The Friday Question: 18 May 2012

First, the answer to yesterday’s prequel. I asked people to point out what six named people have in common, and why one was distinctively the odd one out. The six were Bohr, Curie, Einstein, Fermi, Nobel and Rutherford.

The common element was easy; I wanted more than “scientists”, what I was looking for was that they all had elements named after them. Most of you got that.

The odd man out was a bit harder. There were some facile choices: some of you pointed out, correctly, that all bar Nobel had won the Nobel Prize. Some indicated that Nobel was possibly the only chemist; some that Marie Curie was the only woman. The best answer I saw was that the elements themselves were all synthetic except for Curium, so that Curie would become the exception.

But it wasn’t the answer I was looking for. Perhaps I have to take even more care with setting the question…. composing unGoogleable questions continues to be a challenge. My understanding is that all that has ever been seen of Curium in natural state is at “trace” level and nothing more than that, and that the way Curium is obtained is by bombarding uranium or plutonium with neutrons in nuclear reactors. But technically all your answers are correct, and I will find better ways of framing the question.

I was looking for more. I wanted to lead people down the rabbit holes of “appearing on banknotes” (neither Fermi nor Nobel have done so) or “appearing on stamps” (they all have). And the real answer I wanted was this:

While they are all craters on the Moon, only Bohr is fully visible from Earth; the remainder are at best marginally visible, and more often than not deeply rooted in the far side.

So on to today’s question.

Marshall is to Allen as Hercules is to what?

3 thoughts on “The Friday Question: 18 May 2012”

  1. Today’s answer: Sysiphus (caveat: requires a political presumption).

    Marshall plan: Rebuilding Europe. Allen plan: Rebuilding Afghanistan. Hercules: sentenced to 12 impossible tasks; ultimately successful. Sysiphus: Sentenced to roll a boulder up a hill, watch it tumble back down, and start over.

  2. Hercules is to Crowe? Non-diegetic use of people/sound in films. Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall and Tiny Dancers in Almost Famous.

Let me know what you think