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Goooood...evening! Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening!
Welcome to QI, the quiz show that glows in the dark.
Tonight, we're peering through the gloom
at subjects of illumination and invisibility.
Joining me under the covers with a torch, a packet of crisps
and the latest edition of The Gentleman's Magazine,
-we have the enlightened Jack Dee!
-The illuminating Chris Addison!
-The incandescent Rich Hall!
-And that bright spark, Alan Davies!
Now, should any of you wish to draw attention to your brilliance,
you can light up my life in this manner...
-LIGHT SABER WHIRRS
-And Alan goes...
Good. Now, each of you should have a set of cards.
During the course of the game, I want you to see if you can find out
what these international symbols stand for.
You can decide for yourself.
You can write underneath each... On top, beside.
They are all recognised international symbols for some very real...
That's Lady Gaga!
You've already made your mind up.
You've also got a question-marked joker card.
One of the questions I ask tonight
has the answer "nobody knows".
-If you can guess...
-There you are.
That caught you by surprise.
If you guess which question it is to which nobody knows, you'll get extra points.
In 1879, the Blackpool Illuminations began.
They were visited by up to 100,000 people from all over Britain
and were so bright that they were described as "artificial sunshine".
My question simply is, how many lamps did they use?
I love that the people of Blackpool consider this to be sunshine.
-Are you saying we don't know? We do know.
-We know precisely how many they used.
-Hang on. 1879?
So, this is before the invention of the bulb?
Well done! Certainly before the invention of the filament bulb by Thomas Alva Edison, yes.
He didn't have the idea for the bulb, he had an idea for something else. He went, "Bing! Oh!"
-That's very good!
-"I'll do that instead!"
-But it, isn't it?
-It wasn't light bulbs as we know them. They were carbon arc lamps.
They were still used by the film industry up until the 1980s.
100,000 people visited.
How many lamps did they use to draw that many people?
-12 lamps! You're damn close. It's eight.
-Yes! That's what's so extraordinary!
Eight, at a distance of 370 yards apart,
it was still astonishing enough, no-one had ever seen anything like it, to draw crowds.
Back then, there wasn't much to do, was there?
Everything else was gaslight, which this was a different sort of light,
and this was a white, bright daylight sort of light.
What did moths do before?
Why don't moths come out during the day if they're so fond of the bloody light?
-I'm mean, really!
-They could just sit still and go,
"Wow! This is amazing!"
It's very peculiar!
Blackpool were keen to attract people and it worked,
as you probably know as a lad from the northwest.
In fact, from all over Britain people go, every September, just as the season is ending,
the Illuminations go up and attract millions of people.
Fabulous celebrities come to turn on...
Can you name some of the...?
-I think Jayne Mansfield did it.
-Very good, Chris!
-Way, way back.
-There she is. Jayne Mansfield came.
And then the lads from Top Gear, so they've maintained...!
The bloke on the left can't believe it!
-That's the mayor, I think.
-"This is terrific!"
-Even the mayoress is delighted!
-She is rather!
But other people have opened. Red Rum.
They made a special pedal so that when he trod on it, it turned on. That was in 1977.
And then they electrocuted him.
Michael Ball in 1997 and in 2006, Dale Winton.
-They should've electrocuted him.
-They've peaked! Where can they go from there?
-Dale's definitely peaked.
-They've reached the top.
-It cost them £50,000 worth of electricity -
-To get Dale Winton?
No! Of electricity to run the Illuminations.
Not any more. They use low-energy light bulbs.
There's no point going for the first 15 minutes.
You have to wait for it to warm up. "Three, two, one...!" "Oh."
"I'll come back in 15. They'll be lovely."
The original Blackpool Illuminations consisted of eight bulbs.
Today, they're six-miles long and use 200 miles of wire and a million bulbs.
Now, if you can dispel the shadows on this one for me, I'd be very grateful.
What is this man about to do?
It's to do with our theme, one of our "I" words.
I mean, if I said, "They're going to turn invisible"
you'd imagine they're going to disappear completely.
Nonetheless, it is technology that is on the way to invisibility.
