Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 34: Six unnecessary doorknobs

Published 2nd June, 2023

Melissa Fernandes, Sabrina Cruz and Taha Khan from 'Answer in Progress' face questions about generous grades, delayed days and spacious sidewalks.

HOST: Tom Scott. QUESTION PRODUCER: David Bodycombe. RECORDED AT: Podcasts NZ Studios. EDITED BY: Julie Hassett at The Podcast Studios, Dublin. MUSIC: Karl-Ola Kjellholm ('Private Detective'/'Agrumes', courtesy of ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS: Lewis Tough, Arun Uttamchandani, Phil, Joey R., Leonard. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:According to scientists at a Dresden university, what type of wave travels at 12 metres per second, regardless of altitude? The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

We've got a wonderful set of guests on today's show, which means that either I have very good producers and guest bookers, or we're very good at blackmail. Because returning for another episode, we have the team from Answer in Progress. And we start today with Taha Khan.
Taha:Tom does have blackmail on me.
Tom:(wheezes) The thing is...
Taha:Can confirm.
Tom:Just a moment there... For a moment, I went, "Do I?"
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:'Cause we filmed before. I'm like, "Did I accidentally— Have I got— Have I got footage of Taha somewhere kicking a kitten? I don't think so!"
Sabrina:Just admitting he did tax fraud.
SFX:(both laugh)
Tom:And also not admitting she did tax fraud, Sabrina Cruz.
Sabrina:Well, you have the footage now.
SFX:(both laugh)
Tom:And finally, also not committing tax fraud, which may be the best introduction I've given anyone, Melissa Fernandes.
Melissa:Hello. I hope I'm not committing tax fraud?
Sabrina:You can only hope.
SFX:(group giggling)
Tom:There was too—
Sabrina:You can never be truly certain.
Tom:There was too much of a question mark on that sentence, Melissa. But I don't also don't wanna draw too much attention to that, because I don't want the tax authorities to suddenly surprise you with that.
Tom:The questions on the show are like a box of chocolates. You'll never know what you're gonna get. But most of them have hard centres, and there's one or two in the set that you're really not gonna like. We start with this:

At the 1912 Olympic Games, the final of the Men's Greco-Roman Wrestling 'Middleweight B' event resulted in no gold medal being awarded. What happened?

I'll say that again.

At the 1912 Olympic Games, the final of the Men's Greco-Roman Wrestling 'Middleweight B' event resulted in no gold medal being awarded. What happened?
Sabrina:They were doing Greco-Roman wrestling in 1912?
Tom:It was the Olympics. That's kinda their theme.
Sabrina:They ran out of oil.
SFX:(guests snickering)
Taha:The only thing I know about Greco-Roman wrestling, I know from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. So...
Taha:That's where my knowledge is at.
Sabrina:What did you learn? That's more than what I have.
Taha:I learned that they do it in schools in America.
Sabrina:Wait, is Greco-Roman wrestling just wrestling?
Tom:So it is not your WWE style professional wrestling. No one's gonna—
Sabrina:No, I'm talking about wrestling.
Tom:Yeah, wres—
Sabrina:The unitard?
Tom:Yeah, wrestling-wrestling, as American high schools would know it. That is Greco-Roman wrestling.
Tom:I might be saying Greek-o, and I think I've just realised it's probably Greck-o? I've only just realised that. So I apologise to ancient Greece.
Taha:I'm sure they'll appreciate the apology. Okay, so the things in the question that I've immediately... zoned in on... is the 'B', yeah.
Sabrina:What's the B? The class B.
Taha:Yeah. So...
Taha:There's a B.
Sabrina:It feels like it was an event that— So did the event run?
Sabrina:So there was a silver medal?
Tom:Yes, there was.
Taha:Okay, so there was a silver. 'Cause I was gonna say, if it's the B one, maybe it's just like... They're just the B team. It doesn't count? They just sort of come along.
