Lateral with Tom Scott

Comedy panel game podcast about weird questions with wonderful answers, hosted by Tom Scott.

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Episode 16: The 2-year-old newborn

Published 27th January, 2023

'SuperSaf' AhmedMia, Ali Spagnola and Mehdi 'ElectroBOOM' Sadaghdar face questions about scientific statues, slashed screens, and a silly sequence.

HOST: Tom Scott. QUESTION PRODUCER: David Bodycombe. EDITED BY: Julie Hassett at The Podcast Studios, Dublin. MUSIC: Karl-Ola Kjellholm ('Private Detective'/'Agrumes', courtesy of ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS: Joe Zeng, Josh Halbur. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:Which movie did James Cameron pitch by writing the letter S and two lines? The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

A very special welcome to the celebratory episode of Lateral, which I can confirm is the 100 billionth podcast that anyone has put on the internet. So, slices of celebration cake are on our way to the guests right now, and they are: from SuperSaf TV, it is Saf.
Tom:How are you doing today?
Saf:Good, good. Jet lagged, but looking forward to this. I'm not sure how well I'll perform, but... I'm here, I'm here.
Tom:It's fine, get the excuses in early. I'm glad you've been out having a good time. Also, from ElectroBOOM, it is Mehdi.
Mehdi:Hi, how are you doing?
Tom:Doing well, thank you. What have you got going on at the minute?
Mehdi:Well, I was just filming before I joined the podcast, and some things blew up. You'll see my next video.
Tom:And from her own YouTube channel, artist and musician, Ali Spagnola.
Tom:Hello, how are you doing? What are you working on these days?
Ali:Well, I slept really well last night, and I'm still not sure how I'm gonna perform.
Tom:It's absolutely fine. There are no points other than bragging rights. No competition here other than working together to find the answers to some interesting questions. Questions that are full of precarious statements built like a house of cards. So let's see who's gonna be the ace, and who's gonna be the joker. We'll start you off with this.

Why is this a sequence: Granny Smith, Hello Kitty, a Smurf? I'll give you that one more time. How is this a sequence: Granny Smith, Hello Kitty, and a Smurf? Good luck folks.
Mehdi:Who's Granny Smith?
Saf:Granny Smith, is that the apples, right? Is that a brand of apples?
Saf:Okay, okay.
Tom:That is a breed of apple.
Saf:Breed of apple. So then we've got Granny Smith...
Tom:Hello Kitty.
Saf:Hello Kitty.
Mehdi:Hello Kitty.
Tom:And then a Smurf.
Ali:And a Smurf.
Mehdi:They all have... Like, they're all round, I guess.
Ali:They're all very specific colors. And Granny Smith is green. Hello Kitty definitely says pink. Smurf says blue. And that feels like CMY— the CMYK.
Mehdi:RGB maybe?
Saf:RGB, you're thinking technical. I like that. It's like you're thinking of the colour spectrum. It's like, okay, what is it?
Ali:Well, I do have an art degree. That's immediately where I go.
Tom:This is incredible teamwork to start off with, considering you three have never met before this show. That was a wonderful series of deductions that unfortunately took you in completely the wrong direction.
Saf:So we're not doing colours.
Tom:But you are right that it's a physical property of these things, insomuch as they're like actual physical things.
Saf:Physical property.
Mehdi:Well, beside the apple, the other two are kind of cute, I guess, but...
Mehdi:Oh, the Auntie Smurf? What was her name again?
Tom:Granny Smith.
Mehdi:Granny Smith, sorry.
Tom:Not Granny Smurf, that's a completely different character. The Granny Smith as in the apple. Then Hello Kitty and a Smurf. This is a bit of pop culture knowledge that you may or may not have here.
Saf:I probably don't...
Mehdi:I'll stay out of it, I guess.
Ali:So Granny Smith is probably a character. Because the other two—
Tom:No, we are talking about the apple there.
Mehdi:Can we Google?
Saf:He's like straining.
Tom:Not, yet but, at some point we might.
Saf:Can we get another clue?
Tom:Yeah. It's very much an increasing order here.
Saf:Increasing order.
Tom:They're all measured in the same kind of unit. It's not a real unit, but... there's something to address.
Ali:Oh, Smurfs are three apples high. So...
Tom:Which means...
Ali:Hello Kitty must be two apples high.
Saf:Two apples high.
Tom:Absolutely right, I was wondering if anyone was gonna have that little bit of pop culture knowledge. Which I only got introduced to recently. Yes. A Granny Smith is an apple, so it's one apple high. Hello Kitty is apparently two apples high. And also according of the notes I've got here... is actually called Kitty White and lives in suburban London. The character has way more than I thought. And then, yes, a Smurf is, according to the show, three apples high.
Saf:Three apples high.
Mehdi:When you say they are apples high, what do you mean? It's their height or what is it?
Tom:So I never watched The Smurfs. Actually, I'm not sure if the Smurfs were a cartoon first or a comic book first.
Ali:Or a product.
Tom:Oh, I mean, yeah, it's an American kids' series, so it's a marketing attempt, but yes.
Saf:Well then Ali, you helped us out on that one. I would've—
Ali:Well, thanks.
Saf:I would've never got that. Like, never, ever got that.
Ali:It only required a complete red herring to start.
Tom:That's okay. If we didn't have the red herrings, we wouldn't have a show. So thank you very much. You are right. A Granny Smith is one apple high, Hello Kitty is two apples high, and a Smurf is three apples high. The fourth in the sequence would obviously be a Smurf with an apple on its head.

