Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Question - 397

Connect the visuals.

Answer: The man is Slartibartfast from Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy (the visual is from the movie). The location is a fjord in Norway. In the books, Slartibartfast is a planet designer who wins special awards for his delicate work in the Norwegian fjords. Mekie, Adi and Raghu got it. Well done.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Question - 396

Sketch of what?

Answer: This is the model of the spaceship serenity in the cult TV show/movie firefly. Raghu, Manix and Iam got it. Well done.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Question - 395

Connect all the images. Also, identify the especially famous item that is missing from this collection.

Answer: These images are the elephant and donkey of the Democratic and Republican parties, Uncle sam, the Tammany hall tiger and Columbia (a personification of the US). Though they can all be connected as US political symbols, the particular connect I was looking for was that they were all drawn by Thomas Nast, the legendary US cartoonist. He is partly responsible for the now familiar depiction of Santa Claus as a bearded rotund man. Santa Claus was the famous missing item I was looking for. AjithP, Iam, Renuka + Anand got the connect I had in mind while Hirak and Hari went with other connects. Well done all.

Question - 394

What, possibly apocryphal, event is being portrayed here?

Answer: Archimedes about to be killed by a Roman solider during the Battle of Syracuse. Apparently, he was engrossed in some problem and asked the soldier not to "disturb his circles". Debasish, Karthik, Arvind, v.chandrashekar and Hirak got it. Raghu and Iam went with the wrong ancient mathematician. Well done all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Question - 393

Today's question is courtesy Ramki aka Sriram. Identify him.

Answer: This is Wikipedia's cofounder Larry Sanger who has since left it and gone on to found Citizendium. His main grouse is that Wikipedia lacks credibility since anyone can edit its articles. ajaalgujaal and Srivats got it. Well done.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Question - 392

Today's question is courtesy Adi. Connect the image on the sides to the one in the middle in two ways (one way is easy, the other a bit obscure).

Update: As Adi suspected, it turned out to be a hard question and so he has helpfully sent a hint too (the pic at the bottom). Let me add that the guy on the right is a movie character from a famous sci-fi movie. You can connect visuals 1 and 3 to the clue in the bottom.

Answer: The images are R2D2 from star wars, a patent for an android and the character Roy Batty from Blade runner. The first connect is android (both R2D2 and Roy Batty are androids). The deeper connect is that while R2D2 is a droid, Roy Batty is a Nexus-6 model. Droid and Nexus are cellphones by Motorola and Google which both run on the android OS. Manix, Hirak and Iam got the first connect but no one got the second one. Well done all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Question - 391

Identify him (in the news now).

Answer: This is USC linguistics professor Paul Frommer who developed a new language for the Na'vi race in James Cameron's Avatar. Srivats, Hari, Corina, Schmetterling, rishabh and Manix got it. Well done.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Question - 390

Connect the 3 images (not an exhaustive list). I asked this question in the quiz club many years ago. So, this might be a repeat for some of you.

Answer: The common theme connecting the pictures is mistranslation. The first picture is Michaelangelo's Moses who is depicted with horns. This is due to a mistranslation of the Exodus by St. Jerome. The original described Moses as having light rays radiating from his head which was translated as him having horns. The second visual is the slipper scene from cinderella. The original french tale had Cinderella wearing fur slippers which got mistranslated as glass slippers in English. The last graph is a curve called the witch of Agnesi. My math teacher told me it was because the curve looked like the outstretched arms of a flying banshee but the more mundane truth is that the curve of Agnesi got mistranslated from Italian to English as the witch of Agnesi. Ramki, P, Iam and Hirak got it. Chandra had a great try. Well done all.

Question - 389

What phenomenon gets its name from the controversy surrounding this picture?

Answer: The house belongs to Barbara Streisand and the picture was taken as part of a study on erosion of the California coastline. Streisand sued to have the photo removed from the web and the resulting popularity made the picture far more famous than it originally was. Since then, the Streisand effect has come to refer to this kind of negative publicity resulting from censorship. Mrinalini, Rithwik, P, Manix, Iam (who has moral & other issues in answering the Q), mysore, and Sweta got it. Well done all and to set the record straight, Iam asked this question in the quiz club a while back.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Question - 388

Identify him and the place where the photograph has been taken.

Answer: This is Thomas Hunt Morgan, a pioneering geneticist who introduced the now ubiquitous drosophila melanogaster aka the fruit fly into genetics research. The picture is taken in the famous "fly room" in Columbia university. P, AC&amp, Krithi, Manix, Chandra and Iam (if you believe him) got it. Well done.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Question - 387

This painting is a part of a larger painting. Identify that and the funda behind this panel.