SFX:(others cracking up)
Melissa:You don't get gold.
Sabrina:(laughs) Yeah, you just do it for fun. It's the fun version of the Olympics.
Taha:Does B mean they've— it's like the runners up, like you get knocked out? I don't actually know what the structure or the format is, but is it a double elimination bracket kind of thing? So you can't go for gold if you lost once, but you can go for silver?
Tom:In this case, no, it's a category. I actually don't know specifically what the category is, but it is some category of wrestling that would be eligible for a gold medal.
Sabrina:Can you tie in wrestling?
Tom:Now that's an interesting question.
Melissa:That we're not getting an answer to.
Sabrina:What if they knocked each other out though? You know, like true WWE style?
Sabrina:Twin clothesline, let's go.
Taha:I had a more morbid answer, which is... did they both die in the ring?
Tom:It is not that morbid.
Taha:It's not that morbid.
Melissa:Okay, wait. I wanna wipe this answer off of the possibilities. They didn't run out of gold?
Tom:Oh no. There would've been a gold medal. You are actually moving away a little. You are a lot closer with tying. But how does a wrestling event end in a tie?
Sabrina:Did they both give up at the same time? And it was an act of, "We're both going for silver," you know? 'Cause you could tap out of a wrestling match.
Taha:What if none of them tapped out? What if it's the opposite? The match just went on and on until they were just like, "Alright guys, I want to go home. And we gotta lock up."
Sabrina:"It's over, bro."
Taha:It's over.
Taha:They were just stubborn.
Tom:It took nine hours to get to that point.
Sabrina:Stop it.
Melissa:Nine hours of wrestling?
Tom:Nine hours of Greco-Roman wrestling.
Taha:The caretaker was like, "Alright, we have to wrap up."
Tom:Yeah, the Olympic rule is that for a gold medal, you must have defeated your opponent.
Taha:And so how did they end?
Tom:So they couldn't have a joint winner... but you could have two joint second places. You had two joint silver medals in a wrestling match that went nine hours long.
Taha:So you're telling me, so after the ninth hour, they had to... they had to basically, end the match. But clearly these two people are gunning for gold. So in my mind, the two wrestlers are in the ring, and then the other— the administrators are like, "Great, it's the end of the match." And they're like, "No, we're gonna continue fighting." So then they have to wrestle—
Sabrina:So they keep going!
Taha:They have to wrestle the wrestlers out of the ring. They're like, "Lemme at 'em, lemme at 'em!"
Sabrina:"Hold me back. Hold me back." What I'm imagining is like, you know how in wrestling— this is sad that it's on a video podcast— but I just imagined they were doing this for nine hours.
Taha:They weren't touching each other. They were just sort of prowling the ring. I love that.
Tom:I have a quote here directly from the Olympic official at the time. "They, Ahlgren and Bohling, proved to be such masters of technique and possessed such abnormal bodily strength that after the contest had been carried on for no less than nine hours, and after the fruitless application of the special regulations made for such cases, the match had to be declared a draw." So they had contingency plans. And they were just, nope, we cannot separate these people. Possibly literally. So we are declaring it to draw and giving them both silver medals.
Taha:It is incredible to be described as having like, I don't know what they said, but like remarkable physical abilities and then still just only be given a silver.
Sabrina:Also, what does— This might not be interesting, but why was nine hours the cutoff? Why was that when they were like, this is enough now.
Tom:I think it may literally have been closing time for the arena.
Tom:Yes, there was no gold medal awarded in 1912 for that particular bit of wrestling, because there was no clear victor.

