Stephen Fry casts light on the subject of illumination. With Jack Dee, Chris Addison, Rich Hall and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening!
And welcome to QI, the quiz show that glows in the dark.
Tonight, we're peering through the gloom
at subjects of illumination and invisibility.
Joining me under the covers with a torch, a packet of crisps
and the latest edition of The Gentleman's Magazine,
-we have the enlightened Jack Dee!
-The illuminating Chris Addison!
-The incandescent Rich Hall!
-And that bright spark, Alan Davies!
Now, should any of you wish to draw attention to your brilliance,
you can light up my life in this manner...
-And Alan goes...
Good. Now, each of you should have a set of cards.
During the course of the game, I want you to see if you can find out
what these international symbols stand for.
You can decide for yourself.
You can write underneath each... On top, beside.
They are all recognised international symbols
for some very real...
That's Lady Gaga!
You've already made your mind up.
You've also got a question-marked joker card.
One of the questions I ask tonight
has the answer "nobody knows".
-If you can guess...
-There you are.
-That caught you by surprise.
If you guess which question it is to which there's an answer nobody knows,
you'll get extra points.
Now, in 1879, the Blackpool Illuminations began.
They were visited by up to 100,000 people from all over Britain
and were so bright that they were described as "artificial sunshine".
My question simply is, how many lamps did they use?
I love that the people of Blackpool consider this to be like sunshine.
-Are you saying we don't know? We do know.
-We know precisely how many they used.
-Hang on. 1879?
So, this is before the invention of the bulb?
Well done! Certainly before the invention of the filament bulb by Thomas Alva Edison, yes.
He didn't have the idea for the bulb, he had an idea for something else. He went, "Bing! Oh!"
-That's very good!
-"I'll do that instead!"
-But it, isn't it?
-It wasn't light bulbs as we know them.
They were carbon arc lamps.
They were still used by the film industry up until the 1980s.
100,000 people visited.
How many lamps did they use to draw that many people?
-12 lamps! You're damn close. It's eight.
-Yes! That's what's so extraordinary!
Eight, at a distance of 370 yards apart,
it was still astonishing enough, no-one had ever seen anything like it, to draw crowds.
Back then, there wasn't much to do, was there?
Everything else was gaslight, which this was a different sort of light,
and this was a white, bright daylight sort of light.
What did moths do before then?
I don't know what moths... Moths... I mean, how...?
Why don't moths come out during the day if they're so fond of the bloody light?
-I mean, really!
-They could just sit still and go,
"Wow! This is amazing!"
It's very peculiar!
You know, Edison electrocuted an elephant.
-My favourite fact of all time.
Do you know why?
It was a death sentence, it was an execution.
-I think you might know this cos you saw it on QI!
The problem with joining you people so late is you've covered basically all human knowledge!
While you were saying it, I thought, "This rings a bell."
-Maybe that's how I know it.
-"I heard this before."
You are absolutely right. There is film of it, which you can see. It's a very tragic sight.
-Elephant snuff movies?!
-Yeah, I'm afraid it's true.
-It's very sad.
But Blackpool were keen to attract people and it worked,
as you probably know as a lad from the northwest.
In fact, from all over Britain people, every September,
go just as the season is ending,
the Illuminations go up and they attract millions of people.
Of course, fabulous celebrities come to turn on...
Can you name some of the...?
-I think Jayne Mansfield did it.
-Very good, Chris!
-Way, way back.
-There she is. Jayne Mansfield came.
Then the lads from Top Gear, so they've maintained the quality(!)
The bloke on the left can't believe it!
-That's the mayor, I think.
-"This is terrific!"
-Even the mayoress is delighted!
-She is rather!
But other people have opened. Red Rum.
They made a special pedal so that when he trod on it, it turned on. That was in 1977.
And then they electrocuted him.
Michael Ball in 1997 and in 2006, Dale Winton.
They should've electrocuted him!
I think they've peaked! Where can they go from there?
-Dale's definitely peaked.
