Incomprehensible QI XL


Incomprehensible

Stephen Fry considers some incomprehensible questions with Sue Perkins, Ross Noble, Professor Brian Cox and Alan Davies.


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Transcript


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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Good evening, good evening,

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good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening.

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Welcome to QI, where tonight's show is completely and utterly incomprehensible.

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Venturing into the unknown with me tonight are...What's his name?

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APPLAUSE

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And...Oh, you know!

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APPLAUSE

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And...Wait, don't tell me!

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APPLAUSE

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And, finally...No, I've never seen him before in my life.

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APPLAUSE

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Our buzzers tonight are no less perplexing than our questions.

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-Sue goes.

-BABY TALK

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LAUGHTER Eleven types of wrong, just there.

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-Brian goes.

-LASER NOISE

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-Ross goes.

-HIGH PITCHED RANTING

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-Alan goes.

-ALAN TALKING GIBBERISH

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-"..dirty old bag."

-LAUGHTER

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-Wow!

-Is that your internal dialogue?

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I think so. I don't know how they got that.

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-Don't forget, in this series, we have the Nobody Knows joker.

-TANNOY:

-Nobody knows!

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There are some questions to which no-one knows the answer

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and if you think the question I ask has no known, authoritative answer,

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play your Nobody Knows joker and you will get extra points.

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Let's start with something that is not even in the same language.

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Listen to this and tell me what it means.

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SQUEAKING

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-That's a rodent.

-It's a rodent. Good. Can you narrow it down?

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-Is it the squeaky door to his rodent house?

-He's asking for some oil(!)

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The astonishing thing is, we do know what that means.

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I can vouch for this. There are people who study this.

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My director on one of my documentaries got a PhD from Oxford studying frog communication.

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-He sat there for three...

-He was a professor of French?

-LAUGHTER

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No, stop it. Sorry.

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He sat there for three years, in the outback, somewhere in Australia,

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and he discerned about three words which I think were something like...

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Ribbit. LAUGHTER

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You are absolutely right. There are zoologists who spend their life

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trying to understand communications of various species.

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-Do you know what this species is?

-The gopher.

-It is a gopher.

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Exactly. A prairie dog. It's also known as a ground squirrel.

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Isn't ground squirrel a condiment?

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LAUGHTER

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A little ground squirrel, madam?

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LAUGHTER

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He's making that face cos he's got Philip Schofield's hand up his bum.

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LAUGHTER

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That takes me back a bit!

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Is that what the squeaking noise is?

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When I say, that takes me back, I don't mean there was a time...

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LAUGHTER

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It's all gone wrong!

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Anyway, there is a scientist, Professor Con Slobodchikoff

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of Northern Arizona University, who spent 30 years

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studying the language of these prairie dogs.

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-Do they warn one another of predators?

-Yes.

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Is that one of the words?

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He's used computer analysis and they are able to distinguish between different types of predator.

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Humans, badgers, various other animals.

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Not only that, different geometric shapes.

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And they have a different sound for each one?

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-And different coloured shirts that humans are wearing. The noise we heard.

-SQUEAKS:

-Human!

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The noise we heard in prairie dog was, "There's a human approaching wearing a yellow shirt."

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I know that sounds almost inconceivable.

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They can't distinguish between different genders of human but they can in different height.

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If a tall human approaches in a yellow shirt, the leader will make a series of squeaks

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and, under computer analysis, you can differentiate between

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-a tall human in a red shirt and a short human in a red shirt...

-How wide is their colour palette?

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..and a tall human in a yellow shirt and so on.

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Apparently, if a transvestite in tartan approaches, they explode.

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LAUGHTER

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Here is a similar clip but translated into English.

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Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan!

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Al! Alan! Alan! Alan!

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Alan! Alan!

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Alan! Alan! Alan!

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Oh, it's not Alan. That's Steve.

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Steve! Steve! Steve! Steve!

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Steve! Steve! Steve!

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Steve!

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We can watch that forever, can't we?

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APPLAUSE

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Now it's time for some interplanetary incomprehension.

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What did the Pope's librarian say

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when he first saw the rings around the planet Saturn?

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They initially thought the planet had ears.

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-Ah, yes.

-That was Galileo.

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I don't think he actually thought it had ears because Galileo was a genius.

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Ears in the sense of jug ears, wasn't it?

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No, that's Galileo, who was sensible.

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I'm talking about the librarian of the Pope.

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He genuinely believed that it was possible that after Christ's ascension into heaven,

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the rings of Saturn were where he put his foreskin.

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Ah, yes.

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Now you may think I am trying to mock the Church,

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this is all nonsense, but Christ was a Jewish boy

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and like all Jewish boys, on the eighth day of his birth, he was circumcised.

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But it's 50,000 miles across. Imagine the size!

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They weren't aware of that.

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"I need a peg to hang this massive foreskin on!"

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-I've got a new respect for Jesus.

-That is some girth!

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His name was Leo Allatius and his essay was called,

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De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba.

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A diatribe, a discussion, concerning the prepuce, foreskin, of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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This is how to interest teenagers in astronomy.

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-This is a trick I've been missing.

-Is it out there as a relic?

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Like all the relics, there are 18 places who claim to have the one true Holy foreskin.

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Are there really?

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Catherine of Siena was one of the weirder of the saints.

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She believed that Christ gave her his foreskin as a wedding ring

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-in their mystical marriage.

-What a gift(!)

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After her death her hand was cut off and became a relic

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with its invisible foreskin on it as a ring.

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She was extremely anorexic, a peculiar woman.

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She actively sought out degrading experiences.

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She once drank a cup full of cancerous pus

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from a woman who had abused her.

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But has she appeared on Mock the Week?

