Illumination QI XL


Illumination

Stephen Fry casts light on the subject of illumination. With Jack Dee, Chris Addison, Rich Hall and Alan Davies.


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Transcript


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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Goooood...evening!

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Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening!

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And welcome to QI, the quiz show that glows in the dark.

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Tonight, we're peering through the gloom

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at subjects of illumination and invisibility.

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Joining me under the covers with a torch, a packet of crisps

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and the latest edition of The Gentleman's Magazine,

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-we have the enlightened Jack Dee!

-APPLAUSE

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-The illuminating Chris Addison!

-APPLAUSE

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-The incandescent Rich Hall!

-APPLAUSE

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-And that bright spark, Alan Davies!

-CHEERING

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Now, should any of you wish to draw attention to your brilliance,

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you can light up my life in this manner...

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-Jack goes...

-LIGHTSABER WHIRRS

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-Chris goes...

-FIREWORKS EXPLODE

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-Rich goes...

-LIGHTNING

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-And Alan goes...

-SWITCH CLICKS

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'Oh...'

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BOOM!

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Good. Now, each of you should have a set of cards.

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During the course of the game, I want you to see if you can find out

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what these international symbols stand for.

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You can decide for yourself.

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You can write underneath each... On top, beside.

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They are all recognised international symbols

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for some very real...

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That's Lady Gaga!

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You've already made your mind up.

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You've also got a question-marked joker card.

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One of the questions I ask tonight

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has the answer "nobody knows".

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-If you can guess...

-FANFARE

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-'Nobody knows!'

-There you are.

-LAUGHTER

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-That caught you by surprise.

-Yes.

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If you guess which question it is to which there's an answer nobody knows,

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you'll get extra points.

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Now, in 1879, the Blackpool Illuminations began.

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They were visited by up to 100,000 people from all over Britain

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and were so bright that they were described as "artificial sunshine".

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My question simply is, how many lamps did they use?

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I love that the people of Blackpool consider this to be like sunshine.

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-Are you saying we don't know? We do know.

-Ahh!

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-We know precisely how many they used.

-Damn!

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-Hang on. 1879?

-Yes.

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So, this is before the invention of the bulb?

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Well done! Certainly before the invention of the filament bulb by Thomas Alva Edison, yes.

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He didn't have the idea for the bulb, he had an idea for something else. He went, "Bing! Oh!"

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-"Hey!"

-That's very good!

-"I'll do that instead!"

-Yes!

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-But it, isn't it?

-It wasn't light bulbs as we know them.

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They were carbon arc lamps.

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They were still used by the film industry up until the 1980s.

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100,000 people visited.

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How many lamps did they use to draw that many people?

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-12.

-12 lamps! You're damn close. It's eight.

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-Is it?!

-Yes! That's what's so extraordinary!

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Eight, at a distance of 370 yards apart,

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it was still astonishing enough, no-one had ever seen anything like it, to draw crowds.

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Back then, there wasn't much to do, was there?

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Everything else was gaslight, which this was a different sort of light,

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and this was a white, bright daylight sort of light.

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What did moths do before then?

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I don't know what moths... Moths... I mean, how...?

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Why don't moths come out during the day if they're so fond of the bloody light?

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-I mean, really!

-They could just sit still and go,

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"Wow! This is amazing!"

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It's very peculiar!

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You know, Edison electrocuted an elephant.

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-He did.

-My favourite fact of all time.

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Do you know why?

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It was a death sentence, it was an execution.

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-I think you might know this cos you saw it on QI!

-Yes!

-Really?

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The problem with joining you people so late is you've covered basically all human knowledge!

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While you were saying it, I thought, "This rings a bell."

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-Maybe that's how I know it.

-"I heard this before."

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You are absolutely right. There is film of it, which you can see. It's a very tragic sight.

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-Elephant snuff movies?!

-Yeah, I'm afraid it's true.

-Wow!

-It's very sad.

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But Blackpool were keen to attract people and it worked,

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as you probably know as a lad from the northwest.

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In fact, from all over Britain people, every September,

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go just as the season is ending,

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the Illuminations go up and they attract millions of people.

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Of course, fabulous celebrities come to turn on...

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Can you name some of the...?

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-I think Jayne Mansfield did it.

-Very good, Chris!

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-Way, way back.

-There she is. Jayne Mansfield came.

-Whoo-hoo!

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Then the lads from Top Gear, so they've maintained the quality(!)

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The bloke on the left can't believe it!

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-That's the mayor, I think.

-"This is terrific!"

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-Even the mayoress is delighted!

-She is rather!

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But other people have opened. Red Rum.

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They made a special pedal so that when he trod on it, it turned on. That was in 1977.

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And then they electrocuted him.

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Michael Ball in 1997 and in 2006, Dale Winton.

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They should've electrocuted him!

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I think they've peaked! Where can they go from there?

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-Dale's definitely peaked.

-They've reached the top.

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-It cost them £50,000 worth of electricity...

-To get Dale Winton?

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No! Of electricity to run the Illuminations.

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Not any more. They use low-energy light bulbs.

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There's no point going for the first 15 minutes of the Illuminations.

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You have to wait for it to warm up. "Three, two, one...!" "Oh."

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"Come back in 15 minutes. They'll be lovely."

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Costs over £2.4 million to stage,

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but apparently brings 275 million to the economy.

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Because so many people come to watch.

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-But it's free, innit?

-I know, but they buy fish and chips, they...

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£275 million-worth of fish and chips?!

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It brings 3.5 million people

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and they don't have to spend more than £7

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for that to be the amount of money that they brought in.

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The original Blackpool Illuminations consisted of eight bulbs.

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Today, they're six miles long and use 200 miles of wire and a million bulbs.

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Now, if you can dispel the shadows on this one for me, I'd be very grateful.

