Stephen Fry considers some incomprehensible questions with Sue Perkins, Ross Noble, Professor Brian Cox and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Good evening, good evening,
good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening.
Welcome to QI, where tonight's show is completely and utterly incomprehensible.
Venturing into the unknown with me tonight are...What's his name?
And...Oh, you know!
And...Wait, don't tell me!
And, finally...No, I've never seen him before in my life.
Our buzzers tonight are no less perplexing than our questions.
LAUGHTER Eleven types of wrong, just there.
-HIGH PITCHED RANTING
-ALAN TALKING GIBBERISH
-"..dirty old bag."
-Is that your internal dialogue?
I think so. I don't know how they got that.
-Don't forget, in this series, we have the Nobody Knows joker.
There are some questions to which no-one knows the answer
and if you think the question I ask has no known, authoritative answer,
play your Nobody Knows joker and you will get extra points.
Let's start with something that is not even in the same language.
Listen to this and tell me what it means.
-That's a rodent.
-It's a rodent. Good. Can you narrow it down?
-Is it the squeaky door to his rodent house?
-He's asking for some oil(!)
The astonishing thing is, we do know what that means.
I can vouch for this. There are people who study this.
My director on one of my documentaries got a PhD from Oxford studying frog communication.
-He sat there for three...
-He was a professor of French?
No, stop it. Sorry.
He sat there for three years, in the outback, somewhere in Australia,
and he discerned about three words which I think were something like...
You are absolutely right. There are zoologists who spend their life
trying to understand communications of various species.
-Do you know what this species is?
-It is a gopher.
Exactly. A prairie dog. It's also known as a ground squirrel.
Isn't ground squirrel a condiment?
A little ground squirrel, madam?
He's making that face cos he's got Philip Schofield's hand up his bum.
That takes me back a bit!
Is that what the squeaking noise is?
When I say, that takes me back, I don't mean there was a time...
It's all gone wrong!
Anyway, there is a scientist, Professor Con Slobodchikoff
of Northern Arizona University, who spent 30 years
studying the language of these prairie dogs.
-Do they warn one another of predators?
Is that one of the words?
He's used computer analysis and they are able to distinguish between different types of predator.
Humans, badgers, various other animals.
Not only that, different geometric shapes.
And they have a different sound for each one?
-And different coloured shirts that humans are wearing. The noise we heard.
The noise we heard in prairie dog was, "There's a human approaching wearing a yellow shirt."
I know that sounds almost inconceivable.
They can't distinguish between different genders of human but they can in different height.
If a tall human approaches in a yellow shirt, the leader will make a series of squeaks
and, under computer analysis, you can differentiate between
-a tall human in a red shirt and a short human in a red shirt...
-How wide is their colour palette?
..and a tall human in a yellow shirt and so on.
Apparently, if a transvestite in tartan approaches, they explode.
Here is a similar clip but translated into English.
Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan!
Al! Alan! Alan! Alan!
Alan! Alan! Alan!
Oh, it's not Alan. That's Steve.
Steve! Steve! Steve! Steve!
Steve! Steve! Steve!
We can watch that forever, can't we?
Now it's time for some interplanetary incomprehension.
What did the Pope's librarian say
when he first saw the rings around the planet Saturn?
They initially thought the planet had ears.
-That was Galileo.
I don't think he actually thought it had ears because Galileo was a genius.
Ears in the sense of jug ears, wasn't it?
No, that's Galileo, who was sensible.
I'm talking about the librarian of the Pope.
He genuinely believed that it was possible that after Christ's ascension into heaven,
the rings of Saturn were where he put his foreskin.
Now you may think I am trying to mock the Church,
this is all nonsense, but Christ was a Jewish boy
and like all Jewish boys, on the eighth day of his birth, he was circumcised.
But it's 50,000 miles across. Imagine the size!
They weren't aware of that.
"I need a peg to hang this massive foreskin on!"