-They've reached the top.
-It cost them £50,000 worth of electricity...
-To get Dale Winton?
No! Of electricity to run the Illuminations.
Not any more. They use low-energy light bulbs.
There's no point going for the first 15 minutes of the Illuminations.
You have to wait for it to warm up. "Three, two, one...!" "Oh."
"Come back in 15 minutes. They'll be lovely."
Costs over £2.4 million to stage,
but apparently brings 275 million to the economy.
Because so many people come to watch.
-But it's free, innit?
-I know, but they buy fish and chips, they...
£275 million-worth of fish and chips?!
It brings 3.5 million people
and they don't have to spend more than £7
for that to be the amount of money that they brought in.
The original Blackpool Illuminations consisted of eight bulbs.
Today, they're six miles long and use 200 miles of wire and a million bulbs.
Now, if you can dispel the shadows on this one for me, I'd be very grateful.
Why did Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa
have to wait for the light?
There he is, Pancho Villa.
He had to wait till the banks were open before he could rob them.
-Well, Pancho Villa was part of a war in Mexico.
-He was. He was a great...
Quite a tremendous stature but now reduced to a...
chain of tawdry Mexican restaurants, where suburban bimbos go
and drink margaritas for 2 a pitcher and...
-..weep into their guacamole.
This is why you didn't get that gig in advertising.
There was a three-part war, the government of Mexico against two revolutionaries -
Pancho Villa and...
-Is it Zapata?
"Shoe," I think, in Mexican, isn't it?
-Yeah, in Spanish.
-Whereas Pancho Villa means...
-"House of Pancho."
-Yes, I suppose.
He wasn't called Pancho Villa, was he?
He took his name from his grandad, the best name I've ever heard.
It was Jesus.
Jesus Villa, which just sounds like the Pope's holiday home.
"We go to..."
-Jesus Villa, yeah.
It so happened that the American public were rather fascinated by this Mexican war,
and different American film companies paid
the different sides for the rights to film their battles.
And Pancho Villa got 20% of the box office of the Mutual Film Company,
who were on his side, as it were, but he had to wait till the cameras were set up and the light was right
before he could begin the battle.
AND they made him dress up in a general's uniform.
Usually, he went casual.
But they made him dress up in a general's uniform to look like that.
-So just before they charged, did they get make-up and everything?
Well, it wasn't quite that bad,
but it was an extraordinary, bizarre war, run for American studios.
And the strange thing is that, actually,
the reality wasn't that exciting.
And they would re-enact it back in America
to make it look more bloody and dramatic.
But they would use the footage of him, pointing in his uniform.
Lots of the Mexican revolutionaries sort of operated as bandits, as well, didn't they?
They were sort of political armies AND...
But they were bandits to raise money for their armies,
and he held up a train.
And he took 122 silver ingots AND a bank employee -
a Wells Fargo bank employee - hostage, and then
forced Wells Fargo to help him sell the ingots with the hostage.
-It's fantastically clever.
Can't cope with two intelligent, interesting people on this show.
-It's good, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's very hard.
He didn't just say 120, it was 122. I like that.
-Well, it sticks with you.
-Scholarly of you. Very impressive.
We said on QI... We told you what Pancho Villa's last words were.
I don't know if you remember. Alan, you were definitely there.
"Turn the lights out"?
No. "Don't let it end like this. Let me at least say something."
-It was apparently...
-"Hang on, I've got it."
We've since discovered that this may be a myth
as his car was hit by 40 bullets and he himself by nine dum-dum bullets
so he was probably killed instantly and said nothing.
But I like the idea of someone being disappointed that they didn't have any last words to say.
-Maybe it was "Reverse."
-"Don't park here!"
-"Tell them I said something," was his supposed last words.
Can you tell me the war where the first film footage was ever used?
If you run past the Bayeux Tapestry really fast...
-It kind of looks...
-It's not one of our better-known wars.
It's the Greco-Turkey War of 1897.
