Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 17: Some 3-D movies from 1903

Published 3rd February, 2023

'Karen Puzzles' Kavett, Rebecca 'Dr Becky' Smethurst and Stuart 'Ashens' Ashen face questions about political powercuts, red rectangles, and astonishing anvils.

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: Deniz Montagner, Adam Austerberry, Karen Kavett, Lewis Tough. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:Why did the writer George Bernard Shaw call his garden shed London? The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

Our three guests today clicked on a link, hoping to see a video of an adorable kitten, but instead they've been hoodwinked into this instead. First we have: from the channel Ashens, Stuart Ashen.
Tom:How are you doing, Stuart? What are you what are you up to these days?
Stuart:I'm very well, thank you. I'm working on many media projects, most of which you'll never hear of, because that's the way the media works.
Tom:(laughs) Are you just pitching things and at some point a commissioner's just gonna come along and go, "...No."
Stuart:That's pretty much it, yeah. Sometimes I just write ideas and post them through random people's letter boxes. It seems to have about the same net effect. So yeah.
Tom:Next up from her own YouTube channel, Karen Puzzles, it is Karen Kavett. How are you doing?
Karen:I'm doing really well. I've been listening to a lot of Lateral while doing puzzles to prepare for this.
Tom:(laughs) This is good. You're all ready for it. Congratulations on the the championship win as well.
Karen:Thank you. Well, I mean, championship second place.
Tom:That's still one of the greatest puzzlers in America, so I mean, congratulations on that.
Karen:Oh, well, thank you.
Tom:And finally joining us, it is PhD astrophysicist from her own channel, it is Dr. Becky. How are you doing?
Rebecca:I'm good. Thanks, Tom. How are you?
Tom:I'm... Honestly, this is the first show we're filming in a new run. I am out of practice at doing this, but we're gonna be fine. Thank you for asking. What are you working on at the minute?
Rebecca:Ooh, I've got two research papers on how supermassive black holes grow, that I'm hoping to submit to a journal very soon. Very exciting. I'm waiting to see if I've got time on the Very Large Telescope. Which, you know, if no one cares about astrophysics, no one will care about this, but if you are a spaceman. Also got a book out, which I've, you know, under publisher's orders, put in the back. It's called A Brief History of Black Holes, if anyone's a black hole nerd like I am.
Tom:Technically the section to plug your stuff was at the end, but I appreciate the just full-on going for it at the start.
Rebecca:Breaking the mould everywhere, Tom, it's fine.
Tom:Ah, it's fine. So the game's very simple. I've got some tricky questions, and I'm hoping you've got some answers. The questions may seem more chaotic than a teenager's bedroom, but don't worry, the script was thoroughly disinfected earlier. I'm gonna start you off with this:

In 2015, after 47 minutes, Nicolò Falcone received a payout of $20,580 after staying in prison as long as possible. Why?

I'll give you that one more time.

