Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 52: Square-eyed dogs

Published 6th October, 2023

Michelle Khare, Kip Heath and Joe Hanson face questions about far-flung flights, rapping records and odd opposites.

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


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:What is the opposite of "Always coming from take me down"?

I'll say that again.

What is the opposite of "Always coming from take me down"?

The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

Greetings, lords and ladies of the enigmatic realm. Hitherforth, as you listen to ye old conundrums of yore. Our honoured guests today all have minds as sharp as Excalibur.

And our script editor was really annoyed that I refused to read something like a pirate the other day. First of all, we have...

Returning to the show, science communicator Kip Heath!
Tom:You've been on the show a few times before. But you are with two new players today. Are you gonna pass any advice onto them, or just try and keep all the stuff you've learned for yourself?
Kip:I mean, technically I'm likely to look better if I don't pass on advice.
Michelle:Oookay. (giggles)
Kip:Let's hope there's no... this time we don't have one about the London Underground that the Londoner doesn't know.
Tom:Also... you may have just slightly activated someone I know with a very competitive instinct. Also joining us today, from her own YouTube channel, from Challenge Accepted, and from a lot of other things besides, Michelle Khare.
Michelle:Hello, everyone. And I see that Kip has set the tone for this... for this event today.
Michelle:And I'm happy to match it. Though I do not have any expert science background, so we'll see how this goes. (giggles) So, happy to be here.
Tom:You have an expert background in a lot of other things, though. What was your most recent video as we record this? You just— Was it the boxing match? There's been one since then, I think.
Michelle:Yes. So the last few episodes have been going to CSI Academy, the International Butler Academy, and training like a professional boxer.
Tom:Honestly, as someone who had a channel last year all about doing slightly weird things that are outside my comfort zone, kinda knocked me into a cocked hat there. Congratulations on going far bigger than I ever did.
SFX:(Tom and Michelle laugh)
Joe:And if you lose, you can beat someone up in a very polite fashion.
Tom:That's true. Also joining us, the third member of the panel, Joe Hanson. How are you doing?
Joe:I am almost certainly excited and a little bit nervous.
Joe:Mostly because I'm afraid I'm going to miss some British reference.
Tom:I wasn't sure how to introduce you. I was like, from science communicator, from PBS... How would you want to put yourself out there?
Joe:I'm a science storyteller, and I try to teach people things. And you can mostly do that through my YouTube channel, Be Smart.
Tom:Good luck to all three of you. Our noble quest is to joust with a handful of lateral thinking questions, and hope we don't get our head knocked off by a lance in the process. Good luck to you. We start with this:

What important procedure might involve a 5th female or a 95th male?

I'll say that again.