And there was a British film cameraman called Villiers who took the footage and then got home
and was really annoyed to find that someone else had re-enacted
the battles in England and they were playing in the newsreels.
Yes, the whole things was that newsreel was so new
that people were incredibly excited
and they didn't really know how reality looked far away in battles.
And if you lived in London or Bradford or wherever it might be
and went to a newsreel place, you believed what you saw.
And so in the naval battles of the Spanish-American war,
there was a guy who cut out battleships and pasted them
on bits of wood and put them in a tank of water just an inch thick
and had little bits of gunpowder that he lit
-and had an office boy blow cigar smoke.
And it played to packed houses.
People thought they were watching a real naval battle.
-They just re-enacted them back home?
They just took it on faith in those days, early on.
And to be fair, to some extent, even today,
most journalists who work in war zones will tell you they kind of sex up their video footage.
They do a lot of "whhooooaaa" with the camera just simply to catch our interest.
I often wonder whether people who report at flower shows,
whether they are just slightly cowardly war correspondents,
working their way up, but they're just working with the gentle stuff first.
-Yes, start with the azaleas.
-Something not too scary.
They say that the number one rule of battle photographers
is you always run toward the gunshot when everyone else is running away from it.
Which I think, you know, weeds out a lot of people right away.
"I'm going to shoot weddings."
The earliest we can date back this idea of faking war photography to make it more interesting,
to give it human interest, is in the 1857-58 Indian uprising,
where a massacre was photographed and the photographer bestrewed it with human bones.
Those were added by the photographer.
-Did he carry them in a bag?
-I don't know where he got them. I suspect he dug them up.
But you can see, literally, skulls and femurs and ribcages.
I mean, it certainly tells the story of some death going on,
but it was a fake.
That guy did my wedding photography. I wasn't pleased with that either.
He was old, too, wasn't he? Let's be honest. Very, very old.
What is this man about to do?
It's to do with our theme, one of our "I" words.
I mean, if I said, "They're going to turn invisible"
you'd imagine they're going to disappear completely.
Nonetheless, it is technology that is on the way to invisibility.
It certainly creates a transparent coat, as you will see.
-That's not a post effect.
That is happening in real time and is being filmed.
And that's the coat and that's it being filmed.
-There are two cameras, aren't there?
-Yes. What's happening?
-Superimposing the front camera onto the picture on the back camera.
-That's the technique.
It has interesting applications that are beginning to be developed,
allowing pilots to see through the floors of their planes, for example.
Why, to scare the shit out of them?!
"Ugh! Got to keep my mind on my job! Holy shit! Keep looking up!"
That could be the reason!
It's quite a good effect, isn't it?
He's called Professor Susumu Tachi and the cloak is made of a material called retro-reflectum.
As Jack rightly spotted, it projects an image onto itself of what is behind the wearer.
The computer generates the image projected, so the viewer, effectively, sees through.
-That would really screw them up at airports.
-Wouldn't that be odd?!
-Going through security!
It'd be great for talking to boring people. You could look at what's going on behind them.
Cloaking technology, as we know, is at its... It's at an early stage.
-The Romulans have it, I believe.
Ron Weasley's car can go invisible, his dad's Ford Anglia.
-It can go invisible.
-But that does wear the battery out.
-And Harry has an invisibility cloak.
There are interesting technologies that make things invisible, which have limitations.
One is, it's only infrared.
Or one is on objects which are so small,
they are already invisible to the naked eye!
"You see that thing you can't see? Ta-da! I just made it invisible!"
That doesn't work, does it?
Interesting, of course, in nature,
they've got round this problem, not exactly of invisibility but...
Well, there is camouflage.
-Chameleons can change...
-I saw an octopus
-and it appears to change the colour of its skin and just looks like a rock.
It's amazing to watch.
Other cephalopods, notably the Hawaiian bobtail squid,
like your octopus, can camouflage itself.
But the one thing that might give you away if you camouflage yourself is your shadow.
This clever chap can even make his shadow invisible.
