These are the last few stanzas of a poem by Roger
Mcgough, the last line representing the final moments of
every human being:
I welcomed you
Shall bid farewell at death
I am the Kiss of Life
its ebb and flow
With your last gasp
You will call my name:
o o o o o o o o
What is the title of this poem?
The 8 repeating o’s are a reference to the
atomic number of oxygen - 8
• Edinburgh physician James Lind’s 1754 publication
Treatise on Scurvy led to the Admiralty ordering ships
to be supplied with citrus fruits, such as lemons, to
counter the disease.
• By the 1850s however, a seemingly insignificant change
was made to the ship’s supplies to incentivize British
businessmen in the Caribbean and other colonies; the
change led to disastrous effects and scurvy returned
with a vengeance.
What was the change that led to scurvy coming back
to haunt the sailors?
Limes replaced Lemons
Limes have a lower Vitamin C content than
Lemons and this caused scurvy to return
• When Christopher Wren first built the old St. Paul’s
Cathedral, he was forced by Parliament to create a dome
made of heavier lead, instead of his preferred light metal
copper to ensure safety and stability.
• Over a period of time, it was found that a certain component
of the cathedral using iron based technology did not quite
do its job, and the cathedral’s longevity was at stake.
• Eventually the iron based component was replaced with one
made from copper, that, in some way, was redemption of
Wren’s wish to have copper included as part of the structure.
Where exactly was copper introduced as a replacement?
Lightning Arrestor/Conduction Rod
The man who originally suggested iron was
• This pharmacy based occupation informally existed in
hunter-gatherer societies where medicine-men concocted
oils or antidotes from plants or animals.
• In the 1800s, the ability to isolate the active ingredients of
various drugs using fractionation or recrystallization
formalized this occupation.
• Up until the 1950s, pharmaceutical companies still sent raw
drugs to such people in dispensaries, who would either
change the composition of the medicine or deliver an exact
dose, in liquid/solid form, as the patient needed.
What is this vocation, that takes its name with a term for
mixing medicines and has nothing to do with how your banking
• Completed in 1771, the rather verbose full name of
this painting by Joseph Wright of Derby is “The
Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher's Stone,
Discovers _______, and prays for the successful
Conclusion of his operation, as was the custom of the
Ancient Chymical Astrologers”
• The painting shows an alchemist in the pose of St.
Francis receiving the stigmata trying to turn metal into
gold, and pays tribute to Henning Brandt’s 1669
discovery of an element by painfully boiling gallons of
a commonly available fluid.
Name the element.
In spite of having a tradition of bishops in the family, the
Gadolins took their family name from a root word
meaning “great”; the choice being a clear deviation from
the clerical custom of gentrifying one’s name into a Latin
form (for eg: Linnaeus).
As a result, the element Gadolinium, named after Johan
Gadolin is the only element in the periodic table with
• In the 1960s, studies by Dr. Richard Harteswood proved
that a certain genus had stopped flourishing because
the US Forest Service had suppressed forest fires a little
• The study explained that the genus, paradoxically,
needs forest fires to survive since the flames help open
seed cones, clear the forest undergrowth, providing
access to soft soil and important nutrients.
As a result, controlled fires are now part of government
policy to help what genus?
• In 1941, this company introduced a superfluous and flashy
model, naming the model after the number of years the
company had been in existence till then.
• However, the operative part made of gold wore off due to
friction, forcing the company to switch to osmiridium – an
alloy of osmium and iridium.
• Due to scarcity and high costs associated with these metals,
the company hired a metallurgist at Yale University, who
patented a ruthenium coated part – that went on to become
a trademark of this model.
What object/model, that was seen with Eisenhower and
McArthur during decisive moments in WWII?
The nibs were coated with ruthenium
• Earlier this year, PML laboratory researchers in Canada
announced that they had finally refurbished and tested an
aging device called the Watt Balance to compute the latest
measured value of the Planck’s Constant h using a prototype
• The new result 6.626 069 79 x 10-34 Joule-seconds has an
uncertainty of 30 in the last 2 digits, and at least 3 more
independent experiments of this type must produce values
with a relative standard uncertainty of no more than 50
parts in 109.
If successful, how will measuring the Planck’s constant
accurately save frequent air travel to France?