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LAUGHTER

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APPLAUSE

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Now, more importantly, more significantly,

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how were the rings around Saturn actually formed?

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-I'm going to play the card there.

-You are right!

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-TANNOY:

-Nobody knows!

-You are a true scientist.

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-Nobody does really know, do they?

-A-hem!

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-There are two major...

-LAUGHTER

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-Well done.

-Thank you.

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-Well done!

-APPLAUSE

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I didn't copy. I wasn't copying.

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There's a Socratic acceptance of the limits of one's own knowledge and there's ignorance.

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I'm not saying which is which.

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No, quite right. There are two major theories.

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I think there are two major theories. Is that right?

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There could be a moon that was either disrupted, so something hit it and fragmented it,

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although they are almost pure water ice,

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which, come to think of it, makes the moon theory a bit unlikely, doesn't it,

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because moons are made of rock.

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-Actually...

-The other theory is that it is something to do with the formation of the planet itself.

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That something spun-off it in some way

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-and then achieved a stable orbit around and formed these...

-God spilled his drink.

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The structures are held by the other moons.

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-There are over 60 moons of Saturn.

-Are they part of the rings or separate?

-Some of them are inside.

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Small moons called shepherd moons which go around

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and you get rings in between those moons

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and it's got moons outside the rings which affect the structure of the rings, so they orbit outside.

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-It's a very complex...

-Any life-carrying moons?

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There's a moon called Enceladus, which is about as big as Britain, it's a very small moon,

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but it has fountains of ice rising up out of the surface

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and it's thought there may be liquid water beneath the surface, so pockets of liquid water.

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Everywhere on Earth that you find water, you find life.

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Of all these moons, this is the one thing I wanted to ask you,

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of all these moons, which one is most likely to be the home to Ewoks?

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LAUGHTER

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-That would be Titan.

-Titan?

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It's got a thicker atmosphere than the Earth so you'd need to be furry.

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LAUGHTER

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-Good answer!

-APPLAUSE

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We just have to destroy the one that has Jar Jar Binks on it.

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It's very important when you're learning to study

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-to know which notes to take, not just to take any old notes.

-I saw that. Intelligence at work.

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Now, while we're up in space, how do you imagine spacemen follow penguins about?

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Why would they want to? How would they do it?

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-I suppose to track colonies.

-You're absolutely right.

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They used to try and use little bands around their flippers

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but they found that there was a 44% increase in mortality

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amongst penguins that had these things attached

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so they had to find a way of observing penguins

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and they found they could do it through space.

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What's interesting is, it's the activity of the penguin that is most revealing is...

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-Is it their droppings?

-It's how they poo.

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-How do they poo?

-A German scientist from Bremen...

-Straight up.

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LAUGHTER Into the atmosphere.

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He discovered they squeeze four times harder than humans.

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-They fire it?

-Yes, they do.

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It's a bit like toothpaste, and when you get lots of them together,

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they spell out, "Piss off spacemen."

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It's a streak. They leave a streak of faeces.

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-A splatter gun of guano that's visible from...

-Like that.

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Oh, no, don't tell me it's sat in the middle of it.

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No, it's not, that's the point. It's squirted it out.

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-30cms away from its body, it goes.

-Somebody took that photo.

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They've still got to walk through it! Surely they should squirt it out the sides.

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It's like painting yourself into a corner, really, isn't it?

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LAUGHTER

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It just looks like somebody ran over that one in a Land Rover.

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Someone's up in space, looking down for Emperor penguin poo?

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No, they're looking for how they're flocking together, how they're living,

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and through an examination of their faeces,

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which are clearly visible because of the trails and streaks they leave behind,

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they're able to predict population rises and falls.

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I think it's rather wonderful. It's a fantastic way of being able to observe animals

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without them even knowing they're being watched

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and being able to gauge their diets and health.

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Still in space, what's the main use for the second commonest gas in the universe?

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-Oh, second commonest?

-Yes.

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-What might be the second most abundant gas in the universe?

-Hydrogen.

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Hydrogen is the most common, I believe.

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-Nitrogen.

-No.

-Helium.

-Helium is the right answer!

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Helium... filling balloons! I was going to say filling balloons.

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Filling balloons is not the reason.

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Squeaky voices! Squeaky voices!

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KLAXON SOUNDS

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The question is...

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..the point is, there is a shortage on Earth, not in the universe, of helium.

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The demand for it has gone up in the last 15 years

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and it is not because party entertainment has become a bigger thing,

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-it is actually for something else.

-We use it for refrigeration.

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Refrigeration. And it's a diagnostic device.

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-An expensive but highly effective diagnostic device that needs cooling.

-The MRI.

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That is the right answer. The superconducting, the coils...

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They have to be that heavy otherwise they just float off.

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It's a nightmare.

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They came from particle physics technology.

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You often get criticised because exploring the universe

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is not seen as a useful thing to do for some reason in our society.

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Actually, the offshoots are completely unpredictable

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and one of the offshoots of exploring particle physics,

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the world of the atom, quantum mechanics, was the MRI scanner.

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-We use helium to cool down the LHC.

-Oh, do you?

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The Large Hadron Collider, 27kms in circumference...

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What was unfortunately misprinted as the Large Hard On Collider.

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My spell-checker does that. Large Hard On Colluder.

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It colluded in a large hard on(!)

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But it runs at -271 degrees, so 1.9 degrees above absolute zero.

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That's because you need these superconducting magnets that are in MRI scanners.

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They're magnets made of wire that have no electrical resistance.

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You can put a current through it and have a massive magnetic field.

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But the helium is the only substance that is liquid.

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Our information is, and I don't know what you guys at CERN have,

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is that it's possible that on Earth we will run out of helium by 2035,

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-which is not that far away.

-How are we going to make funny voices then?