-I've got a new respect for Jesus.
-That is some girth!
His name was Leo Allatius and his essay was called,
De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba.
A diatribe, a discussion, concerning the prepuce, foreskin, of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is how to interest teenagers in astronomy.
-This is a trick I've been missing.
-Is it out there as a relic?
Like all the relics, there are 18 places who claim to have the one true Holy foreskin.
Are there really?
Catherine of Siena was one of the weirder of the saints.
She believed that Christ gave her his foreskin as a wedding ring
-in their mystical marriage.
-What a gift(!)
After her death her hand was cut off and became a relic
with its invisible foreskin on it as a ring.
She was extremely anorexic, a peculiar woman.
She actively sought out degrading experiences.
She once drank a cup full of cancerous pus
from a woman who had abused her.
But has she appeared on Mock the Week?
Now, more importantly, more significantly,
how were the rings around Saturn actually formed?
-I'm going to play the card there.
-You are right!
-You are a true scientist.
-Nobody does really know, do they?
-There are two major...
I didn't copy. I wasn't copying.
There's a Socratic acceptance of the limits of one's own knowledge and there's ignorance.
I'm not saying which is which.
No, quite right. There are two major theories.
I think there are two major theories. Is that right?
There could be a moon that was either disrupted, so something hit it and fragmented it,
although they are almost pure water ice,
which, come to think of it, makes the moon theory a bit unlikely, doesn't it,
because moons are made of rock.
-The other theory is that it is something to do with the formation of the planet itself.
That something spun-off it in some way
-and then achieved a stable orbit around and formed these...
-God spilled his drink.
The structures are held by the other moons.
-There are over 60 moons of Saturn.
-Are they part of the rings or separate?
-Some of them are inside.
Small moons called shepherd moons which go around
and you get rings in between those moons
and it's got moons outside the rings which affect the structure of the rings, so they orbit outside.
-It's a very complex...
-Any life-carrying moons?
There's a moon called Enceladus, which is about as big as Britain, it's a very small moon,
but it has fountains of ice rising up out of the surface
and it's thought there may be liquid water beneath the surface, so pockets of liquid water.
Everywhere on Earth that you find water, you find life.
Of all these moons, this is the one thing I wanted to ask you,
of all these moons, which one is most likely to be the home to Ewoks?
-That would be Titan.
It's got a thicker atmosphere than the Earth so you'd need to be furry.
We just have to destroy the one that has Jar Jar Binks on it.
It's very important when you're learning to study
-to know which notes to take, not just to take any old notes.
-I saw that. Intelligence at work.
Now, while we're up in space, how do you imagine spacemen follow penguins about?
Why would they want to? How would they do it?
-I suppose to track colonies.
-You're absolutely right.
They used to try and use little bands around their flippers
but they found that there was a 44% increase in mortality
amongst penguins that had these things attached
so they had to find a way of observing penguins
and they found they could do it through space.
What's interesting is, it's the activity of the penguin that is most revealing is...
-Is it their droppings?
-It's how they poo.
-How do they poo?
-A German scientist from Bremen...
LAUGHTER Into the atmosphere.
He discovered they squeeze four times harder than humans.
-They fire it?
-Yes, they do.
It's a bit like toothpaste, and when you get lots of them together,
they spell out, "Piss off spacemen."
It's a streak. They leave a streak of faeces.
-A splatter gun of guano that's visible from...
Oh, no, don't tell me it's sat in the middle of it.
No, it's not, that's the point. It's squirted it out.
-30cms away from its body, it goes.
-Somebody took that photo.
They've still got to walk through it! Surely they should squirt it out the sides.
It's like painting yourself into a corner, really, isn't it?
It just looks like somebody ran over that one in a Land Rover.
Someone's up in space, looking down for Emperor penguin poo?
No, they're looking for how they're flocking together, how they're living,
and through an examination of their faeces,
which are clearly visible because of the trails and streaks they leave behind,
they're able to predict population rises and falls.