What important procedure might involve a 5th female or a 95th male?
Joe:Yeah, I'm trying to figure out which between the males and females is implied to be more or less important in this question.
Tom:Historically, turns out that's actually quite a thorny problem. But we'll get on to that later.
SFX:(group laughing)
Michelle:So it's something where there is an order of people.
Joe:It couldn't be just changing a lightbulb. I mean, I imagine it takes far more men to change a lightbulb than women.
SFX:(others laughing)
Kip:So is this something that's happened in historical order, for example?
Tom:Modern history, this.
Joe:What does that mean? Since the Romans?
Tom: Okay.
Tom:Maybe given my portentous medieval introduction, I might have set the tone a little bit early. Yeah, we're talking kinda 20th century here.
Kip:So we're not talking about something that's happening simultaneously? Like a very large game of football?
Tom:(chuckles) I'm gonna let y'all talk this out for a little while first.
Joe:Okay, it can't be a coincidence that these two numbers add up to 100. That seems convenient.
Tom:Yes. Talk to us about what those are. Spot the science communicator in the room.
Joe:I thought you said centaurs, and that was going to be super interesting. Centiles?
Kip:Yes, so if you put anything on a scale, like a— Percentile. So if you put anything on a scale from 1 to 100... The most common ones that I deal in, as a healthcare scientist, is sort of height or weight.
Joe:You know, I have two small children, and we're always measuring them up against graphs to see how they stack up against society. And yeah, I do see those numbers come up in there.
Tom:Yep, this is percentiles. You could also say it's the 5% female and the 95% male.
Kip:And this was something that could be improved? Sorry to go back to the original question.
Tom:An important procedure that might involve them.
Joe:Okay, so yeah, I mean, just measuring someone, like if we're height or something like that, is not really a procedure.
Joe:And I'm sure a doctor would find a way to bill for it, but...
Kip:NHS, nationalised health. But sure, go with that.
Michelle:Right, I wonder, is there something... Okay, I know this is a PG show, so maybe this isn't the right direction, but is this something about reproduction? Is this a vasectomy where it's primatily the guy's procedure, but the woman is holding her partner's hand in the room? I think that's the right answer. (giggles)
Joe:You're committing to vasectomy this early, okay.
Michelle:I'm leaning on what I can! I'm going against two experts.
Kip:Yeah, but not in the sex biz. Expert in viruses.
SFX:(Michelle and Tom laugh)
Tom:We're talking, I think as you suspected here, Joe, about the different weights and sizes. So we are talking the 5% size female and the 95% size male.
Joe:Okay, this makes me think of— I do know— Many procedures in medicine do depend on the size of the individual. I'm thinking childbirth, size of babies. But also... drugs.
Tom:It's not medical, this procedure. 'Procedure' is a very big catch-all term here that our question writers have used.
Kip:We're also taking, this is giving us 90%. If we're going with a percentile, we're getting 90% of the population.
Tom:Of the adult population, yes. You can actually get various percentages of children and elderly people and other groups for this. But the most common usage is... Oh, there's a sudden light on Joe's face there!
Joe:Okay, this is really weird, 'cause I just filmed a video that I don't know if it'll be out by the time this comes out, but... It involves... destroying things?
Tom:Yes, yes it does. Do you want to talk a little bit more about that one? 'Cause I think you might have just got it.
Joe:Okay, so... One of the ways you find out how safe things are is you wreck them. And that is done in cars. I went to a place where they do this, and they showed me crash test dummies. And what really stuck out to me was I was like, what is this one? And they were like, this is the 50th percentile male, to represent the most... you know, the median human male on earth.
Tom:5 foot 9 inches tall, 172 pounds.
Kip:(whispers) Yes!
Kip:My height is perfect for car crashes. I will take that.
Tom:And you know when I said that this historically has been quite tricky? That used to be the only model that crash test dummies were tested with. The modern standards – as I suspect you worked out, Joe – include testing with the 5% female and the 95% male to see how... different body sizes handle crash tests. You are absolutely right. They're called anthropomorphic test devices, crash test dummies.
Joe:Amazing. One of the craziest things that came up when I was filming this is that the 50th percentile male of the 1960s or 70s, when these dummies were originated is now like the 50th percentile female, because human body shapes are changing so much over time, and they can't keep up.
Kip:We're looking at global percentiles because obviously every country has its own.
Tom:Oh yes, there are a lot of variants and a lot of things around the world, but the modern procedure is apparently 5% female, 95% male.

All of our guests have brought a question with them. I don't know the question. I definitely don't know the answer, and we're going to start, I think, off that successful one with Joe. Over to you.

The Lotus Super 7 was a 'kit car' where the customers were supplied with a book of instructions and all the parts they needed to make it themselves. However, even kit cars can attract taxes when they're exported. So what did Lotus do that allowed buyers to avoid this tax?

One more time.

The Lotus Super 7 was a 'kit car' where the customers were supplied with a book of instructions and all of the parts that they needed to make it themselves. The car, not the book of instructions. However, even kit cars can attract taxes when exported. So what did Lotus do that allowed buyers to avoid this tax?
Kip:You can safely say I would never, ever get in a car that I had built.
Joe:I would never get in a car that you had built either.
Kip:Absolutely. I can't cook without going to hospital,
Tom:so really not a good idea. The trouble is that my ego would tell me absolutely I can safely put a car together if I just follow some instructions. And then I'll be driving down the highway and I'd hear a clank noise... and then I'd hit a tree.
Kip:See, it's just safer. But I am the median height for car testing, so I'm safe.
Tom:(chuckles) Yeah, you'd be fine.
Kip:So are these cars being exported before or after being put together
Joe:by more competent people than me? They are being exported as a kit, so as parts. and then a hobbyist, somebody who wants to make a car would build this in their own garage or shed.
Tom:There's an old story from, I think it was the '80s or early '90s. It's not about kit cars, but about cryptography in the US.