Melissa, first guest question of the show goes to you. Whenever you're ready.
Melissa:Alright, so this listener question has been sent in by Joey R. from Dallas. Alright, the question is:

Between 1960 and 1975, the number of 'D' and 'F' grades awarded at US colleges and universities halved. During the same period, 'A' grades doubled in number, then dropped back somewhat. How did researchers explain this?

So one more time.

Between 1960 and 1975, the number of 'D' and 'F' grades awarded at US colleges and universities halved. During the same period, 'A' grades doubled the number, then dropped back somewhat. How did researchers explain this?
Sabrina:To clarify, you're saying "D and", like "ampersand, F"? Not "DNF"?
Tom:Oh, yeah, DNF. It's not "did not finish". It's D grades and F grades.
Tom:Does the US have E grades? Is that a thing, or do they just go A, B, C, D, fail?
Sabrina:No, there's no E grade. I think that they took it out because it could be confused with E for excellent.
Tom:I think... I don't know this, but I don't wanna immediately give an answer, but those dates mean something... and I think I can work it out. So I'm gonna let Gen Z just take a couple of stabs at this first.
Taha:The entire generation.
Melissa:All of us.
Sabrina:So '60 to '75.
Sabrina:That was it.
Melissa:Yeah, yeah.
Sabrina:And specifically America.
Sabrina:What happened in the '60s?
Taha:I'm so bad with dates.
Melissa:What world events—
Tom:Oh, yeah, we've got one Canadian and one Brit.
Tom:Asking about American history in the mid 20th century. This is...
Sabrina:I mean, Canadians have no choice but to learn about American history.
Tom:We have no choice but to learn about American history! I learned about the American westward expansion and the Wild West in my history class in the '90s in Britain! But that's the whole American soft power thing right there. Did we learn about colonialism? Absolutely not.
Taha:It's kinda like, there were kings and queens. And then, hey, should we learn about America now?
Tom:Yeah... yeah.
Sabrina:This— I don't know when the Cold War was. I know that it was after World War II, and then it just kind of whispered away. So I don't know if it has anything to do with war.
Taha:When was World War II?
Sabrina:It ended in the '4— in '45.
Tom:'39 to '45, Taha. It's a little early for that.
Taha:Yeah, the dates I'm not good at. I'm not good with dates. But that's good to know. So it's after that. Civil rights. I'm just naming things that happened. Civil rights.
Taha:Women's suffrage.
Tom:Women's suffrage was I think also a little bit earlier than '60 to '75.
Melissa:It was before. You gotta figure out what in the world was happening between 1960–1975. I can't tell you what was happening, but something significant was happening in the world at that time that we should, that we need to... remember. That's relevant.
Sabrina:Radio? No, radio was already a thing. TV?
Sabrina:TikTok, was TikTok out then?—
Taha:TikTok, I think yeah.
Sabrina:Would've been back then.
Tom:You were a lot closer with wars.
Sabrina:The moon landing. The space race.
Sabrina:'69. Da' moon. I don't know—
Melissa:What are the Americans thinking about?
Sabrina:The Americans were thinking about space, right?
Melissa:That's true. Let's—
Sabrina:They took all of the—
Taha:So it's not space.
Melissa:Okay, so... let's step... Let's take a step back from thinking about history. Why do you think the grades might have changed?
Sabrina:It's interesting that it was D and F, and then going straight to As.
Taha:So my obvious— this is the obvious one, right? It's literally the bell curve, right? So it's like they went from grading just on pure... you know, thresholds, 40% is a fail, to grading on a curve. And that's why you just saw everything shift to people getting more positive marks. And then they sort of get normalised again as people got better at doing curves.
Melissa:Okay, yeah. You're on the right track. You're on the right track.
Melissa:What would— How would students feel...?
Melissa:Or why would students—
Taha:This is a classic—
Melissa:Why would students care about it?
Taha:Yeah, this is a classic. Basically, they were like—
Melissa:Why would the professors care about something like that?
Taha:I'm with you. Okay, so here's what happened. Let me tell you a story. Students before—
Taha:Beforehand, students were like, "Oh yes, okay, 40% is a fail or whatever." And then they were like, "Hey, let's grade things on a curve." So the professors and the faculty were all like, "Let's grade things on a curve. 'Cause we need to standardise across different years and different tests and all of that stuff." So then the students were like, "Oh my god, we all got As. Wahoo!" And then the people from the year above were like, "Hang on. We just had to... If I was just one year below, then I would've been— That's not right."
Tom:The old guy in the room is gonna come in with a bit of history knowledge. I'm pretty sure those are the dates of the Vietnam War. Or close to it.
Taha: Ah.
Melissa:That is correct. They are the dates of the Vietnam War.
Taha:Was that a draft? I think it was a draft. Because Muhammad Ali did not want to fight in that war. So all of the... men... went to Vietnam? I don't know why I said 'men' in question marks. Did they exist? I don't know. They went to Vietnam. So then the grades went up.
Sabrina:Well, was it so that you couldn't go? Okay, I'm curious if it was just like... their grades were adjusted and inflated to make it easier for them to get drafted.
Sabrina:Or they left. And so then the grades got higher.
Taha:'Cause the silly men left. They weren't distracting anymore.
Sabrina:(giggles) Yeah, that feels less realistic versus— 'Cause the thing is the jump from D and F to A. It seems quite drastic.
Taha:I think they wanted people to graduate so they can go off to war maybe. Or it could be a scholarship type situation, like they sometimes do where it's like, "Oh, we just need people to get through this." Or they need to get an A to be drafted or something.
Sabrina:Oh, you need a high school education to go to war.
Tom:I actually had the opposite thought, which is that the professors were trying to protect some of their students. Because if they failed them out of college, they would be drafted.
Tom:But both of those explanations work.
Melissa:So the professors didn't want to lose their students. You're right. That's why they...
Tom:So they made sure if they gave them too many Ds or Fs, they could drop outta college, they'd be drafted, they'd be sent off to Vietnam. And instead, they kept them in.
Sabrina:Truly, I have no concept of the draft.
SFX:(others laughing)
Sabrina:Or history.
Melissa:Yeah. I didn't mean, "Yeah, you don't have any concept of history." That's not what I was agreeing to!
Taha:No, yeah. You're right.
Sabrina:You're right.
Taha:You should say it. We have no concept of history. I asked when World War II was twice in two episodes, I think.
Tom:(laughs uproariously)
Melissa:Yeah, so teachers didn't want their students to leave to go get drafted in the war. So they inflated their grades so they would stay in school, and not flunk out and get drafted to go to war.
Tom:Next question's from me. Good luck with this one.

The famously wide pavements of the North and South Parades in Bath, England also explain why the pipe organ in St Paul's Cathedral didn't sound as good in the mid-19th century. How?

I'll say that again.