I think it's rather wonderful. It's a fantastic way of being able to observe animals
without them even knowing they're being watched
and being able to gauge their diets and health.
Still in space, what's the main use for the second commonest gas in the universe?
-Oh, second commonest?
-What might be the second most abundant gas in the universe?
Hydrogen is the most common, I believe.
-Helium is the right answer!
Helium... filling balloons! I was going to say filling balloons.
Filling balloons is not the reason.
Squeaky voices! Squeaky voices!
The question is...
..the point is, there is a shortage on Earth, not in the universe, of helium.
The demand for it has gone up in the last 15 years
and it is not because party entertainment has become a bigger thing,
-it is actually for something else.
-We use it for refrigeration.
Refrigeration. And it's a diagnostic device.
-An expensive but highly effective diagnostic device that needs cooling.
That is the right answer. The superconducting, the coils...
They have to be that heavy otherwise they just float off.
It's a nightmare.
They came from particle physics technology.
You often get criticised because exploring the universe
is not seen as a useful thing to do for some reason in our society.
Actually, the offshoots are completely unpredictable
and one of the offshoots of exploring particle physics,
the world of the atom, quantum mechanics, was the MRI scanner.
-We use helium to cool down the LHC.
-Oh, do you?
The Large Hadron Collider, 27kms in circumference...
What was unfortunately misprinted as the Large Hard On Collider.
My spell-checker does that. Large Hard On Colluder.
It colluded in a large hard on(!)
But it runs at -271 degrees, so 1.9 degrees above absolute zero.
That's because you need these superconducting magnets that are in MRI scanners.
They're magnets made of wire that have no electrical resistance.
You can put a current through it and have a massive magnetic field.
But the helium is the only substance that is liquid.
Our information is, and I don't know what you guys at CERN have,
is that it's possible that on Earth we will run out of helium by 2035,
-which is not that far away.
-How are we going to make funny voices then?
With the Collider, with all those magnets in a circle underground,
on the hills and everything, those Swiss cow bells on the cows,
when you turn it on, do they all run in a big circle? Moo!
Moo! Moo! Getting dragged around.
They go at 99.999999% the speed of light,
so they go round 27 kilometres 11,000 times a second
and the cows would weigh, if we did that, 7,000 times more than they do.
-Ouch, my brain!
-It's giving me an erection.
-What, the LHC?
-You've become a Large Hard On Colluder.
Exploration. That's the value of exploration.
And at the smallest level, at a human level and at a cosmic level
and at a minute particle level. That's the beauty of it.
-Oh, gosh, I could almost beat it down, and we must carry on...
-I'm glad you are all excited because it is good.
Now, this sounds very existential. When is the present?
I'm not going to fall into that trap! Who's going to say it?
Well, it's not really a trap. It's a genuinely interesting question.
There are different ways of trying to describe what the present might be
but let's talk about the present in terms of archaeology.
Why are there acorns on the sign? Is that connected?
It's the sign for squirrels.
Acorns in the future. Acorns in the past.
Did you not know that squirrels have the capacity to time travel?
They are the only ones who can do that.
They keep it very quiet because the nuts are better in the past.
Archaeologists have an acronym, BP, which means Before Present.
They can date the present. It's an exact date.
January 1st, 1950.
-That's the present?
There's a good reason for this. You might be able to work it out.
If you did, I would be very impressed.
-Is it plastics?
-No. Archaeologists are interested in the distant past.
And, recently, in the last 100 or so years, certain techniques have enabled us to discover...
Carbon dating has allowed us to discover how old things are.
In the 1950s, basically, they decided by January 1st, 1950,
we had so screwed up the atmosphere with nuclear testing
that no carbon dating could be trusted after January 1st, 1950.
That is known as the present.
These archaeologists need to learn a bit of physics.
According to Einstein's Theory of Space and Time, which is our best theory of space and time,
there's no such thing as a present moment which spans the universe or even the Earth
or, in fact, even two people moving relative to each other.
