Series G, Episode 16 - Geometry
- Johnny's secret to looking so svelte is because he is wearing a shirt with horizontal stripes. While most people think the vertical stripes are more sliming, it actually turns out that horizontal stripes are better, according to research by Dr. Peter Thompson from York University. The idea that vertical stripes are slimming is so widely believed that in some prisons women asked to wear vertical striped uniforms in order to make them look slimmer.
- The columns around the Parthenon look straight because they are. People used to believe that columns bulged in the middle due to a visual phenomenon in a thing called "entasis". If a column is straight then from a distance it looks like it bows inwards. Therefore, the secret is to make it bow outwards so that from a distance it looks straight. However, the columns are in fact perfectly straight. Entasis does exist however, but not with the Parthenon. This information was also discovered by Dr. Peter Thompson from York University, who is in the studio audience.
- The panel are shown two shapes. One is very pointy; the other is more curved and blob-like. One of them is called a "kiki" and the other is a "bouba". The panel are asked to guess which is which. There is no right or wrong answer. According to psychologist Wolfgang Kohler, words that have a kiki sound will sound pointy in any language, and words like bouba sound blob-like in any language. It is a kind of onomatopoeia. For example, in the Huambisa language South America 98% of people who do not speak Huambisa when seeing the words "chunchuikit" and "mauts" and thought that one was a fish and one was a bird that the chunchuikit was a bird and the mauts was a fish. Another example is that "mother" in many languages has a "ma" sound associated with being close, and that "father" in many languages has a "ba" or "da" sound associated with being further away.
- The most successful textbook ever written is Elements by Euclid, which is all about geometric planes and conical sections. It mentions all forms of the circle and square. Engineering owes a huge amount to this book. Many mathematicians believe that Elements is the most beautiful of all mathematical books.
- XL: You would call a left-handed lemon an "orange". Lemons and oranges have the exact same chemical structure, but the other way around so it is a mirror-image. As a result, the smell of an orange is the exact opposite of that of a lemon. Other chemicals which have similar properties include glucose. Only right-handed glucose is absorbed by the body, so all left-handed glucose foods are used in diets.
- XL: There are 3,474,386,388 cricket pitch-sized amounts of land in Kansas. The length of a cricket pitch is 22 yards, which is one chain. There are 10 chains to a furlong and 80 chains to a mile. One acre is 10 square chains. When the USA was measured out they used British imperial measurements. All of the Midwestern States were measured in blocks of 24 x 24 miles, some divided into 20 x 20 chains known as "forties" because it would be 40 acres. The smallest kind of farm in America was known as a "forty". In terms of actual cricket pitches, there are seven in Kansas.
- XL: The state capital of Kansas is Topeka. (Forfeit: Kansas City)
- The best place to go to look into the future is the Diomede Islands in the Bering Strait. There are two islands, Big Diomede and Small Diomede, which are separated by the International Date Line. This means that if you are on Small Diomede and you looked across to Big Diomede, you would be seeing 24 hours into the future.
- The panel are shown two diagrams. Both are triangles made from four different shapes, including two triangles, but one of them has an extra square in it. The panel are asked where the extra square comes from. The answer is the hypotenuses of both triangles are curved, not straight. One has a ratio of 5 to 2, the other of 8 to 3. It was discovered by a magician named Curry and it is known as Curry's Paradox.
- The best place to punch a shark is in either the eyes or the gills. However, you should not really be worried. More people in the world are bitten by New Yorkers every year than sharks. 81% of victims attacked by sharks suffered only minor injuries. However, 120 millions sharks are killed every year for shark's fin soup, which is a tasteless thing (chicken stock needs to be added to it) and only the fin is used. The rest is thrown away.
- An octopus has two legs. The other six tentacles are used as arms.
- You can see about 59% of the Moon from the Earth. This is because of libration, which is a kind of jiggling effect which exposes more of the surface.
- Friday 2nd April 2010
- BBC One
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Stephen Fry||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|John Mitchinson||Question Writer|
|Justin Pollard||Question Writer|
|James Harkin||Question Writer|
|Molly Oldfield||Question Writer|
|Katie Taylor||Executive Producer|
|David Morley (as Dave Morley)||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|