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Why did Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa

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have to wait for the light?

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There he is, Pancho Villa.

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He had to wait till the banks were open before he could rob them.

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-Well, Pancho Villa was part of a war in Mexico.

-He was. He was a great...

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Quite a tremendous stature but now reduced to a...

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chain of tawdry Mexican restaurants, where suburban bimbos go

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and drink margaritas for 2 a pitcher and...

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-That's it.

-..weep into their guacamole.

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This is why you didn't get that gig in advertising.

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Yeah.

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There was a three-part war, the government of Mexico against two revolutionaries -

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Pancho Villa and...

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-Is it Zapata?

-Zapata, yes.

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"Shoe," I think, in Mexican, isn't it?

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-Yes.

-Yeah, in Spanish.

-Whereas Pancho Villa means...

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-"House of Pancho."

-Yes, I suppose.

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He wasn't called Pancho Villa, was he?

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He took his name from his grandad, the best name I've ever heard.

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-Which is...

-Aston.

-"Aston Villa"?

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Perfect!

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It was Jesus.

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Jesus Villa, which just sounds like the Pope's holiday home.

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"We go to..."

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-"Jesus Villa."

-Jesus Villa, yeah.

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It so happened that the American public were rather fascinated by this Mexican war,

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and different American film companies paid

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the different sides for the rights to film their battles.

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And Pancho Villa got 20% of the box office of the Mutual Film Company,

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who were on his side, as it were, but he had to wait till the cameras were set up and the light was right

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before he could begin the battle.

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AND they made him dress up in a general's uniform.

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Usually, he went casual.

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But they made him dress up in a general's uniform to look like that.

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-So just before they charged, did they get make-up and everything?

-Yeah!

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Well, it wasn't quite that bad,

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but it was an extraordinary, bizarre war, run for American studios.

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And the strange thing is that, actually,

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the reality wasn't that exciting.

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And they would re-enact it back in America

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to make it look more bloody and dramatic.

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But they would use the footage of him, pointing in his uniform.

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He... He...

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Lots of the Mexican revolutionaries sort of operated as bandits, as well, didn't they?

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They were sort of political armies AND...

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But they were bandits to raise money for their armies,

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and he held up a train.

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And he took 122 silver ingots AND a bank employee -

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a Wells Fargo bank employee - hostage, and then

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forced Wells Fargo to help him sell the ingots with the hostage.

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-It's fantastically clever.

-Very good.

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Can't cope with two intelligent, interesting people on this show.

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-It's good, isn't it?

-Yeah, it's very hard.

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He didn't just say 120, it was 122. I like that.

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-Well, it sticks with you.

-Scholarly of you. Very impressive.

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We said on QI... We told you what Pancho Villa's last words were.

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I don't know if you remember. Alan, you were definitely there.

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"Turn the lights out"?

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"Ouch"?

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No. "Don't let it end like this. Let me at least say something."

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-It was apparently...

-"Hang on, I've got it."

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We've since discovered that this may be a myth

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as his car was hit by 40 bullets and he himself by nine dum-dum bullets

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so he was probably killed instantly and said nothing.

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But I like the idea of someone being disappointed that they didn't have any last words to say.

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-Maybe it was "Reverse."

-"Don't park here!"

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-"Tell them I said something," was his supposed last words.

-"Cut!"

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Yeah.

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Can you tell me the war where the first film footage was ever used?

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If you run past the Bayeux Tapestry really fast...

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-It kind of looks...

-It's not one of our better-known wars.

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It's the Greco-Turkey War of 1897.

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And there was a British film cameraman called Villiers who took the footage and then got home

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and was really annoyed to find that someone else had re-enacted

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the battles in England and they were playing in the newsreels.

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Re-enactment?

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Yes, the whole things was that newsreel was so new

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that people were incredibly excited

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and they didn't really know how reality looked far away in battles.

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And if you lived in London or Bradford or wherever it might be

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and went to a newsreel place, you believed what you saw.

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And so in the naval battles of the Spanish-American war,

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there was a guy who cut out battleships and pasted them

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on bits of wood and put them in a tank of water just an inch thick

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and had little bits of gunpowder that he lit

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-and had an office boy blow cigar smoke.

-Michael Benting!

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And it played to packed houses.

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People thought they were watching a real naval battle.

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-They just re-enacted them back home?

-Yes.

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They just took it on faith in those days, early on.

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And to be fair, to some extent, even today,

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most journalists who work in war zones will tell you they kind of sex up their video footage.

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They do a lot of "whhooooaaa" with the camera just simply to catch our interest.

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I often wonder whether people who report at flower shows,

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whether they are just slightly cowardly war correspondents,

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working their way up, but they're just working with the gentle stuff first.

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-Yes, start with the azaleas.

-Something not too scary.

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They say that the number one rule of battle photographers

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is you always run toward the gunshot when everyone else is running away from it.

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Which I think, you know, weeds out a lot of people right away.

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"I'm going to shoot weddings."

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The earliest we can date back this idea of faking war photography to make it more interesting,

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to give it human interest, is in the 1857-58 Indian uprising,

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where a massacre was photographed and the photographer bestrewed it with human bones.

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Those were added by the photographer.

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-Did he carry them in a bag?

-Satchel?

-I don't know where he got them. I suspect he dug them up.

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But you can see, literally, skulls and femurs and ribcages.

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I mean, it certainly tells the story of some death going on,

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but it was a fake.

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That guy did my wedding photography. I wasn't pleased with that either.

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He was old, too, wasn't he? Let's be honest. Very, very old.

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What is this man about to do?

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LAUGHTER

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It's to do with our theme, one of our "I" words.

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-Invisible.

-Yes.

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I mean, if I said, "They're going to turn invisible"

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you'd imagine they're going to disappear completely.