All our guests have brought a question themselves, and we will start with Mehdi. As usual, I don't know the question. I definitely don't know the answer. So Mehdi, over to you.
Mehdi:My question says:

In Madrid's Plaza de Toros Las Ventas, there is a statue of a local man taking off his hat in salute. He's facing the bust of a British Nobel Prize winner. Who was that, and who paid for this memorial?

In Madrid's Plaza de Toros Las Ventas, there is a statue of a local man taking off his hat in salute. He is facing the bust of a British Nobel Prize winner. Who was that, and who paid for this memorial?
Mehdi:(hums Jeopardy! theme)
Ali:So we need to know the bust or the guy that's saluting?
Tom:I feel like one will give us the answer to the other.
Ali:Yeah. Is it about the Nobel Prize winner or is it about the bust? Because wouldn't it just be the guy then, instead of... Oh, they probably weren't alive at the same time to have had that.
Tom:I'm trying to think of a— My brain has blanked on any British Nobel Prize winner. I just don't have an index on that, so...
Saf:Yeah, me neither.
Ali:Yeah, no.
Tom:So it's Madrid, as a city, kind of giving its thanks to someone who won the Nobel Prize, but... Why would that be?
Saf:And who would, who actually paid for it as well?
Mehdi:Where was Madrid? It's in Spain, right?
Tom:Yeah. You're not answering this question, Mehdi! You've got the answer in front of you.
Mehdi:Oh, yeah, thanks.
Saf:He's feeling left out.
Tom:If the man with the answer is still trying to figure this out!
Ali:Is it, did the Nobel Prize winner commission it? Because that'd be hilarious.
Saf:It's like, pat on my back. Let's get this sorted out. I'd totally do that.
Tom:To be fair, if you've won a Nobel Prize... Yeah, you know what, commission a bust of yourself. You're fine.
Saf:I wanna be remembered.
Tom:You know that there's some YouTuber out there who has just commissioned a bust of themselves. Actually it's Jerry Rig Everything, if you know his channel.
Saf:Oh yeah.
Ali:If you'll take a look at my bust of myself that I created over there.
Tom:Wait, do you actually have a...
Tom:Did you like get your face casted? Oh wow.
Mehdi:I'll be the local man taking my hat off to you.
Saf:So, yeah.
Tom:I've also just realised I have a video where there's a robot copy of myself, so I literally have that as well from a 3D scan.
Saf:So it's a YouTube thing then, is it, right? So we all do this.
Saf:Because, yeah, Zack's is brilliant 'cause it's just outside Dan's house, Dan from What's Inside, and it's just like a massive—
Tom:Yeah, he 3D printed a statue of himself that's like 40 feet high out of concrete.
Saf:That was hilarious.
Tom:And just left it in a friend's garden.
Saf:It's hilarious.
Tom:None of those people have won the Nobel Prize though, so.
Ali:Yet. I'm working on it.
Tom:Is it a Nobel Prize for physics, chemistry, or like economics or peace? Peace sounds obvious, now I say about it.
Mehdi:Oh, you want some clues?
Tom:Yeah, let's get something.
Mehdi:Let's see. The Nobel Laureate... What is the meaning of Loo-ree-et?
Mehdi:Oh, winner, okay. You have to make it hard like that, I guess. The Nobel Laureate was a scientist. Obviously. So that's not much of a clue.
Tom:Oh, no, 'cause because it might not have been. It might have been an economist. Actually, economists just got angry at me, 'cause they'll say it's a science. And it could have been for peace or something like that. I was thinking it was gonna be a wartime thing, but it's a scientist.