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With the Collider, with all those magnets in a circle underground,

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on the hills and everything, those Swiss cow bells on the cows,

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when you turn it on, do they all run in a big circle? Moo!

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Moo! Moo! Getting dragged around.

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They go at 99.999999% the speed of light,

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so they go round 27 kilometres 11,000 times a second

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and the cows would weigh, if we did that, 7,000 times more than they do.

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-Ouch, my brain!

-Wow!

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-It's giving me an erection.

-What, the LHC?

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-You've become a Large Hard On Colluder.

-Exactly!

-LAUGHTER

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Exploration. That's the value of exploration.

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And at the smallest level, at a human level and at a cosmic level

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and at a minute particle level. That's the beauty of it.

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-Oh, gosh, I could almost beat it down, and we must carry on...

-APPLAUSE

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-I'm glad you are all excited because it is good.

-APPLAUSE

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Now, this sounds very existential. When is the present?

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I'm not going to fall into that trap! Who's going to say it?

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Well, it's not really a trap. It's a genuinely interesting question.

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There are different ways of trying to describe what the present might be

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but let's talk about the present in terms of archaeology.

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Why are there acorns on the sign? Is that connected?

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It's the sign for squirrels.

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Acorns in the future. Acorns in the past.

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Did you not know that squirrels have the capacity to time travel?

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They are the only ones who can do that.

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They keep it very quiet because the nuts are better in the past.

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Archaeologists have an acronym, BP, which means Before Present.

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They can date the present. It's an exact date.

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January 1st, 1950.

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-That's the present?

-For archaeologists.

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There's a good reason for this. You might be able to work it out.

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If you did, I would be very impressed.

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-Is it plastics?

-Not quite.

-Bakelite?

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-Is it...?

-No. Archaeologists are interested in the distant past.

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And, recently, in the last 100 or so years, certain techniques have enabled us to discover...

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Carbon dating.

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Carbon dating has allowed us to discover how old things are.

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In the 1950s, basically, they decided by January 1st, 1950,

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we had so screwed up the atmosphere with nuclear testing

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that no carbon dating could be trusted after January 1st, 1950.

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That is known as the present.

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These archaeologists need to learn a bit of physics.

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According to Einstein's Theory of Space and Time, which is our best theory of space and time,

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there's no such thing as a present moment which spans the universe or even the Earth

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or, in fact, even two people moving relative to each other.

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It is absurd to think of an event that might be happening now in a galaxy

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and me doing this as being simultaneous.

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That has no meaning, cosmically, does it?

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You can swap the order of them as long as they're not causally connected.

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-You know, if I throw a glass...

-LAUGHTER

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If I was to throw a glass over there and it smashes on the ground,

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obviously, I caused it to smash by throwing it.

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You can't have the smash before I throw it.

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However, say the sun and the Earth, the sun is eight light minutes away,

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if the sun exploded now, we wouldn't notice for eight minutes.

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For eight minutes, anything that I do here,

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I talk and I talk and, four minutes later, I'm still talking.

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You can swap the order of those things around

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until the point at which they become causally connected.

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In that case, until the explosion destroys the earth.

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At a quantum level, time can appear to go forwards and backwards

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and follow exact rules in whichever way it's going, doesn't it?

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Richard Feynman had a theory, which was a legitimate theory,

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that there's only one electron in the universe.

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We're all made of electrons.

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-Slowly. We're all made of what?

-Electrons.

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How do you spell electron? LAUGHTER

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-The Sun has exploded.

-LAUGHTER

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-We have eight minutes to live.

-LAUGHTER

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Is it a wine glass or more of a tumbler? LAUGHTER

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Richard Feynman, a great physicist, he got a Nobel Prize,

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he said that...you see, all electrons are exactly the same.

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He said, I think perhaps there's only one in the universe

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and it keeps moving backwards and forwards through time

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and every time it crosses "now", this sheet that we call "now",

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you see an electron, electron, electron.

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So all the electrons in my hand, the billions of them, are the same as the electrons in your hand.

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It's just one, wandering backwards and forwards in time.

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And that was a legitimate view.

0:20:060:20:09

I've got a feeling that when you're late for a meeting,

0:20:090:20:12

you're an absolute nightmare.

0:20:120:20:13

LAUGHTER

0:20:130:20:15

"You were meant to be here eight minutes ago."

0:20:150:20:18

"Well, actually... If I was to throw a..."

0:20:180:20:19

"Oh, God, he's doing it again!"

0:20:190:20:24

A man called Arthur Eddington came up with a phrase that

0:20:240:20:27

has often been used to describe this nature of time as we perceive it,

0:20:270:20:31

which is "time's arrow".

0:20:310:20:32

People think of it as going in that direction.

0:20:320:20:36

There are limitations to that, is really what you're saying,

0:20:360:20:38

as a theory.

0:20:380:20:39

Yeah. We don't know how time works at a very fundamental level.

0:20:390:20:42

But time's arrow - I got my head around that a bit.

0:20:420:20:45

You don't need maths, everything's going forward and as it does, it decays.

0:20:450:20:50

-Yes.

-So then you understand entropy...

0:20:500:20:53

For instance... All you need is an analogy that's pertinent to you,

0:20:530:20:57

so in my case, "all relationships", and then you realise...of course!

0:20:570:21:01

That perfect 18 months, and then they're dead.

0:21:010:21:05

-The second law of sexual dynamics.

-Yeah, that's how I...

0:21:050:21:09

According to me, that's how I extrapolate.

0:21:090:21:12

To make it statistically significant you have to have an awful lot of relationships.

0:21:120:21:16

Oh, I do!

0:21:160:21:18

And they really do all suffer a form of entropy!

0:21:180:21:21

Now, who fancies an ingenious interlude?

0:21:220:21:25

I have some exciting props that I'm thrilled about - I love doing this.