-He's got iridescence that he can use to light behind him.
You're very quick-minded!
He ingests bioluminescent food that goes into his stomach
and his stomach controls, by the use of oxygen,
how much the bioluminescent food in his stomach shines,
and it shines out and casts a light over his shadow, thus dispelling it.
It's a lot of bother to go to, isn't it?
It's a magnificent piece of evolution, really.
-Jim Lovell, who was a...
All his instruments died - he was a naval pilot.
He was at sea in complete blackness, I think there was no moon that particular night.
How could he find his aircraft carrier?
And he could just see this very faint phosphorus wake
of the aircraft carrier, which was over the horizon.
So he followed it and, eventually, he got to the aircraft carrier and landed on it.
There is a lot of luminescent life at sea. It's quite beautiful.
It was a very rare occurrence. That luminescence happened every so often.
When it happened to Lovell, it was a coincidence.
It wouldn't always have happened.
-So a doubly lucky man.
-Surviving 13, as well.
-So, you knew the story already?
-I did. The moon is my thing.
I'd forgotten that! You're very much a moon chap.
Extra points all the way to Chris Addison.
-We're beginning to get a little bit humiliated by him!
-Yeah, I might as well...
Chris, do you know what these mean?
I think I've got a guess!
During the Indonesian Confrontation, as it was called, in the early '60s,
the British Army were very puzzled as to how the Indonesians could travel in the darkest forest
and they'd all stay together in single file.
They would tuck a rotting leaf into the back of their hats
and it gave off just enough phosphorescence for them to see the person ahead
and they could stay in absolute line.
-Is that any rotting...
-I don't think it's any rotting thing.
I think they knew which leaves to pick.
What do these people do for a living?
This thing's going to go off, isn't it? Ninja.
-Are they not ninjas?
-No, they're not ninjas.
The darkest clothes ninjas have ever worn have been blue, possibly at night.
But ninjas never wear black. The reason -
Why? It's so slimming!
I always thought ninjas might be fat and that's why they...
-Yes, they want to look better.
-"Is that better for me?"
-It's a sort of odd thing.
There is a tradition in Kabuki Theatre
that if anything is black, you can't see it.
So people can move furniture around,
because they're wearing black, they are stagehands.
And then, as a rather wonderful surprise in Kabuki,
they might have a stagehand suddenly kill someone!
They'd be a ninja, because ninjas were the secret assassins!
And so this pop association appeared
that ninjas wore black, but they never did.
They didn't fight, though, did they, ninjas. They would run away a lot.
-It was all distraction techniques,
was how they used to overcome their foes.
They would throw talcum powder, or whatever, and whilst you're distracted with the lovely skin,
they'd run away going, "Moisturise!"
Or they would throw cards and then run. They didn't want to engage.
Yes, they were the exact opposite of the samurai.
Samurai were all about honourable man-on-man sword fighting
and ninjas were about, as you said, scouting, spying, deceiving.
All kinds of different little tricks of one kind or another.
Those things you mentioned were part of their repertoire. But what they never did was wear black.
Staying with Japan for a moment. Tell me something quite interesting about the original geishas.
-They were all men.
Oh, God. LAUGHTER
Until 1751, all geishas were men.
Originally, geishas were almost like court jesters.
They were not courtesans, as they're considered to be now.
It took about 100 years before it was an even number,
and then female geishas overtook and now they're all female.
How about an ingenious interlude?
Have a look at this glass tank behind me
and tell me how many balls there are in there.
-Well done, Alan.
-So far, so good.
Yep, five. Yep.
This is the worst episode of the National Lottery ever!
So, how many are in there, would you say?
-It looked like five, didn't it?
But you might be rather surprised to know
-that there are actually over 1,000 in there.
We can show you a better view of how many there are.
-They're all invisible.
In fact, we have an example of precisely these kinds of...
-There they are.
-They're weird. They're called hydrogel beads.
-I can see them.
-We've deliberately allowed them to be visible.