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Nonetheless, it is technology that is on the way to invisibility.

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It certainly creates a transparent coat, as you will see.

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-Oh!

-That's not a post effect.

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That is happening in real time and is being filmed.

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And that's the coat and that's it being filmed.

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-There are two cameras, aren't there?

-Yes. What's happening?

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-Superimposing the front camera onto the picture on the back camera.

-That's the technique.

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It has interesting applications that are beginning to be developed,

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allowing pilots to see through the floors of their planes, for example.

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Why, to scare the shit out of them?!

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"Ugh! Got to keep my mind on my job! Holy shit! Keep looking up!"

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That could be the reason!

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It's quite a good effect, isn't it?

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He's called Professor Susumu Tachi and the cloak is made of a material called retro-reflectum.

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As Jack rightly spotted, it projects an image onto itself of what is behind the wearer.

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The computer generates the image projected, so the viewer, effectively, sees through.

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-That would really screw them up at airports.

-Wouldn't that be odd?!

-Going through security!

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It'd be great for talking to boring people. You could look at what's going on behind them.

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Cloaking technology, as we know, is at its... It's at an early stage.

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-The Romulans have it, I believe.

-Harry Potter.

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Ron Weasley's car can go invisible, his dad's Ford Anglia.

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-Yes.

-It can go invisible.

-That's true.

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-But that does wear the battery out.

-Yes! Exactly.

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-And Harry has an invisibility cloak.

-Invisibility cloak!

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There are interesting technologies that make things invisible, which have limitations.

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One is, it's only infrared.

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Or one is on objects which are so small,

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they are already invisible to the naked eye!

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"You see that thing you can't see? Ta-da! I just made it invisible!"

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That doesn't work, does it?

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Interesting, of course, in nature,

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they've got round this problem, not exactly of invisibility but...

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Well, there is camouflage.

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-Chameleons can change...

-I saw an octopus

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-and it appears to change the colour of its skin and just looks like a rock.

-Yes!

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It's amazing to watch.

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Other cephalopods, notably the Hawaiian bobtail squid,

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like your octopus, can camouflage itself.

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But the one thing that might give you away if you camouflage yourself is your shadow.

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This clever chap can even make his shadow invisible.

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-He's got iridescence that he can use to light behind him.

-Yes!

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You're very quick-minded!

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He ingests bioluminescent food that goes into his stomach

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and his stomach controls, by the use of oxygen,

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how much the bioluminescent food in his stomach shines,

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and it shines out and casts a light over his shadow, thus dispelling it.

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It's a lot of bother to go to, isn't it?

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It's a magnificent piece of evolution, really.

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-Jim Lovell, who was a...

-The astronaut.

-Apollo 13.

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All his instruments died - he was a naval pilot.

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He was at sea in complete blackness, I think there was no moon that particular night.

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How could he find his aircraft carrier?

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And he could just see this very faint phosphorus wake

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of the aircraft carrier, which was over the horizon.

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So he followed it and, eventually, he got to the aircraft carrier and landed on it.

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There is a lot of luminescent life at sea. It's quite beautiful.

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It was a very rare occurrence. That luminescence happened every so often.

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When it happened to Lovell, it was a coincidence.

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It wouldn't always have happened.

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-So a doubly lucky man.

-Very lucky.

-Surviving 13, as well.

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-So, you knew the story already?

-I did. The moon is my thing.

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I'd forgotten that! You're very much a moon chap.

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Extra points all the way to Chris Addison.

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-We're beginning to get a little bit humiliated by him!

-Yeah, I might as well...

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Chris, do you know what these mean?

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I think I've got a guess!

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During the Indonesian Confrontation, as it was called, in the early '60s,

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the British Army were very puzzled as to how the Indonesians could travel in the darkest forest

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and they'd all stay together in single file.

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They would tuck a rotting leaf into the back of their hats

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and it gave off just enough phosphorescence for them to see the person ahead

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and they could stay in absolute line.

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-Is that any rotting...

-I don't think it's any rotting thing.

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I think they knew which leaves to pick.

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What do these people do for a living?

0:18:010:18:05

This thing's going to go off, isn't it? Ninja.

0:18:050:18:08

ALARM WAILS

0:18:080:18:11

-Are they not ninjas?

-No, they're not ninjas.

0:18:130:18:15

The darkest clothes ninjas have ever worn have been blue, possibly at night.

0:18:150:18:19

But ninjas never wear black. The reason -

0:18:190:18:22

Why? It's so slimming!

0:18:220:18:24

I always thought ninjas might be fat and that's why they...

0:18:240:18:27

-Yes, they want to look better.

-"Is that better for me?"

-It's a sort of odd thing.

0:18:270:18:32

There is a tradition in Kabuki Theatre

0:18:320:18:35

that if anything is black, you can't see it.

0:18:350:18:37

So people can move furniture around,

0:18:370:18:40

because they're wearing black, they are stagehands.

0:18:400:18:43

And then, as a rather wonderful surprise in Kabuki,

0:18:430:18:46

they might have a stagehand suddenly kill someone!

0:18:460:18:50

They'd be a ninja, because ninjas were the secret assassins!

0:18:500:18:53

And so this pop association appeared

0:18:530:18:57

that ninjas wore black, but they never did.

0:18:570:19:00

They didn't fight, though, did they, ninjas. They would run away a lot.

0:19:000:19:04

-Yes, well...

-It was all distraction techniques,

0:19:040:19:07

was how they used to overcome their foes.

0:19:070:19:10

They would throw talcum powder, or whatever, and whilst you're distracted with the lovely skin,

0:19:100:19:16

they'd run away going, "Moisturise!"

0:19:160:19:18

Or they would throw cards and then run. They didn't want to engage.