Mehdi:Did something happen in Spain that this guy helped with the local population or something that the local man is taking his hat off?
Tom:I can't tell if that's you giving us a clue, or if it's you just wondering it, Mehdi.
Mehdi:Well see, I have the answer, but the answer is the name of a person. I don't know what he did, so I have to read more.
Tom:Oh, okay.
Ali:Oh no! I was thinking it must be somebody super famous, because we'll recognize them.
Saf:He is famous, but, you know.
Tom:Famous enough to have a bust in Madrid.
Saf:So he did something that helped Madrid, which is why they commissioned this maybe?
Mehdi:Well, the clue, there's a clue here, says that the action of this man indirectly helped the local population as well as the world at large.
Ali:How did he specifically help Madrid?
Mehdi:The statue is in Madrid. I don't know if it's just... maybe it's for the whole Spain, right, or the world.
Saf:Indirectly helped the local population, indirectly. So he maybe didn't intend to specifically help them, but whatever he did indirectly helped the local population. Which is why they've probably built this in his honour.
Tom:I'm trying to run through Spanish history here, and I'm not sure—
Mehdi:I have some clues here, but I don't know if the clues are helpful or not. It says the statue of the local man is wearing an elaborate coat. So what does it have to do with anything?
Tom:An elaborate coat.
Tom:Bull fighting? I'm thinking it's... But then you've got a cape rather than anything else, and I don't know how a Nobel Prize winner would help you.
Ali:But you do have money.
Mehdi:You are going somewhere, yeah.
Ali:It helped the loaded population.
Mehdi:Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think you are onto something. Go with it.
Mehdi:The first thing Tom said.
Saf:Okay, bull fighting.
Tom:Bull fighter.
Ali:Bull fighting.
Tom:Why? Who could have helped out Spanish bull fighting?
Saf:Like, how far back does bull fighting go?
Tom:Centuries I'd assume.
Saf:So what did he do that changed it?
Tom:How can a science Nobel Laureate help bullfighters? Is it a medical thing? He— bull fighters kept getting injured?
Mehdi:There you go.
Ali:Bone mending. He invented the cast.
Tom:Oh, is it— Who is it who invented penicillin? Antibiotics?
Tom:Because, if you get gored by a bull, a lot of the time the thing that's gonna kill you is not the wound, it's gonna be the infection.
Mehdi:Yeah, that's the guy. That's the guy. Go ahead.
Tom:What's the guy's name? It's in the back of my head. It's Lister. Joseph Lister.
Mehdi:Come on, you can do it! Who invented what you said? What did you say?
Tom:Penicillin. It's the...
Mehdi:There you go.
Tom:Fleming, it's Alexander Fleming.
Mehdi:There you go! You got it, finally.
Ali:You do have a list of Nobel Laureates in your head. Don't sell yourself short.
Tom:Yeah, but it's indexed by what they've done, and not their nationality!
Ali:There you go.
Tom:Oh, it took a while to get.
Saf:There you go.
Tom:So it's because he indirectly stopped people from dying from infections after gored by bulls. Wow.
Mehdi:Exactly, that's the thing.
Ali:They live... to bull again.
Mehdi:That's what it says. Matadors, who had been gored by the bulls, had a better chance of survival after Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin. So, yeah.
Tom:Back to me for the next question then.

Waffle House is a restaurant chain that has 1,900 locations concentrated in the south-east USA. How does one federal agency keep things running under trying circumstances by using the 'Waffle House Index'?

One more time.