The famously wide pavements of the North and South Parades in Bath, England also explain why the pipe organ in St Paul's Cathedral didn't sound as good in the mid 19th century. How?
Sabrina:What is the North and South Parades?
Taha:Probably just roads.
Tom:They're some very wide streets.
Sabrina:Oh, okay. (giggles)
Sabrina:I was imagining inflatable Snoopy.
Taha:Oh, like a Macy Parade?
Sabrina:Not— Snoopy isn't the name, is it?
Taha:Snoopy's the dog from the thing.
Sabrina:What is the dog?
Tom:Are you talking about the Macy's Parade where they have a load of balloons that go through New York?
Sabrina:This is my only knowledge of parades.
Tom:Okay. Parade is also a word that can be used instead of road or street or something like that these days.
Taha:It's like promenade. Same energy.
Sabrina:But it's a different word.
Sabrina:(cracks up)
Taha:Can confirm.
Sabrina:Okay. So wide streets. Is it hilly? I don't know.
Sabrina:What is the geography there like?
Taha:Yeah, I went to Bath when I was eight. Let me think. I don't remember. Hope this helps.
Sabrina:Are there baths in Bath?
Taha:There are, I think Roman baths. But maybe other empires are also available. Yeah, I think— I mean, is it to do with Roman baths and the Romans building the roads wide?
Tom:No, not in this case. We're looking for a reason that the pavements were wide that would also explain why a cathedral organ wouldn't sound as good.
Taha:Okay, so pavements being wide.
Tom:Yeah, in the mid-19th century.
Taha:Yeah, I'm using 'road' and 'pavement' interchangeably, which might actually be a problem. Because the pavements were wide where people walk.
Tom:Oh yeah, that is 'sidewalk' to North Americans, isn't it?
Taha:Yes, actually, you're right.
Sabrina:So, wait, I'm lost. I've been misplaced in this conversation. Are we talking about a place where humans walk?
Tom:Yes. This is wide sidewalks and...
Tom:an organ that doesn't sound as good in the mid-19th century. What was the reason for both?
Sabrina:I wonder if it's... if something was made poorly on purpose, or if it's the acoustics. Like, eh, or if it's something about rock. Something about the rock is weird. (chuckles)
Taha:I mean, Bath and— St Paul's is in London, and Bath is not London.
Sabrina:Oh, is it not in the same location?
Taha:No. Yeah, sorry. I'm like, there's all these things that I just know that I'm not sharing. I guess, okay— So the only thing I can think is... Did they make the organ in Bath and then walk it to London? That sounds crazy.
Taha:That doesn't feel right. (snickers) No offense.
Sabrina:That doesn't feel right. (chuckles)
Tom:You actually gave a little bit of a hint yourself there, Taha, with promenade.
Melissa:Walking, dancing?
Tom:Walking. Promenading is walking.
Taha:Walking, yeah.
Tom:And specifically, it's walking to show yourself off. It's a fashionable activity back then that you would be walking.
Sabrina:So did they try and show off this organ? They were like, "Woo-hoo-hoo, look at this. This is a wide street."
Tom:No, the organ never made it to Bath. This is just two things with the same reason.
Sabrina:Are they connected to one another?
Taha:No. I mean, no. St Paul's is in London. Bath is a different town.
Sabrina:But the idea of having it, the thing made in one place and moved to another. That would seem to, they share a single cause. There's a cause and effect relationship. Or is it like a single cause has affected both of these things?
Tom:No, same cause, two effects.
Tom:Wide pavements in Bath and a church organ that didn't sound as good.
Sabrina:Does the church organ... If the street was wide to account for... a lot of people, or to show something off, was it like the organ was designed to look good? It was structured to look good, but it wasn't the ideal acoustic structuring? You know?
Tom:The first half of that's about right. The streets were made wide to show something off, or to account for people showing something off.
Melissa:Showing something off...
Taha:Whenever I think of a promenade, for some reason, I think of parasols. I'm just saying that... to see if that does anything.
Sabrina:So you don't run into other people. You need a lot of, you need a wide berth.
Taha:There's, you know, it's like you take up a lot more space as just than one human. And so, with a parasol. So maybe you're just taking up a lot of space in the— on the pavement. And so if you were in St Paul's Cathedral... you'd take up a lot of space...
Tom:You are so nearly there. It's not a parasol, but you've got pretty much the rest of that right.
Taha:They were—
Sabrina:A horse. Sorry. (wheezes)
Tom:It's the mid-19th century.
Taha:Mid-19th century. Is this—
Sabrina:I didn't know what happened in the '60s! Sorry.
Tom:(laughs) Oh yeah. We have put two history questions back to back here, haven't we for Gen Z? Alright, fine.
Sabrina:A car?
Taha:Is this...
Sabrina:When were cars?
Taha:Is this during the Industrial Revolution? Is that this time period? Am I wrong?
Tom:Yeah, yeah, around then. But we're talking about people taking up a lot of space. And honestly, with the parasol, the picture in your head you got of people walking down the street, big, bulky parasol over the shoulder.
Tom:Going out for a walk. That's the picture you need in your head for this.
Taha:So I heard once before, and I dunno how true this is, that during... Wealthy people would... Being chubby was a sign of wealth. 'Cause you could eat lots. So were rich people already chubby, so they took up more room?
Tom:They did take up more room. It wasn't them themselves.
Tom:It was also some—
Sabrina:Clothes. The big lady clothes.
Taha:Oh yeah, the big—
Sabrina:You know what I'm talking about?
Sabrina:The big— I don't know what it's called, but the thing that makes—
Taha:It's like—
Sabrina:The true slim thick.
SFX:(group laughing)
Taha:It's the lampshade that they wore as a skirt kind of vibes.
Tom:Yep. The technical term is crinoline dresses. Just those enormous, big dresses. So, that's why the pavements were built wide. Why did that also make a church organ sound worse?
Sabrina:Is it because they would be sound dampening? Like a bunch of egg cartons.
Tom:Yep, absolutely!
Taha:Are you serious?
Tom:The dresses were so big that they deadened the sound in the cathedral.
Sabrina:That's wild!
Taha:I'm going to make a suit made out of sound panels and take it to concerts. Just absorb all the sound.
SFX:(others laughing)
Melissa:Just to mess with the sound engineers.
Tom:"There's this one weird dead spot, some— I keep— It keeps moving." It's just Taha in his sound dampening suit.
Taha:I love that.
Tom:Yes, the wide pavements of Bath and the deadened church organ in the mid-19th century were both caused by crinoline dresses.