0:19:180:19:23

Yes, they were the exact opposite of the samurai.

0:19:230:19:26

Samurai were all about honourable man-on-man sword fighting

0:19:260:19:30

and ninjas were about, as you said, scouting, spying, deceiving.

0:19:300:19:36

All kinds of different little tricks of one kind or another.

0:19:360:19:40

Those things you mentioned were part of their repertoire. But what they never did was wear black.

0:19:400:19:45

Staying with Japan for a moment. Tell me something quite interesting about the original geishas.

0:19:450:19:52

-They were all men.

-Yes!

0:19:520:19:54

Oh, God. LAUGHTER

0:19:540:19:57

Absolutely right!

0:19:570:19:58

-APPLAUSE

-Bravo!

0:19:580:20:02

Until 1751, all geishas were men.

0:20:020:20:05

Originally, geishas were almost like court jesters.

0:20:050:20:08

They were not courtesans, as they're considered to be now.

0:20:080:20:12

It took about 100 years before it was an even number,

0:20:120:20:15

and then female geishas overtook and now they're all female.

0:20:150:20:20

How about an ingenious interlude?

0:20:200:20:23

Have a look at this glass tank behind me

0:20:230:20:26

and tell me how many balls there are in there.

0:20:260:20:30

One...

0:20:300:20:32

-Two, three.

-Well done, Alan.

-Four.

-So far, so good.

0:20:320:20:36

Yep, five. Yep.

0:20:360:20:39

Five.

0:20:390:20:40

This is the worst episode of the National Lottery ever!

0:20:400:20:43

So, how many are in there, would you say?

0:20:430:20:46

-Five?

-Five.

-It looked like five, didn't it?

0:20:460:20:49

ALARM WAILS

0:20:490:20:51

But you might be rather surprised to know

0:20:510:20:55

-that there are actually over 1,000 in there.

-Fail. Fail.

0:20:550:20:58

We can show you a better view of how many there are.

0:20:580:21:02

-ALL: Ahh!

-They're all invisible.

0:21:020:21:04

In fact, we have an example of precisely these kinds of...

0:21:040:21:09

-There they are.

-They're gooey.

-They're weird. They're called hydrogel beads.

0:21:090:21:13

-I can see them.

-We've deliberately allowed them to be visible.

0:21:130:21:17

-But in large glass tanks, they wouldn't be visible.

-If I push it underwater, it goes invisible.

0:21:170:21:23

-They have the same refractive index as water.

-Light can pass through at the same angle.

0:21:230:21:27

So they appear to be invisible in water.

0:21:270:21:31

-I can't see it!

-LAUGHTER

0:21:310:21:34

-Quick, a hairdryer!

-It's gone down the set.

0:21:340:21:38

You're going to start floating away!

0:21:380:21:41

-Is there a use for them?

-I've got a glass there...

0:21:410:21:44

-Are they worth £500 each?

-Are they edible?

0:21:440:21:47

-I wouldn't want to take responsibility, but I don't think they'll do you any harm.

-Try one.

0:21:470:21:53

What are they used for?

0:21:530:21:55

-They have a commercial use -

-I broke it!

0:21:550:21:57

-Oh, no. Is it burst?

-It burst.

0:21:570:21:59

-It's sort of gone into pieces.

-It's rather strange material.

0:21:590:22:04

-Can you guess their commercial use?

-Packing things.

-No. Flower arranging is one.

0:22:040:22:08

-Is it for packing goldfish?

-LAUGHTER

0:22:080:22:13

Why aren't they making battleships out of it?

0:22:130:22:15

-All kinds of new uses may be found.

-Make a submarine!

0:22:150:22:19

-This feels gorgeous.

-It's quite good, isn't it?

0:22:190:22:23

It's quite addictive.

0:22:230:22:25

There's something quite gorgeous about that.

0:22:250:22:28

-I might have a play around with that later.

-Yep! You might!

0:22:280:22:33

-Another use is the manufacture of...

-LAUGHTER

0:22:330:22:37

-Behave!

-You're disgusting.

0:22:370:22:40

-Another use...

-LAUGHTER

0:22:400:22:43

Jack's going to put his willy in it.

0:22:430:22:46

-Oh, dear!

-I've already put it in that one.

0:22:470:22:50

It's weird because when he put it in, you couldn't see it!

0:22:520:22:55

-Ohh!

-That's the refractive index -

0:22:550:22:59

Give me time to think of a comeback!

0:22:590:23:02

The other use, apart from flower arranging,

0:23:020:23:05

is the manufacture of contact lenses.

0:23:050:23:08

You'd really freak people out if you put them in your eyes!

0:23:080:23:12

-Yes. Not necessarily in the round...

-Marty Feldman's contact lenses!

0:23:120:23:17

-Any of these coming up in any of this?

-Not yet, no!

0:23:170:23:21

Nearly all the light in the world, of course, comes from our sun.

0:23:210:23:26

In which month is the sun closest to the Earth?

0:23:260:23:30

It must be July.

0:23:310:23:33

ALARM WAILS

0:23:330:23:35

-No.

-Isn't it the same distance from the Earth all the time?

0:23:370:23:40

No, because it's an elliptical orbit.

0:23:400:23:43

January, February, March, April, May, June.

0:23:430:23:47

Yes, you were right first time - January.

0:23:470:23:50

Yes, people make the mistake that summer is somehow the time

0:23:500:23:53

-when the Earth is closest to the sun.

-(AUSTRALIAN ACCENT) That is summer, mate.

0:23:530:23:57

It's not when the Earth is closest to the sun.

0:23:570:24:00

It happens to be in January in the southern hemisphere, their summer,

0:24:000:24:04

but in the northern hemisphere, the sun is closer to us in January than it is in July.