It was illegal to export any software that had encryption that was too strong... because it was classified as munitions. Just the algorithms were classified as like weapons. So, someone got around that by printing out... the source code as books... and then claiming it was First Amendment protected speech, and that they could export that.

I think it never actually got resolved in court. It was just this clever little hack that someone did. And there's ways to get around export and tax regulations that involve just changing what the government thinks something is.
Joe:So you're saying the Lotus Super 7 was a deadly weapon.
Tom:I don't know how fast it goes. I mean, I've hung out with anti-car enthusiasts. Any car's a deadly weapon if you just point it in the wrong direction.
Joe:I mean, particularly this one. It's being built by someone who's not a professional car builder.
Kip:So, I've had this probably way off-base, but we used to have these magazines, and every week or month, you would buy one, and it would be a new part of something that you would design. Are they doing it that way? 'cause most taxes have an exemption limit. But they're sending the car one piece at a time. And there's a Johnny Cash song about that one.
Tom:Is there?
Joe:♪ One piece at a time ♪ Oh, we're not gonna sing that. We're gonna get—
Kip:We're not gonna sing it.
Joe:We can't get this copyright strike.
Kip:But, he works in a car factory, and he steals the car one piece at a time from the car factory. It's a great song.
Joe:They didn't all happen to be from the same car, unfortunately. Great song. Do check it out. So I can say that exporting the components, the stuff that the car is made of, was not really the issue. So they didn't have a problem sending you all of the pieces. That wasn't behind the tax issue.
Kip:The screws to put them together?
Joe:They actually only used glue. Shockingly enough. No, that's not true.
SFX:(group snickering)
Michelle:Oh my god.
Tom:You can't say stuff like that in your authoritative voice, Joe! We believe it!
Joe:This is one of the tricks of science. If you just say something authoritatively enough... unfortunately, people will believe it.
Tom:Thank you, replication crisis.
Michelle:Is it something with how the parts were classified? Rather than calling them car parts, for example, maybe it was just called here's a stack of metal with a book? You can't tax that this time because we don't tax metal.
Joe:They definitely still viewed the box of things that could become a car, as a car. So that's what led to the issue of it being taxed as an export. It's still a manufactured thing because you wouldn't be carving out your own engine. You're getting a bunch of individually manufactured things that you have to put into a super-manufactured thing.
Tom:Tax authorities tend to be very good at dealing with both the letter and the spirit of the law at the same time somehow.
Kip:Was it too small to be a standard car? Was it tiny?
Joe:The Lotus Super 7 was tiny. Partially for shipping, partially because of the history of Lotus, the car company. But it sort of looks like a go-kart that got really fancy. But that... also is not why. It wasn't really about the type of car that it is either. That— In how they got around this issue.
Tom:They just made the book of instructions look like an IKEA catalogue and exported it as furniture.
Joe:(snickers) Then no one ever would have been able to figure out how to build it.
Joe:Get that frustrated guy in there with just one screwdriver.
Michelle:I was just gonna say, I think that the book seems to be very important here. Does that qualify it as a toy? Or an educational tool instead of... recreational?
Joe:You are on the right track thinking about... the book, the instructions... in how this problem was solved.
Kip:Tom said about IKEA, IKEA doesn't have any words in theirs to make it multilingual. So there weren't instructions, I'd probably go way off. Randomly.
Tom:Well, maybe they did the exact opposite. Maybe it's written in the form of a novel... and novels and publications are not taxed. You just have to read this horrible romance novel that conveniently includes all the instructions required to assemble a Lotus.
Joe:There's a couple things in there that you said, Tom, that are not entirely accurate to the situation.
Tom:That's... That's a very polite way of saying no.
Joe:These weren't difficult. They were... A technical person could follow these like any other instructions. If they knew how to deal with this specific set of instructions. But they weren't... written in the same way as, you know, a normal set of instructions.
Kip:So Tom is on the right lines, but it's not a romance novel. About cars.
Joe:I guess you could say they weren't assembly instructions.
Michelle:Were they game instructions? And this is a big... game?
Joe:I mean, it would take a lot of effort to build it using this method. You would have to play around a little bit.
Tom:They're disassembly instructions, and you have to follow them in reverse?
Joe:Tom Scott, you are correct.
Joe:They got around the issue with the greatest technicality in history. By sending disassembly instructions... so that you would have to read the instructions backwards... in order to build the car.
Michelle:I can't imagine... being able to afford a Lotus, purchasing it... having to put it together myself in reverse order from the instructions? This is awful. I don't think I want this car. (snickers)
Tom:Alright, next one's from me folks. Good luck.