It is absurd to think of an event that might be happening now in a galaxy
and me doing this as being simultaneous.
That has no meaning, cosmically, does it?
You can swap the order of them as long as they're not causally connected.
-You know, if I throw a glass...
If I was to throw a glass over there and it smashes on the ground,
obviously, I caused it to smash by throwing it.
You can't have the smash before I throw it.
However, say the sun and the Earth, the sun is eight light minutes away,
if the sun exploded now, we wouldn't notice for eight minutes.
For eight minutes, anything that I do here,
I talk and I talk and, four minutes later, I'm still talking.
You can swap the order of those things around
until the point at which they become causally connected.
In that case, until the explosion destroys the earth.
At a quantum level, time can appear to go forwards and backwards
and follow exact rules in whichever way it's going, doesn't it?
Richard Feynman had a theory, which was a legitimate theory,
that there's only one electron in the universe.
We're all made of electrons.
-Slowly. We're all made of what?
How do you spell electron? LAUGHTER
-The Sun has exploded.
-We have eight minutes to live.
Is it a wine glass or more of a tumbler? LAUGHTER
Richard Feynman, a great physicist, he got a Nobel Prize,
he said that...you see, all electrons are exactly the same.
He said, I think perhaps there's only one in the universe
and it keeps moving backwards and forwards through time
and every time it crosses "now", this sheet that we call "now",
you see an electron, electron, electron.
So all the electrons in my hand, the billions of them, are the same as the electrons in your hand.
It's just one, wandering backwards and forwards in time.
And that was a legitimate view.
I've got a feeling that when you're late for a meeting,
you're an absolute nightmare.
"You were meant to be here eight minutes ago."
"Well, actually... If I was to throw a..."
"Oh, God, he's doing it again!"
A man called Arthur Eddington came up with a phrase that
has often been used to describe this nature of time as we perceive it,
which is "time's arrow".
People think of it as going in that direction.
There are limitations to that, is really what you're saying,
as a theory.
Yeah. We don't know how time works at a very fundamental level.
But time's arrow - I got my head around that a bit.
You don't need maths, everything's going forward and as it does, it decays.
-So then you understand entropy...
For instance... All you need is an analogy that's pertinent to you,
so in my case, "all relationships", and then you realise...of course!
That perfect 18 months, and then they're dead.
-The second law of sexual dynamics.
-Yeah, that's how I...
According to me, that's how I extrapolate.
To make it statistically significant you have to have an awful lot of relationships.
Oh, I do!
And they really do all suffer a form of entropy!
Now, who fancies an ingenious interlude?
I have some exciting props that I'm thrilled about - I love doing this.
Here - candles. See?
I'm going to light these candles here.
Red, white and blue.
SUE: Is that from the Ikea Black Mass kit?!
ROSS: Is this the point where we all have to kneel down
-and pray to Jesus's foreskin?
I promise you I'm going to extinguish these candles, right?
I have a jug here.
I'm going to extinguish them using an invisible gas.
Not by liquid - using an invisible gas. I just want you to tell me...
I'll let Brian off, cos he'll know this.
This to him is so "book one, page one" of Boys' Wonder Book of Science,
but that's the level I'm at! I'm putting this powder in first.
-Do we know what the powder is?
-Then I put in this liquid.
-It's not custard.
-I'm going to cover it. Now, watch.
I'm not going to pour the LIQUID onto it,
I'm just going to pour the GAS onto here.
-And out go the candles.
-SUE: Oh, I like that!
-I've got a feeling...
-Do another one. Do something else.
I should be presenting the Royal Institution Christmas lectures!
So can one of you, who isn't a professor at Manchester
and a fellow of the Royal Society, tell me what was going on there?
-Is it magic?
-SUE: I think it's carbon dioxide going in.
I took sodium bicarbonate,
a very common household thing you might use for indigestion
or for cleaning purposes - and vinegar.