We're going to Taha for the next question. Take it away.
Taha:Okay, so this question was sent in by Phil.

There is a building in North Bend, Washington state that is frequented by locals and tourists. There is one doorknob on the outside of the entrance door, but seven doorknobs on the inside. Why?
Sabrina:(giggles) What?
Taha:So once more:

There is a building in North Bend, Washington state that's frequented by locals and tourists. There's one doorknob on the outside of the entrance door, but seven doorknobs on the inside. Why?
Melissa:Were all the elves on the inside of the building?
Tom:North Bend, Washington. I feel like I've been there at some point. Which is entirely unhelpful, because I can remember nothing else but the name North Bend. I may just have seen a sign to North Bend and thought that's a silly name.
Sabrina:(chuckles) So it's a full building. It's a straight up, for real building.
Taha:Oh, right, yes. I thought you meant it's a building that's at maximum occupancy. And I was like, I don't know.
Sabrina:Sorry, no.
Sabrina:But it's a building. It's a place. It's not just a door. It's a whole thing.
Taha:Yes. It's a real building.
Sabrina:And people go to it?
Taha:Yes, they do.
Melissa:Locals and tourists.
Taha:Well, locals and tourists go there.
Tom:Okay so is it a pub or a bar or something like that, that would mean the locals keep going back? Or a restaurant? The only reason that locals and tourists go to somewhere is if it's gonna serve food or something like that.
Melissa:Or it's just famous, no? No, actually no, right?
Taha:These are all— This is a good... area to be exploring.
Sabrina:I wonder if it's a jungle gym though. I don't know, there's something whimsical about doors and having multiple doorknobs. I think, oh, a child would find this interesting. I dunno if an adult would be like, "Ah yes, my seven doorknobs."
Melissa:It's a puzzle doorknob. A puzzle doorknob. A puzzle door.
Taha:Yeah, I think—
Sabrina:Oh, you don't know which door to leave from.
Taha:Yeah. You could describe it as a very simple puzzle.
Tom:Alright. It's not just an escape room that you need seven people to turn the right thing at the right time. Because in my head when you said this, I was like, is that something at Disneyland for the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' house?

But A: that's not in Washington.