Oh god, it's... (laughs) It's in the form of a conversation. I've gotta... Good luck with this.

"Your dog seems to take interest in the TV programme you're watching," says Mandy.

"Yes, he's become a lot smarter than when he was a puppy," replies Priya.

Mandy shakes her head. "That's nothing to do with it." Why?

And one more time.

"Your dog seems to take interest in the TV programme you're watching," says Mandy.

"Yes, he's become a lot smarter than when he was a puppy," replies Priya.

Mandy shakes her head. "That's nothing to do with it." Why?
Kip:I mean, my cat will happily watch the football and dive at the screen to try and... cross the ball across the screen, but she also will spend 20 minutes under the tap and not sure how she'll stop getting wet. So I'm not sure it's to do with smart, to be quite honest.
Joe:My dogs... don't really watch the television. So this is a little bit out of bounds for me. They just sleep next to me while I do it.
Joe:So it's clearly not about the smarts.
Kip:What colours do dogs see? I have no idea.
Joe:They lack, I think, a receptor for red in the same range that we do, which is kind of where the whole... fire hydrant thing comes in. Wait, what? Well, so dogs don't see in black and white. That's a common misconception that animals don't see in black and white. But they don't, I think, I don't believe they have three color receptors in the same ranges that we do, which lowers their... sensitivity to red. Yeah, that's actually in my notes.
Tom:It's blue and yellow, but... How does that work out for fire hydrants?
Joe:Oh, well, I should make clear that the classic cartoon fire hydrant specifically in the United States is red.
Tom:Okay, right.
SFX:(Tom and Michelle laugh)
Joe:So, TVs have red, blue, and green pixels. Sometimes yellow these days. Does... the color... that the TV's pixels are putting out have anything to do with it?
Tom:Not quite, but you're along the right lines there. One of the things I wrote down when you were saying your dogs don't watch TV with you is, 'How old is your TV?'
Joe:It's less than eight years old.
Michelle:Did they go from a black and white TV to a color TV?
Tom:Not quite, but it is an improvement. Is it to do with the
Kip:plasma versus... I want to say LCD, but I'm not very good at technology. And you're now gonna tell me it's the same thing?
Tom: It's not. You're all dancing around the same thing. You're right to think about the television and how it might have changed over time, how newer models might behave, and not some weird change in the dogs.
Joe:So television's changed how they... sort of paint the picture on the screen at a certain time... with different technologies. It's not projecting maybe from a tube that writes a bunch of stripes across your screen, and they sort of... Okay, wait, alright. I have a question. Does it— I've heard this and I've never actually followed up on this random Reddit trivia science fact, but that...
Kip:Beautifully peer reviewed.
Joe:(snickers) Clearly. This claim that different animals see the world in different time... Does that have something— Like a house fly? The reason you can't swat a house fly allegedly is because they see the world in a different speed.
Tom:You are very, very close with that one. And I suspect the YouTube folks here... thinking about changes that have been made over the last few years to what technology can do and what broadcasting can do, might be able to get an answer in on this one.
Joe:Well now, we have to admit what our favorite upload... frame rate and refresh rate is.
Tom:And you nearly got it with that. Michelle?
Michelle:The... They watch YouTube on the TV now. And previously they watched... CBS. YouTube has a better upload frame rate than CBS.
Tom:You know what, I think that's close enough...
Michelle:(wheezes) Wait, what?
Tom:That I'm gonna give it to you. It's not quite YouTube.
Michelle:Tom, you don't have to give me it. You don't have to.
SFX:(both laughing)
Tom:It's such a technical difference that I think I'm gonna give you that one.
Tom:Up until recently... all televisions worked at 50 Hz in Europe and 60 Hz in the US, 'cause that was the frequency of the power. Recently, televisions have started to have refresh rates at 120 or 240 Hz, just interpolating extra frames in between to make things look really smooth, as if that makes the picture look better. So what might dogs' vision do that ours doesn't?
Joe:So if they couldn't see it when they were a puppy, when the refresh rate was slower... and they can now... that means there wasn't enough information being put up for whatever speed their eye refreshes. 'Cause I do know from studying illusions and psychology and things like that, that... Your eye doesn't work exactly like a camera, but in a sense, there's a time that it sort of hangs on through your brain to an image and uses that as what we can sort of think of as a frame. So that means dogs would've seen the world in a slower frame rate than we do, in a sense? And then now with more frames being put in front of their face, they can finally see what the heck is on the TV?
Tom:Yep, exactly right. For a human, we need somewhere around 20–25 frames a second. Dogs need about 75 frames a second, or they just see something as flickering.
Joe:And they're gonna be better gamers now, too.
Michelle:I can't stand that hyper smooth effect, though. I can't watch anything when it's on.
Tom:And even if the TV is just showing the same frame five times or something like that, that will be what the dogs need to actually see it. How on earth they cope with LED lighting that flickers at a low frame rate? No idea.