I put them together and they precipitated Co2. Which is...?
Heavier than air.
And simply pouring it there just snuffed out the candles.
I've never seen anyone pour a gas before.
I know, you don't think of gas as being a pourable thing, but anyway.
I can't tell you how relieved I am that it worked.
Well done, everybody. Especially me!
If you're ever tempted to carry liquid nitrogen in a lift,
which actually in physics departments...
-Liquid nitrogen is very cold.
-It is cold, but they don't LET you carry it in lifts,
because if you spill it, then you get nitrogen gas, and that's heavier than air,
-and it pushes all the oxygen to the top of the lift.
-And people suffocate?
-Even though it's nitrogen, which the air is, mainly.
Every Al Qaeda cell watching this tonight will be going, "Right!"
-"Where's the nearest tower block?"
-Running around with nitrogen!
I remember a chemistry lesson, one of the most beautiful things I'd seen.
Chemistry master came in, someone had prepared some liquid nitrogen - we didn't quite know what it was -
and he came in with a rose he'd just picked from the garden.
He dipped the rose in for a second and then smashed it on the table,
and it shattered like glass into a thousand pieces.
You may say, "how destructive" and yet it was staggeringly beautiful.
The idea that you could alter the state of something at such speed
that it could become...from being the softest, most malleable thing.
-Isn't that lovely? Don't you think that's gorgeous?
-I think you're humouring me!
-You want me to go back to foreskins.
I think it's a hilarious Valentine's Day prank.
"There you go". Wah! "Not for you!"
The surface of Saturn's moon, Titan, that's so cold that...
Ooh, hang on. I know a Titan! Titan's the one where the Ewoks live!
Ewok planet! Yay!
So hang on, I've got it -
so basically, you're saying you can shatter an Ewok.
-Yes! It's got lakes of liquid methane.
-Cos it's so cold.
And the methane behaves exactly like water on earth
so you get rain - methane rain, methane snow, methane ice
and lakes of methane.
-There's a lake there which is as large as Lake Superior.
-SUE: Of methane?
-Which is essentially a fart. Liquid fart.
I don't want to go there. Strike it off.
If I could stand on a planet
and throw an Ewok into a lake of fart that would just be...
That'd be... SUE: Smash it into a fart lake.
You couldn't, because it would shatter.
Right, so I could be tossing Ewoks into a lake of fart? Aaah.
Everyone has their own heaven. That's yours.
When you say tossing Ewoks into a lake of fart...?!
-That's exactly what I meant.
You know what? After this show finishes, I'm off.
I don't care, you'll never see me again. "Where is he? "He's off tossing Ewoks again.
"Into his lake of fart. On a pedalo made of smoke."
Is liquid methane flammable in the same way that methane gas is?
This could be one of the great questions on the show. No, but why?
-Why not? Do say. Is there no oxygen? Ah!
-Yep - no oxygen.
-SUE: So just fart.
-So if there WAS oxygen...?
-It would be.
All you're thinking of is things to do in the pub!
Has that ruined it? Not the image of him, tossing an Ewok,
you don't want to go there because you can't light your fart!
The great Sydney Smith said heaven was eating foie gras to the sound of trumpets.
You have redefined it as tossing Ewoks on lakes of methane.
Not things to do in HEAVEN, just things to do on Titan.
-Oh, right, Titan!
-SUE: That's in the guide book, Things To Do In Titan.
Top Ten in the front of the guide...
"If you only have access to a wookie, you will need a bigger lake."
That's just basic science. I could tell you that.
A test now of your nautical knowledge.
-What variety of lettuce did they serve on board the Titanic?
-Well, bless you for...
-I took one for the team, as it were.
You did take one for the team. No, the iceberg lettuce had been developed in Pennsylvania,
but it wasn't available in Europe until many years later.
-Rocket? Lollo rosso?
-The answer is, we don't know.