In 2015, after 47 minutes, Nicolò Falcone received a payout of $20,580 after staying in prison as long as possible. Why?
Stuart:So he stayed in prison as long as possible, but that was only 47 minutes?
Rebecca:And why would he get a payout for doing that, unless he was being paid to be there? Were they a journalist of some form?
Tom:Not exactly. Actually, I dunno why I said that. Not even close, sorry! I'm trying to do the improv thing of yes-and-ing your answer while not giving too much away, but... No, sorry. That's just...
Rebecca:No, no.
Karen:I mean, it sounds like one of those YouTube channels where you're like, whoever can touch the thing for as long as possible gets all this money.
Karen:But I don't think that's it, 'cause—
Tom:Also that was an old actual competition series. There's a load of people who are just like, hold onto this thing for as long as possible and you get it. And that's a challenge that goes back to I think the '80s and '90s. It used to be called Touch the Truck or something like that.
Rebecca:"Touch the Truck"?
Tom:A car dealership would just be like, hands on, Last one for the hands to fall off get gets the truck. Was that a TV show? Stuart, I'm pointing that at you.
Rebecca:I think Gilmore Girls episode, it sounds like. You know, some sort of crazy thing that goes down in Stars Hollow.
Tom:I have a vague memory of a Dale Winton TV show.
Stuart:Yes, you are correct, I believe, yeah. I believe also people have died by touching the truck outside for too long.
Stuart:If I recall correctly, yeah. So that's brought the mood down a bit. Sorry about that.
Tom:Yeah, it has. It's also entirely irrelevant to the question, but never mind. We got a Dale Winton reference early in that, that will be completely lost on Karen and anyone not from the UK, but never mind.
Karen:Okay, so when you say prison, is this... is this like a legitimate, like jail, prison? This isn't something they set up for some kind of challenge?
Tom:That's a very good question. No, it is not a legitimate actual prison.
Rebecca:Oh, okay.
Stuart:It wasn't underwater or something, was it, or...
Karen:The 580 is a very specific number. So that makes me think that for every...
Tom:It was a very deliberate number.
Rebecca:Oh, I thought it was like a, you... like it was paid in pounds and translated into dollars or something?
Tom:No, that was chosen very deliberately.
Rebecca:Was it a certain amount of dollars per, like, second he stayed in there then?
Tom:No, it would've been that... However long this was, it would've been that much. And he wasn't in prison for all those 47 minutes. He went in and out several times.
Stuart:Right, is the prison itself in some way dangerous to life?
Tom:(groan into chuckle) The prison is... How do I put this without immediately giving the game away?
Rebecca:The prison was his mind.
Karen:I mean, this is making me start to think of like, was it like a shark tank and he was in there with a shark or something that could hurt him? But I don't know why you would get this specific amount of money.
Stuart:Or is it extremely hot or extremely cold?
Rebecca:But then why would he be in and out of it?
Stuart:It's gotta be something where you can't physically stay in it for too long. So like, yeah, he's got no oxygen, or it's too cold or it's too hot, or...
Tom:Yeah, there is a reason you would be forced to leave after a while.
Stuart:Is Piers Morgan in there?
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Turns out, 47 minutes, the maximum amount of time anyone can stand Piers Morgan.
Rebecca:But in and out, does it count? Because if it was something like holding your breath underwater, then it wouldn't count if you came out and took a breath again and came out and took a breath again.
Stuart:That's true.
Tom:So I'm gonna give you the question again, 'cause there's a little bit of a really nitpicky bit in here. In 2015—
Rebecca:Oh, it's Trivial Pursuit, isn't it? There's always a clue in the question.
Tom:You are surprisingly close with that joke. In 2015, after 47 minutes, Nicolò Falcone received a payout of $20,580 after staying in prison as long as possible. Now, staying in prison as long as possible... was a strategy.
Karen:If we're talking about board games, could it be like the Go to Jail square in Monopoly? Is there like a Monopoly championship and that was the prize?
Rebecca:Karen, now you've got it.
Tom:Yes, you absolutely have. And there's a reason I said prison instead of jail. You are absolutely right. Nicolò Falcone was the 2015 World Monopoly Championship winner, and his strategy was stay in jail as long as possible.
Karen:Who knew there was such a thing? Says the person who just competed in the Jigsaw Puzzle Championships.
SFX:(group laughing)
Rebecca:Did you win 22 grand, Karen?
Karen:Oh my gosh, I wish.
Rebecca:'Cause if you didn't, you're in the wrong game.
Tom:So it was $20,580. Why might it have been that much, if it was a Monopoly championship?
Stuart:Is that the amount of money in a Monopoly set?
Tom:Yes, that's right. There are $20,580 in a US Monopoly set, so all that was converted to real money and given to him as the prize. This was at the Venetian Hotel in Macau. Like this was apparently a big publicity event. I dunno if this is a regular thing that they do. It feels more like gambling than it should, frankly. But yes, after 47 minutes, Nicolò Falcone received $20,580 after staying in jail as long as possible, because that was his strategy for Monopoly.

The next question comes from one of our guests. As always, I do not know the question. I certainly don't know the answer unless I'm very, very lucky. So, Karen, we're gonna start with you. What's the question, please?
Karen:Alright, so this question was actually suggested by me, and I helped to write it.