0:21:250:21:30

Here - candles. See?

0:21:300:21:32

Candles.

0:21:320:21:33

I'm going to light these candles here.

0:21:340:21:38

Red, white and blue.

0:21:380:21:39

SUE: Is that from the Ikea Black Mass kit?!

0:21:390:21:43

ROSS: Is this the point where we all have to kneel down

0:21:430:21:46

-and pray to Jesus's foreskin?

-No!

0:21:460:21:49

I promise you I'm going to extinguish these candles, right?

0:21:490:21:54

I have a jug here.

0:21:540:21:55

I'm going to extinguish them using an invisible gas.

0:21:550:21:58

Not by liquid - using an invisible gas. I just want you to tell me...

0:21:580:22:02

I'll let Brian off, cos he'll know this.

0:22:020:22:04

This to him is so "book one, page one" of Boys' Wonder Book of Science,

0:22:040:22:08

but that's the level I'm at! I'm putting this powder in first.

0:22:080:22:13

-Do we know what the powder is?

-Then I put in this liquid.

-Custard.

0:22:130:22:16

-It's not custard.

-Oh, it's...!

-I'm going to cover it. Now, watch.

0:22:160:22:21

I'm not going to pour the LIQUID onto it,

0:22:210:22:22

I'm just going to pour the GAS onto here.

0:22:220:22:24

-And out go the candles.

-Oooh.

-SUE: Oh, I like that!

0:22:250:22:29

APPLAUSE

0:22:290:22:30

-I've got a feeling...

-Do another one. Do something else.

0:22:320:22:36

I should be presenting the Royal Institution Christmas lectures!

0:22:360:22:40

So can one of you, who isn't a professor at Manchester

0:22:400:22:43

and a fellow of the Royal Society, tell me what was going on there?

0:22:430:22:47

-Is it magic?

-It's not...!

-LAUGHTER

0:22:470:22:50

-SUE: I think it's carbon dioxide going in.

-Yes.

0:22:520:22:55

I took sodium bicarbonate,

0:22:550:22:57

a very common household thing you might use for indigestion

0:22:570:23:00

or for cleaning purposes - and vinegar.

0:23:000:23:03

I put them together and they precipitated Co2. Which is...?

0:23:030:23:07

Heavier than air.

0:23:070:23:08

And simply pouring it there just snuffed out the candles.

0:23:080:23:11

I've never seen anyone pour a gas before.

0:23:110:23:14

I know, you don't think of gas as being a pourable thing, but anyway.

0:23:140:23:17

I can't tell you how relieved I am that it worked.

0:23:170:23:20

Well done, everybody. Especially me!

0:23:200:23:22

APPLAUSE

0:23:220:23:24

If you're ever tempted to carry liquid nitrogen in a lift,

0:23:250:23:30

which actually in physics departments...

0:23:300:23:32

-Liquid nitrogen is very cold.

-It is cold, but they don't LET you carry it in lifts,

0:23:320:23:36

because if you spill it, then you get nitrogen gas, and that's heavier than air,

0:23:360:23:39

-and it pushes all the oxygen to the top of the lift.

-And people suffocate?

-Yes.

0:23:390:23:43

-Even though it's nitrogen, which the air is, mainly.

-A mixture.

0:23:430:23:48

Every Al Qaeda cell watching this tonight will be going, "Right!"

0:23:480:23:53

-"Where's the nearest tower block?"

-Running around with nitrogen!

0:23:530:23:56

I remember a chemistry lesson, one of the most beautiful things I'd seen.

0:23:560:24:00

Chemistry master came in, someone had prepared some liquid nitrogen - we didn't quite know what it was -

0:24:000:24:06

and he came in with a rose he'd just picked from the garden.

0:24:060:24:10

He dipped the rose in for a second and then smashed it on the table,

0:24:100:24:14

and it shattered like glass into a thousand pieces.

0:24:140:24:17

You may say, "how destructive" and yet it was staggeringly beautiful.

0:24:170:24:21

The idea that you could alter the state of something at such speed

0:24:210:24:24

that it could become...from being the softest, most malleable thing.

0:24:240:24:30

-Isn't that lovely? Don't you think that's gorgeous?

-ROSS: Beautiful.

-It is.

0:24:300:24:33

-I think you're humouring me!

-No!

-You want me to go back to foreskins.

-No.

0:24:330:24:38

I think it's a hilarious Valentine's Day prank.

0:24:380:24:42

"There you go". Wah! "Not for you!"

0:24:420:24:45

LAUGHTER

0:24:450:24:47

The surface of Saturn's moon, Titan, that's so cold that...

0:24:470:24:50

Ooh, hang on. I know a Titan! Titan's the one where the Ewoks live!

0:24:500:24:56

Ewok planet! Yay!

0:24:560:24:58

You see!

0:24:580:24:59

So hang on, I've got it -

0:24:590:25:03

so basically, you're saying you can shatter an Ewok.

0:25:030:25:06

-Yes! It's got lakes of liquid methane.

-Wow!

-Cos it's so cold.

0:25:060:25:10

And the methane behaves exactly like water on earth

0:25:100:25:13

so you get rain - methane rain, methane snow, methane ice

0:25:130:25:17

and lakes of methane.

0:25:170:25:18

-There's a lake there which is as large as Lake Superior.

-SUE: Of methane?

0:25:180:25:23

-Which is essentially a fart. Liquid fart.

-Exactly that.

0:25:230:25:26

I don't want to go there. Strike it off.

0:25:260:25:28

If I could stand on a planet

0:25:280:25:30

and throw an Ewok into a lake of fart that would just be...

0:25:300:25:35

That'd be... SUE: Smash it into a fart lake.

0:25:350:25:37

You couldn't, because it would shatter.