0:24:040:24:08

The tilt of the axis, when the maximum amount of sunlight is on and you have the longer days,

0:24:080:24:13

that's what makes the seasons, not the closeness of the sun to the Earth.

0:24:130:24:18

What is interesting are the Tropics.

0:24:180:24:20

The first person to reason the Tropics were not hotter because they're nearer the sun

0:24:200:24:25

but because a smaller area is lit by an equal amount of light compared to other latitudes was George Best.

0:24:250:24:32

It was! Absolutely true, it was George Best who worked that out.

0:24:330:24:36

You've lost it now. You've lost it, you'll have to hand this over to someone else.

0:24:360:24:40

It was George Best, who was killed two years later in a dual in 1584.

0:24:400:24:45

-He was an Elizabethan scientist.

-Another George Best.

0:24:450:24:47

Just for a second, didn't you think the Northern Irish hero might have...

0:24:470:24:52

You come up with interesting stuff when you drink that much!

0:24:520:24:55

You do! He might have come up with that. Nice thought.

0:24:550:24:59

IRISH ACCENT: "Do you know what I reckon?"

0:24:590:25:01

My next question is this - why can't blindfolded people walk in a straight line?

0:25:030:25:08

They can't see where they're going.

0:25:080:25:10

Next question.

0:25:120:25:14

-Because...

-I'm afraid the chance has passed.

0:25:160:25:19

-The fact is, nobody knows!

-THEY GROAN

0:25:190:25:23

There you go. Although it is a recognised phenomenon and people have theories,

0:25:230:25:28

nobody's really quite sure why it should be

0:25:280:25:31

that one's ability to walk in an absolutely straight line is completely compromised.

0:25:310:25:35

Even in short distances, people don't just go off straight, they actually curve.

0:25:350:25:41

It was discovered by a fella who saw it in amoebas and thought, "I wonder if it's true of humans?"

0:25:410:25:46

Who's blindfolded amoebas?

0:25:460:25:48

-How do you do it? They're so small!

-How do you do such a thing?

0:25:480:25:51

"Come here, you bastard! It's gone again."

0:25:510:25:55

He was called Asa Schaeffer.

0:25:550:25:57

He asked a friend of his, who he blindfolded,

0:25:570:26:00

he instructed him to walk in a straight line across a field and he plotted his track,

0:26:000:26:05

which was a clockwise spiral until the man happened to stumble into a tree.

0:26:050:26:09

But it was a complete spiral. This is what people do.

0:26:090:26:12

We've covered this before, but more research has been done and we have a little film.

0:26:120:26:17

Someone made a cartoon. We didn't. We don't have the budget.

0:26:170:26:20

This is what he told him to do, walk in a straight line.

0:26:200:26:23

-Is that how he walks?

-Apparently.

0:26:230:26:26

-He was practicing to be a zombie.

-This is exactly it.

0:26:260:26:29

He was convinced he was going straight. Spiral, spiral, spiral, till he hit the stump.

0:26:290:26:35

And that is how we will all do it. We will swear, "I'm going straight!"

0:26:350:26:40

We hold our hands up, as if that helps,

0:26:400:26:42

and for some reason, we need a visual cue, a mountain or the sun,

0:26:420:26:46

but nobody knows why that should be.

0:26:460:26:49

-Could it be, and I'm being quite serious...

-Yes.

0:26:490:26:52

Well, as you'll see, it's not funny what I'm about to say.

0:26:520:26:55

Could it be a preservation thing, er,

0:26:550:26:58

so that we have an inbuilt device

0:26:580:27:01

that makes us go in a huge circle, and we can't see where we're going,

0:27:010:27:05

so you always get back to where you know where you are?

0:27:050:27:08

-I think I've cracked it.

-That's a very good point!

0:27:080:27:11

-I like it!

-APPLAUSE

0:27:110:27:13

-I mean, it's...

-Can we make a bonfire, please?

0:27:130:27:16

It's as convincing as anybody else's theorem.

0:27:160:27:20

Further proof that the world is flat!

0:27:200:27:22

-Maybe that's what it is.

-Preservation device to stop you walking off the edge.

-Now...

0:27:220:27:28

let's try an experiment. I would like you all -

0:27:280:27:32

and when I say all, I mean everyone - to close their eyes.

0:27:320:27:35

Audience included. Close your eyes,

0:27:350:27:38

and all you have to do, with your eyes closed, is point north east.

0:27:380:27:43

-What?

-Just point north east.

-North east?

-Yes, in a north east direction.

0:27:430:27:49

Everyone do it. OK.

0:27:490:27:50

KLAXON BLARES

0:27:530:27:56

I hadn't moved! I'm not pointing!

0:27:560:27:58

-You were pointing down for some reason!

-I was scratching my leg!

0:27:580:28:03

It's almost directly behind me. Closest was definitely Chris there.

0:28:030:28:06

< Don't tell me Chris gets points for that!

0:28:080:28:10

Unless you happen to belong

0:28:100:28:12

to a very rare, unfortunately diminishing, Aboriginal tribe in Australia,

0:28:120:28:18

we do not have an instinctive and automatic understanding

0:28:180:28:21

of north and south wherever we are, at whatever time.

0:28:210:28:23

And it's linguistic. This particular tribe, in their language,

0:28:230:28:27

they have no word for left and right.

0:28:270:28:29

From the earliest age, their children will be told, "The salt's at your south-east elbow."

0:28:290:28:36

Everything is in absolute relation to north and south...

0:28:360:28:39

They don't eat with salt cellars!

0:28:390:28:41

Well, whatever!

0:28:410:28:43

LAUGHTER

0:28:430:28:45

The point is they always know,

0:28:470:28:48

wherever they are, whether inside outside, instantly, north south, whether it's dark or light.

0:28:480:28:54

And they use it in all senses of directions, including their own bodies.