-But in large glass tanks, they wouldn't be visible.
-If I push it underwater, it goes invisible.
-They have the same refractive index as water.
-Light can pass through at the same angle.
So they appear to be invisible in water.
-I can't see it!
-Quick, a hairdryer!
-It's gone down the set.
You're going to start floating away!
-Is there a use for them?
-I've got a glass there...
-Are they worth £500 each?
-Are they edible?
-I wouldn't want to take responsibility, but I don't think they'll do you any harm.
What are they used for?
-They have a commercial use -
-I broke it!
-Oh, no. Is it burst?
-It's sort of gone into pieces.
-It's rather strange material.
-Can you guess their commercial use?
-No. Flower arranging is one.
-Is it for packing goldfish?
Why aren't they making battleships out of it?
-All kinds of new uses may be found.
-Make a submarine!
-This feels gorgeous.
-It's quite good, isn't it?
It's quite addictive.
There's something quite gorgeous about that.
-I might have a play around with that later.
-Yep! You might!
-Another use is the manufacture of...
Jack's going to put his willy in it.
-I've already put it in that one.
It's weird because when he put it in, you couldn't see it!
-That's the refractive index -
Give me time to think of a comeback!
The other use, apart from flower arranging,
is the manufacture of contact lenses.
You'd really freak people out if you put them in your eyes!
-Yes. Not necessarily in the round...
-Marty Feldman's contact lenses!
-Any of these coming up in any of this?
-Not yet, no!
Nearly all the light in the world, of course, comes from our sun.
In which month is the sun closest to the Earth?
It must be July.
-Isn't it the same distance from the Earth all the time?
No, because it's an elliptical orbit.
January, February, March, April, May, June.
Yes, you were right first time - January.
Yes, people make the mistake that summer is somehow the time
-when the Earth is closest to the sun.
-(AUSTRALIAN ACCENT) That is summer, mate.
It's not when the Earth is closest to the sun.
It happens to be in January in the southern hemisphere, their summer,
but in the northern hemisphere, the sun is closer to us in January than it is in July.
The tilt of the axis, when the maximum amount of sunlight is on and you have the longer days,
that's what makes the seasons, not the closeness of the sun to the Earth.
What is interesting are the Tropics.
The first person to reason the Tropics were not hotter because they're nearer the sun
but because a smaller area is lit by an equal amount of light compared to other latitudes was George Best.
It was! Absolutely true, it was George Best who worked that out.
You've lost it now. You've lost it, you'll have to hand this over to someone else.
It was George Best, who was killed two years later in a dual in 1584.
-He was an Elizabethan scientist.
-Another George Best.
Just for a second, didn't you think the Northern Irish hero might have...
You come up with interesting stuff when you drink that much!
You do! He might have come up with that. Nice thought.
IRISH ACCENT: "Do you know what I reckon?"
My next question is this - why can't blindfolded people walk in a straight line?
They can't see where they're going.
-I'm afraid the chance has passed.
-The fact is, nobody knows!
There you go. Although it is a recognised phenomenon and people have theories,
nobody's really quite sure why it should be
that one's ability to walk in an absolutely straight line is completely compromised.
Even in short distances, people don't just go off straight, they actually curve.
It was discovered by a fella who saw it in amoebas and thought, "I wonder if it's true of humans?"
Who's blindfolded amoebas?
-How do you do it? They're so small!
-How do you do such a thing?
"Come here, you bastard! It's gone again."
He was called Asa Schaeffer.
He asked a friend of his, who he blindfolded,
he instructed him to walk in a straight line across a field and he plotted his track,
which was a clockwise spiral until the man happened to stumble into a tree.
But it was a complete spiral. This is what people do.
We've covered this before, but more research has been done and we have a little film.
Someone made a cartoon. We didn't. We don't have the budget.
This is what he told him to do, walk in a straight line.
-Is that how he walks?
-He was practicing to be a zombie.
-This is exactly it.
He was convinced he was going straight. Spiral, spiral, spiral, till he hit the stump.