The company Fisher & Norris were very proud of their 'Eagle'-brand anvils. Their tempered cast iron anvils greatly improved the health and safety of blacksmiths using them thanks to one key advantage. What was it?
Tom:Oh... So the last time that I was on the east coast of the US, you invited me to the Fisher & Norris Anvil Museum. Which...
Stuart:Did you go?
Tom:I couldn't make it. The dates missed out. And I kind of feel like this is revenge for me not being able to make it to the Anvil Museum. Which is like in your family. That's right, isn't it?
Karen:Yes, so my dad actually collects Fisher & Norris anvils. And this question, all of the information comes straight out of the book that he wrote about them.
Tom:Blimey, okay. I don't know much about anvils. How about you, Becky and Stuart?
Rebecca:I know everything I know about blacksmithing from fantasy novels.
Stuart:Unfortunately, same here.
Rebecca:I feel like health and safety for an anvil is like, you don't wanna hit your hand with a hammer. So is there no way you can put your hand down on the anvil? Like is it so slippy that you just... straight off?
Karen:I feel like that would be more dangerous.
Tom:Yes, 'slippy' is not a quality you want for an anvil.
Rebecca:Yeah, but it'd be slippy for skin, but not for metal or something.
Karen:I don't know if that's physically possible.
Tom:Yeah, I was gonna say.
Rebecca:It could be magnetic.
Tom:I didn't wanna say—
Rebecca:It could be ferromagnetic, and therefore hold stuff on it, but not your hand.
Stuart:Sparks are a danger, aren't they? What if it's made of something that doesn't cause sparks when you hit it with a hammer to the same extent?
Tom:Perhaps, I'm trying to think. I've done like two hours of blacksmithing with a guy called Alec Steele, which is just the best name for a blacksmith.
Tom:And I got burned, like I got one minor burn. And it was just cause I gripped the metal wrongly. So I feel like the anvil itself... Is there something like Eagle? It was Eagle brand anvils, right?
Rebecca:Eagle branded, and then it was like cast iron tempered or something?
Karen:No, I mean, that's just to tell you that they were made by this company. Don't worry about the 'Eagle' word.
Tom:Okay. I was hoping they just had wings that folded out and just kept something safe. Just talons on the bottom that...
Rebecca:What if like the biggest danger is knocking the anvil itself off onto your foot? So it somehow just, it comes with a stand and it's bolted down. You know how you can get them coffee cups that you can't knock over? Maybe it's the anvil equivalent of that.
Tom:Anvil's a heavy thing though. You're not gonna...
Karen:While a lot of anvils did come with stands or could be put on stands, that's not the feature we're going for.
Stuart:Is it something noise related? Because if you're hitting it all day, it's been going bong, bong, and ruining your hearing. Is it made of something or made in a way so it makes less noise?
Karen:Yeah, yes. I think you—
Tom:You said it was tempered steel or was it—
Karen:No, I think you're close enough. I think that's about right.
Tom:Oh wow, okay.
Karen:Yeah, good job, Stuart. You didn't even have to take my other hint.
Rebecca:So surprised.
SFX:(group laughing)
Stuart:I was not expecting that. Halfway through saying that I was like, "Oh." But there we are, yes.
Tom:It's always worth saying it out loud. Yeah. Was it, so it was just like noise reduction?
Karen:Right, so they were made of... They had a special patented process for the iron and the steel that they used, so that there wouldn't be a loud ringing sound when you hit the anvil. And that can eventually cause deafness in blacksmiths. And so they would advertise their anvils as not causing deafness.
Tom:Wow. That's a hell of a claim to be able to make. I feel like earplugs would also be a solution there.
Stuart:(laughs) Oh, you're such over-engineering.
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:Yeah, that's fair, that's fair.
Karen:Also, another fun fact is that because of this, they were the only anvils rated for use in the military, and so they could be used on naval battleships, where you don't want some super loud blacksmith shop on a ship.
Tom:For some reason and I don't know why. You said that, and my brain was like, submarines.
Rebecca:Yeah, that's where my brain went.
Tom:A: you don't want like a blacksmith shop in a submarine. And B: What year was this?
Karen:This would've been from the 1800s to about the 1960s.
Tom:Oh, right, okay.
Rebecca:Yeah, submarines, 'cause I mean, I was thinking more like the worst thing you want in a submarine is this ghostly, boom, boom noise. You're like, is that outside, inside?
Karen:Yeah, even though they don't cause deafness, they're still not gonna be quiet.
Tom:I was gonna say, "Alright, silent running now." That's a terrible Sean Connery impression. "Silent running now. Not a noise." "Clang. Clang. Clang."
Tom:"Someone tell Dave in the blacksmith shop to shut it down for a minute."
Stuart:"Surface, surface!" "Oh, sorry, we can't. Tom's filled the submarine full of anvils."
Tom:Drop the ballast. Just shove the anvil out.
Stuart:Yeah. Whoof, straight to the surface.
Tom:Airlock, water lock? I dunno what you call it on a submarine.
Karen:So to summarize, the Fisher & Norris anvils would advertise that they didn't make as much of a ringing sound when hit, which could cause deafness.
Tom:Next question is mine, and it's from a listener. Thank you to Adam Austerberry for sending in this one.

Less than two years after the first Catholic Bishop of Orlando was ordained, his diocese grew to over 1,500 times its original size, at least according to the letter of the Catholic Church's laws. How?

I'll say that one more time.

