Series L, Episode 15 - Long Lost
- Living in a tiny flat may stop you from losing your marbles because if you only have one room to live in then you are less like to go somewhere else and think: "Now what did I come in here for?" A study at Notre Dame University revealed that the key thing that makes you forget is crossing a threshold.
- The world's longest living thing is lichen. Lichen lives with fungi and algae: the fungi provide a good environment and the algae provide the equipment for photosynthesis. Some lichen in Lapland has been found to be 9,000 years old. Lichen is the dominant vegetation on 8% of the world's surface. One form of lichen, caribou moss, is used by model railway enthusiasts to make model bushes and trees. (Forfeit: Bruce Forsyth)
- The thing that is long, begins with "L", and gets you horny, sleepy and pregnant is lettuce. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, described the opiate properties of lettuce, as did Beatrix Potter in Peter Rabbit. Lettuce is soporific, and Peter nearly ends up in Mrs. McGregor's rabbit pie because he falls asleep after eating too much lettuce. Lettuce has seen been bred to be less soporific. Wild lettuce however contains tropane alkaloid, which is also in cocaine. Americans did try to sell this lettuce under the names of "L'Opium" and "Lettucene", but most of it was made out of ordinary garden lettuce. Lettuce should not be fed to rabbits because it upsets their stomachs. Victorians picnickers wrapped lettuce around butter to keep the butter fresh.
- The world's longest experiment is the Clarendon Dry Pile in Oxford. It is believed to have started in 1840, although it could be 15 years earlier. It consists of two large pile batteries, below which are two dome bells and a clanger. When one clanger hits a dome it causes an electrical charge to go into the other battery, thus ringing the other bell and so on. It has rung 10 billion times since it began. It is in a dome jar so the bells are quiet. It is believed the batteries will last for another 350 years.
- Spending-a-Penny Bonus: A good use for half a copy of the Daily Telegraph is to flush it down the lavatory to see if the flush is powerful enough. This was a standard test up until the 1970s. Now a synthetic sludge stimulant (fake poo) is used, which is a mixture of yeast, water, seed husks, peanut oil, miso paste and shredded tissue. It was developed by Unilever for their Domex Toilet Academy in India. It is hoped that they will install 24,000 flush lavatories in India for World Toilet Day 2015, because the country has a shortage of flush lavatories. In India 90% of the population have mobile phones, but only 50% have flush lavatories. One-third of the world's population has no access to a flush lavatory.
- Nobody knows exactly what to do with the world's longest corkscrew, but it is believed it is used by narwhals as a form of showing affection by rubbing them together. The narwhal is kind of whale that has a gigantic unicorn-like horn growing out of its head, which is actually a gigantic tooth without enamel. Some people believe the myth of the unicorn comes from the narwhal. The name "narwhal" means "dead body" in Norse. Some people may think that because it is male narwhals that have this horn it is also used for fighting, but this has never been observed. Nobody knows why they are corkscrewed.
- XL: The thing that has a long tail and loses long jumps is a woman with a ponytail. Belarusian long jumper Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova made a 6.9m long jump in the 2011 World Championship, but her long ponytail landed in the sand as well, and due to the rules the length of the jump was taken from the point nearest the starting position. As a result she ended up 4th in the competition.
- The human endurance record that gets broken every eight months is that for the world's oldest person. On average the oldest person in the world dies every eight months and so the title is taken up by next oldest. There are some exceptions. One woman, Jeanne Calment, died aged 122 despite being a smoker and held the record for two years. She once said: "The only wrinkle I have, I'm sitting on." Places where people seem to live unusually long are known as "blue zones". Examples include Loma Linda in California, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Sardinia in Italy, Icaria in Greece (where legend has it Icarus fell into the sea) and Okinawa in Japan. All of these places are by the sea, so it could be a seafood diet that helps.
- XL: "Cryogenics" is the study of what happens to things at extremely cold temperatures. It is nothing to do with freezing people and bringing later reviving them, which is "cryonics". However, the online OED tends to go via usage, and because in sci-fi the term "cryogenics" is so mistakenly used to mean freezing people that this is now becoming the new definition. (Forfeit: Freezing people)
- XL: The most famous person to be cryonic preserved is Prof. James Bedford of the University of California, the father of cryo-preservation. He was frozen on 12 January 1967, and the cryonics community celebrate 12 January as "Bedford Day". As Stephen says in a Scottish accent: "Quite a few people believe in cryonic preservation, but Walt Disnae." Walt Disney died of lung cancer in 1966 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. (Forfeit: Walt Disney)
- The dark side of the Moon is coloured turquoise. On a horned moon or a new moon you can see light reflected off the Earth.
- The infamous question: how many moons does the Earth have? It looks like the answer could actually be none. What we call "The Moon" could actually be a planet, so it is possible that the Earth and the Moon are actually a binary planet system, similar to binary star systems. The International Astronomical Union in 2006 laid down the definitions for what count as a planet - these are the same definitions which ruled Pluto out as a planet. These definitions are that a planet has to orbit the sun, it has to be massive enough for its own gravity to make it round, and it has to have cleared its neighbourhood of smaller objects. The Moon comfortably fulfils the first two of these. On the third it makes more sense to say that the Earth and the Moon together have cleared its neighbourhood. The Earth has not cleared the Moon, so it is argued that they are therefore a binary system. The sun's gravitational effect on the Moon is twice as big as the Earth's effect. The Earth orbits the Moon and vice versa. (Forfeit: One; One, the Moon)
- Lab Lark Experiment: Stephen pours a bottle of water into a glass and then puts a sheet of paper over the top of the glass. He then turns the glass over and the paper sticks to the bottom of the glass so no water falls out. The panel do the same and all get it right. Stephen then is able to slide the piece of paper off the bottom of the glass and the water stays inside the glass, seemingly defying gravity. The panel try to remove their pieces of paper too, but fail and get all wet.
This episode's credits erroneously list John Mitchinson as the Curator of 'Lethal', rather than 'Long Lost'.
- Friday 16th January 2015
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Stephen Fry||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|Graham McPherson (as Suggs)||Guest|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|John Mitchinson||Question Writer|
|Molly Oldfield||Question Writer|
|Andrew Hunter Murray||Question Writer|
|Anne Miller||Question Writer|
|Stevyn Colgan||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|
|Ruby Kuraishe||Executive Producer|
|Suzanne McManus||Executive Producer|
|Justin Pollard||Associate Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|