Waffle House is a restaurant chain that has 1,900 locations concentrated in the south-east USA. How does one federal agency keep things running in trying circumstances by using the 'Waffle House Index'?
Saf:Keep things running.
Mehdi:And Waffle House Index. What is that.
Saf:Directory? So this is probably, yeah. Index, what, like the location? Do they have access to their CCTV? I don't know. That's where my—
Tom:How many of you have been to or know of Waffle House?
Tom:As a thing?
Mehdi:Not me.
Saf:First time I'm hearing it.
Ali:I'm familiar. I don't think I've ever been to one. I've passed one.
Tom:Okay, good. We targeted this question perfectly. That's great.
Ali:Yes. Target demo right here. I do know it's known as a truck stop. Does this have something to do with truckers and the success of the trucking community? Perhaps.
Tom:Not directly. But something you can figure out from Waffle House about, because it is a truck stop in that kind of place is something about how it operates.
Mehdi:So it's not about— I thought the CCTV that Saf brought up was a good point, but it's not about that, is it?
Tom:No, no.
Saf:No surveillancing, okay. So if it's kind of like a truck stop, so then they can use the index to see... like what's going on in terms of... traffic and supplies. I don't know.
Ali:Tourism. If Waffle House is bumping, then this industry is also doing well. And that is...
Tom:So you are actually a little bit closer with both of those. There is one specific federal agency that is tracking Waffle Houses as part of its work.
Mehdi:What a strange government body.
Saf:So yeah, I mean, if they're tracking supplies of how things are coming in and out and what the demand is. So what agency would that be?
Tom:Under trying circumstances.
Saf:Under trying circumstances?
Mehdi:Is it about food in general? The agency involves food, maybe.
Tom:It's not the main part. They'd have to do—
Mehdi:Or transportation.
Tom:All of these things.
Mehdi:Oh my god.
Ali:Lemme just go through my index of government agencies in my head. Okay, it's not the FAA. It's not the FBI, is it the FBI?
Tom:It's not. It does start with F, but that's because it's a federal agency. That's not really much of a clue at all.
Ali:It feels a little redundant. Do we need F? We could just get rid of the Fs for all of federal agencies.
Saf:So it's a federal agency that, okay. Alright, well which of the federal agencies do you know, Ali?
Tom:That keeps things running under trying circumstances.
Saf:Trying circumstances.
Mehdi:So for example, if there's a national disaster or something, they get out help to people or something?
Tom:Which agency would that be?
Mehdi:Agency of Earthquakes and National Disaster.
Tom:Yeah, if— yeah. If you don't know the name, it's FEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Authority. I think, I dunno if it's Agency or Authority, but it's a FEMA thing.
Mehdi:And... Well, how does tracking a pancake house...
Ali:People aren't traveling. People aren't doing leisure activities whenever FEMA needs to be working hard. It's related to tourism somehow?
Tom:Kind of the opposite, really!
Tom:You wouldn't— There are no doubt some very strange people who would be tourists for this, but not the majority of people.
Mehdi:Is it because like in trying circumstances, they want to make sure people have resources and somehow get people to those locations?
Tom:Not quite. South-east USA is a fairly major clue here.
Saf:So they have more, what do they have? Hurricanes and stuff, is that, yeah? Okay, so south-east.
Ali:There we go.
Saf:So it's, they track... emergency whenever, if there is a hurricane, they'll kind of see where those 1,900— Is there 1,900 stores?
Tom:1,900, yeah.
Saf:So there's a hurricane. Now obviously there'll be an impact on those stores, so they're tracking which stores will have those impacts because the truckers can't get in.
Tom:Yeah. It's not to do with truckers. It's just to do with the Waffle Houses themselves. That's close enough, Saf.
Tom:The Waffle House Index is how many Waffle Houses, which are normally 24 hours, are actually up and operating. They are famous for their resilience, for their getting through no matter what. Like they will try and get supplies. They will open the restaurant in any circumstances they can. So FEMA has a traffic light system. Green is like, Waffle House is open, full menu, everything's good. Yellow is, "Eh, maybe they've got no power." They're still serving. Red is, the restaurant is closed because it's severely damaged. We probably need to get some people out there. So Waffle House Index is the shorthand that FEMA unofficially uses
Saf:Okay, that's interesting.
Tom:for how badly an area is broken by a hurricane.
Saf:Alright, cool. That's some news to me. I had no idea about that. And the traffic light system's an interesting way to track it as well.
Ali:I'm gonna start using Waffle House as a compliment. If someone calls me Waffle House, that means I'm super resilient. That sounds great.
Mehdi:You're such a Waffle House.
Ali:Thank you.
Tom:Oh, how does that sound insulting? And yet! "Oh, have you seen them? They're built like a Waffle House." Like that sounds rude. And yet!

We go to Ali for the next question. What have you got for us?

In his black and white photography series, Magnetism, Ahmed Mater uses a cubical magnet and a large scattering of iron filings all around. What is he trying to convey?