Less than two years after the first Catholic Bishop of Orlando was ordained, his diocese grew to over 1,500 times its original size, at least according to the letter of the Catholic Church's laws. How?
Rebecca:Is this Orlando, Florida, or...
Tom:Yes, it is.
Tom:Orlando, Florida.
Karen:Okay, I'm glad you asked that. 'Cause I also didn't know, and I also know nothing about the Catholic religion.
Tom:I mean that is exactly the trick that one of these questions would play, that it's actually Orlando, Greenland, and they discovered a new island. No, this is actually Orlando, Florida.
Rebecca:When you said, did you say their flock or did you say their— No, you said their diocese.
Tom:The diocese.
Rebecca:Okay, 'cause if it was in Wales, it'd be like, "Oh, it was sheep."
Karen:Do we know what year this happened?
Tom:We do. I'm not gonna tell you that right now though.
Karen:I mean, could it be that Disney World had just been built, and a lot of new people moved to Florida, and a lot of them were Catholics?
Rebecca:That's what I was gonna say.
Tom:I'm keeping quiet here. Y'all talk amongst yourselves.
Karen:I guess that's not it.
Rebecca:It might not be Disney. It could be SeaWorld or...
Rebecca:I feel like Tom's quietness suggests that that is what it is. Oh, is it something to— maybe... the Kennedy Space Center is under the jurisdiction of Orlando, and it was back when the Space Race was happening?
Stuart:Because there isn't a Catholic church or something in Disney World is there?
Tom:Not to my knowledge. I feel like that's a fact that would be in the back of my head here, but...
Karen:I feel pretty confident that Disney does not have any churches.
Tom:No I feel like Disney's trying to be as religion-neutral as possible.
Rebecca:But we should start a new conspiracy theory about that's what's inside the princesses' castle.
Karen:"According to their laws" is what he said at the end. So it seems like there's some sort of technicality there. Did the county borders change or something? Or the city limits change?
Tom:Yeah, the rule is from the 1917 Code of Canon Law, according to my notes here.
Karen:1917. So that's before any of the Disney parks.
Tom:The rule came in 1917. So this would technically have covered the opening of the Disney parks. Unfortunately, it's not that.
Rebecca:Was it something to do— Okay, 1917 was like Prohibition era, right? I was just thinking something to do with the legality of, you know, redrawing boundaries and including people who were, you know, bootlegging alcohol.
Stuart:Yes! Of course, that's it. Because if you are taking the blood of Christ, you can drink alcohol. So people were pretending they were Catholic so they could have alcohol.
Rebecca:That could be it.
Tom:I love your enthusiasm there, Stuart. I love the way you were really saying that was it. Unfortunately...
Stuart:And it's wrong, isn't it?
Rebecca:I was so behind that.
Tom:1917 is when the rule came in. That kind of establishes the earliest possible date here. It was a little while after that.
Stuart:Ah, okay.
Tom:So the specific rule was for land not already covered by another diocese. And just to be clear, diocese is like land area. It's the equivalent of parish. So it's not necessarily the number of people. It is the area.
Rebecca:Was it reclaimed land? 'Cause most of Florida's like swamped. Did they drain something and create land?
Tom:Not quite. The thing is, there was— If you'd followed another path in this conversation a couple minutes ago... Agh! You were so close. You were so close.
Tom:And the minute I give you another clue, you're all gonna get it the same time. So I'm just gonna let you stew for a little bit longer.
Karen:Okay, well, what else have we said? We talked about space. We talked about sort of city borders.
Tom:And I was very cagey about the year.
Rebecca:So it could be like '69.
Tom:Mm, definitely. Definitely could be '69.
Rebecca:So it's something to do with the moon landings. Or the Space Race.
Stuart:Oh my goodness. They don't technically have a Diocese of the Moon or something, surely.
Tom:You're absolutely right.
Rebecca:Why would that be 1,500? Like twelve people went to the moon.
Tom:Yep, but the area that it covers is 1,500 times the original size of the Bishop of Orlando's diocese.
Stuart:And I'll bet he's never visited it.
SFX:(group laughing)
Rebecca:I thought you meant number of people, not land area. Oh my gosh.
Tom:Yeah, Stuart, you're spot on. The rule covered instances where land wasn't already claimed by another diocese, and determined that the new jurisdiction depended on the starting point of the journey. So, because the Bishop of Orlando covered the Kennedy Space Center, which you mentioned, Becky! You said that so early on. and I'm just, I can't give that as a hint. We're only like 20 seconds into the question here. So Apollo 11 departed from within that diocese. Orlando's Bishop is now the Bishop of the Moon.
SFX:(Rebecca and Stuart laughing)
Rebecca:That is amazing. It makes me wanna give up being an astrophysicist, go through the church, become a bishop, so I can claim Bishop of the Moon.
Stuart:Yeah. I want to be Moon Pope.
Tom:Well, I think that means technically, the Pope is the Moon Pope.
Stuart:Oh, I suppose so.
Rebecca:Yeah, yeah.
Karen:Follow up question. Where does that leave the International Space Station?
Tom:Oh, it would be... So who...
Rebecca:It launched pieces from California and from Florida, I think, right? So...
Tom:Who went up there first? I mean, at this point, I'm gonna ask my producer to Google this, because I really want know the answer to it. It would be the first person to head to the International Space Station would arguably be the person...
Rebecca:The commander?
Tom:So it's wherever—
Rebecca:But surely it's the land that's created, which is actually the actual structure itself. So is that where the structure was constructed? Or is it where the structure was launched from?
Tom:I feel like there's an entire con— What's the collective noun for bishop? Chess board, I dunno. Producer David has just pointed out that it would have to be the first Catholic to go to the International Space Station.
Rebecca:If we're going off people, not machine.
Tom:And I will say this has never been recognised in any official capacity by the Catholic Church, but Bishop William D. Borders did introduce himself as Bishop of the Moon when meeting the Pope in 1969.
Rebecca:You can so imagine that, can't you? "Hello sir, I'm the Bishop of the Moon."
Tom:So yes, since Apollo 11 departed from within the Diocese of Orlando, Orlando's Bishop became the Bishop of the Moon.

Our next question is from Stuart. Whenever you're ready.