-We do know there were 700 heads of lettuce on board.
SUE: You make them sound like heads of state!
The most grand of all the lettuce, the head of lettuce.
Why did they only have 700 lettuce? How many people were on the Titanic?
Either they'd already eaten and that was how much was saved or they just didn't order them.
What, they saved the lettuce, but not the people?
1,500 people died on that ship!
"Get the lettuce, for crying out loud."
No, no, no. I misread my card. It was - hold the front page -
7,000 heads of lettuce.
No wonder the bloody thing sank, it was full of lettuce.
Well, why did it sink, then?
Jesus! What is wrong with these people?
-Where do you think the most valuable icebergs are?
-You mean lettuce icebergs or icebergs?
Not necessarily on earth, but in our solar system.
-I'm thinking of Neptune or Uranus.
Um, no. No. No. NO.
It's thought that the crushing pressure might create
oceans of liquid diamond filled with solid diamond icebergs.
-I dunno who thinks this.
-ROSS: Mariah Carey.
She was the one that thought of that.
"How heavy are they? I'll be there!"
-Does it seem to you to have any value, or...?
-It could in principle.
-There is a lot of pressure there.
Huge pressures, deep down. Yes.
Now, you're on the bridge of the Titanic, all right,
you see that iceberg up ahead, it's slightly to your right.
What order do you give the helmsman if you want him to turn sharply left?
I think that's port. Left is port.
-The odd thing is, right up until 1933,
you gave the opposite command, because a wheel like that
is only one form of steering a ship - there were tillers
and if you wanted to turn left, you'd push the tiller right.
-You're pushing it to starboard.
-Much the same as when you're on a pedalo.
Yes, exactly. Because there were at least five different forms of steering,
on different kinds of ship, it was customary to say if you wanted
to go hard port, you'd shout,
"hard starboard" and they would go left.
But on a jetski, you turn left and right.
So they must have rudders that go in opposition.
But they have a jet, not a rudder.
It's a JET ski.
It's not called a rudder-ski, is it?
Is that how it turns, though? There's the... The press... The jet moves...?
-The jet moves on the...
-I think so.
-Brian, do you know? So far, you've known everything!
-Have you ever seen a jetski with a rudder?
-Don't think they have rudders, no.
SUE: They have a jet.
It's a JET ski! What are we not getting about the jet...
I'd like you to fill in the gaps in these slogans
for various places or institutions.
We start with County Donegal's slogan, OK?
-"Up here it's..."
-It really is windy there.
Up here it's different.
That's Donegal's slogan.
You'll be pleased to know. Northumbria Police, however...
"Total policing", I'm sorry to say.
"Welcome to Northamptonshire - let yourself..."
-ROSS: Let yourself out.
At the nearest exit!
No, poor Northamptonshire. Charming place. "Let yourself..."
-Breathe is good, relax is...
-Go is not bad.
-That is disgusting.
-Let yourself go!
Let yourself go!
ROSS: Give yourself a stiffie.
..a large hard-on.
This is an optimistic one here.
"Welcome to Tower Hamlets. Let's make it..."
Let's make it out alive!
Let's make it happen.
-Let's make it happen.
-Let's make it happen.
there's another slogan which said, "It did happen on Friday 17th.
"If you witnessed it..."
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
In 2007, the Scottish Parliament and the Tourist Board Scotland
spent £125,000 on launching a new slogan.
I want you to find the word they came up with.
They paid some very expensive people. "Welcome to..."
-SUE: The heart attack capital of Europe.
-It's got to be Scotland.
Scotland is the right answer!
What genius! I mean, God! That was the very best one I've ever seen.
All American states have their mottos as well.
Kentucky decided they would spend money on a new phrase for Kentucky.
There are two things that most Americans know Kentucky for -
horse racing, Kentucky Derby...
-No, they don't really know it for that.
ROSS: It's finger lickin' good.
The Kentucky Derby is one and the other is bourbon whiskey.