In his black and white photography series, Magnetism, Ahmed Mater uses a cubic, a cubical magnet, and a large scattering of iron fillings all around. What is he trying to convey?
Tom:So we all looked at Mehdi here, right? Just the...
Mehdi:Hey! Well, I assume, oh, it's nothing new. But I assume this guy you're talking about is all too— I don't know him, but I assume he is trying to show the magnetic field lines with the magnetic...
Mehdi:With the metal, you know, iron filings.
Saf:I think... So it's a piece of artwork. Well, I think that he tried to make... I think I might know this one.
Mehdi:Is he an artist?
Saf:Well, I mean, 'cause he's a photographer, right? So he's taking, and he's using... Okay, I think I know, but I don't wanna ruin it. I'll let you guys go around in circles.
Tom:Oh, okay. You're gonna do the thing, alright. Take the risk. If you're wrong, we will gently mock you afterwards, but okay. Take the risk, back that answer. The other two of us will try and figure it out. Mehdi, what... So if you put a magnet near filings, will they follow the lines or— Surely they'll just like glum onto the magnet.
Mehdi:Well, depends on how much you have. If it's on a piece of paper and there's not enough of them, they will show the magnetic field lines. But if there is a lot of them, they'll like spike out like... You know, like a clump of pilings that spike up. Like I've seen these sand clocks, sand timers that use that. There's a magnet on the bottom, and the sand is actually metal or iron filings, and that pours it onto the magnet and they go like this.
Saf:That's so cool. I want one of those. I want one of those in my office.
Mehdi:I don't know if that's...
Saf:Magnets are just fascinating though. I just love...
Saf:Since I remember just being in school and just being fascinated by magnets. You could just spend hours and hours. But yeah.
Saf:And you'll be surprised by the amount of "free energy" videos you get out of magnets on the internet. That annoys me to no end.
Tom:Yeah. Yeah.
Saf:Unlimited energy.
Ali:I will say Mehdi, you're on the right track with the field that you're talking about.
Mehdi:So the question was he's trying to achieve right with those?
Tom:But it's not just taking a picture of the magnetic field lines. There's something else going on here.
Ali:Yes, the picture is representing something.
Saf:And I know what it is! Sorry, sorry.
Tom:Oh damnit!
Mehdi:You know it?
Ali:Me too.
Saf:So this is the first question that I'm like, "Yes!" So I'm pretty... But I might be completely wrong!
Tom:'Cause there's gonna be pride before a fall here.
Saf:Yeah. That's gonna be so like, "Oh, I was totally wrong." But I—
Tom:It's happened to me in an earlier show.
Mehdi:Does the sculpture represent the struggles of common human in the society or...? Probably not at all.
Ali:I mean, art is subjective.
Tom:Is it representing something physical, or something metaphorical?
Ali:It is a physical thing.
Tom:So it's gonna look like you've got the core of an apple or something like that with the kind of circular lines radiating out, or have I got my magnetism wrong there, Mehdi?
Mehdi:Yeah, well I mean, it's not gonna— Well, when you put a bunch of them on top of a magnet, there'll be lines going out of the surface pretty much in all directions, like a clump of spikes. I assume.
Tom:So if you take a photo of that, what could it represent? Ali, I think we need a clue here.
Ali:Okay. We were already on the right track here, but there are no filings directly next to the magnets. So there's some space around it, and it's all laying on a white surface.
Mehdi:So are they trying to go towards the magnet then? And from the sides or?
Ali:You had it right. They're naturally forming something, and showing that field. So what does that natural formation with the magnet in the middle represent? What does it look like?
Tom:Oh! It looks like Hajj. It looks like the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Saf:That's the one.
Ali:We got it.
Saf:Yeah, so that's the—
Tom:Because you've got a big black cube in the middle. And the filings are the pilgrims around it.
Saf:Yeah, so the Kaaba is the black cube that you're referring to, and that's where Muslims kind of use that as a direction for prayer. So when you go for the Hajj in Mecca, then they will be around it. And I specifically remember seeing this. It's a really cool piece of artwork where there's this cube, and then you've got the filings around it kind of representing... the Kaaba in Mecca, which you would do during Hajj or Umrah as well, which is throughout the year. So yeah, that's why I was like, "Oh, I know this one." But good work. Good work, Tom.
Tom:Thank you for letting us go through that. We got two light bulb moments outta that question. That was wonderful. Thank you.
Ali:The magnetism from the central cube causes the filings to form into natural circles, mimicking the pilgrims circling around the Kaaba seven times in an anti-clockwise direction called the Tawaf.
Tom:Next question's been sent in by a listener. Thank you very much to Joe Zeng.

A baby is born, and a few minutes later, she becomes two years old. How is that possible?

One more time.