It certainly creates a transparent coat, as you will see.
-That's not a post effect.
That is happening in real time and is being filmed.
And that's the coat and that's it being filmed.
-There are two cameras, aren't there?
-Yes. What's happening?
-Superimposing the front camera onto the picture on the back camera.
-That's the technique.
It has interesting applications that are beginning to be developed,
allowing pilots to see through the floors of their planes, for example.
Why, to scare the shit out of them?!
"Ugh! Got to keep my mind on my job! Holy shit! Keep looking up!"
That could be the reason!
It's quite a good effect, isn't it?
He's called Professor Susumu Tachi and the cloak is made of a material called retro-reflectum.
As Jack rightly spotted, it projects an image into itself of what is behind the wearer.
The computer generates the image projected, so the viewer, effectively, sees through.
-That would really screw them up at airports.
-Wouldn't that be odd?!
-Going through security!
It'd be great for talking to boring people. You could look at what's going on behind them.
Cloaking technology, as we know, is at its... It's at an early stage.
-The Romulans have it, I believe.
Ron Weasley's car can go invisible, his dad's Ford Anglia.
-It can go invisible.
-But that does wear the battery out.
-And Harry has an invisibility cloak.
There are interesting technologies that make things invisible, which have limitations.
One is, it's only infrared.
Or one is on objects which are so small,
they are already invisible to the naked eye!
"You see that thing you can't see? Ta-da! I just made it invisible!"
That doesn't work, does it?
Interesting, of course, in nature,
they've got round this problem, not exactly of invisibility but...
Well, there is camouflage.
-Chameleons can change...
-I saw an octopus
-and it appears to change the colour of its skin and just looks like a rock.
It's amazing to watch.
Other cephalopods, notably the Hawaiian bobtail squid,
like your octopus, can camouflage itself.
But the one thing that might give you away if you camouflage yourself is your shadow.
This clever chap can even make his shadow invisible.
-He's got iridescence that he can use to light behind him.
You're very quick-minded!
He ingests bioluminescent food that goes into his stomach
and his stomach controls, by the use of oxygen,
how much the bioluminescent food in his stomach shines,
and it shines out and casts a light over his shadow, thus dispelling it.
It's a lot of bother to go to, isn't it?
It's a magnificent piece of evolution, really.
-Jim Lovell, who was a...
All his instruments died - he was a naval pilot.
He was at sea in complete blackness, I think there was no moon that particular night.
How could he find his aircraft carrier?
And he could just see this very faint phosphorus wake
of the aircraft carrier, which was over the horizon.
So he followed it and, eventually, he got to the aircraft carrier and landed on it.
There is a lot of luminescent life at sea. It's quite beautiful.
It was a very rare occurrence. That luminescence happened every so often.
When it happened to Lovell, it was a coincidence.
It wouldn't always have happened.
-So a doubly lucky man.
-Surviving 13, as well.
-So, you knew the story already?
-I did. The moon is my thing.
I'd forgotten that! You're very much a moon chap.
Extra points all the way to Chris Addison.
-We're beginning to get a little bit humiliated by him!
-Yeah, I might as well...
Chris, do you know what these mean?
I think I've got a guess!
During the Indonesian Confrontation, as it was called, in the early '60s,
the British Army were very puzzled as to how the Indonesians could travel in the darkest forest
and they'd all stay together in single file.
They would tuck a rotting leaf into the back of their hats
and it gave off just enough phosphorescence for them to see the person ahead
and they could stay in absolute line.
-Is that any rotting...
-I don't think it's any rotting thing.
I think they knew which leaves to pick.
What do these people do for a living?
This thing's going to go off, isn't it? Ninja.
-Are they not ninjas?
-No, they're not ninjas.
The darkest clothes ninjas have ever worn have been blue, possibly at night.
But ninjas never wear black. The reason -
Why? It's so slimming!
I always thought ninjas might be fat and that's why they...
-Yes, they want to look better.
-"Is that better for me?"
-It's a sort of odd thing.
There is a tradition in Kabuki Theatre
that if anything is black, you can't see it.
So people can move furniture around,
because they're wearing black, they are stagehands.