And that is how we will all do it. We will swear, "I'm going straight!"
We hold our hands up, as if that helps,
and for some reason, we need a visual cue, a mountain or the sun,
but nobody knows why that should be.
-Could it be, and I'm being quite serious...
Well, as you'll see, it's not funny what I'm about to say.
Could it be a preservation thing, er,
so that we have an inbuilt device
that makes us go in a huge circle, and we can't see where we're going,
so you always get back to where you know where you are?
-I think I've cracked it.
-That's a very good point!
-I like it!
-I mean, it's...
-Can we make a bonfire, please?
It's as convincing as anybody else's theorem.
Further proof that the world is flat!
-Maybe that's what it is.
-Preservation device to stop you walking off the edge.
let's try an experiment. I would like you all -
and when I say all, I mean everyone - to close their eyes.
Audience included. Close your eyes,
and all you have to do, with your eyes closed, is point north east.
-Just point north east.
-Yes, in a north east direction.
Everyone do it. OK.
I hadn't moved! I'm not pointing!
-You were pointing down for some reason!
-I was scratching my leg!
It's almost directly behind me. Closest was definitely Chris there.
< Don't tell me Chris gets points for that!
Unless you happen to belong
to a very rare, unfortunately diminishing, Aboriginal tribe in Australia,
we do not have an instinctive and automatic understanding
of north and south wherever we are, at whatever time.
And it's linguistic. This particular tribe, in their language,
they have no word for left and right.
From the earliest age, their children will be told, "The salt's at your south-east elbow."
Everything is in absolute relation to north and south...
They don't eat with salt cellars!
The point is they always know,
wherever they are, whether inside outside, instantly, north south, whether it's dark or light.
And they use it in all senses of directions, including their own bodies.
If you flew these people to the other hemisphere,
-would they think it was the other way? Like water going down a plug.
-I don't know.
They're called the Pormpuraaw People and their language is called Kuuk Thaayorre.
Unfortunately, it's a dying language, as so many of these Aboriginal languages are.
Around the world, over 100 languages a year become extinct.
Our prepositions that we tend to use in terms of space,
we also tend to use in terms of time.
We have this idea that the future is forward.
But the Imara Indians in South America think that the past is ahead and the future is behind.
That must make bill paying a lot easier.
It's just a different way of looking at things.
They're thinking the future is behind, is the unknown.
We don't know what the future is, it's behind us.
These things are stuck in our language so much,
we assume they're natural and right,
so when we come across another culture that thinks in another way,
it gives us great pause, cos these aren't necessarily natural and right.
-I still think they are right.
-Yes. I won't be swayed.
-When they say, "Back in the day," they mean something that hasn't happened yet.
How can you look forward to stuff if it's all behind you?
They would find you just as weird.
Now you're being rude.
It's time to admit I had a sip of water
and I did swallow one of those balls.
You won't see it when it comes out.
Now, what happened when Colonel William Rankin
got stuck for 30 minutes in one of these?
Oh, it was a puzzle and he had to try and solve it.
You haven't got one of those.
But that is an example. You've got international symbols.
-Is it a diving bell?
-It is an international...
-It's an expired parking meter.
-Any other thoughts?
-An igloo with a loft conversion?
These are all good answers.
When I say it's the tallest structure that we know on the planet...
-Is it beneath the ocean?
It's in the other direction.
-It's in the sky?
-Yes! It's a particular kind of cloud.
That kind of a cloud,
-if that was its symbol.
-A fluffy cloud.
It's a Cumulonimbus. It's an anvil-shaped.
-He was stuck in there for half an hour?
-He was, yes.
He was a US pilot and he ejected.
-He'd opened his chute, then?
-Yes, but it was half an hour inside this thing, being buffeted about.
So, how tall was the pole this sign was on?
You may've missed the point, Jack!
They get up to about 23,000 metres high, which is fantastically high.
He was buffeted about in it. He did survive. His eyes and ears were bleeding.