The next question is from Michelle. Over to you.
Michelle:The American rapper Watsky released his album COMPLAINT in 2019. The entire cover consisted of the title in the largest letters possible. Why were his follow-up albums called PLACEMENT and INTENTION?

The American rapper Watsky released his album COMPLAINT in 2019. The entire cover consisted of the title in the largest letters possible. Why were his follow-up albums named PLACEMENT and INTENTION?
Kip:Does anyone like rap or has heard of the rapper?
Tom:I have a feeling it won't make that much difference.
Joe:My current knowledge of rap stopped somewhere around 2005, I think.
Kip:It got further than I did. If it's not Fresh Prince, I'm a bit stuffed, so...
Tom:I read somewhere that that's likely to be the rap verse known by the most people worldwide. Out of all of hip hop, out of all of rap, they were running through all the best known things, running through Rapper's Delight and Lose Yourself, all the things that people can recite. Yeah, it's probably Will Smith's Fresh Prince introduction is the one that is most known around the entire world. That is the legacy of the entire hip hop community right there. It's Will Smith on a sitcom.
Michelle:Rightfully so, I think. (giggles)
Joe:The next time I'm at a party with Tom Scott, I know I know what I'm asking him to do.
Tom:(laughs) No, no, no, 'cause—
Kip:Please record it.
Tom:We did that with Gilbert and Sullivan. Last time something like this came up, I had to sing a whole verse of Pirates of Penzance at the end of this.

And again, I'm gonna just block this on copyright grounds. We don't have the rights to media with the Fresh Prince theme tune, thankfully!
Joe:Saved by the letter of the law.
Kip:Anyway... We should probably try and answer the question.
Joe:Michelle, what were the names of the three albums again?
Michelle:The first album is called COMPLAINT. And the second and third albums are called... PLACEMENT and INTENTION.
Kip:They do fit at the end. Of 'complaint'.
Tom:Do they?
Kip:You can get P-L-A and I-N-T... at the end of 'complaint'
Joe:if you split it into three. The second— Yeah, 'Complaint' contains the beginning of all three albums.
Tom:Oh, it does.
Kip:Tom, did I beat you to a word thing?
Tom:Oh, yes! And you know what the worst part is? I've been writing this down as we've been talking and trying to figure this out. I'm going, well, that doesn't quite fit. That doesn't anagram. But you're right. If you have 'COM', 'PLA', and 'INT'... you then get the titles of the next ones, but how does that...
Kip: beat Tom Scott to a word thing, so I'm rolling on that.
Joe:mean, go out on top. I think that's a win. That's a very, very, very good observation.
Michelle:And that is in the right direction.
Tom:Those are the same words... three letters apart. If you write down... They're all nine letters. Now you've given me the clue, Kip, my brain's going. Right, so they're all nine letter words.
Kip:Just take a step back.
Tom:Is that right, Michelle? I think they're all nine letter words.
Michelle:They are, yes.
Tom:INT-ENT-ION, yeah. So if you write them in 3x3 blocks, you get... 'COM' from the first one... then 'PLA' out of 'Placement' on the next one. And INT from 'Intention' on the next one. So, assuming they're in 3x3 blocks, you put the three album titles next to each other, you get the three album titles laid out. You get 'COMPLAINT'... and then 'PLACEMENT' underneath, and then 'INTENTION'.