Redefining the Kilogram standard
Tying the 1 kg measure to a measured value of Planck’s
constant will avoid reliance on the Paris standard weight
• While many factors affect the choice, the most important
one is that of stability, and in order to have the maximum
safety factor, the center of gravity of the body must be as
close to the ground as possible.
• While a rectangular cross-section will have a center of
gravity of least height, the presence of corners and larger
number of joints leads to cleaning problems. As a result,
an elliptical section is the closest approximation that
provides maximum stability during lateral acceleration.
• On the other hand, a circular section gives maximum
strength/stability when the contents are pressurized.
These are explanations for the shapes of what?
• In December 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first
American city where the public department implemented
this on a trial basis.
• Conspiracy theories around its introduction include - a
scheme engineered by the aluminium industry to dispose
of large quantities of ____ compounds used in the metal’s
manufacture or a scheme funded by the sugar industry to
get themselves off the hook for rotting people’s teeth.
• In spite of this, America still remains one of the most
comprehensively covered countries with access to this.
What was the cause of all this hullaballoo? (2 words)
Ironically, the left-wing stooges in the McCarthy era opposed
its introduction, as a result of which a certain General Ripper’s
claim in which cult-classic movie can be ignored?
Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop
Worrying & Love the Bomb
• Early on in their research, when Watson-Crick had settled
in on a triple-helix model, that was trashed by Rosalind
Franklin in a discussion, they gained access to a paper by a
Nobel Laureate (X) who had also proposed the same
• Story goes that they rushed to their research advisor,
another Nobel laureate (Y) who was a bitter rival of X and
had lost out on key discoveries such as the alpha-helix to X.
• Y had banned Watson-Crick from working on DNA due to
fear of further embarrassment but after seeing X’s
incorrect hypothesis, he ordered them back on the track
Franklin had suggested and the rest, as they say, is history.
Who were X and Y – both research giants in their own
• In 2002, The Hindu reported that atleast nine of these
endangered animals were being reared on the premises of
a site; in 2008, the story resurfaced when these animals
were confiscated because rearing them was against the
provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
• The site owners contended that usage of the secretions of
the animal are prescribed in the Vaikhanasa Agamas and
have miraculous properties of keeping the Moolavirat
smooth, fresh and free from splits and cankers when used
in anointing rituals.
Which exact location/site was rearing these animals?
What are these animals, which have a long history of
association with perfumery in India, but are better known to
quizzers in a digestive context?
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam/Tirupati temple
(Asian Palm) Civets
Since the order, the TTD has restricted use of civet oil for the
abhishekham ritual and civets are (as per publicly available
information) not being reared on the premises.
• This 100+ year old organization with its heaquarters at East
70th St. in New York has a long tradition giving its members
these flags, to be returned along with thesis style reports.
• Among the many artifacts at display at the HQ is Flag 161,
a veteran of many journeys, that was recently retired by
Don Walsh, who accompanied Jacques Piccard in the
• The last journey of Flag 161 was when it accompanied
James Cameron aboard the Challenger Deep, giving it a
unique distinction as the first object to achieve something.
What organization is this?
What unique distinction does Flag 161 have?
The only object to have been on the highest
and lowest points on earth (the flag went to
Mt. Everest as well)
• Considered a direct counterpart to Picasso’s Guernica, it
was commissioned by the Spanish Republican government
for the 1937 World Exhibition in Paris.
• The work is considered a protest against Franco’s siege of
Almaden, which then supplied 60% of the world’s _______.
• At one time, visitors were allowed to wash their hands in or
throw coins into it, but when research brought out the
safety implications, the sculpture was moved to the Joan
Miro Foundation and has been placed behind a glass
enclosure for viewing since 1975.
Name this sculpture – a generic 2 word term used for all
such mechanisms should suffice.
Name the artist (shown) who built it.
• The words for these 2 groups of muscles differ by only 1
• Group A refers to any muscle that will pull a body part
towards the midline of the body – the word comes from
the combination of Latin root meaning “towards” and “to
draw or lead”.
• Group B refers to any muscle that will pull a body part
away from the midline of the body – the word comes
from the combination of Latin roots meaning “away from”
and “to draw or lead” and is also used in English in the
sense of a criminal act.
Name words for both Group A and Group B, found, among
other places, in the thigh, foot and buttocks.