And then, as a rather wonderful surprise in Kabuki,
they might have a stagehand suddenly kill someone!
They'd be a ninja, because ninjas were the secret assassins!
And so this pop association appeared
that ninjas wore black, but they never did.
Stay with Japan for a moment. Tell me something quite interesting about the original geishas.
-They were all men.
Oh, God. LAUGHTER
Until 1751, all geishas were men.
Originally, geishas were almost like court jesters.
They were not courtesans, as they're considered to be now.
It took about 100 years before it was an even number,
and then female geishas overtook and now they're all female.
How about an ingenious interlude?
Have a look at this glass tank behind me
and tell me how many balls there are in there.
-Well done, Alan.
-So far, so good.
Yep, five. Yep.
This is the worst episode of the National Lottery ever!
So, how many are in there, would you say?
-It looked like five, didn't it?
But you might be rather surprised to know
-that there are actually over 1,000 in there.
We can show you a better view of how many there are.
-They're all invisible.
In fact, we have an example of precisely these kinds of...
-There they are.
-They're weird. They're called hydrogel beads.
-I can see them.
-We've deliberately allowed them to be visible.
-But in large glass tanks, they wouldn't be visible.
-If I push it underwater, it goes invisible.
-They have the same refractive index as water.
-Light can pass through at the same angle.
So they appear to be invisible in water.
-I can't see it!
-Quick, a hairdryer!
-It's gone down the set.
You're going to start floating away!
-Is there a use for them?
-I've got a glass there...
-Are they worth £500 each?
-Are they edible?
-I wouldn't want to take responsibility, but I don't think they'll do you any harm.
What are they used for?
-They have a commercial use -
-I broke it!
-Oh, no. Is it burst?
-It's sort of gone into pieces.
-It's rather strange material.
-Can you guess their commercial use?
-No. Flower arranging is one.
-Is it for packing goldfish?
Why aren't they making battleships out of it?
-All kinds of new uses may be found.
-Make a submarine!
-This feels gorgeous.
-It's quite good, isn't it?
It's quite addictive.
There's something quite gorgeous about that.
-I might have a play around with that later.
-Yep! You might!
-Another use is the manufacture of...
Jack's going to put his willy in it.
-I've already put it in that one.
It's weird because when he put it in, he couldn't see it!
-That's the refractive index -
"Think of a comeback!"
The other use, apart from flower arranging,
is the manufacture of contact lenses.
You'd really freak people out if you put them in your eyes!
-Yes. Not necessarily in the round...
-Marty Feldman's contact lenses!
-Any of these coming up in any of this?
-Not yet, no!
My next question is this, why can't blindfolded people walk in a straight line?
They can't see where they're going.
-I'm afraid the chance has passed.
-The fact is, nobody knows!
There you go. Although it is a recognised phenomenon and people have theories,
nobody's really quite sure why it should be
that one's ability to walk in an absolutely straight line is completely compromised.
Even in short distances, people don't just go off straight, they actually curve.
It was discovered by a fella who saw it in amoebas and thought, "I wonder if it's true of humans?"
Who's blindfolded amoebas?
-How do you do it? They're so small!
-How do you do such a thing?
"Come here, you bastard! It's gone again."
He was called Asa Schaeffer.
He asked a friend of his, who he blindfolded,
he instructed him to walk in a straight line across a field and he plotted his track,
which was a clockwise spiral until the man happened to stumble into a tree.
But it was a complete spiral. This is what people do.
We've covered this before, but more research has been done and we have a little film.
Someone made a cartoon. We didn't. We don't have the budget.
This is what he told him to do, walk in a straight line.
-Is that how he walks?
-He was practicing to be a zombie.
-This is exactly it.
He was convinced he was going straight. Spiral, spiral, spiral, till he hit the stump.
And that is how we will all do it. We will swear, "I'm going straight!"
We hold our hands up, as if that helps,
and for some reason, we need a visual cue, a mountain or the sun,
but nobody knows why that should be.
-Could it be, and I'm being quite serious...
Well, as you'll see, it's not funny what I'm about to say.