0:25:370:25:39

Even better!

0:25:390:25:41

LAUGHTER

0:25:410:25:43

Right, so I could be tossing Ewoks into a lake of fart? Aaah.

0:25:430:25:48

Everyone has their own heaven. That's yours.

0:25:480:25:52

When you say tossing Ewoks into a lake of fart...?!

0:25:520:25:55

LAUGHTER

0:25:550:25:57

-Steady.

-That's exactly what I meant.

0:25:570:26:00

Oh!

0:26:000:26:01

You know what? After this show finishes, I'm off.

0:26:010:26:05

I don't care, you'll never see me again. "Where is he? "He's off tossing Ewoks again.

0:26:050:26:11

"Into his lake of fart. On a pedalo made of smoke."

0:26:110:26:14

LAUGHTER

0:26:140:26:16

"Wa-wa!"

0:26:160:26:18

Is liquid methane flammable in the same way that methane gas is?

0:26:180:26:23

This could be one of the great questions on the show. No, but why?

0:26:230:26:27

On Titan.

0:26:270:26:29

-Why not? Do say. Is there no oxygen? Ah!

-Yep - no oxygen.

0:26:290:26:33

-SUE: So just fart.

-So if there WAS oxygen...?

-It would be.

0:26:330:26:38

All you're thinking of is things to do in the pub!

0:26:380:26:43

Has that ruined it? Not the image of him, tossing an Ewok,

0:26:430:26:46

you don't want to go there because you can't light your fart!

0:26:460:26:49

LAUGHTER

0:26:490:26:52

The great Sydney Smith said heaven was eating foie gras to the sound of trumpets.

0:26:530:26:57

You have redefined it as tossing Ewoks on lakes of methane.

0:26:570:27:03

Not things to do in HEAVEN, just things to do on Titan.

0:27:030:27:06

-Oh, right, Titan!

-SUE: That's in the guide book, Things To Do In Titan.

0:27:060:27:10

Top Ten in the front of the guide...

0:27:100:27:13

"If you only have access to a wookie, you will need a bigger lake."

0:27:130:27:18

That's just basic science. I could tell you that.

0:27:180:27:24

A test now of your nautical knowledge.

0:27:240:27:27

-What variety of lettuce did they serve on board the Titanic?

-Iceberg.

0:27:270:27:32

Ah!

0:27:320:27:33

KLAXON

0:27:330:27:36

-Well, bless you for...

-I took one for the team, as it were.

0:27:400:27:43

You did take one for the team. No, the iceberg lettuce had been developed in Pennsylvania,

0:27:430:27:47

but it wasn't available in Europe until many years later.

0:27:470:27:51

-Rocket? Lollo rosso?

-The answer is, we don't know.

0:27:510:27:54

-Oh.

-We do know there were 700 heads of lettuce on board.

0:27:540:27:57

SUE: You make them sound like heads of state!

0:27:570:28:00

The most grand of all the lettuce, the head of lettuce.

0:28:000:28:03

Why did they only have 700 lettuce? How many people were on the Titanic?

0:28:030:28:07

Either they'd already eaten and that was how much was saved or they just didn't order them.

0:28:070:28:11

What, they saved the lettuce, but not the people?

0:28:110:28:15

1,500 people died on that ship!

0:28:150:28:17

"Get the lettuce, for crying out loud."

0:28:170:28:20

No, no, no. I misread my card. It was - hold the front page -

0:28:200:28:23

7,000 heads of lettuce.

0:28:230:28:26

No wonder the bloody thing sank, it was full of lettuce.

0:28:260:28:30

-Lettuces float.

-But...

0:28:300:28:32

Well, why did it sink, then?

0:28:320:28:34

LAUGHTER

0:28:340:28:36

Jesus! What is wrong with these people?

0:28:360:28:39

-Where do you think the most valuable icebergs are?

-Valuable?

-Valuable.

0:28:390:28:43

-You mean lettuce icebergs or icebergs?

-Icebergs.

0:28:430:28:46

Not necessarily on earth, but in our solar system.

0:28:460:28:49

-Oh.

-I'm thinking of Neptune or Uranus.

0:28:490:28:52

Um, no. No. No. NO.

0:28:520:28:56

It's thought that the crushing pressure might create

0:28:560:28:59

oceans of liquid diamond filled with solid diamond icebergs.

0:28:590:29:02

-Mm.

-Ooh.

-I dunno who thinks this.

-ROSS: Mariah Carey.

0:29:020:29:07

She was the one that thought of that.

0:29:070:29:11

LAUGHTER

0:29:110:29:13

"How heavy are they? I'll be there!"

0:29:130:29:15

STEPHEN LAUGHS

0:29:150:29:16

-Does it seem to you to have any value, or...?

-Well, yes.

0:29:160:29:20

-It could in principle.

-There is a lot of pressure there.

0:29:200:29:23

Huge pressures, deep down. Yes.

0:29:230:29:26

Now, you're on the bridge of the Titanic, all right,

0:29:260:29:29

you see that iceberg up ahead, it's slightly to your right.

0:29:290:29:34

What order do you give the helmsman if you want him to turn sharply left?

0:29:340:29:38

I think that's port. Left is port.

0:29:390:29:42

-KLAXON

-Oh no!

0:29:420:29:44

-What?

-The odd thing is, right up until 1933,

0:29:440:29:48

you gave the opposite command, because a wheel like that

0:29:480:29:53

is only one form of steering a ship - there were tillers

0:29:530:29:56

and if you wanted to turn left, you'd push the tiller right.

0:29:560:30:00

-You're pushing it to starboard.

-Much the same as when you're on a pedalo.