• Around 1940 he began spending a lot of money buying
these on his travels to Europe and United States, then
going to Panna in central India and evaluating samples
with official permission from the kingdom’s ruler.
• A little later, he bought 11 of these from Hyderabad and to
his surprise, even received a gift of 16 rare pieces from
South Africa and 63 perfect specimens from the Maharaja
• By the 1950s, he had more than 600 of these with him, the
most by far for any common man in the country.
What was he obsessed with?
• In 1961, Sten Forshufvud performed analytical tests on
samples of hair and proposed a murder-mystery theory to
what was till then considered a very natural death.
• Chemist David Jones wondered if the wallpaper at
Longwood House may have been coloured by a pigment
Emerald Green – a favourite in the 19th century.
• Surprisingly Jones got back a piece of the green-gold star
patterned wall paper from a visitor to the location and in
1982, published a report suggesting that the active
ingredient in the pigment converted into gaseous form
under humid conditions prevalent in and around the area
and was inhaled to fatal consequences.
What is the active ingredient in Emerald Green?
Whose death was being dissected thus?
(Emerald Green – Copper Aceto-arsenate)
• Sometime in 1909, this individual teamed with an Anglican
preacher and wrote on the subject of Occult Chemistry,
giving precise descriptions of elements as they appeared
to both when viewed by the third eye of clairvoyance.
• The atoms were illustrated by Curuppumullage
Jinarajadasa, who attended the séances and made
drawings based on descriptions.
• The ‘research’ yielded an element with proposed atomic
weight 3 which the duo called occultum and another
element with atomic weight 2 – which they named after an
area in India that has come to be associated with this
Name the individual.
Name the proposed element name, that was dismissed
later by serious minded scientists.
• In spite of his own disbelief, Herodotus, in his Histories, is
held largely responsible for propagating the myth that
links the name of this metal’s ore with an island chain with
Strabo building on the myth, saying they were ten in
• In the absence of evidence, people have speculated that
the name was a placeholder for Cornwall & the Isles of
Scilly, where this metal has been extracted since 2000 BCE.
• It is most likely that the placeholder name for Cornwall
came from the ore – the Sanskrit word for the metal is
kastira, which in turn was modified to give the name of the
ore and the associated islands.
Name the metal.
Name the associated ore/islands.
• In August 1610, Galileo sent a secret message to ambassador of
Tuscany in Prague – an incomprehensible sequence of 37 letters
• The hidden meaning of the message (an anagram) was:
ALTISSIMUM PLANETAM TERGEMINUM OBSERV - I have
observed the highest planet in triple shape – referring to Galileo’s
discovery of Saturn and his then incorrect assumption that
Uranus and Neptune were its satellites.
• At the same time, X intercepted the same message and decoded
SALVE UMBISTINEUM GEMINATUM MARTIA PROLES
• X, then came to a completely different conclusion based on his
interpretation, that serendipitously was proved true only after
more powerful telescopes became available.
• In December 1610, Galileo sent another anagram to the
ambassador of Tuscany, this time it was an intelligible phrase
HAEC IMMATURA A ME IAM FRUSTRA LEGUNTUR OY
(I read in vain these things, not still mature)
After a month, Galileo revealed to the ambassador the anagram’s
CYNTHIAE FIGURAS AEMULATUR MATER AMORUM
(The mother of the love emulates the shapes of Cynthia) – Galileo had
discovered Venus and its moon Cynthia.
• Also in this case X had tried to decipher the anagram, and again had
found a different solution, that was later proved to be true:
MACULA RUFA IN IOVE EST GYRATUR MATHEM, ECC
X? (1 point)
What was his interpretation of each of the coded messages? (1 pt
for each x2)
Mars has two moons
Jupiter has a red spot
• In 1858, Karl Von Nageli published a work on the subject of the
composition of fibro-vascular bundles in Dicotyledonous plants.
• In his work he proposed two principal parts for these bundles
separated by a layer called the cambium and coined two terms:
• The outer portion of the nutrient conducting bundle taking
its name from the Greek for bark
• The inner portion of the bundle taking its name from the
Greek for wood.
• Achievements aside, Nageli is infamously known as the man who
corresponded with an individual over a period of 7 years,
questioning the latter’s results, suggesting Heracium, a variety
unsuitable for experimentation and eventually influencing the
individual to abandon his pursuits for a more sanguine life.