And B: I don't think you'd need seven people to turn the door knobs at the same— That's not a great way to leave a house.
Taha:So there's nothing specific about the number seven. And I will say that only one of the doorknobs is functional.
Tom:Oh, okay.
Tom:'Cause otherwise that would probably violate fire codes to have to get seven all open at the same time.
Taha:There's six people in the house and it's just, yep.
Taha:It's just dumb.
Tom:And the thing is, my brain— And if I don't say this, every single pendant listening to this will be like, "Technically you'd only need three people if they both had two hands." But sorry, just...
SFX:(guests cracking up)
Tom:If I don't say it, then I will get angry emails. I'm not even the right person to email about things here, but they'll still send them to me.
Sabrina:How many hands do you have?
Taha:What do you mean?
Sabrina:Three people, two hands cover six knobs.
Tom:Yes, so therefore, if you only have three people, you're stuck inside. You need a fourth to get out.
Sabrina:Okay, okay.
Tom:Yep, there we go. I can just hear someone starting to type and go, "Well actually, technically."
Taha:So commenters... Hit the backspace. We got there before you.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:I feel like that's just a good guide for life, really. Commenters, hit the backspace.
Sabrina:But do all the doorknobs look the same?
Taha:They all look the same... except for... one of them.
Sabrina:The functional one?
Tom:It's definitely a pub or a restaurant or something like that. Was I right there?
Tom:And is this the exit door? Or is this some kind of challenge where if you pick the right doorknob, you get a free beer?
Taha:No, yeah, so, it was in the question. There's one on the outside of the entrance door. So it is the entrance door.
Tom:Of course, yep.
Sabrina:Was it a joke where it's just like, oh, if you get— It's to confuse you for when you're leaving the pub.
Tom:It's to confuse the devil. We've had this.
Tom:The Devil's Doorknob, which I'm pretty sure is a cave formation somewhere in Derbyshire.
Taha:So it was to confuse you. However, I don't think... You know, it's not a very confusing thing...
Tom:Unless you're drunk.
Sabrina:It's to trap people in there so they keep drinking.
Melissa:So they can't leave.
Tom:Oh, it's so you don't drink and drive! If you can't work out the doorknob, you're not— you shouldn't get your keys back.
Taha:Yeah. So you've basically got it. In that it was to check how drunk people were before they leave the bar. So yes, this is a pub called Mount Si, which opened a hundred years ago, which used a sobriety test. Which basically was if someone spends too long trying to use the wrong handle, then it was a warning sign that they might have drunk too much. So I guess it was more of a public health issue a hundred years ago, rather than drinking and driving.
Tom:Yeah, drunk in charge of a horse and carriage.
Sabrina:Interesting. Yeah, I guess it makes sense that it's not even identifying the right one. It's just like, if you're sober, you should know when a doorknob isn't real.
Taha:So there is a pub in North Bend, Washington state that uses a seven-doorknob door as a test for how drunk people are... to check if they're too drunk.
Tom:My last big question of the show then. We've got one more guest question after this, and then we've got the one I asked at the start. But my last big question is this:

Sometimes people wistfully say, "If only there were 25 hours in the day..." However, there is somewhere that you can genuinely enjoy five consecutive days of 25 hours each. Where?

So I'll give you that again.

Sometimes people wistfully say, "If only there were 25 hours in the day." However, there is somewhere you could genuinely enjoy five consecutive days of 25 hours each. Where?
Melissa:Five days.
Sabrina:Five consecutive days.
Tom:That's right. It's a question about time technicalities! This is right in my wheelhouse.
Sabrina:Somewhere near the poles, right?
Tom:It's always somewhere near the poles. It's al— not in this case, unfortunately.
Taha:I don't think it's on Earth.
Taha:I think this is Venus or... one of the other ones.
Sabrina:They already have whack hours though, right?
Taha:Yeah, but it could be like, it could spin in a way that means that there's 25 hours for five consecutive days, and then it spins out into different amount of days.
Tom:I will say the question includes the phrase 'you could genuinely enjoy', and I feel like...
SFX:(guests cracking up)
Tom:You would not be able to enjoy that for an extended period of time.
Taha:That's true.
Tom:With current technology. This is an option that is available to you now.
Taha:Oh, interesting.
Sabrina:Okay. So are we assuming it's somewhere on Earth?