0:28:540:28:59

If you flew these people to the other hemisphere,

0:28:590:29:02

-would they think it was the other way? Like water going down a plug.

-I don't know.

0:29:020:29:06

They're called the Pormpuraaw People and their language is called Kuuk Thaayorre.

0:29:060:29:12

Unfortunately, it's a dying language, as so many of these Aboriginal languages are.

0:29:120:29:16

Around the world, over 100 languages a year become extinct.

0:29:160:29:20

Our prepositions that we tend to use in terms of space,

0:29:200:29:25

we also tend to use in terms of time.

0:29:250:29:28

We have this idea that the future is forward.

0:29:280:29:31

But the Imara Indians in South America think that the past is ahead and the future is behind.

0:29:310:29:36

That must make bill paying a lot easier.

0:29:360:29:38

It's just a different way of looking at things.

0:29:380:29:42

They're thinking the future is behind, is the unknown.

0:29:420:29:45

We don't know what the future is, it's behind us.

0:29:450:29:47

These things are stuck in our language so much,

0:29:470:29:50

we assume they're natural and right,

0:29:500:29:52

so when we come across another culture that thinks in another way,

0:29:520:29:56

it gives us great pause, cos these aren't necessarily natural and right.

0:29:560:30:00

-I still think they are right.

-Do you?

-Yes. I won't be swayed.

-Fair enough.

0:30:000:30:04

-When they say, "Back in the day," they mean something that hasn't happened yet.

-Yes!

0:30:040:30:09

How can you look forward to stuff if it's all behind you?

0:30:090:30:12

They would find you just as weird.

0:30:120:30:14

Now you're being rude.

0:30:140:30:16

It's time to admit I had a sip of water

0:30:180:30:20

and I did swallow one of those balls.

0:30:200:30:22

You won't see it when it comes out.

0:30:220:30:24

Now, what happened when Colonel William Rankin

0:30:270:30:30

got stuck for 30 minutes in one of these?

0:30:300:30:34

Ohh!

0:30:340:30:36

Oh, it was a puzzle and he had to try and solve it.

0:30:360:30:39

You haven't got one of those.

0:30:390:30:41

But that is an example. You've got international symbols.

0:30:410:30:45

-Is it a diving bell?

-It's not.

0:30:450:30:48

-It is an international...

-It's an expired parking meter.

0:30:480:30:51

-Any other thoughts?

-Kaiser's helmet?

-An igloo with a loft conversion?

0:30:510:30:56

These are all good answers.

0:30:560:30:59

When I say it's the tallest structure that we know on the planet...

0:30:590:31:03

-Manmade?

-No.

0:31:030:31:06

-Is it beneath the ocean?

-No.

0:31:070:31:09

It's in the other direction.

0:31:090:31:12

-It's in the sky?

-Yes.

0:31:120:31:15

-A cloud.

-Yes! It's a particular kind of cloud.

0:31:150:31:19

That kind of a cloud,

0:31:190:31:21

-if that was its symbol.

-A fluffy cloud.

0:31:210:31:24

It's a Cumulonimbus. It's an anvil-shaped.

0:31:240:31:29

-He was stuck in there for half an hour?

-He was, yes.

0:31:290:31:32

He was a US pilot and he ejected.

0:31:320:31:35

-He'd opened his chute, then?

-Yes, but it was half an hour inside this thing, being buffeted about.

0:31:350:31:41

So, how tall was the pole this sign was on?

0:31:410:31:44

LAUGHTER

0:31:440:31:46

You may've missed the point, Jack!

0:31:500:31:55

They get up to about 23,000 metres high, which is fantastically high.

0:31:550:31:59

He was buffeted about in it. He did survive. His eyes and ears were bleeding.

0:31:590:32:03

He was pelted with hail. He was in a terrible state!

0:32:030:32:07

But he's the only person to have fallen through one of these structures and survived.

0:32:070:32:13

Anyway, listen, while we're with clouds,

0:32:130:32:15

what use to a pilot is a morning glory?

0:32:150:32:18

-Ah, now...

-If your joystick fails...!

0:32:180:32:21

LAUGHTER

0:32:210:32:24

Oh, dear! He's smiling, isn't he?

0:32:260:32:28

I think it was the co-pilot's joystick!

0:32:280:32:31

That's why they always sound so relaxed. "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

0:32:310:32:36

"Welcome on board."

0:32:360:32:38

-Aside from the possibility...

-It'll be something to do with the sunlight coming over the horizon.

0:32:380:32:43

It's an annual event that takes place in Northern Queensland, Australia, called the Morning Glory.

0:32:430:32:48

It's a remarkable cloud system. It's really amazing.

0:32:480:32:51

We've got a picture of it.

0:32:510:32:53

It can be up to 600 miles long - as long as the United Kingdom.

0:32:530:32:56

Look at that. It's over Burketown, which has a population of 178.

0:32:560:33:02

But lots of people come. The reason is, if you're a gliding pilot,

0:33:020:33:06

you get the ride of your life.

0:33:060:33:09

It can go at 35 miles an hour,

0:33:090:33:11

and inside, it's the most exciting thing you can experience.

0:33:110:33:15

Then you bump into a bloke with a parachute. "Get off!"

0:33:150:33:19

-His eyes are bleeding! "Help me!"

-< "Didn't you see the sign?"

0:33:190:33:23

APPLAUSE

0:33:230:33:26

-Oh, dear!

-And that's the only place where a cloud like that forms?

0:33:260:33:30

Yes. It's the mother of them all.

0:33:300:33:33

Apparently, soaring along it is the greatest experience.

0:33:330:33:36

Indian Granny Clouds...

0:33:360:33:38

-What can you tell me about them?

-Did it win...?