0:30:000:30:03

Yes, exactly. Because there were at least five different forms of steering,

0:30:030:30:07

on different kinds of ship, it was customary to say if you wanted

0:30:070:30:10

to go hard port, you'd shout,

0:30:100:30:13

"hard starboard" and they would go left.

0:30:130:30:16

But on a jetski, you turn left and right.

0:30:160:30:18

So they must have rudders that go in opposition.

0:30:180:30:21

But they have a jet, not a rudder.

0:30:210:30:23

It's a JET ski.

0:30:230:30:25

It's not called a rudder-ski, is it?

0:30:250:30:28

Is that how it turns, though? There's the... The press... The jet moves...?

0:30:280:30:32

-The jet moves on the...

-Does it?

-I think so.

0:30:320:30:35

-Yeah.

-Brian, do you know? So far, you've known everything!

0:30:350:30:38

-Have you ever seen a jetski with a rudder?

-Don't think they have rudders, no.

0:30:380:30:43

SUE: They have a jet.

0:30:430:30:44

It's a JET ski! What are we not getting about the jet...

0:30:440:30:48

Sorry.

0:30:480:30:50

All right.

0:30:500:30:51

I'd like you to fill in the gaps in these slogans

0:30:530:30:57

for various places or institutions.

0:30:570:31:00

We start with County Donegal's slogan, OK?

0:31:000:31:03

-"Up here it's..."

-Windy.

0:31:030:31:05

-SUE: Green.

-It really is windy there.

-Different.

-It's different.

0:31:050:31:09

Up here it's different.

0:31:090:31:11

That's Donegal's slogan.

0:31:110:31:13

You'll be pleased to know. Northumbria Police, however...

0:31:130:31:16

"Total..."

0:31:160:31:20

Gobshites!

0:31:200:31:22

Arrest.

0:31:220:31:23

"Total policing", I'm sorry to say.

0:31:230:31:25

-Total brutality.

-Total brutality!

0:31:250:31:28

Total policing.

0:31:280:31:31

"Welcome to Northamptonshire - let yourself..."

0:31:310:31:34

SUE: Down.

0:31:340:31:35

LAUGHTER

0:31:350:31:38

-Leave.

-ROSS: Let yourself out.

0:31:380:31:40

LAUGHTER

0:31:400:31:42

At the nearest exit!

0:31:420:31:44

No, poor Northamptonshire. Charming place. "Let yourself..."

0:31:440:31:48

-SUE: Breathe.

-Relax.

0:31:480:31:49

-Breathe is good, relax is...

-Go.

-Go is not bad.

0:31:490:31:53

Grow, apparently.

0:31:530:31:54

-Grow.

-That is disgusting.

-Let yourself go!

0:31:540:31:56

Let yourself go!

0:31:560:31:58

ROSS: Give yourself a stiffie.

0:31:580:32:00

..a large hard-on.

0:32:000:32:01

This is an optimistic one here.

0:32:010:32:03

"Welcome to Tower Hamlets. Let's make it..."

0:32:030:32:07

-ASBO week.

-Out alive.

0:32:070:32:09

Let's make it out alive!

0:32:100:32:13

LAUGHTER

0:32:130:32:15

Let's make it happen.

0:32:190:32:21

-Let's make it happen.

-Let's make it happen.

0:32:210:32:24

there's another slogan which said, "It did happen on Friday 17th.

0:32:240:32:28

"If you witnessed it..."

0:32:280:32:30

LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE

0:32:300:32:32

Oh, dear.

0:32:360:32:37

In 2007, the Scottish Parliament and the Tourist Board Scotland

0:32:390:32:43

spent £125,000 on launching a new slogan.

0:32:430:32:48

I want you to find the word they came up with.

0:32:480:32:50

They paid some very expensive people. "Welcome to..."

0:32:500:32:53

-SUE: The heart attack capital of Europe.

-It's got to be Scotland.

0:32:530:32:56

Scotland is the right answer!

0:32:560:32:58

What genius! I mean, God! That was the very best one I've ever seen.

0:32:580:33:03

All American states have their mottos as well.

0:33:030:33:06

Kentucky decided they would spend money on a new phrase for Kentucky.

0:33:060:33:11

There are two things that most Americans know Kentucky for -

0:33:110:33:15

horse racing, Kentucky Derby...

0:33:150:33:16

-Fried chicken.

-No, they don't really know it for that.

0:33:160:33:19

ROSS: It's finger lickin' good.

0:33:190:33:21

The Kentucky Derby is one and the other is bourbon whiskey.

0:33:210:33:25

They came up with a two word phrase

0:33:250:33:27

that embraced both racing and whiskey,

0:33:270:33:29

and I just think it is genuinely genius.

0:33:290:33:32

-Drunk horses.

-No. Every time you cross the state line,

0:33:320:33:35

you see it, you think actually they were worth their money.

0:33:350:33:38

It just says, "Unbridled spirit."

0:33:380:33:41

That is a bit cool. I think that's very good.

0:33:410:33:43

I think that's class, you know?

0:33:430:33:45

-It's not finger lickin' good though, is it?

-No, it isn't.

0:33:450:33:49

Though I would have you know, and one doesn't like to boast,

0:33:490:33:52

I'm just going to anyway, but I am actually Kentucky's Colonel.

0:33:520:33:56

The Governor appoints certain people to be Kentucky Colonels

0:33:560:34:00

and, in theory, I could be called up

0:34:000:34:02

in defence of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as it calls itself.

0:34:020:34:05

-LAUGHTER

-I know, it's unlikely to happen.

0:34:050:34:09

"Oh, bothering blast! I can't get the bloody..."

0:34:110:34:14

I shall throw a family thrift bucket at them.

0:34:140:34:17

I did a documentary where I visited all the states of America

0:34:170:34:20

and they always go, "Which is your favourite state?"