Tom:I will let you have that clue immediately. This is somewhere on Earth.
Sabrina:Thank you.
Melissa:Okay. (giggles)
Taha:The thing that's perplexing me is that Tom wasn't immediately like, "Oh, I can't believe I haven't been to this place and made a video on this." So why hasn't Tom already enjoyed—
Sabrina:Let me open up YouTube.
Taha:Yeah. And why haven't I already seen this video from Tom? "I'm in a place and here's 25 hours." So that's throwing me off.
Sabrina:Yeah, I think there are two ways of tackling it, right? There's the technical definition of a day, which is a full rotation. And then the other one is just... time zones.
Sabrina:So is it a weird time zone thing?
Sabrina:I guess you don't have— You experience long days if you're on the poles, where it's just like a sun doesn't set. But if we're not accounting for that, then...
Sabrina:It's probably a time zone thing.
Taha:I feel like the time zone thing is confusing, 'cause it means that we need a time zone that would go forward and backwards in time. Or no, just forward in time? We'd have to go— You'd have to—
Sabrina:You just need an extra one.
Taha:Yeah, but you would need it five times in a day.
Melissa:Only for five days.
Sabrina:Let's imagine we are at a time zone crossing.
Sabrina:Right? So we're at one spot, how do we get— We can steal an extra hour, right? Because they increase by an hour.
Sabrina:And then they ha— It's also by daylight savings, bet.
Taha:Yeah, definitely.
Melissa:You're just hopping back and forth between the two places?
Sabrina:Because it has to be by five days, so it's limited. So you can't just keep it in perpetuity. So it has to be someplace that adopts...
Taha:So there has to—
Sabrina:daylight savings time in a quirky way.
Taha:So it would have to be a place that has four or five time zones chopping through it. And some of those time zones observe daylight savings, and some of them don't. And so you could have an environment where you could always jump to a zone for five days.
Tom:You are in the right kind of area. It is about jumping through time zones. It's not daylight savings.
Tom:In fact, daylight savings would screw this plan up. I dunno what days you get there. I don't wanna try and work it out.
Taha:Okay, but only five days.
Sabrina:So, okay. When we can enjoy it.
Sabrina:So is it a traversal? So we're limited by land then. So it's five time zones. (snickers) Like Canada. Does Canada have five? I don't know. How big is the space?
Taha:20— Wait, hang on. We don't need five time zones. Do we need five time zones? Do we not just need two time zones?
Tom:I'm gonna just read one specific bit of this question again. There is somewhere you could genuinely enjoy five consecutive days of 25 hours each.
Sabrina:But are you staying still?
Tom:And that is a really important question.
Melissa:I don't think it's possible for you to stay still.
Sabrina:I wonder if it's a cruise ship.
Tom:A minute ago you said we're limited by land here, and you're really not. So, what might this be?
Taha:Okay, so it is a five day cruise that keeps going to time zones... which add an extra hour... every day for five days, so...
Tom:Right, which means it has to be... Only one cruise in the world would do this.
Taha:Yeah, okay. You're going...
Sabrina:Disney Cruise. Sponsored.
Tom:Which way do you have to travel for this, east or west? If you're gaining time.
Taha:Oh god.
Melissa:East, right?
Sabrina:Oh, god.
Melissa:No, no, west.
Sabrina:It's this way.
Melissa:West. Yes, that way.
Sabrina:It's this way.
Taha:You have to go towards Japan. That's what I know.
Sabrina:Well, you can go...
Melissa:No, no!
Sabrina:I think it is west, right?
Tom:Yeah, you're going west.
Sabrina:They gain daylight.
Tom:You're doing five days over five time zones, westbound. So this has to be...
Taha:Atlantic... from the UK to...
Sabrina:Across... That's Pacific, no?
Taha:to New York.
Sabrina:(gasp) You're going—
Tom:Taha's got it. It is east to west, London to New York, usually on the Queen Mary II. It takes five days to travel the five time zones from the UK to Eastern Time in the US.
Taha:And so, follow-up question.
Sabrina:Very fun.
Taha:Have you made this video already?
Tom:No, and I would love an excuse to business expense a trip on the Queen Mary II. But I think that might be pushing it just a little bit.
Taha:I think I'm going to do it.
Sabrina:What's the point of having all those subscribers?
Tom:I've been wondering about that lately.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Yes, this is the Queen Mary II. It goes from Southampton to New York, and it is a seven-night cruise. But for five nights in a row, they give you one extra hour in bed. They shift the time zone, so you're already adjusted when you get to New York.