Answer: This is a panel from Michaelangelo's terrific The Last Judgement. In this painting, Michaelangelo himself is being judged by St. Bartholomew and judging by the flayed skin, Michaelangelo didn't have high hopes for his after life. Srivats, P, Hari, Raghu, Vetti, chandra, karthik, Ramki and Iam got it. Well done.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Question - 386

Sorry about the late post. The first 3 visuals show some of the more fanciful structures that have been associated with an annual event the logo of which is shown in the last visual. Which event is this?

Answer: The structures have all been erected in the past years as part of the burning man festival that takes place annually in the Black Rock desert in Nevada. The participants say the festival is an experiment in community, self-expression and self-reliance. Ramki, Mihir, Mekie, Krithi, Srivats, Hirak, P, umang, Iam, Swapnaa, Corina and the Jayaramans got it. Well done.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Question - 385

Identify both.

Answer: This is Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Srivats, Hari, P, Ramki, anon, Hirak, Karthik, Corina and v.chandrashekar got it. Well done.

Question - 384

What's the story behind the cartoon? Brownie points for identifying everyone.

Answer: This is a lithograph made in memory of Mel Blanc, the legendary voice actor for a bunch of well-known Warner Bros animated characters. The characters are Tweety bird, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzales, Foghorn leghorn, Daffy duck, Bugs Bunny, Porky the pig and Pepe Le Pew. Rajeev, P, Hari, Jaggi, nice try, Chandra & Swapnaa, jollyrover, Ramki, rishabh, Hirak, Corina and Iam got it. Well done.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Question - 383

The guy on the right made the chart on the left for a specific reason. Who is he and what is the chart for?

Answer: The guy is Alfred Mosher Butts, the inventor of Scrabble. The chart shows a frequency analysis study that he conducted on various sources such as the New York Times to decide the point value for the various tiles. I hope it wasn't too obvious from the visual that he is sitting on a bunch of scrabble tiles. P, Karthik, Srivats, Hirak and Rajeev got it. Well done.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Question - 382

This phrase originated from the device whose operation is illustrated in the first visual. The most (in)famous example of this phrase is associated with the woman shown on the right. Identify the woman and the phrase.

Answer: The phrase is "Deux ex Machina", literally "God from the machine. The device shown is a mechane which was used in Greek theater to lower Gods on to the stage. Since the Gods usually appear out of nowhere and were often used by Greek playwrights to resolve thorny plot issues by appealing to their supernatural powers, the term has since come to mean a plot device that appears out of the blue and solves seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Euripides notoriously used the machine to lower Medea (the woman on the right), a mere mortal , onto the stage. Prachi, P, Srivats, Corina and Hirak got it. Well done.

Question - 381

This term's origin can be traced to the movie whose poster is shown in the upper right. It may have been used to refer to the man in the left though he rejected the term. The scene in the bottom right can be taken as a clue to the term. What term?

Answer: The statue is that of the famous surfer/swimmer Duke Kahanamoku (look him up in Wiki. Very interesting guy), who introduced surfing to the world. The movie is Gidget, one of the first surf culture movies which spawned several sequels and TV spin-offs. The screen shot is of course from Pulp fiction. The term I was looking for was Big Kahuna. Kahuna is a Hawaiian word that means a healer. In the context of surfing, the big kahuna is the best surfer on the beach. The term traces its origin to the movie Gidget where Cliff Robertson is nicknamed that. It might have been used to refer to Duke though he rejected it since he knew its original meaning. The Hawaiian burger joint from where the burgers come in that famous scene from Pulp Fiction is the Big Kahuna. A couple of you had other equally valid (except for the oblique Pulp fiction bit) connects. Raghu, Hirak, Rajesh K, Keshav, Mrinalini, Krithi, Ramji, Iam and P got it. Well done.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Question - 380

Connect the man on the right to the event on the left. There is a slightly obscure technical term that owes its origin to the connection. Brownie points if you get it too.

Answer: The painting depicts the last day of Pompeii before it got buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Pliny the Elder who was a naval officer in a nearby area at that time attempted to sail into Pompeii both to observe the eruption directly and to help some friends who were stuck there. He met his demise in the city that day though not due to any effect of the volcano. The common assumption is that he had a heart attack while in Pompeii. In volcanology, eruptions of a certain degree of violence are characterized as Plinian in his honor (Krakatoa was an ultra-plinian). Hari, Srivats, Mekie, P (great answer for the technical term), Corina and Manix got it. Well done.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Question - 379

The man on the right made the notes shown on the left. He has been called the "most famous unknown actor in the world". Who is he and what are the notes for?

Answer: The notes are for the famous "Dawn of man" sequence that opens Kubrick's classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Dan Richter, the man who played the lead ape (moon watcher) is also the choreographer of the scene. In the right, he is shown reenacting the famous scene when he throws a bone up in the air and it transforms into a spacecraft (called the longest flash-forward in movie history). The quote about him being the world's most famous unknown actor is due to Arthur C. Clarke. Karthik, Hari, Arvind, Mrinalini, Jaggi, Corina, Srivats and P got it. Well done.