0:33:380:33:42

LAUGHTER

0:33:420:33:43

Did Indian Granny Cloud win the 2:30 at Kempton Park?

0:33:430:33:46

The, er...

0:33:460:33:48

Is it a fart in a restaurant?

0:33:480:33:51

LAUGHTER

0:33:510:33:53

-I'm so disappointed in you!

-When an old lady does a pump in a curry house!

0:33:530:33:57

Do they go up in the sky and can't remember what they went up for?

0:33:570:34:01

-Now...

-LAUGHTER

0:34:010:34:03

Think of cloud in the 21st century.

0:34:030:34:05

What other use has "cloud" been put to as a word?

0:34:050:34:09

-It's a computer thing.

-The internet.

0:34:090:34:11

This is a scheme whereby grannies in England,

0:34:110:34:14

using Skype or similar technology,

0:34:140:34:17

teach and educate and inform and enlighten children in India all the way from England.

0:34:170:34:24

-It was started by Professor Sugata Mitra.

-"How To Make Jam".

0:34:240:34:27

"How To Make Jam", possibly!

0:34:270:34:29

-They tutor Indian classes where they're short of teachers. It's an enormous success.

-Why grannies?

0:34:290:34:35

They've got time on their hands and because they care!

0:34:350:34:39

"Drop one, purl one."

0:34:390:34:41

Imagine the exports of Werther's Originals to India!

0:34:410:34:45

They're all listening to Michael Ball records!

0:34:450:34:48

What we're looking at, with your symbols,

0:34:500:34:54

are part of what is known as the International Cloud Atlas.

0:34:540:34:59

-And can you tell me what they are?

-Do they represent countries?

0:34:590:35:03

-No, they represent...

-On an atlas.

-No, no!

0:35:030:35:07

-God!

-I don't really listen enough, do I?

0:35:070:35:11

They represent types...

0:35:110:35:13

I bet you're a teacher! "He reminds me of all my kids!"

0:35:130:35:17

They represent a type of cloud.

0:35:170:35:19

-It looks like simpleton snap.

-It does! I know.

0:35:190:35:23

-What did you think they were?

-I had this one.

-Had you written anything on them?

0:35:230:35:27

I thought they were things to help traumatise children.

0:35:270:35:31

"Tell me what you think."

0:35:310:35:33

-I have "Elderly Use Handbrake".

-Yes! "Elderly Use Handbrake".

0:35:350:35:39

-That's my handbrake!

-Very good.

0:35:390:35:41

"You call that pregnant? THIS is pregnant!"

0:35:410:35:45

Very good!

0:35:460:35:49

That's actually ET being quite rude. LAUGHTER

0:35:490:35:53

-You don't know what it means, but it's rude!

-Absolutely!

0:35:550:35:59

Well, there you are, the International Cloud Atlas.

0:35:590:36:02

-There were three forms, the cumulus...

-The stratocumulus.

0:36:020:36:05

-The stratus.

-Nimbus.

-And the cirrus, the fluffy one.

0:36:050:36:08

And then there are all the mixtures of those in between -

0:36:080:36:11

the altocumulus, the stratocumulus, and so on.

0:36:110:36:14

It's that time when we grope our way towards general ignorance at the end of the tunnel.

0:36:140:36:19

Fingers on buzzers, please. Name the largest black body in the solar system.

0:36:190:36:24

Oprah Winfrey. >

0:36:240:36:27

Whoa! Ohh! Ohh, Rich!

0:36:270:36:30

Ohh! Ohh!

0:36:300:36:33

LAUGHTER

0:36:340:36:38

-Within the solar system.

-Black hole?

-ALARM WAILS

0:36:380:36:41

If there was a black hole in the solar system, we'd be in real trouble.

0:36:410:36:45

We would. I don't know any other black things in the solar system.

0:36:450:36:50

-The strange thing is, it's the sun.

-I see.

0:36:500:36:53

A black body, in cosmology, is something that doesn't reflect,

0:36:530:36:57

and the sun only radiates,

0:36:570:36:59

so it is the blackest body in the solar system.

0:36:590:37:03

-That's cheating.

-It seems to be a little bit of a cheat question,

0:37:030:37:06

but had you known the answer, it wouldn't have been.

0:37:060:37:09

If you were to shine a light on the sun, which would be pointless, I accept that...

0:37:090:37:14

It wouldn't reflect off it.

0:37:140:37:16

In the solar system, there is no other body so unreflective.

0:37:160:37:20

-The moon is nothing but reflective. It gives off nothing, but reflects all the light.

-The same as us.

0:37:200:37:25

But the sun reflects nothing.

0:37:250:37:28

How long does light from the centre of the sun take to reach the Earth?

0:37:280:37:32

-EXPLOSIONS

-Yes?

0:37:320:37:35

Now, I know this.

0:37:350:37:37

-LAUGHTER

-Right!

0:37:370:37:40

It might not be the centre, it sounds like a trick, but the light from the sun takes eight minutes.

0:37:400:37:44

-Mm...

-ALARM WAILS

0:37:440:37:48

Ahh! Oh, dear.

0:37:480:37:51

The thing is, it actually takes 100,000 years

0:37:510:37:56

to get from the centre of the sun to the surface...

0:37:560:38:00

to the surface of the sun.

0:38:000:38:03

Eight minutes!

0:38:030:38:05

But he was absolutely right. From the surface of the sun...

0:38:050:38:09

to the Earth takes eight minutes.

0:38:090:38:12

-I added that qualifier!

-You did. You were right.

0:38:120:38:16

It's 8 minutes 26 seconds, roughly.

0:38:160:38:18

The photons have an enormous amount of work to do right in the middle of this gigantic system.

0:38:180:38:24

How many Earths could you fit in the sun, were you able to do so?

0:38:240:38:28

Four.