During the 2009 elections of Lok Sabha, which is India's lower parliament, a suspicious number of power cuts took place. However, rather than an act of hindrance or intimidation, the perpetrators really wanted voters to turn up and vote. Why?

Okay, I'll say that again.

During the 2009 elections of Lok Sabha, India's lower parliament, a suspicious number of power cuts took place. However, rather than an act of hindrance or intimidation, the perpetrators really wanted voters to turn up and vote. Why?
Rebecca:So my first thought was those monkeys that are all over the streets of India. They're a hindrance, just chewing on power cables. And there was some law that was gonna be passed that was protecting the monkeys. That's where my brain went.
Stuart:I'll give you a subtle hint. No.
SFX:(group laughing)
Rebecca:It's not monkeys.
Stuart:Not monkeys, definitely not monkeys. No.
Karen:Okay, so here's where I first went. Could there have been a big event on TV that they wanted people to stop watching in order to go vote? Like the World Cup or something like that?
Tom:I was thinking a cricket match.
Tom:There was some reason that the voters would be staying in, and it was television. But you'd think that they wouldn't— That can't be a whole day thing for the vote, surely.
Stuart:No, I mean... What other purposes might a deliberate power cut have, other than to disrupt something on television?
Rebecca:Because I was thinking like they're presumably not electronic voting systems then. They're presumably...
Tom:I think India voting does use... I mean, this was 2009. I think India does use electronic voting. But... I feel like they'd have enough battery backups and things for that, surely.
Tom:Also it's to improve turnout, is that right?
Stuart:Basically, yes. Whoever perpetrated power cuts wanted people to vote.
Rebecca:I have an idea. Air conditioning. There was only air conditioning in the building where you could vote. So if people were really hot, they would come in and vote. Or food, like the democracy sausage in Australia. Like you can't cook food anymore at home. So come in from—
Tom:I'm sorry, the what?
Rebecca:The democracy sausage.
Stuart:The democracy sausage.
Rebecca:Do you not know what the democracy sausage is?
Stuart:No, now I need to!
Rebecca:In Australia, when you vote, there's the, I don't know if it's like an organised thing or if it's a community thing. But, the tradition is you go and vote, and then they have a barbecue where you can have a hot dog and you get given what is nicknamed the 'democracy sausage'.
Tom:I thought voting was compulsory in Australia anyway. But don't get me wrong, it's a great idea. But I think there's more penalties if you don't vote there.
Rebecca:Or maybe it's one of those, we have to go do it, so let's make it good with a big barbecue cookout.
Rebecca:Maybe there's a similar thing in India. Maybe they had a power cut, so people would come in and vote, and couldn't cook at home. Or everyone's gas cooking.
Stuart:It is not food related. Not food related.
Tom:Hold on a minute. Stuart, just to check, you said this was for the lower parliament, right?
Stuart:That's right, yeah.
Tom:Who's voting here? Is this like a big, all the public vote?
Rebecca:Ooh, good question.
Tom: Okay. It's not like some internal government thing where they just need to—
Stuart:Oh no.
Stuart:No, this is for all the peoples. All the peoples.
Rebecca:And it's nothing to do with temperature of the air, like air conditioning or heating?
Stuart:It is not, no.
Tom:This is infuriating, because I think all of us, when we got this question were just like, "Oh, it's gonna be some television show or cricket match or some—" No, dammit.
Rebecca:Except me who went, "Monkeys." That's where my brain went.
Stuart:Think... Give humans a little bit less of a nice thought so to speak. What are bad things people do? Think negatively.
Tom:Crime! Sorry, I just put a massive category in there. Crime.
Stuart:Yeah. I mean, it's a wide category, yeah.
Rebecca:Did they have street lights turning off because of the power cut? So people were worried more about crime and they would go vote?
Stuart:No, not directly.
Tom:Is this specifically to increase turnout?
Stuart:Yes, yes. But turnout of a certain kind.
Rebecca:Like young voters?
Stuart:No— How could you— How could you influence the result of an election? If you had to?
Tom:So if you know that a certain group is more likely to vote your way, and you want them to turn out—
Karen:Does not every single person in India have power in their home? So only the people who notice the power going out are gonna go vote?
Stuart:Ah, interesting. No, no, it's a bit more nefarious than that.
Rebecca:Is it releasing people from prison somehow, because there's no power to...?
Stuart:Oh, no, no, no, no. No prisons related.
Rebecca:School children back?
Stuart:If you were planning a heist, and you had a deliberate power cut as part of the heist, why would you be doing that?
Tom:You'd be turning off the security systems or causing a distraction.
Stuart:Yeah, or perhaps even simpler.
Tom:Or you'd be causing a distraction. You'd be expecting a thing. Agh!
Stuart:It's a little bit simpler than that. What else— I mean... When you turn the power off, what happens at night?
Tom:It goes dark.
Stuart:Exactly. So what could you potentially do under darkness?
Karen:Could you rig the ballot boxes?
Stuart:Not rigging the ballot boxes.
Tom:Oh, wait!
Stuart:Not quite.
Tom:Is it just that there was a group who didn't want people to vote? And—
Stuart:No, no. These people definitely wanted people to vote.
Rebecca:Is it somehow like people who couldn't be seen by other people? Like... They weren't allowed to be looked upon by other people or something?
Stuart:No, nothing like that. Far simpler and far more naughty.
Rebecca:Sex workers?
Stuart:Not quite that naughty. Not in that sense at least. Say you were going for parliament. "Oh, I need Stuart's vote. How could I get him to vote for me?" What's the most base human thing you could do?
Tom:Wait, you're— What?
SFX:(group laughing)
Stuart:Think it through. Think it through.
Tom:It's easier?
Rebecca:You bribe...
Tom:It's easier to bribe someone if the power's off?
Stuart:Yep. Because if the power's off, nobody can see who you're bribing. Or who is getting the bribes.
Tom:You had to walk us through that from start to finish.
Rebecca:I'm so confused.
Stuart:It was not an easy one, was it? Basically the idea was when it's completely dark, the political representatives could walk from house to house, giving the bribes to everyone who would sell their vote. Which apparently vote bribing is a serious problem in India for some time, yeah.
Tom:This is our second India bribery question on this show!
Stuart:(cackles) Somebody wants to draw attention to this problem.
Stuart:And funnily enough, when the elections are over, the power cuts just stop.
Rebecca:You know what, I think it's a good thing that none of us got that question. It shows that we are pure of heart, and not nefarious, and would not take a bribe.
Stuart:Absolutely. So basically, yeah. Bribery has been a major problem in Indian elections for some time, and there's various ways they've been distributing bribes.