Could it be a preservation thing, er,
so that we have an inbuilt device
that makes us go in a huge circle, and we can't see where we're going,
so you always get back to where you know where you are?
-I think I've cracked it.
-That's a very good point!
-I like it!
-I mean, it's -
-Can we make a bonfire, please?
It's as convincing as anybody else's theorem.
Further proof that the world is flat!
-Maybe that's what it is.
-Preservation device to stop you walking off the edge.
Now, what happened when Colonel William Rankin
got stuck for 30 minutes in one of these?
Oh, it was a puzzle and he had to try and solve it.
You haven't got one of those.
But that is an example. You've got international symbols.
-Is it a diving bell?
-It is an international -
-It's an expired parking meter.
-Any other thoughts?
-An igloo with a loft conversion?
These are all good answers.
When I say it's the tallest structure that we know on the planet...
-Is it beneath the ocean?
It's in the other direction.
-It's in the sky?
-Yes! It's a particular kind of cloud.
That kind of a cloud,
-if that was its symbol.
-A fluffy cloud.
It's a Cumulonimbus. It's an anvil-shaped.
-He was stuck in there for half an hour?
-He was, yes.
He was a US pilot and he ejected.
-He'd opened his chute, then?
-Yes, but it was half an hour inside this thing, being buffeted about.
So, how tall was the pole this sign was on?
You may've missed the point, Jack!
They get up to about 23,000 metres high, which is fantastically high.
He was buffeted about in it. He did survive. His eyes and ears were bleeding.
He was pelted with hail. He was in a terrible state!
But he's the only person to have fallen through one of these structures and survived.
Anyway, listen, while we're with clouds,
what use to a pilot is a morning glory?
-If your joystick fails...!
Oh, dear! He's smiling, isn't he?
I think it was the co-pilot's joystick!
That's why they always sound so relaxed. "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
"Welcome on board."
-Aside from the possibility -
-It'll be something to do with the sunlight coming over the horizon.
It's an annual event that takes place in Northern Queensland, Australia, called the Morning Glory.
It's a remarkable cloud system. It's really amazing.
We've got a picture of it. It can be up to 600 miles long. It's as long as the United Kingdom.
Look at that. It's over Burketown, which has a population of 178.
But lots of people come.
The reason is, if you're a gliding pilot, you get the ride of your life.
It can go at 35 miles an hour,
and inside, it's the most exciting thing you can experience.
Then you bump into a bloke with a parachute. "Get off!"
-His eyes are bleeding! "Help me!"
-"Didn't you see the sign?"
-And that's the only place where a cloud like that forms?
Yes. It's the mother of them all.
Apparently, soaring along it is the greatest experience.
Indian Granny Clouds... What can you tell me about them?
-Did it win...
Did "Indian Granny Cloud" win the 2.30 at Kempton Park?
The, er -
Is it a fart in a restaurant?
-Oh, I'm so disappointed in you!
-When an old lady does a pump in curry house!
Do they go up in the sky and can't remember what they went up for?
Think of cloud in the 21st century. What other use has "cloud" been put to as a word?
-It's a computer thing.
This is a scheme whereby grannies in England,
using Skype or similar technology,
teach and educate and inform and enlighten children in India all the way from England.
-It was started by Professor Sugata Mitra.
-"How To Make Jam".
"How To Make Jam", possibly!
They tutor Indian classes where they're short of teachers. It's an enormous success.
-They've got time on their hands and because they care!
"Drop one, purl one."
Imagine the exports of Werther's Originals to India!
-They're all listening to Michael Ball records!
What we're looking at with your symbols
are part of what is known as the International Cloud Atlas.
-And can you tell me what they are?
-Do they represent countries?
-No, they represent -
-On an atlas.
-I don't really listen enough, do I?
-They represent types -
-I bet you're a teacher! "He reminds me of all my kids!"
They represent a type of cloud.
-It looks like simpleton snap.
-It does! I know.
-What did you think they were?
-I had this one.
-Had you written anything on them?
I thought they were things to help traumatise children.
"Tell me what you think."
-I have "Elderly Use Handbrake".