They came up with a two word phrase
that embraced both racing and whiskey,
and I just think it is genuinely genius.
-No. Every time you cross the state line,
you see it, you think actually they were worth their money.
It just says, "Unbridled spirit."
That is a bit cool. I think that's very good.
I think that's class, you know?
-It's not finger lickin' good though, is it?
-No, it isn't.
Though I would have you know, and one doesn't like to boast,
I'm just going to anyway, but I am actually Kentucky's Colonel.
The Governor appoints certain people to be Kentucky Colonels
and, in theory, I could be called up
in defence of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as it calls itself.
-I know, it's unlikely to happen.
"Oh, bothering blast! I can't get the bloody..."
I shall throw a family thrift bucket at them.
I did a documentary where I visited all the states of America
and they always go, "Which is your favourite state?"
It's very, very hard to answer, but as it happened, about the best time
I had was in Kentucky. I thought, "I'll stick to that as my answer."
So I said Kentucky, and about three months later,
I got a letter from the Governor of Kentucky with a certificate
and, of course, with a baseball cap and various other objects,
saying that I had been made a colonel in the army of Kentucky.
There you are. You shall call me Colonel Fry from now on.
-I have the key to the city of Port Pirie in Australia.
I was doing a gig and I was talking to a bloke. Turned out he was
the mayor, so I went, "Can I have the key to the city?"
And he went, "Yeah, all right then."
I didn't want him to back out, so I said, "Where's your offices?"
"On the high street." "I'll be down there tomorrow."
So I turned up, he got a shed key and a ribbon and went, "There you go."
So there wasn't much Latin spoken or anything like that.
No, there wasn't a ceremony, I just turned up to the offices.
It was just a shed key in a bag.
You'll like this story about driving in America.
I got a sat nav and we drove from Atlantic City and the car hire place
was just off Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.
So I put "Lexington Avenue" in the sat nav
-and it took me to Lexington Avenue on Staten Island.
After about an hour, I was thinking, "This isn't feeling quite right,"
and then it took me down a residential street off the freeway.
Then it just said, "You have reached your destination."
No, that's someone's house.
I was expecting, you know, yellow cabs and skyscrapers...
I've just done voice for them, so that if you have TomTom or Garmin...
You drive along and it goes, "Now the interesting thing..."
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
"Now, now, now...
"The most darnedest thing, you would not believe it, but..."
Did you do as if you were talking to me, that's the worrying thing.
Left, you moron!
If you take a wrong turn instead of making a U turn, does the hooter come on? BEEP! BEEP!
I've put my voice on Katie's. When she drives, it's me.
-Oh, that's nice.
-You can record it, "Left! Left! Left! LEFT!"
-Which is funny the first couple of times.
-Yes, that's the problem.
I had a sat nav, after Port Pirie,
and the Nullarbor Plain in Australia...
Between Adelaide and Perth.
Yeah, the longest straight road in the world
and I sat on my bike, turned it on and it said,
"Drive forward for two days."
And then it went, "Then turn left."
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
The stupid thing was, it was such a long road,
I missed the left-hand turn.
You know that sat nav uses relativity? Do you know that?
Oh, tell us.
I do know this. Is this right, because of the gravitational pull
I do know this, up in space, if they weren't regulated,
it would be a year out? Is that right?
It'd be 38,000 nanoseconds per day...
A year! 38,000, pah!
Because the rule of thumb is
light travels almost precisely one foot in one nanosecond,
so a foot is one light nanosecond.
So 38,000 nanoseconds a day is 38,000 feet a day.
That's how much it'd drift if you didn't take account of the fact that time...
Because of the gravitational field.
So the point is that the maths built into the processors
in these geo-stationary satellites,
has to take into account Einsteinian physics?
Yes. I visited the GPS headquarters, it's in Colorado.
-ROSS: I bet that's easy to find.
-This is honestly true.
We typed it into a sat nav and it took us into a field.
