Monday, August 31, 2009

Question - 310

Which alien life form is shown?

Update: There has only been one correct response so far. Here are some additional hints. The visual is an artist's impression of an alien life form from a novel written by the guy in the first visual below. There have been two movie adaptations of this novel and a screen shot from the newer one is shown in the second visual. I suppose the answer can't be worked out even with the clues unless you already know it but I wanted to draw attention to one of my favorite science fiction novels/theme.

Answer: The alien life form is the mighty, unknowable, truly alien Solaris from Stanislaw Lem's novel by the same name. One of Lem's favorite themes is the fundamental impossibility of meaningful communications with an alien species. There were two famous movies made out of this novel - one by legendary Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky and more recently one by Steven Soderbergh starring George Clooney. Srivats was the only one to get it without the additional hints. tsp, Prachi, Hasan, Manix, Swapnaa, Rajesh, Ajinkya, Raghu and Divya got it with the hints. Well done all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Question - 309

Today's question has two disparate parts. First, which paradox does the cartoon allude to? Second, what issue is the cartoon dealing with? Note that some text has been blanked out in the bottom left.

Answer: The paradox is that of Buridan's ass which refers to a hypothetical situation when an ass placed exactly in the middle of two hay stacks of equal size will starve to death unable to decide which one to start eating. This is named after the 14th century French philosopher Jean Buridan. The cartoon refers to the US government's indecision between choosing Nicaragua or Panama to build the canal connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific. Ultimately, Panama was chosen but there is some colorful history involved in the decision process. Karthik, Ramji, Ajinkya, Iam, Major Shankar, Hari, Manix, Hasan, Suchitra, Srivats, nice try and Hirak got it. Well done.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Question - 308

Which famous farewell message is this?

Answer: This is the message BJ leaves for Hawkeye in the final episode of M*A*S*H. You can see the shadow of Hawkeye's chopper in the bottom left. As of 2009, this episode still remains the single most watched television broadcast in US history. Karthik, Raghu, Iam, Ajinkya, Rajeev, Trevor Burnham and Adi got it. Well done.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Question - 307

Satellite image of what famous location?

Answer: This is the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, one of the largest temple complexes in the world. The temple is supposed to be a representation of Mount Meru with the five towers symbolizing the five peaks and the moat symbolizing the ocean. Srivats, Raghu, Iam, Rajesh and Manix got it. Krithi came close but went with the other famous Khmer temple in Thailand. Well done. Here is the link to a recent National Geographic article on one of the plausible causes for the downfall of the Khmer civilization.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Question - 306

Who are these? What controversy resulted?

Answer: Gary Hart was the front runner for the presidential nomination from the Democratic party in 1988. However, his presidential campaign came to a halt when photos of him with model Donna Rice aboard his aptly named yacht Monkey Business surfaced. This was only days after he dared reporters who accused him of infidelity to his wife to follow him and claiming that they would get very bored. Ajinkya, Iam, Hirak, Anshul, Karthik, rajeev, Divya and Srivats got it. Well done.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Question - 305

Connect the three visuals.

Answer: The connect is Edvard Munch's famous painting Scream. The first visual is the movie poster of the movie "Scream" where the killer's mask is designed after Munch's painting. The second visual shows the recent theft of the painting from Munch's museum in Oslo. The third visual is Krakatoa whose famous and catastrophic eruption in 1883 suspended so much particles in the atmosphere that sunsets all over the world were spectacularly reddish during that year. There is a theory that the reddish color of the sky in Munch's painting is due to this. Ajinkya, Srivats, Iam, Anshul, Adi (almost), Raghu, Manix, Divya, Rajesh, Major Shankar and Hasan got it. Well done.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Question - 304

The three visuals show the progression of what annual event?

Answer: This is the annual dyeing of Chicago river as part of the St. Patrick's day celebrations. This becomes the most answered question of the blog showing that most of the blog's followers are either Irish or like to drink. Anon, Rajesh K, Swapnaa, anon, Krithi, Srivats, mekie, Karthik, Raghu, nice try, Hirak, Hasan, Adi, Ajinkya, anshul, Mihir, Manix, Iam, Divya, Vetti and Schmetterling got it. Well done.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Question - 303

Today's question is courtesy Ankur Patel. Visuals 1 through 6 form an exhaustive list (arranged chronologically). Identify Y and the connection.