What two terms did Nageli coin? (2 points)
Which individual’s budding scientific career is Nageli accused of
cutting short? (1 point)
• Contrary to assumption, it isn’t sharks but this tiny see-
through jellyfish that costs Australia’s tourism industry the
most, forcing closure of beaches and putting atleast 50-100
swimmers in hospitals every year with venom attacks.
• A recently published paper has found ways to predict
swarms of these creatures – called _____ blooms, linking
them to when south-easterly winds do not blow – the trade
winds kick up turbulence as a result of which the jellyfish
prefer to stay at the bottom of the ocean to protect their
What are these jellyfish called, named for a tribe of
Aborigines who are original custodians of a narrow
coastal strip in Cairns, Queensland?
First American movie to show a flushing
• An interesting case of a genus’ evolution and
adaptation in response to environmental demands is
the soldier class in the ant genus Cephalotes rohweri
which is known to inhabit nest sites abandoned by
wood boring beetles.
• Over time, a cohort of morphologically specialized
soldier ants have evolved with unique plate-like
What is the reason for the evolution of these plate-
To act as natural nest doors and block
The ant heads are exactly the size of the beetle’s
nest opening, that the ant occupies
• Sponsored by Google, this project began in 2009 as an
optimization branch of CPython, the widely used
implementation of the Python language.
• The objective was to improve the speed and efficiency
of compiling programs in the language by a factor of 5
over the existing CPython implementation.
• As of 2011, the project is officially dead and while it
succeeded in parts, it did not quite achieve its stated
goals of speed improvement.
What was this project called, in tribute to a more life
defining question involving speed? (2 words)
• Also called Gauss’ formula or the surveyor’s formula, it is a
mathematical algorithm to determine the area of a simple
polygon whose vertices are described by ordered pairs x,y)
in the plane by cross-multiplying these pairs..
• When you list the coordinates in columns and cross-
multiply the pairs, the resulting image looks like a daily use
object, that involves similar crossing on a repeated basis.
As a result, the algorithm is known by what popular
• Chronicling the fall of Babylon, Herodotus wrote that
no Persian king would ever travel without four-
wheeled mule wagons carrying water in this fashion.
• The tradition continued with special suspended items
in foods/liquids to be consumed to avoid
• In the 14th century, when 25% of Europe died from
bubonic plague, parents – rich and poor – continued
this belief and resorted to a practice to ensure
longevity of their progeny.
What phrase comes to us from this practice, now
used in an exclusive sense?
Born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
Parents would stick silver spoon in babies’
mouths, the phrase came from the belief that a
child with a silver pacifier/spoon in its mouth
would live longer
• In 2012, a group of 270 international scientists gathered in
Nancy, France to pay homage to the centennial of an
individual’s 1912 paper in which he took a stab at how
amino acids react with sugars at elevated temperatures.
• The reaction described in the paper was soon found to be
at the foundation of how raw food gets flavor during
cooking as well as the brown colour of bread crusts, soy
sauce and barbecued meat.
• Called the most widely practiced chemical reaction in the
world (since everyone cooks!), it led to serious research
into how food chemistry may even cause or prevent cancer
Name the individual shown, whose eponymously named
reaction occurs every day in kitchens.
Louise Camille Maillard, from whom the
Maillard reaction gets its name
• Corning Glass’ first association with a certain field of
scientific endeavor goes back to 1935, when the company
produced a 200-inch mirror blank from PYREX glass.
• Funded by the Rockefeller foundation, the project was
initiated when X realized that a low expansion material was
needed for a large mirror, thus bringing Corning into the
• The finished PYREX glass travelled for polishing where
10,000 pounds of glass were removed, before taking 14
days at 25 mph to its final place of service.
Where does it stand today? OR
Alternately who was X in whose honour the product is
• From 1976 to 1989, the inventor of this technology worked
in the geophysical industry, for Exxon Production Research &
Landmark Graphics – the world’s first stand alone seismic
data interpretation workstation.
• The field he pioneered specialized in signal processing,
wherein he bounced sound waves off deep-sea surfaces and
correlated them to find ideal drilling spots, saving Exxon
millions of dollars over trial and error methods to seek oil.
• The same technology found more far reaching applications
when a guest at a dinner party challenged him to make a
star out of her.