The last guest question of the show then. Sabrina, when you're ready.
Sabrina:Alright, this is a listener question that has been sent in by Leonard. Thank you, Leonard.

In the year 208, military strategist Zhuge Liang was ordered to prepare 100,000 arrows for battle. He was able to do it within three days, despite a lack of suitable materials. Instead, he used large amounts of straw, drums, and some fortunately foggy weather. How?

I'll say it again.

In the year 208, military strategist Zhuge Liang was ordered to prepare 100,000 arrows for battle. He was able to do it within three days, despite a lack of suitable materials. Instead, he used large amounts of straw, drums, and some fortunately foggy weather. How?
Taha:Did he simulate for the illusion of that many arrows by... basically throwing loads of straw, which made it seem like there's a hail of arrows, and then using drums to simulate the sound, so that the opposing team would run away or be like,
Taha:"We're being shot at too much. Oh, no."?
Sabrina:(snickers) VFX. No, he did end up with a bunch of arrows, at the end of his endeavor.
Melissa:After three days, right?
Sabrina:Three days.
Tom:I love how we've all just let 'opposing team' just sail on by there.
Taha:I don't know, what do you call them? The enemy?
Tom:Opposing army.
Taha:There you go.
Tom:The enemy.
Taha:They're a team.
Tom:I love that the word 'enemy' just did not come to your mind there, Taha. It's great.
Taha:I don't wanna attach a moral virtue to the opposing team. Maybe they were right.
Melissa:(cracks up)
Taha:I don't know who was the enemy.
Tom:You said straw, drums and fog.
Taha:The fog is throwing me off.
Tom:So there were arrows at the end of it? It wasn't just that he simulated it? That's what Taha said. I'm just stuck in my head of, "Oh yeah, they fooled the opposing army." But no, they actually did have the arrows.
Melissa:Did they have help to make this, or did they do it all by themselves?
Sabrina:You could say they had help.
Taha:Was the help the fog?
Sabrina:There were many helpful things at this moment.
Taha:Oh god, okay. Right. So if I was given some straw, drums, and a convenient fog... and tasked with making thousands of arrows... what would I do?
Melissa:You could hypnotize a crowd with the drums.
Taha:Could you?
Sabrina:Hit 'em with the vibes! (giggles)
Melissa:And force them to make you arrows. The fog. It's just a background character. You just said it to throw us off.
Tom:It's just dramatic.
Sabrina:It's a red herring.
Tom:Someone's let off a smoke machine nearby just for effect.
Taha:Okay, so you could— I could make thousands of arrows with just straw. They just wouldn't be very good.
Sabrina:They were proper, battle-ready arrows.
Melissa:What's this fog doing?
Taha:He's an expert in origami. How is he doing this?
Tom:How many drums does he have?
Taha:Wait, what is a drum?
Tom:Oh, now we're getting existential.
Taha:No, as in— 'cause you can have a—
Tom:I've seen the Aunty Donna sketch. Everything's a drum.
Taha:(laughs) But what I mean is, are we talking about a musical instrument drum? Are we talking about an oil drum type drum?
Taha:There's loads of different—
Sabrina:It was used to create sound.
Melissa:Wait, what was that drumming machine— never mind. Thinking that drumming machine. But that was a drum.
Sabrina:Mhm. I think it's worth going back to your original concepts of... illusions.
Taha:So there was an illusion, but the illusion wasn't the arrows. 'Cause the arrows were battle-ready?
Sabrina:Yes. I could say that the straw was used to copy something. It just wasn't used to copy arrows.
Melissa:Ohohoho! Wait, is it a straw man?
Sabrina:You could say that this might've been the ultimate prank.
Taha:Wait. Is it that he made— Is this the original definition of straw man? Did he make little scarecrows? And so the arrows were really tiny. And then the fog made it seem like there were loads of people with arrows.
Sabrina:You were there, and then you weren't there.
Sabrina:Melissa? (giggles)
Melissa:I was going on the same train as a scarecrow. I was like, maybe he made a big strawman. But that has nothing to do with making arrows. I don't know how the strawman... made arrows.
Sabrina:Well, you do know that they were in battle with people. There was an opposing team.
Taha:There were people. There were, yes.
Tom:Did he steal the arrows from the opposition? Did he somehow sneak in and just steal all their arrows and ended up with them?
Sabrina:I'm not gonna say he stole them.
Tom:Fooled them into giving over their arrows. Oh my g—! He set up straw men. You're right, Taha, Melissa. He set up dummies... and then he got the enemy to fire their arrows
Tom:at the dummies.
Taha:That's genius.
Tom:And just collected the arrows.
Sabrina:Yes, yeah.
Melissa:"Thank you, thank you. Thank you, that's mine."
Sabrina:"Thank you." Yeah, so basically...
Melissa:That's very funny.
Sabrina:He made human-like figures out of the straw and put them on 20 different boats. They sailed close to their enemy and feigned an attack, shouting and banging on the drums. So it was used for sound. And the enemy fired through the fog towards the ships, and their arrows lodged in the strawmen while the sailors were just hiding in the boat. So then guess what? They got the arrows.
Melissa:It's comforting to know that they didn't hypnotize the crowd with a drum.
Melissa:And forces... people to make arrows.
Sabrina:Just set a vibe. So yeah, on a foggy day he feigned an attack, enticing the enemies to fire arrows at them. Which he took.
Taha:A genius.
Tom:At the start of the show, I asked the audience:

According to scientists at a Dresden university, what kind of wave travels at 12 metres per second, regardless of altitude?

And on the call we're all on to record this, I saw a couple of faces light up. Does anyone wanna take a guess?
Taha:A greeting wave.
Sabrina:That's what I was thinking!
Tom:Oh! So... it is to do with people. It's not quite that. It's not just waving at someone.
Taha:(gasp) Ooh.
Sabrina:(gasp) It's this. It's the wave.
Tom:It's the wave.
Melissa:The crowd wave?
Tom:It is the crowd wave from stadiums. No matter the altitude, the details, anything like that, it is normally about 12 metres per second, wherever you go.
Sabrina:And it is always terrible. Never do the wave, boo! (giggles)
Tom:I disagree so strongly with that, Sabrina.
Taha:Yeah, I love the wave.
Tom:But you know what?
Melissa:It's fun to just go, "Whee!"
Tom:You know what? You have the next few seconds.

What are you doing? What's in your life? Where can people find you? And why do you hate the wave?
Sabrina:You can find us at, where we make educational videos. Potentially one day about why the wave is bad actually. But you'll need to subscribe to ever get my answer. Aha!
Melissa:I don't know why Sabrina doesn't like the wave, but... watch our silly little videos.
Tom:And Taha.
Taha:And I love the wave. I think it connects us all as humans enjoying a joyful moment in a stadium together. And you can also watch our videos, which are also about the world, and us as humans living in the world. That was a great segue. I'm really proud of that one.
Tom:And if you wanna find out more about this show, or send in a question yourself, you can do that at There are video highlights at, and we are @lateralcast pretty much everywhere.

With that, thank you very much. It is good bye from Sabrina.
Sabrina:Good bye.
Tom:From Melissa.
Tom:From Taha.
Taha:Hello once more.
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
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