He was pelted with hail. He was in a terrible state!
But he's the only person to have fallen through one of these structures and survived.
Anyway, listen, while we're with clouds,
what use to a pilot is a morning glory?
-If your joystick fails...!
Oh, dear! He's smiling, isn't he?
I think it was the co-pilot's joystick!
That's why they always sound so relaxed. "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
"Welcome on board."
-Aside from the possibility...
-It'll be something to do with the sunlight coming over the horizon.
It's an annual event that takes place in Northern Queensland, Australia, called the Morning Glory.
It's a remarkable cloud system. It's really amazing.
We've got a picture of it.
It can be up to 600 miles long - as long as the United Kingdom.
Look at that. It's over Burketown, which has a population of 178.
But lots of people come. The reason is, if you're a gliding pilot,
you get the ride of your life.
It can go at 35 miles an hour,
and inside, it's the most exciting thing you can experience.
Then you bump into a bloke with a parachute. "Get off!"
-His eyes are bleeding! "Help me!"
-< "Didn't you see the sign?"
-And that's the only place where a cloud like that forms?
Yes. It's the mother of them all.
Apparently, soaring along it is the greatest experience.
Indian Granny Clouds...
-What can you tell me about them?
-Did it win...?
Did Indian Granny Cloud win the 2:30 at Kempton Park?
Is it a fart in a restaurant?
-I'm so disappointed in you!
-When an old lady does a pump in a curry house!
Do they go up in the sky and can't remember what they went up for?
Think of cloud in the 21st century.
What other use has "cloud" been put to as a word?
-It's a computer thing.
This is a scheme whereby grannies in England,
using Skype or similar technology,
teach and educate and inform and enlighten children in India all the way from England.
-It was started by Professor Sugata Mitra.
-"How To Make Jam".
"How To Make Jam", possibly!
-They tutor Indian classes where they're short of teachers. It's an enormous success.
They've got time on their hands and because they care!
"Drop one, purl one."
Imagine the exports of Werther's Originals to India!
They're all listening to Michael Ball records!
What we're looking at, with your symbols,
are part of what is known as the International Cloud Atlas.
-And can you tell me what they are?
-Do they represent countries?
-No, they represent...
-On an atlas.
-I don't really listen enough, do I?
They represent types...
I bet you're a teacher! "He reminds me of all my kids!"
They represent a type of cloud.
-It looks like simpleton snap.
-It does! I know.
-What did you think they were?
-I had this one.
-Had you written anything on them?
I thought they were things to help traumatise children.
"Tell me what you think."
-I have "Elderly Use Handbrake".
-Yes! "Elderly Use Handbrake".
-That's my handbrake!
"You call that pregnant? THIS is pregnant!"
That's actually ET being quite rude. LAUGHTER
-You don't know what it means, but it's rude!
Well, there you are, the International Cloud Atlas.
-There were three forms, the cumulus...
-And the cirrus, the fluffy one.
And then there are all the mixtures of those in between -
the altocumulus, the stratocumulus, and so on.
It's that time when we grope our way towards general ignorance at the end of the tunnel.
Fingers on buzzers, please. Name the largest black body in the solar system.
Oprah Winfrey. >
Whoa! Ohh! Ohh, Rich!
-Within the solar system.
If there was a black hole in the solar system, we'd be in real trouble.
We would. I don't know any other black things in the solar system.
-The strange thing is, it's the sun.
A black body, in cosmology, is something that doesn't reflect,
and the sun only radiates,
so it is the blackest body in the solar system.
-It seems to be a little bit of a cheat question,
but had you known the answer, it wouldn't have been.
If you were to shine a light on the sun, which would be pointless, I accept that...
It wouldn't reflect off it.
In the solar system, there is no other body so unreflective.
-The moon is nothing but reflective. It gives off nothing, but reflects all the light.
-The same as us.
But the sun reflects nothing.
How long does light from the centre of the sun take to reach the Earth?
Now, I know this.