0:34:200:34:23

It's very, very hard to answer, but as it happened, about the best time

0:34:230:34:26

I had was in Kentucky. I thought, "I'll stick to that as my answer."

0:34:260:34:30

So I said Kentucky, and about three months later,

0:34:300:34:33

I got a letter from the Governor of Kentucky with a certificate

0:34:330:34:36

and, of course, with a baseball cap and various other objects,

0:34:360:34:40

saying that I had been made a colonel in the army of Kentucky.

0:34:400:34:43

There you are. You shall call me Colonel Fry from now on.

0:34:430:34:46

-I have the key to the city of Port Pirie in Australia.

-Do you?

0:34:460:34:50

I was doing a gig and I was talking to a bloke. Turned out he was

0:34:500:34:53

the mayor, so I went, "Can I have the key to the city?"

0:34:530:34:56

And he went, "Yeah, all right then."

0:34:560:34:59

LAUGHTER

0:34:590:35:00

I didn't want him to back out, so I said, "Where's your offices?"

0:35:000:35:04

"On the high street." "I'll be down there tomorrow."

0:35:040:35:07

So I turned up, he got a shed key and a ribbon and went, "There you go."

0:35:070:35:12

So there wasn't much Latin spoken or anything like that.

0:35:120:35:15

No, there wasn't a ceremony, I just turned up to the offices.

0:35:150:35:19

It was just a shed key in a bag.

0:35:190:35:22

You'll like this story about driving in America.

0:35:220:35:25

I got a sat nav and we drove from Atlantic City and the car hire place

0:35:250:35:30

was just off Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

0:35:300:35:33

So I put "Lexington Avenue" in the sat nav

0:35:330:35:36

-and it took me to Lexington Avenue on Staten Island.

-Oh, no.

0:35:360:35:39

After about an hour, I was thinking, "This isn't feeling quite right,"

0:35:390:35:44

and then it took me down a residential street off the freeway.

0:35:440:35:49

Then it just said, "You have reached your destination."

0:35:490:35:53

No, that's someone's house.

0:35:530:35:56

I was expecting, you know, yellow cabs and skyscrapers...

0:35:560:36:00

I've just done voice for them, so that if you have TomTom or Garmin...

0:36:000:36:04

You drive along and it goes, "Now the interesting thing..."

0:36:040:36:09

LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE

0:36:090:36:11

"Now, now, now...

0:36:140:36:16

"The most darnedest thing, you would not believe it, but..."

0:36:160:36:20

Did you do as if you were talking to me, that's the worrying thing.

0:36:200:36:23

Left, you moron!

0:36:230:36:26

If you take a wrong turn instead of making a U turn, does the hooter come on? BEEP! BEEP!

0:36:260:36:32

I've put my voice on Katie's. When she drives, it's me.

0:36:320:36:34

-Oh, that's nice.

-You can record it, "Left! Left! Left! LEFT!"

0:36:340:36:39

LAUGHTER

0:36:390:36:42

-Which is funny the first couple of times.

-Yes, that's the problem.

0:36:420:36:46

I had a sat nav, after Port Pirie,

0:36:460:36:48

and the Nullarbor Plain in Australia...

0:36:480:36:51

Between Adelaide and Perth.

0:36:510:36:54

Yeah, the longest straight road in the world

0:36:540:36:57

and I sat on my bike, turned it on and it said,

0:36:570:37:01

"Drive forward for two days."

0:37:010:37:05

And then it went, "Then turn left."

0:37:050:37:09

LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE

0:37:090:37:12

The stupid thing was, it was such a long road,

0:37:160:37:18

I missed the left-hand turn.

0:37:180:37:20

You know that sat nav uses relativity? Do you know that?

0:37:200:37:25

Oh, tell us.

0:37:250:37:26

I do know this. Is this right, because of the gravitational pull

0:37:260:37:33

I do know this, up in space, if they weren't regulated,

0:37:330:37:37

it would be a year out? Is that right?

0:37:370:37:40

It'd be 38,000 nanoseconds per day...

0:37:400:37:46

A year! 38,000, pah!

0:37:460:37:49

Because the rule of thumb is

0:37:490:37:51

light travels almost precisely one foot in one nanosecond,

0:37:510:37:55

so a foot is one light nanosecond.

0:37:550:37:58

So 38,000 nanoseconds a day is 38,000 feet a day.

0:37:580:38:00

That's how much it'd drift if you didn't take account of the fact that time...

0:38:000:38:05

Because of the gravitational field.

0:38:050:38:07

So the point is that the maths built into the processors

0:38:070:38:11

in these geo-stationary satellites,

0:38:110:38:14

has to take into account Einsteinian physics?

0:38:140:38:16

Yes. I visited the GPS headquarters, it's in Colorado.

0:38:160:38:21

-ROSS: I bet that's easy to find.

-This is honestly true.

0:38:210:38:24

We typed it into a sat nav and it took us into a field.

0:38:240:38:29

It didn't take us there.

0:38:290:38:30

But when they launched it, the US Air Force was very suspicious

0:38:300:38:34

of this Swiss bloke and his relativity nonsense,

0:38:340:38:39

and had the option of not correcting, because they could not believe that

0:38:390:38:43

time passes a different rate in orbit than it does on the ground.

0:38:430:38:47

If you took a sat nav, a normal domestic sat nav, right,

0:38:470:38:50

and put it in space rocket,

0:38:500:38:52

and went up into space towards the satellite, what would happen?

0:38:520:38:57

Very good. That is exactly the kind of experiment that Einstein liked to do, isn't it?

0:38:570:39:02

Yeah, me and Einstein are like that.

0:39:020:39:05

Listen, we could go on like this for ever, but we're simply not going to.

0:39:050:39:09

We stumble now into the gaping moor of general ignorance.