Am I— This is really difficult to describe in audio, but is that...
Michelle:That is exactly correct, yes.
Tom:Okay! (chuckles weakly)
Joe:Wait, so they weren't— All three albums had the same cover?
Tom:All three albums create a giant three-piece jigsaw that shows all three words.
Michelle:Yes. Exactly. Wow, Tom, you're amazing.
Tom:I mean, that was a big clue from Kip, that was. I'd struggled on that for ages until I figured out that, oh no, it's the same thing.
Michelle:Amazing teamwork, wow. Y'all got that very fast!
Joe:Rap connoisseur Tom Scott. That's what people are always saying.
Tom:Next question's from me. Good luck, folks.

Normally, if you leave your car in a business's parking lot overnight without prior arrangement, you might expect it to be towed, clamped, or ticketed. However, Jake returned to his car the morning after his visit to find he had been given a $5 reward. Why?

I'll give you that one more time.

Normally, if you leave your car in a business's parking lot overnight without prior arrangement, you might expect it to be towed, clamped, or ticketed. However, Jake returned to his car the morning after his visit to find he had been given a $5 reward. Why?
Kip:I'm wondering again if it's a bit like King Charles II of England. Somebody stole his crown jewels and smashed it up. So the crown didn't fit into the bag they bought. They smashed it to fit it up, and then... Actually Charles was so entertained by the whole thing that he pardoned the crown jewel thieves and gave them a house in Ireland.

So, you know, maybe somebody just thought it was funny and gave them $5 for trespassing.
Michelle:Okay, hear me out. I don't know if this is everywhere, but in America, we have strip malls, which have multiple business units in one place. And I'm thinking about how common theft is. But a thief might be deterred if they think that somebody is in the building. So maybe a burglar comes down the road and... robs every business except for the one with the car because they think somebody's there, and the owner says, "Thank you, person who left your car, because you deterred the bad guy."
Kip:Then I think $5 is really naff. (laughs) Yeah!
Joe:It's nowhere near enough. My hourly rate is much higher.
Tom:Michelle, you are right that it was a reward from a business owner. That wasn't the reason, it wasn't from a theft spree. But it was from a business owner, and not local government or parking taxes or something like that.
Joe:So what kind of business would have an incentive... to have cars in their parking lot overnight?
Kip:Was it for being overnight, or was it for being the first one there in the morning?
Tom:For leaving the car there overnight.
Joe:You said something weird in the question, and usually in tricky questions—
Tom:That happens a lot.
Joe:It's the wording of the question that you gotta deal with. You said his visit. I don't 'visit' stores.
Joe:I 'go' to stores. I don't know if we're talking about a story or where... What are you visiting overnight?
Michelle:Maybe it's a business that's almost like tourism and the more cars that are in the lot, the better the business looks or attracts more business?
Joe:Tom, is the word 'visit' important?
SFX:(Joe and Kip snicker)
Tom:I would phrase that as the type of business is key to this question. Will you tell us the type of business? No, 'cause that would absolutely give you the answer immediately! And I don't want to play, throw out some businesses and figure out what it is from there. There's a logical jump here. He is being rewarded for clear thinking.
Michelle:I think that you visit places that are like tourist attractions, versus a store. I would say, I visit Disneyland, or I visited...
Tom:It's not a store. You're right.
Kip:Was this business open overnight?
Tom:No, no it wasn't.
Joe:Was Jake visiting the same place where he parked his car?
Tom:Yep, absolutely. But it wasn't open overnight.
Michelle:Where did he go overnight?
Tom:That is also a key to the question that I'm not gonna give you right now.
Joe:Was Jake awake during his overnight experience?
Tom:I would say that's very unlikely.
Kip:Was he – PG-rated – enjoying himself...
Kip:over the overnight experience?
Tom:(laughs) I think he would mostly have been having a very deep and long sleep.
Joe:Was Jake being studied for something?
Tom:Oh! (chuckles) Oh, spot the science communicator. Egh, no, and... I think one thing that might be against us here is the demographic of people we have on this episode. Not in terms of just physical ability, but in terms of health and science and the things you do with your bodies and times. Why might someone go to a place and then leave their car overnight?
Michelle:A bar?
Tom:A bar.
Joe:He was getting smashed.
Michelle:Okay, he goes to the bar... gets wasted, gets arrested... has a crazy night asleep in jail.
Tom:Not quite. He's been given a $5 reward.
Kip:Is it a reward for not getting into the car drunk?
Tom:It is a reward from the bar
Tom:saying thank you for not driving drunk, here's five bucks off your bar tab next time.
Kip:I'll give 90% of that to Michelle for setting it up.
Michelle:Kip, that was amazing!
Tom:This is Mack's Tavern. I'm not entirely sure where it is, but as a thank you for being responsible, if you have got wasted, taken a cab home and left your car there, they'll put a $5 bar tab under your windscreen wipers, so you're more likely to come back again next time.
Joe:I've never had money move that direction at a bar. I want to try that.