A baby is born, and a few minutes later, she becomes two years old. How is that possible?
Saf:Are we counting the pregnancy time as well? Like...
Tom:Oh... no. Not in, not, well... No, I'm just gonna give you a no for that.
Saf:I mean, if it's like an animal, 'cause I know certain animals have longer pregnancies compared to obviously humans. So we have like nine months. Now, if you count from the moment of like conception or like, I don't know. That's where my mind's kind of heading, that that's what you...
Tom:You are right that it's a counting thing.
Tom:This is not some weird science fiction time dilation stuff. You are right that it's in the counting.
Saf:Okay. It's in the counting.
Mehdi:I was imagining the kid was born on a planet that revolves around a black hole, so it turns like...
Mehdi:Once a second.
Saf:That's really thinking outside the box there, man. I like it. I like it. He's going into the expanse, and we're going into some really scientific stuff there. That's really cool.
Ali:Well, is it a kid? We sure we're talking about a baby human, or is that some sort of metaphor or... pun for some other...
Saf:Is it like a baby goat or something, a kid?
Tom:I mean you've got the hang of the show that you should always interrogate those parts of the question. But in this case, no, this is very literal. The baby is born. A few minutes later, she becomes two years old.
Ali:So it's significant when the baby is born, because then something happens to move that clock weirdly.
Mehdi:If it's the end of the year. If it's the end of the year, a few moments later, it'll be a new year. Well, it's not a whole year.
Ali:So the baby's Chinese. Because Chinese New Year, everyone turns a year older. Is that right?
Tom:You are very close between the two of you. You're certainly in the far east. It's not China, but yes, this is about a different numbering and ordering system for dates and ages.
Mehdi:I know in... is it possible... I know in Japan, I think the beginning of the calendar starts with the new emperor or something? So if they are switching the emperors, maybe they change the year and something happens in that line.
Ali:There are two thi— there's gotta be two changes. The kid's born, and then year one happens, and then right a few minutes later, year two happens. So where does year one and year two... come so close together that then if you're born right before that, boom-boom, now you're two?
Tom:Yeah, you've pretty much got all the parts of here. You haven't quite named the country. You got very close a couple times.
Ali:I know how to Google. I just don't know the answer.
Saf:So we've said China. It's not Japan. Is it Korea?
Tom:Yes, it is. We're in, this is South Korea. So you've all got parts of this one. Let's put all that together. This is in South Korea. How does it work out that someone could be born, and then be two years old a few minutes later?
Ali:The emperor thing you were talking about.
Tom:Not quite.
Tom:You're right, there are two differences going on here though. Each one responsible for one of those years.
Ali:So one must be the calendar year, and then what else puts a year ahead? What other lever can Korea pull to change the year?
Mehdi:It's a year they want to forget. So they just skip over it.
Saf:2020. They skipped 2020 like everybody else. Like, let's forget about 2020.
Mehdi:Could it be like Chinese culture that they don't like number four, and—
Tom:Korean, not...
Mehdi:I know, but it might be something similar in Korea, that they don't like some number, so they skip that number?
Saf:I know the number, was it the number four, in certain cultures is considered bad luck, so they skip that number.
Tom:Yes, I think you've sort of said this, Ali. I'll just put the words in the right order for this bit. If you're in South Korea, in the traditional system, you become a year older on New Year's Day, regardless of your actual day of birth. So if you were born a few minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve, you would immediately age up. That will get you to one. What gets you to two?
Mehdi:So they just age up by year. They don't have to wait. Like, it's not from the January to January. It's year to year.
Tom: Yeah.
Saf:So it looks like they're skipping a... maybe because I know in certain Asian cultures, certain numbers are considered... or represents something else, so then they will skip over them. Now, I'm not sure if it's like in Korea, but I know in China, because when I'm looking at smartphones, there might be a phone that's got a version one, a version two, then they skipped— Well, a three and then they'll skip the four, because the number four represents, well, it's very similar to the word of death. So then they'll go straight to five. So I'm not sure, is that also in Korea? South Korea?
Tom:You are right that a number is being skipped. You haven't quite got the right number. There's a little bit of lateral thinking here. 'Cause you've named a lot of numbers there. And you've not named the one they're skipping.