0:39:090:39:12

Fingers on buzzers, quick as you can,

0:39:120:39:15

what's the definition of a galaxy?

0:39:150:39:17

BABY GURGLES

0:39:170:39:19

-Yes!

-'Nobody knows.'

0:39:190:39:22

You're right. Essentially there is no absolutely official decision,

0:39:220:39:26

but there are scientists trying to work out

0:39:260:39:29

precisely what a galaxy might be.

0:39:290:39:31

Duncan Forbes of Swinburne University in Australia

0:39:310:39:34

and Pavel Kroupa of the University of Bonn in Germany.

0:39:340:39:37

They have a launched an online survey and we've been allowed

0:39:370:39:41

to be the first to see the results of the poll.

0:39:410:39:43

But based on that, there is already one new galaxy

0:39:430:39:46

that fits - globular cluster Omega Centauri

0:39:460:39:49

seems to qualify, according to those criteria, as a galaxy.

0:39:490:39:54

In the Hubble deep field image, this year the most distant galaxy

0:39:540:39:58

ever discovered was found in that photograph,

0:39:580:40:01

and it's 13.2 billion light years away.

0:40:010:40:05

The Earth's been here for five billion years,

0:40:050:40:08

so for most of the journey of the light from those galaxies you can see in that image,

0:40:080:40:13

the Earth wasn't even here, it wasn't formed.

0:40:130:40:16

It formed when they were almost halfway.

0:40:160:40:18

The further away you look, the further towards the birth of the universe you're looking.

0:40:180:40:23

How do we know which direction to look? Did it begin over there,

0:40:230:40:26

or over there? Or we on the surface of a balloon?

0:40:260:40:28

It began here, so the Big Bang happened here in every point in space.

0:40:280:40:31

The picture is that space and time began at that point,

0:40:310:40:35

and it's been stretching ever since, so all of space and all of time

0:40:350:40:39

in some sense were there at the Big Bang,

0:40:390:40:41

so the Big Bang happened everywhere. There's no centre.

0:40:410:40:45

ROSS: You can't really see it because black's a very slimming colour!

0:40:450:40:50

It's true. I just think it's all beautiful, wonderful and amazing.

0:40:500:40:55

So name an insect that spins a web.

0:40:550:40:56

-BABY GURGLE

-Yes, Sue.

0:40:560:40:59

Er, spiders.

0:40:590:41:00

ALARM BLARES

0:41:000:41:03

-It's an arachnid!

-It's an arachnid, Susan!

0:41:030:41:07

-What's the difference?

-It's got legs... Body!

0:41:070:41:11

Insects have how many legs?

0:41:110:41:13

-Six.

-Erm...two, four, six, eight.

-And spiders have eight.

0:41:130:41:16

And insects have six.

0:41:160:41:18

It was particularly an insect that spins a web I was after.

0:41:180:41:22

-The difference is the pedantry of biologists.

-It is, you're right!

0:41:220:41:26

-Is there a six-legged spider?

-There isn't a six-legged spider as far as I know.

0:41:260:41:30

-Does a moth spin?

-Yes. There's a very famous moth whose lava

0:41:300:41:33

-is responsible for this tie.

-The silkworm.

-The Bombyx, the silkworm,

0:41:330:41:37

is the lava of a moth, but it's not really a web,

0:41:370:41:39

but there are insects that spin webs.

0:41:390:41:42

These are cocoon-type things for them to pupate inside.

0:41:420:41:46

Goats, also. Goats obviously aren't insects, but this does sound really

0:41:460:41:50

like science fiction of the worst possible kind.

0:41:500:41:52

-Spin?

-Goats, yes. Scientists have implanted the silk producing gene

0:41:520:41:58

from spiders into goats.

0:41:580:42:00

When the goats lactate, their milk contains silk,

0:42:000:42:04

which can be harvested, dried and spun into fibres.

0:42:040:42:08

It's a nightmare if you've ever been caught in a goat web.

0:42:080:42:11

It's horrible. I'll be there for days sometimes.

0:42:110:42:14

There's a lot you can get out of goat - you can get cheese, wool,

0:42:140:42:18

-sex... Sorry! You can get...

-LAUGHTER

0:42:180:42:20

I don't know where that came from.

0:42:200:42:22

Anyway, basically, they keep giving, goats.

0:42:220:42:26

-Just put the back legs in your wellies.

-Oh! I-I-I...

0:42:260:42:30

Anyway, the point is several insects do spin webs

0:42:300:42:34

of which the best known are the web spinners.

0:42:340:42:36

Spiders, however, are not insects.

0:42:360:42:39

And finally the scores, which are as baffling as always.

0:42:390:42:44

It's fascinating, it's remarkable, it's wonderful it's exciting.

0:42:440:42:47

In last place, despite an extraordinary performance

0:42:470:42:50

and remarkable knowledge in many areas, I'm afraid it's Sue Perkins with -17.

0:42:500:42:54

APPLAUSE

0:42:540:42:56

A highly creditable third place with -6, Ross Noble.

0:42:580:43:03

APPLAUSE

0:43:030:43:05

But surely putting himself in contention for a Nobel Prize

0:43:070:43:10

sometime in the next few years, on +2 Alan Davies.

0:43:100:43:14

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:43:140:43:18

And it can come as no surprise that the mop top from Oldham is our winner.

0:43:180:43:24

On +5, it's Professor Brian Cox.

0:43:240:43:28

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:43:280:43:30

It only remains for me to thank Brian, Sue, Ross and Alan,

0:43:350:43:39

and to leave you with this observation from Will Rogers -

0:43:390:43:43

an ignorant person is one who doesn't know

0:43:430:43:45

what you have only just found out.

0:43:450:43:47

Good night.

0:43:470:43:49

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0:44:020:44:04

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