In the Sivaganga district, an opposition candidate left people's money at the local grocery store, so that you could literally grab your bribe at the same time as you did your shopping, on the way out. Subtlety was not particularly part of this.

And voters in South Chennai have reported that there's DoorDash-style food delivery couriers that just distribute cash alongside the food orders.
Tom:Next question is from me. And actually it's another listener question. Thank you to Deniz Montagner.

In 1903, a movie director was in a hurry to have his films developed and distributed before they were pirated. Two of his short films were able to be converted into 3D decades later. How was that possible?

I'll give you that one more time.

In 1903, a movie director was in a hurry to have his films developed and distributed before they were pirated. Two of his short films were able to be converted into 3D decades later. How was that possible? I'm gonna start you off by saying this: This did not require advanced computer generated trickery for 3D conversion.
Stuart:I think I know this one. From what you've said.
Stuart:So I'm gonna sit out like a good boy.
Tom:Yep, that's how it works. You take the backseat. Karen and Becky, this one's for you.
Karen:Okay, so... The area that my mind first goes to is that I believe that in the cult classic, The Room, they filmed with a digital camera right next to a film camera. So could he have just filmed with two film cameras, literally side by side, and then they could take those two film reels and put them on top of each other to make a 3D image?
Tom:Yes. Yeah, yes, that is the correct answer.
Rebecca:I was gonna say, I thought you needed three cameras for 3D. 'Cause I thought you needed, when you take glasses off in a 3D movie, which I do all the time, 'cause I'm obsessed with knowing what it looks like without the glasses. There's always the main image, and then there's a blue one over here, and then a red one over here. So I always thought that you needed three images. But this was just two?
Tom:Yeah, you only need two cameras for 3D: Left eye and right eye. Particularly if you're doing the modern techniques that aren't blue and red, where you're just sending a different image to each eye. Yeah, you need two cameras about an eyes' distance apart. And yeah, you're absolutely right, Karen. You've got most of it there. He filmed with two cameras side to side. So I'm gonna just change the question slightly. Why might he have done that? Why might that have helped him get his films developed and distributed before they were pirated?
Karen:How would filming it twice prevent piracy? Could he have sent one reel off to get developed really quickly, while the other one was still filming? But if they're filming them at the same time—
Rebecca:My brain went to, yeah. Well, if they filmed it at the same time, which presumably they have to, to get the 3D image, my brain went to, like, there's one of the cameras that he's filming on is the actual true movie that will be distributed in cinemas, and the other one... is a catch to be like, "Oh, I can tell that's a pirate version because it's come from this camera, that wasn't the official one that went to cinema?
Tom:Oh, that would be really clever. So you have various scenes that look—
Karen:It's the paper town of film reels.
Tom:Yeah, or those internal corporate memos, that get, when someone leaks it, like, "Oh no, we changed the punctuation or we made a typo here, that's different in each version we sent it to." And so we—
Rebecca:Oh, it's Coleen Rooney all over again.
Tom:That's a reference that will not land for a lot of the audience, but I enjoyed it. That would be a really clever thing, to splice in different shots for each distributor. But in this case, it was to get things out in a hurry before they were pirated. Bear in mind, this is 1903 film piracy.
Stuart:So was he just hedging his bets? So, I've got two copies of the film. I'm gonna send 'em off to two different labs, and see which one comes back the quickest?
Tom:That's actually fairly close. This is director Georges Méliès in 1903. Where might those labs have been?
Rebecca:Ooh, that's not— Okay I was gonna say it was a different frame rate, but where would the labs have been? Where was Kodak's labs? Anybody got any ideas? Presumably he was filming in California? Was like—
Stuart:He was French, so...
Rebecca:Oh yeah.
Stuart:I dunno, yeah.
Tom:It's more like big picture, where would these have been sent? Just in terms of like... Who would've been— Where would these have been sent to be produced and then distributed?
Rebecca:Like MGM or Universal?
Stuart:It kind of predates that a bit, doesn't it?
Rebecca:Does it?
Stuart:Did he just send one to America and kept one in France?
Tom:Yes, you're absolutely right. In order to speed things up, he took two shots at the same time, sent one to the laboratories in Europe, the other one to America. That way it couldn't be leaked, passed on, forwarded to America, because they got it as fast as Europe did. Barring the shipping delay. Literally the shipping delay. Yeah, you're absolutely right. Georges Méliès tried to defeat movie pirates by filming his scenes with two separate cameras at the same time. And many years later, someone realised that that basically means you've got a stereo picture with just a little bit of work.