Mehdi:Well for that we need to know the language, I guess.
Saf:Which number would they skip?
Mehdi:Zero, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine—
Tom:Which one was that one? What was that first one, Mehdi?
Tom:Zero. They skip zero. In the most common Korean system, you start at age one at birth. And so if that happens a few minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve, you are almost immediately two years old after birth.
Saf:I was completely off from the, at the start when I was like—
Tom:That's okay, that's how this show works. So, yes, in South Korea, you are one when you were born, and if that's a few minutes before New Year's Day, you are very soon after two.
Mehdi:I think that's generally in all cultures a source of confusion. I always have this debate with my family once in a while that they say, "Oh yeah, I'm like 51." "No, you're 50, because you subtract this from that." And I said, "No, see?" And then I have to start from zero and come up until they realize that.
Tom:Yeah. There is a separate system used for things like the mandatory military service in Korea, where they do count from zero. And also they sometimes use the Western system as well. So it's possible to have three completely different ages, all of which are correct. Last guest question of the show then comes from Saf. Whenever you're ready.
Saf:Alright. Here goes. A man cut a tiny hole in his window shade. He continues to cut out a series of holes of different shapes and sizes, even though the results stayed largely the same. What was he doing? Let me repeat that. A man cut a tiny hole in his window shade. He continues to cut out a series of holes of different shapes and sizes, even though the results stayed largely the same. What was he doing?
Mehdi:I can guess. Should I guess, or...?
Tom:One thing I've learned from these questions is that if it's phrased like a man or something like that, this may just be a riddle. This may not be a historical event. This may just be a riddle.
Saf:Could be.
Tom:I mean, go for it, Mehdi, take the shot.
Mehdi:It feels like a scientific experiment. I mean, imagine you are making a hole that is far enough from a curtain or the wall. And the light passes through it, it scatters and turns into a circle. So it doesn't matter the shape that you are cutting it. At the end of that—
Tom:I was thinking something like eclipse viewing or something like that, of like trying to cast a pinhole camera or something like that. Is that what you're thinking?
Mehdi:Well, it's the different shapes and sizes. For a pinhole, the hole has to be very small. If you make it large, well, if it you make it too large, then it doesn't matter anymore. But I mean, if it is larger than a pin, I suppose, then... the light just scatters from the edges and turns into a circle, when it drops onto a wall or a curtain. Is that anything to do with the answer?
Saf:You are on the right track.
Ali:It seems we're all thinking that it's light coming through, that he's looking at, the result is the light.
Saf:I mean, you guys are on the right track. I'll give you that.
Tom:So what are you trying to let through, and why doesn't the second or third or whatever-th hole make a difference? Because also, in my head, this is the sort of situation where you're like, someone's doing a haircut. "Oops. Oh no. I'll guess I'll try that. Get a little bit more, little bit more, and..."
Ali:Is this that wave particle slit experiment where if you're shooting one particle at a time—
Saf:I saw that on TikTok, by the way. It's so fascinating. But, it's not exactly that. But it's, that was really cool.
Ali:Is the light only on the first circle that he cut, and then he is cutting other circles, but the light's only going through that one spot, so those other circles wouldn't matter?
Mehdi:Or maybe it's just at nighttime and doesn't matter.
Saf:He's doing this in the dark, so then... whatever he does has no result!
Ali:If an artist cuts holes in the forest, to no one to see it, is it art?
Tom:And it's definitely a window shade.
Tom:So it's gotta be letting light through. There's not like—
Saf:Yeah. I mean that, I think, yeah. So you guys are on the right track. Yes, it's light coming through, but what—
Ali:Alright, I'm in for a clue.
Tom:Yeah, I'm in I'm in for a clue.
Saf:Okay, the holes did not make up an overall pattern or design. Okay? So he wasn't trying to make a pattern or anything like that.
Ali:What would you be trying to make? There's something... that you would cut into a window shade.
Mehdi:Well, maybe he's just trying to look out of the hole, and the new hole is not making a difference. He still can't see the same as the other hole.
Tom:Is this a scientific experiment? Is this like historical experiment?
Saf:Yes, that's correct. It is an experiment. And I can give you another clue to, I mean, you said historic scientific experiments, so, yeah. I mean, to give you another clue around from—
Tom:This feels like... Who did the old light experiments? The...