It might not be the centre, it sounds like a trick, but the light from the sun takes eight minutes.
Ahh! Oh, dear.
The thing is, it actually takes 100,000 years
to get from the centre of the sun to the surface...
to the surface of the sun.
But he was absolutely right. From the surface of the sun...
to the Earth takes eight minutes.
-I added that qualifier!
-You did. You were right.
It's 8 minutes 26 seconds, roughly.
The photons have an enormous amount of work to do right in the middle of this gigantic system.
How many Earths could you fit in the sun, were you able to do so?
-Easily, yes, you could.
That's quite true! I can't deny that.
-The maximum number is 1.3 million.
-3 million Earths!
It's responsible for 99.8%
-of the mass of the solar system.
-It is. There's a lot of it.
What happens to alcohol when you bring it to the boil?
-Ah, you boil it off, don't you, Chef?
-Yes, you do. You waste it.
It's nothing to do with me. I didn't touch it!
There's this idea that it all evaporates and so on. In fact, it takes a very long time,
three hours, at least, before you get rid of it.
Flambeing only gets rid of... If you like a crepe suzette,
if you light the brandy, that only gets rid of a quarter of the alcohol.
So the idea that you're burning it off...
It's not particularly important, unless you're drinking carefully so that you're under the limit,
then you have a crepe suzette and drive and are surprised that you're over the limit.
We've all been there!
The same goes to a Christmas pud when you put the brandy on,
-give it to the kids and say, "There won't be alcohol."
-And a 20p piece that might choke them to death!
-Could you get done for eat-driving?
-Yes, if you had enough of it!
Eat-driving! It's a heck of a thought!
Interestingly, if you add alcohol to a recipe
and you don't heat it at all, just leave it uncovered overnight,
it will get rid of more alcohol than by flambeing it.
30% of it will go just by natural evaporation.
If you leave a glass of wine out at night, the alcohol will evaporate?
-Some of it.
-Or someone will come down and drink it.
LAUGHTER DROWNS OUT SPEECH "..it's gone."
How much alcohol are they allowed to drink on US navy ships?
-A tot of rum.
-A tot of rum per man?
No. All US navy ships have been dry since 1914. No alcohol at all.
-The French riot police are...having a riot over not being able to drink at lunchtime.
Yeah, they have been told. They've always been allowed to have...
FRENCH ACCENT: ..just ze beer or some wine at lunchtime, it's not really drinking. Does not count.
And they've always been allowed to do it and they still do it
and now the government's said, "We don't think it's such a good idea
"that you should sit in your van drinking beer."
There was a photograph taken of all these riot police...
"Where is ze riot?"
There you go. How many eyes does a no-eyed, big-eyed wolf spider have?
-Yes! After all...
-A no-eyed, big-eyed wolf spider!
All big-eyed wolf spiders do have eight eyes, except the no-eyed, big-eyed...
I feel genuinely really stupid because you gave me the answer in the question.
-It's the worst one to have...
-It's a member of the same order of eight-eyed spiders
but it's evolved to live in a cave with no light and so it's lost all its eyes.
There it is. A rather grim-looking creature.
-These are in Kauai in Hawaii.
-And they're getting very, very rare.
The little things have no eyes at all.
Bet they can walk in a straight line, though.
And so from the caliginous shadows of general ignorance,
we emerge into the unforgiving light of the scores.
My goodness me, aren't they interesting?
Well, tonight's indisputable illuminatus,
with three whole points, is Rich Hall!
Burning brightly in second place with minus one, Jack Dee!
Despite his stunning knowledge in so many areas,
he did fall into a few of our little Heffalump traps,
so in third place, guttering and spluttering a little on minus nine,
But cast forever into outer darkness,
with minus 45, Alan Davies!
That's all for this frankly brilliant edition of QI.
It's lights out and good night from Chris, Rich, Jack, Alan and me.
I leave you with this from Steven Wright: "Light travels faster than sound
"and isn't that why some people appear bright until you hear them speak?"
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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