-Yes! "Elderly Use Handbrake".
"You call that pregnant? This is pregnant!"
That's actually ET being quite rude. LAUGHTER
-You don't know what it means, but it's rude!
Well, there you are, the International Cloud Atlas.
-There were three forms, the cumulus...
-And the cirrus, the fluffy one.
And then they're all the mixtures of those in between,
the altocumulus, the stratocumulus, and so on.
It's that time when we grope our way towards general ignorance at the end of the tunnel.
Fingers on buzzers, please. Name the largest black body in the solar system.
Whoa! Ohh! Ohh, Rich!
-Within the solar system.
-The Black Hole?
-If there was a black hole in the solar system, we'd be in real trouble.
I don't know any other black things in the solar system.
-The strange thing is, it's the sun.
A black body, in cosmology, is something that doesn't reflect,
and the sun only radiates,
so it is the blackest body in the solar system.
-It seems to be a little bit of a cheat question,
but had you known the answer, it wouldn't have been.
If you were to shine a light on the sun, which would be pointless, I accept that...
It wouldn't reflect off it.
In the solar system, there is no other body so unreflective.
The moon is nothing but reflective.
-It gives off nothing, but reflects all the light.
-The same as us.
But the sun reflects nothing.
How long does light from the centre of the sun take to reach the earth?
Now, I know this.
It might not be the centre, it sounds like a trick, but the light from the sun takes eight minutes.
Ahh! Oh, dear.
The thing is, it actually takes 100,000 years
to get from the centre of the sun to the surface...
..to the surface of the sun.
But he was absolutely right. From the surface of the sun...
..to the earth takes eight minutes.
-I added that qualifier!
-You did. You were right.
It's eight minutes 26 seconds, roughly.
The photons have an enormous amount of work to do right in the middle of this gigantic system.
How many earths could you fit in the sun, were you able to do so?
-Easily, yes, you could.
That's quite true! I can't deny that.
-The maximum number is 1.3 million.
Three million earths!
It's responsible for 99.8 percent
-of the mass of the solar system.
-It is. There's a lot of it.
What happens to alcohol when you boil it?
-Ah, you boil it off, don't you, Chef?
-Yes, you do. You waste it.
It's nothing to do with me. I didn't touch it!
There's this idea that it all evaporates and so on. In fact, it takes a very long time,
three hours, at least, before you get rid of it.
Flambeing only gets rid of... If you like a crepe Suzette,
if you light the brandy, that only gets rid of a quarter of the alcohol.
So the idea that you're burning it off...
It's not particularly important, unless you're drinking carefully so that you're under the limit,
then you have a crepe Suzette and drive and are surprised that you're over the limit.
We've all been there!
The same goes to a Christmas pud when you put the brandy on,
-give it to the kids and say, "There won't be alcohol."
-And a 20-pence piece that might choke them to death!
-Could you get done for eat-driving?
-Yes, if you had enough of it!
Eat-driving! It's a heck of a thought!
Interestingly, if you add alcohol to a recipe
and you don't heat it at all, just leave it uncovered overnight,
it will get rid of more alcohol than by flambeing it.
30 percent of it will go just by natural evaporation.
-So, if you leave a glass of wine out at night, the alcohol will evaporate?
-Some of it.
Or someone will come down and drink it.
LAUGHTER DROWNS OUT SPEECH "..it's gone."
And so from the caliginous shadows of general ignorance,
we emerge into the unforgiving light of the scores.
My goodness me, aren't they interesting?
Well, tonight's indisputable illuminatus,
with three whole points, is Rich Hall!
Burning brightly in second place with minus one, Jack Dee!
Despite his stunning knowledge in so many areas,
he did fall into a few of our little Heffalump traps,
so in third place, guttering and spluttering a little on minus nine,
But cast forever into outer darkness,
with minus 45, Alan Davies!
That's all for this frankly brilliant edition of QI.
It's lights out and good night from Chris, Rich, Jack, Alan and me.
I leave you with this from Steven Wright: "Light travels faster than sound
"and isn't that why some people appear bright until you hear them speak?"
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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