Mehdi:Newton did some.
Saf:Okay. Alright, you're getting there.
Tom:Oh, is it Newton? Is Mehdi right? It's Newton.
Saf:Yeah, it is Newton. But what is he doing? What is he trying to discover?
Tom:Oh, god, I'm blanking. What were Newton's experiments, Mehdi? I'm blanking!
Mehdi:Well, I can remember the... You know the rainbow experiment he did with cutting a slit into a...
Saf:Yeah, yeah.
Tom:Oh, and he's wondering if... So once you have one thing coming into the prism, it's gonna split that light. But adding a second slit or a third slit isn't gonna create another rainbow. Or is it?
Mehdi:Well, to have a proper rainbow, the slit has to be pretty tight. This one, does it have anything to do with the rainbow experiment or not?
Saf:So it's Isaac Newton discovering how the, how refraction of light works. So you guys...
Tom: Ah.
Saf:pretty much yeah, already had it.
Ali:It's basically what I said, totally, specifically.
Saf:Yeah, exactly.
Mehdi:Isn't that the... Isn't that the first thing I said, pretty much? Like the light scatters from the edges.
Tom:Yeah, we'll take that. I think.
Ali:Yeah I mean—
Mehdi:I win!
Saf:Mehdi gets one. So Newton abandoned London after the Great Plague and returned to Cambridge where he experimented with light and colour. Putting small holes in his window blind during the daytime provided a beam of light. He put a prism in front of it, and it turned into an oblong shaped rainbow of colours. So Mehdi had the rainbow set there as well. Adding more holes to the blind simply extended the length of the oblong. So you guys were really good, and you got Newton there as well, so well done. I'll give 80% of that to Mehdi.
Mehdi:Thank you!
Tom:I mean, at least it wasn't a riddle. It wasn't a riddle. It was an actual man.
Saf:So, yeah. Good work. Good work team.
Tom:Which brings us to the last question, the one I asked the audience right at the start. What movie did James Cameron successfully pitch by drawing the letter S and then two lines? Anyone want to take a shot at that before I give the answer?
Saf:Terminator? I don't know, just.
Tom:I mean, name some Cameron movies. Someone will get it.
Mehdi:S and two line is a dollar sign, no?
Tom:Yes it is.
Saf:Two lines, so...
Ali:Well, that ruins mine.
Saf:So the dollar sign's—
Mehdi:S and two...
Tom:Well, he got to the dollar sign eventually. He drew the S first.
Ali:Starts with an S.
Mehdi:Oh, is it like... the... Ocean's Eleven or something?
Tom:Ocean's Eleven was Soderbergh, sorry.
Tom:How the hell do I know that? I'm no good at movie trivia!
Saf:I'm trying to think of more James Cameron movies. Obviously we know the big ones. Titanic, Terminator.
Ali:That made a lot of money.
Saf:Titanic? Did he say—
Tom:You've missed a big obvious James Cameron movie.
Ali:That I still think starts with an S.
Tom:Nope, doesn't start with an S.
Ali:Okay. Does not.
Tom:Might end with one though.
Tom:He took the logo for Alien, put the S after it, and then made it into a dollar sign. And that was his pitch for the $180 million grossing Aliens. So thank you very much to all our players. Congratulations on getting through that. Tell us what's going on with you. We'll start with Ali. Where can people find you? What are you doing?
Ali:You can find me on my own podcast, that is fitness and funny. We're called Total Fit Hits.
Tom:Do you wanna plug the channel as well?
Ali:Sure, yes. And I also make outrageous artwork and music on my YouTube channel, Ali Spagnola.
Tom:Saf, what's going on with you?
Saf:Just a lot of videos around tech. You can find me pretty much anywhere online. I'm @SuperSaf everywhere. YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok. I'm on all of the ones which the cool kids are on. And I'm also featuring on a podcast, which is discussing more spiritual matters and things. Which is called the Muslim Money Guys and Ethical Finance. And that is if you just search for the "Muslim Money Guys," We've recently interviewed Paul Pogba, the footballer. Khabib the UFC champion as well, we've interviewed recently, so you can check that out too.
Tom:And Mehdi.
Mehdi:Well, I do create videos around science, mostly electrical and with a ton of failures on my behalf in my videos and which is on my YouTube channel, ElectroBOOM. Or everywhere else, I'm either @ElectroBOOM or @ElectroBOOMGuy, because ElectroBOOM was taken. Yeah.
Tom:Thank you very much, folks. If you wanna know more about this show, you can do that at, where you can also send in your own questions. You can find us at @lateralcast pretty much everyone on social media, and at, where there are weekly video highlights. Thank you very much Saf from Super Saf TV.
Saf:Thanks for having me. Really appreciate it.
Tom:Mehdi from ElectroBOOM.
Mehdi:Yeah, thanks for having me. It was fun, although I didn't win all the questions, but it was good.
Tom:And Ali Spagnola.
Ali:Woo-hoo, this was awesome, thanks.
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
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