0:38:280:38:30

-Easily!

-Easily, yes, you could.

0:38:300:38:35

That's quite true! I can't deny that.

0:38:350:38:38

400,000.

0:38:380:38:40

-The maximum number is 1.3 million.

-3 million Earths!

0:38:400:38:43

It's responsible for 99.8%

0:38:430:38:46

-of the mass of the solar system.

-Really?

0:38:460:38:49

-That's extraordinary!

-It is. There's a lot of it.

0:38:490:38:52

What happens to alcohol when you bring it to the boil?

0:38:520:38:55

-Ah, you boil it off, don't you, Chef?

-Yes, you do. You waste it.

0:38:550:39:00

-ALARM WAILS

-Whoa!

-That's his.

0:39:000:39:03

It's nothing to do with me. I didn't touch it!

0:39:030:39:06

There's this idea that it all evaporates and so on. In fact, it takes a very long time,

0:39:060:39:12

three hours, at least, before you get rid of it.

0:39:120:39:15

Flambeing only gets rid of... If you like a crepe suzette,

0:39:150:39:18

if you light the brandy, that only gets rid of a quarter of the alcohol.

0:39:180:39:23

So the idea that you're burning it off...

0:39:230:39:25

It's not particularly important, unless you're drinking carefully so that you're under the limit,

0:39:250:39:30

then you have a crepe suzette and drive and are surprised that you're over the limit.

0:39:300:39:35

We've all been there!

0:39:350:39:36

The same goes to a Christmas pud when you put the brandy on,

0:39:360:39:40

-give it to the kids and say, "There won't be alcohol."

-Exactly!

0:39:400:39:43

-That's right.

-And a 20p piece that might choke them to death!

0:39:430:39:47

-Could you get done for eat-driving?

-Yes, if you had enough of it!

0:39:470:39:53

Eat-driving! It's a heck of a thought!

0:39:530:39:56

Interestingly, if you add alcohol to a recipe

0:39:560:39:59

and you don't heat it at all, just leave it uncovered overnight,

0:39:590:40:02

it will get rid of more alcohol than by flambeing it.

0:40:020:40:05

30% of it will go just by natural evaporation.

0:40:050:40:08

If you leave a glass of wine out at night, the alcohol will evaporate?

0:40:080:40:12

-Some of it.

-Or someone will come down and drink it.

0:40:120:40:15

LAUGHTER DROWNS OUT SPEECH "..it's gone."

0:40:150:40:19

How much alcohol are they allowed to drink on US navy ships?

0:40:190:40:23

-A tot of rum.

-A tot of rum per man?

0:40:230:40:25

No. All US navy ships have been dry since 1914. No alcohol at all.

0:40:250:40:30

-The French riot police are...having a riot over not being able to drink at lunchtime.

-Are they?!

0:40:300:40:36

Yeah, they have been told. They've always been allowed to have...

0:40:360:40:41

FRENCH ACCENT: ..just ze beer or some wine at lunchtime, it's not really drinking. Does not count.

0:40:410:40:46

And they've always been allowed to do it and they still do it

0:40:460:40:50

and now the government's said, "We don't think it's such a good idea

0:40:500:40:53

"that you should sit in your van drinking beer."

0:40:530:40:56

There was a photograph taken of all these riot police...

0:40:560:41:00

"Where is ze riot?"

0:41:000:41:02

There you go. How many eyes does a no-eyed, big-eyed wolf spider have?

0:41:050:41:11

-EXPLOSIONS >

-Yeah?

0:41:130:41:15

-Eight.

-ALARM WAILS

0:41:150:41:18

-None.

-Yes! After all...

-A no-eyed, big-eyed wolf spider!

0:41:220:41:27

All big-eyed wolf spiders do have eight eyes, except the no-eyed, big-eyed...

0:41:280:41:33

I feel genuinely really stupid because you gave me the answer in the question.

0:41:360:41:41

-It's the worst one to have...

-It's a member of the same order of eight-eyed spiders

0:41:410:41:45

but it's evolved to live in a cave with no light and so it's lost all its eyes.

0:41:450:41:49

There it is. A rather grim-looking creature.

0:41:490:41:52

-These are in Kauai in Hawaii.

-Kauai.

-And they're getting very, very rare.

0:41:520:41:58

The little things have no eyes at all.

0:41:580:42:00

Bet they can walk in a straight line, though.

0:42:000:42:03

And so from the caliginous shadows of general ignorance,

0:42:030:42:06

we emerge into the unforgiving light of the scores.

0:42:060:42:09

My goodness me, aren't they interesting?

0:42:090:42:12

Well, tonight's indisputable illuminatus,

0:42:120:42:15

with three whole points, is Rich Hall!

0:42:150:42:19

APPLAUSE

0:42:190:42:21

Burning brightly in second place with minus one, Jack Dee!

0:42:220:42:27

APPLAUSE

0:42:270:42:30

Despite his stunning knowledge in so many areas,

0:42:320:42:35

he did fall into a few of our little Heffalump traps,

0:42:350:42:38

so in third place, guttering and spluttering a little on minus nine,

0:42:380:42:42

-Chris Addison!

-APPLAUSE

0:42:420:42:45

But cast forever into outer darkness,

0:42:450:42:49

with minus 45, Alan Davies!

0:42:490:42:52

CHEERING

0:42:520:42:55

That's all for this frankly brilliant edition of QI.

0:42:590:43:03

It's lights out and good night from Chris, Rich, Jack, Alan and me.

0:43:030:43:06

I leave you with this from Steven Wright: "Light travels faster than sound

0:43:060:43:10

"and isn't that why some people appear bright until you hear them speak?"

0:43:100:43:14

-Good night.

-APPLAUSE

0:43:140:43:18

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0:43:220:43:25

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