So our last guest question of the day comes from Becky. Whenever you're ready, take it away.
Rebecca:Sure. Alright, last question.

It's 8 inches wide by 10.75 inches high. Which is what, 20 centimetres by 27 centimetres? It's usually red, and if not, it's usually a big deal. What is it?

I'll repeat the question.

It's 8 inches wide by 10.75 inches high. It's usually red, and if it's not, it's usually a big deal. What is it?
Stuart:Yeah, I'm trying to imagine that.
Tom:And I'm trying to come up with something that isn't an innuendo, so.
Rebecca:I was like, it's eight inches wide, like what?
Tom:Circumference or...
SFX:(Stuart and Rebecca laughing)
Rebecca:Yeah. 20 centimetres by 27 centimetres, yeah.
Tom:Oh that is almost an A4. 'Cause A4 is 21 by 28, I think. So yeah, it's about that size. He says holding up a piece of paper in a radio show, sorry.
SFX:(Stuart and Rebecca laughing)
Tom:So yeah, it's about A4 size, more or less.
Stuart:So it's something for keeping paper in probably, like a briefcase or something? No, not the budget briefcase in the UK. The red briefcase
Tom:The red box.
Stuart:the Chancellor brings out, yes.
Karen:So I'm gonna think super laterally here. She didn't say it's usually the color red. Could it be R-E-A-D, as if it is an item that is read, like a newspaper?
Tom:Oh, I hope that's right.
Rebecca:It is not, it is the colour red.
Rebecca:However, I do like your thinking.
Tom:Oh, that was genius, Karen.
Stuart:So it's a red box about the right size to hold paper.
Tom:I can't hear you say red box without thinking about Julian Clary. Sorry. Carry on.
Stuart:(laughs) My god. That's a throwback.
Tom:Yeah, it is!
Karen:I don't think we said it was a box, did we?
Stuart:I think it sounds like a briefcase.
Tom:I was thinking it was a cylinder. Because we've only, we've got a width and we've got a height. We haven't got a depth. So in my head, it's a cylinder.
Stuart:Oh. That's interesting. I was thinking of the Chancellor's red briefcase from... 'cause people make a fuss if they don't use the red briefcase when it's shown publicly.
Karen:So I was also thinking of the phrase, 'big deal.' Are we using that in the traditional sense as it's important, or are we talking about a poker hand as a deal?
Tom:You've got the hang of this quiz, Karen. You've absolutely got the hang of it.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Find any technicality in the question and go for it.
Stuart:I'm thinking of Deal or No Deal now, with calling the banker, yeah.
Tom:Yeah, so am I. It's about the right size for those boxes as well.
Stuart:And they're red.
Rebecca:No, we're talking about 'big deal' in the sense of it's an occasion. When this is not red, it's a big occasion.
Tom:So what else, is it like a green light or something like that? Or red light that gets changed to green or... Why might you repaint something for an occasion? Like a visit from a head of state, a...
Stuart:Small red flag? (snickers) I don't know. Where would you use a small... That seems unlikely.
Rebecca:So yeah, I think instead of boxes and whatever else we were thinking, it was briefcases. You weren't too far away, Tom, when you were thinking it was a size of a piece of paper.
Tom:Alright. Is it a piece of paper? Just to ask, is it a piece of paper?
Rebecca:No, it's not a piece of paper.
Rebecca:It's not a piece of paper. But it's been around since 1927.
Karen:So it's definitely not going to be when Tom Scott doesn't wear a red shirt.
Tom:That's fair.
SFX:(others giggling)
Tom:That's fair.
Rebecca:That was amazing. That was beautiful.
Tom:Also, I am not 8 inches wide and 10.75 inches high!
Rebecca:I didn't wanna say.
Stuart:Is that true? I'm gonna measure the monitor. Hang on.
Tom:And I feel like that's gonna get taken outta context.
Rebecca:On the average TV screen that people watch YouTube on, Tom Scott is 8 inches wide by 10 inches high.
Tom:So... a red card in soccer. A red... It's—
Rebecca:I would love it if they were that big.
Tom:As I said that, I realised quite how silly that would look. Particularly 'cause they've gotta keep them in their pocket. So like—
Rebecca:Alright, how about this? The first time it was not red was 2001.
Karen:So from 1927 to 2001, it was red the entire time?
Tom:I mean, my brain just went to September 11th, 'cause I was thinking what happened in 2001?
Tom:So... What would that have changed though since 1927? The light at the top of the Empire State Building, the...
Stuart:I mean, it can't be anything you write on particularly, 'cause red would make it very hard to actually read what you've written.
Tom:What else happened in 2001 that this might be signifying?
Rebecca:No, you're right with September 11th.
Tom:Okay. What chang— Has it happened again since?
Rebecca:It's happened five— four times since September 11th.
Tom:So it's something that happens... at a major... national emergency or a big event that needs to be commemorated?
Karen:Yeah, you would think for a big emergency, something would turn red. It wouldn't turn from red to something else.
Tom:So what— I'm thinking like after September 11th, the Eiffel Tower was lit up in different colours. The... It's something that we're all missing that's really obvious! That gets changed to commemorate a thing.
Rebecca:It's quite iconic.
Tom:Oh, the audience are gonna be screaming at us. There's something obvious that gets changed as a tribute to something else, and I just can't...
Rebecca:Here's another clue then. It's something that appears on a weekly basis. Or it used to be weekly.
Tom:Oh, it's the top of a magazine. Like the...
Stuart:(deep gasp)
Tom:Like the headline, the heading of The Sun newspaper or something like that. The masthead, that's the word.
Tom:But it's not The Sun, it's...
Rebecca:Think American.
Karen:Could it be Time magazine? Like the cover of Time?
Rebecca:Karen, you've got it.
Tom:The red border!
Rebecca:The red border on Time magazine.
Rebecca:Yeah. The red border on the Time magazine is 8 inches wide by 10.75 inches high. And it's usually red, but there have been five times that it has not been red. Would you like to hear those five times?
Rebecca:I feel like now we kind of have to.
Tom:Lighthearted moment then, let's name some tragedies. COVID?
SFX:(others wheezing)
Rebecca:Thankfully they're not all tragedies.
Rebecca:So the first time it was changed was a black border on September 11th. Which was a 36 hours after the disaster issue. The second time it was changed was from a happy reason. It was green, a green border for Earth Day in April 2008. Then in September 2011, a silver border for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. And then December 31st, 2012, a silver border for Barack Obama's Person of the Year issue. And then November 28th, 2016, a red circle around a camera to celebrate an issue of the 100 most influential photos of all time.
Tom:Break the tradition once. It just all goes out the window.
Rebecca:Yep. The thing that was 8 inches wide by 10.75 inches high that's usually red is the red frame around the cover of Time magazine.
Tom:Which brings us to the question I asked the audience at the very start:

Why did the writer George Bernard Shaw call his garden shed London?

Before I give 'em the answer, any guesses from the panel?
Stuart:'Cause it was expensive and filthy.
Rebecca:Because it burnt down?
Stuart:(belly laughs)
Rebecca:"We had a great fire in it."
Tom:No, it was so when unwanted visitors called, his staff could say, "I'm terribly sorry, Mr. Shaw is in London today."

So with that, thank you very much to all our guests. Let's find out what's going on with them. Stuart, pitch your stuff. What have you got going?
Stuart:Well, all you need to do is Google Ashens, A-S-H-E-N-S, and you'll find all my things. If you like, you can also watch our last feature film, Ashens and the Polybius Heist. It's 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. What more do you want? You can Google it and get it in various places.
Tom:Karen, what have you got going on?
Karen:Well I just released my first ever jigsaw puzzle in partnership with Ravensburger. It is called Puzzles on Puzzles, and is available on Amazon. And if you wanna learn more about jigsaw puzzles, you can follow me on YouTube at @karenpuzzles.
Tom:Becky, go for it.
Rebecca:I make a weekly video about all things in space, from obviously an astrophysicist perspective. Sort of, what are me and my colleagues excited about now? That's on my YouTube channel @drbecky. And then also I have a book out on my sort of personal favourite thing in space, which is black holes, A Brief History of Black Holes, using the history of science to help understand these little enigmas.
Tom:And if you wanna know more about this show or send in a question yourself, you can do that at You can find us at @lateralcast on pretty much everything, and you can catch video highlights at Thank you very much to Stuart Ashen.
Stuart:Thank you.
Tom:Thank you very much to Karen Kavett.
Karen:Thank you.
Tom:And to Becky Smethurst.
Rebecca:Thank you.
Tom:That's been Lateral. We'll see you next time.
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