Answer: These are all teams from various sports and eras that have been nicknamed "The invincibles". The teams are 1) 1888-89 Preston North end side, 2) 1924-25 New Zealand Rugby Union team, 3) 1948 Australian cricket team, 4) 1974 British and Irish lions, 5)1982 Australian Rugby league team and the 6th team would be the 2003-2004 Arsenal team who went undefeated in the Premier league. Karthik, Anon, Rajesh K (its going to be the 2010 wolverines), Raghu, Gokul and Rajesh got it. Well done.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Question - 302

Today's question is courtesy Manix. What is being depicted in the visual?

Answer: The spots on the globe are gigantic islands of plastic waste that have been concentrated in one spot due to ocean currents. About 20% of this is waste thrown from ships or oil platforms. The rest come from land. Karthik, raklodramA, Srivats, Mekie, Raghu, Vetti, Krithi, Rajesh and Shweta got it. Well done.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Question - 301

Where is the picture taken? Who is the person in the middle and what is he presenting?

Answer: This is Adlai Stevenson, the US ambassador to the United Nations during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. After getting the USSR to deny categorically any military operations in Cuba, Stevenson proceeded to show aerial photographs of the precise soviet missile locations in Cuba. As Krithi mentions, this is also when the US's ability to take aerial photos through unmanned spy planes was made public. Krithi, Manix, Rajesh K, Raghu, Vijay, Rajesh and Srivats got it. Well done.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Question - 300

Connect the monument in the first visual to the other two visuals. Update: On looking at the question again, it seems like I might have made it too obscure. So let me be more explicit in saying the connect is a phrase to which the first two visuals are directly related while the third obliquely so.

Answer: The phrase I was looking for is Molon Labe, a Greek phrase that means "come and get them". The Greek phrase was famously uttered by Leonidas during the Battle of Thermopylae. The same phrase was used in the flag of the Texas Republic during the war with Mexico. The phrase is frequently used by the NRA and its supporters and a variation of the phrase ("from my cold dead hands") was used by Charlton Heston during an NRA assembly shortly after the Columbine high school massacre. The question was solely put for the sake of it being the 300th question. Raghu, Iam and Rajesh got the whole thing. Vetti, Hirak, tsp and Krithi were almost there. Well done everyone and apologies for the contrived question.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Question - 299

The relic shown in the second visual is located atop the mountain shown in the first visual. This mountain is sacred to almost all major religions of the world. According to Islam, this relic is the remnant of a certain person's descent to earth and thus named for him. The geographic feature in the third visual is also named for the same person. Identify all visuals.

Answer: The mountain is Adam's peak in Sri Lanka also known as Sivan Adi Padam. The relic on top is shaped as a footprint which various mythologies attribute to various religious figures (Siva - Hinduism, St. Thomas - Christianity, Adam - Islam, Buddha - Buddhism). According to Islamic myth, Adam did a penance on one foot for 1000 years at this location to atone for his eviction from the garden of Eden. After the penance, he traveled via the Adam's bridge shown in the third visual into Idnia and then beyond. I had always wondered why the sand bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka was called Adam's bridge (also known as the infamous Ram Setu). Now I know. Srivats, Raghu, Hari, tsp, Mekie, Krithi (way to go appa), Ramki, Iam and Arun got it. Well done.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Question - 298

These two women met and reconciled some 50 years after a confrontation that has since become an iconic moment. Who are they and what was the event?

Answer: The women are Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Massery, the key characters in this famous photo taken by Will Counts outside Little Rock Central High School on September 4, 1957. Massery faced a lot of negative publicity as the photo caught her screaming at Eckford. To her credit, she came forward voluntarily to apologize to Eckford. The above photo was taken again by Will Counts as part of the 40th anniversary of the event. The women supposedly became thick friends after this only to fall out soon after. For more details, head to wiki. Srivats, Hari, Vetti and Swapnaa got it. Well done.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Question - 297

What just happened?

Answer: Monica Seles has just been stabbed at the Hamburg open by Gunter Parache, an obsessed Graf fan. Rajeev, Srivats, Mihir, anon, Ajit, Vetti, Raghu, nice try, Schmetterling, Iam, Rithwik, anon (sure take all the extra points you need :)), rajesh and Srini got it. Well done.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Question - 296

Shown is a simple example of a particular algorithm. What is the algorithm?

Answer: This demonstrates Google's pagerank algorithm which calculates the search rank of a page based on the number of links into the page and the origin of the incoming links. raklodramA, Schmetterling, Iam, Rajesh and Srivats got it. Well done.