• The first reference to this term for a subset of Parisian
cafés and bistros seems to be in Emile Zola’s 1873 work
“The Belly of Paris”, where the author describes a _____ as a
“counter for serving customers”, going on to be used for
the locations themselves by the 1880s.
• Although a widely circulated story, the name could not
have come from the material for the bar counter-tops
because the metal oxidizes and dissolves in acid –spilling
wine, Coca-Cola or lemon juice would damage the bar.
• The more plausible theory could be because these
locations were frequented by high-rise _____ roofers, who
would drop in to get some Dutch courage before their
vertigo defying day began.
What term, for locations such as the one made famous in
the movie Amelie?
• Developed and perfected in England, this technology was
in commercial use in the 1920s and employs a low viscosity
oil injected into a hot exhaust manifold.
• It came into more mainstream public consciousness in the
1939 Wizard of Oz, when the Wicked Witch of the West
threatens Dorothy in no uncertain terms – the effect
mimicked by using a hypodermic needle, spreading black
ink across a glass tank filled with tinted water.
What technology, that mostly finds use today for
birthdays/marriage proposals or trolling public figures?
• A five pointed writing instrument, it takes its name from
the Latin for rake and was used to draw parallel staff
lines on a blank piece of sheet music, before printed,
ruled paper became readily available.
• While the object itself is rarely used now, its name
survives in the technology of both television and
computer bitmap image systems, where an image is
continuously refreshed by a beam sweeping across the
screen, analogous to the action of a rake sweeping
• In 1978, Kenneth Woolner of the University of Waterloo
wrote a short biography of Claude Émile Jean-Baptiste Litre
in the university’s Chem News bulletin.
• The detailed biography traced the story of Claude, born in
Medoc, France in a family of wine bottle manufacturers,
going on to become a master chemist, rubbing shoulders
with Anders Celsius and Joseph Priestley.
• While many fell for the joke, Woolner said the idea for the
fictional Litre was born as a solution to problems faced by
U.S. chemists, journal readers and typists.
What specific rule (now relaxed) of the International
System of Units was Woolner trying to take advantage of
with this fictional biography?
• People who worked on the chemical side at Los Alamos
had various in-jokes and informal clubs.
• One such club involved people working regularly on the
newly discovered element no. 94, calling themselves
the UPPU club, which was informally expanded to
What was the criteria for qualification for this club,
with members often moving in and out of this club on
a weekly basis?
You needed to be exposed to enough
plutonium for it to show up in your urine,
hence “You Pee Pu” (UPPU)
• At the 2012 Baselworld show, Hublot unveiled a concept
movement of which only 4 pieces were made, one for
display at the exhibition, the 2nd to be at display at the
Musee des Arts in Paris, the 3rd to be auctioned with
proceeds going to a museum in a nearby country and the 4th
to be at the Hublot museum itself.
• With this movement, Hublot shrunk down the shoebox sized
original to postage stamp size.
• The Hublot piece remains faithful to the original using non-
linear gears that can simulate elliptical patterns, but there’s a
key addition – the watch tells daily time, that the original
What was this watch named, after what inspired he Hublot
• When he was a freshman at MIT, his frat elders decided that
his stature made him an excellent choice for measurement;
they then proceeded to lay him across the Harvard Bridge
over the River Charles in Boston.
• They repeated the process by laying him down again and
again until they measured the bridge’s length to be 364.4
_____s (his last name), the original act honoured every year
when the bridge is repainted with these measurements.
• In what might have been a planned career, he went on to
chair the American National Standards Institute and become
president for the International Organization for
Who is this, who gives his name to a nonstandard unit of
• These are the coat of arms of the Calvert family, of
which Cecil Calvert, an English peer, went on to become
governor of Newfoundland and the colony of Avalon
among other titles.
• In 1904, the coat of arms was adopted as the official
flag for a state, the only US state flag to be based on
In what way did these coat of arms influence the
naming of a specific icterid – its bright colours
reminiscent of the coat?
Guinea worm Disease/Dracunculiasis
Dracunculiasis means “affliction with little
• He published the first “A New Chart of
History” as a supplement to his Lectures on
History and General Policy and the second
“A Chart of Biography” as a dedication to
this friend Benjamin Franklin.
• He believed both together would help trace
events in a ‘just and orderly manner’.
Which polymath, known for many scientific
achievements, published these?