in every word

    Julian D'Costa

  5. 1.
    2. First Indian Sliced Bread?
    3. Nixon
    4. Bifocals?
    5. Ravana
    6. Jewels/precious stones (Navratna PSUs)
    7. Apple something.. The American Apple, The Big Apple
    9. Written without 'e'

    - Kunal

  6. 3. McCarthy
    4. Keyboard? As in QWERTY to Dvorak.
    6. Nine
    7. John Appleseed
    8. J Krishnamurti
    9. There is no 'e' in La Disparition' as well as its translation.

  7. 1. Song of the stars
    2. Sliced white bread
    4. Something to do with the QWERTY keyboard
    5. Let me be racist and say Ravana
    6. Priceless gem or Dead weight
    7. Apple grower
    8. Jiddu Krishnamurthi


  8. 1. Music of the Gods?
    3. McCarthy?
    4. The Keyboard Effect?
    5. Ravana
    6. Pearl?
    8. J. Krishnamurthy?

  9. 1.
    2. Bonny Mix?
    3. Joe McCarthy
    4. QWERTY-something?
    5. Ravana
    6. Gem
    7. The Apple Man?
    8. Swami Vivekananda
    9. No 'e'

  10. 1. Music of the stars
    2. Instant Idly Mix
    3. McCarthy
    4.qwerty barrier?
    5. King Ashoka?
    6. Appleby?