It didn't take us there.
But when they launched it, the US Air Force was very suspicious
of this Swiss bloke and his relativity nonsense,
and had the option of not correcting, because they could not believe that
time passes a different rate in orbit than it does on the ground.
If you took a sat nav, a normal domestic sat nav, right,
and put it in space rocket,
and went up into space towards the satellite, what would happen?
Very good. That is exactly the kind of experiment that Einstein liked to do, isn't it?
Yeah, me and Einstein are like that.
Listen, we could go on like this for ever, but we're simply not going to.
We stumble now into the gaping moor of general ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, quick as you can,
what's the definition of a galaxy?
You're right. Essentially there is no absolutely official decision,
but there are scientists trying to work out
precisely what a galaxy might be.
Duncan Forbes of Swinburne University in Australia
and Pavel Kroupa of the University of Bonn in Germany.
They have a launched an online survey and we've been allowed
to be the first to see the results of the poll.
But based on that, there is already one new galaxy
that fits - globular cluster Omega Centauri
seems to qualify, according to those criteria, as a galaxy.
In the Hubble deep field image, this year the most distant galaxy
ever discovered was found in that photograph,
and it's 13.2 billion light years away.
The Earth's been here for five billion years,
so for most of the journey of the light from those galaxies you can see in that image,
the Earth wasn't even here, it wasn't formed.
It formed when they were almost halfway.
The further away you look, the further towards the birth of the universe you're looking.
How do we know which direction to look? Did it begin over there,
or over there? Or we on the surface of a balloon?
It began here, so the Big Bang happened here in every point in space.
The picture is that space and time began at that point,
and it's been stretching ever since, so all of space and all of time
in some sense were there at the Big Bang,
so the Big Bang happened everywhere. There's no centre.
ROSS: You can't really see it because black's a very slimming colour!
It's true. I just think it's all beautiful, wonderful and amazing.
So name an insect that spins a web.
-It's an arachnid!
-It's an arachnid, Susan!
-What's the difference?
-It's got legs... Body!
Insects have how many legs?
-Erm...two, four, six, eight.
-And spiders have eight.
And insects have six.
It was particularly an insect that spins a web I was after.
-The difference is the pedantry of biologists.
-It is, you're right!
-Is there a six-legged spider?
-There isn't a six-legged spider as far as I know.
-Does a moth spin?
-Yes. There's a very famous moth whose lava
-is responsible for this tie.
-The Bombyx, the silkworm,
is the lava of a moth, but it's not really a web,
but there are insects that spin webs.
These are cocoon-type things for them to pupate inside.
Goats, also. Goats obviously aren't insects, but this does sound really
like science fiction of the worst possible kind.
-Goats, yes. Scientists have implanted the silk producing gene
from spiders into goats.
When the goats lactate, their milk contains silk,
which can be harvested, dried and spun into fibres.
It's a nightmare if you've ever been caught in a goat web.
It's horrible. I'll be there for days sometimes.
There's a lot you can get out of goat - you can get cheese, wool,
-sex... Sorry! You can get...
I don't know where that came from.
Anyway, basically, they keep giving, goats.
-Just put the back legs in your wellies.
Anyway, the point is several insects do spin webs
of which the best known are the web spinners.
Spiders, however, are not insects.
And finally the scores, which are as baffling as always.
It's fascinating, it's remarkable, it's wonderful it's exciting.
In last place, despite an extraordinary performance
and remarkable knowledge in many areas, I'm afraid it's Sue Perkins with -17.
A highly creditable third place with -6, Ross Noble.
But surely putting himself in contention for a Nobel Prize
sometime in the next few years, on +2 Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And it can come as no surprise that the mop top from Oldham is our winner.
On +5, it's Professor Brian Cox.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
It only remains for me to thank Brian, Sue, Ross and Alan,
and to leave you with this observation from Will Rogers -
an ignorant person is one who doesn't know
what you have only just found out.
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