Kip, over to you for this one.
Kip:So this question has been sent in by Brian. So thanks, Brian. Or maybe not thanks, depends how well it goes.

On the few occasions she has to fly, Eve always tries to reduce her carbon emissions. When booking a flight between Seoul and Buenos Aires, she chooses the cheapest one-stop flight from various route options without careful examination. What was different about this journey?

I'll read it again.

On the few occasions she has to fly, Eve always tries to reduce her carbon emissions. When booking a flight between Seoul and Buenos Aires, she chooses the cheapest one-stop flight from various route options without careful examination. What was different about this journey?
Tom:I am pretty sure I know the answer to this one, so I'm gonna step back. Joe and Michelle, this one's for you.
Kip:Did feel that this was one that you'd get very quickly.
Tom:It's a very me question, this, isn't it? It's a very me question.
Kip:You've probably flown that route.
SFX:(Tom and Michelle laugh)
Joe:He's probably just filmed a video of... "This route will surprise you."
SFX:(Tom and Michelle laugh)
Tom:Oh please, I'm not that— With no offence to Michelle's past here, I'm not that much BuzzFeed.
Joe:Let's see, so it's a one-stop route. But I mean, with modern jets, I mean, that means... So she's probably not going the obvious direction. We're crossing the Pacific here from Seoul to Buenos Aires, and we're crossing the equator. I can't imagine where the one stop would be on a trans-Pacific flight. That doesn't seem... You have to go through North America, but she's probably not doing the obvious thing.
Kip:I mean, on this show...
Joe:Yeah, the obvious thing is never the right answer.
SFX:(Michelle and Tom laugh)
Michelle:I wonder if it's something with... You know how, you know, planes obviously don't go in what we would imagine to be a straight line when we look at a flat map? I wonder if it's like going straight down to Antarctica and then back up because... Circumferences and math and things that Kip and Tom know.
SFX:(Michelle and Tom laugh)
Kip:Don't put maths this way.
SFX:(group laughing)
Joe:But she's trying to lower her carbon footprint. But not this time. Okay, but this time it did not lower her carbon footprint.
Kip:This time she didn't look.
Joe:Did she accidentally fly west?
Tom:Oh man, that is not a good route between those cities. I just said route [rout]. Why'd I just say route [rout] instead of route [root]? I've spent far too long around Americans.
Michelle:I guess, I mean, would it be that she just took the longest... route possible? Fully west in the opposite direction?
Tom:Can I tap this one home? 'Cause if I'm wrong, I wanna come back in on this question.

I think it's the only possible route. Because if you're going Seoul to Buenos Aires, you said it, Joe. There's no stopping point in the Pacific, right? It's just that there's only one possible route you can take that is direct between those two cities. Any two-stop route has to go through North America or Europe or somewhere else, so your carbon emissions are going to be massive. Versus the one direct route. So if that's what you're trying to do...
Kip:She doesn't go direct. She takes one stop.
Tom:Aaahh! Oh, I should've—
Kip:There are no direct routes between Seoul and Buenos Aires.
Tom:I bowed out early. When you said one stop, I thought you meant the one stop at the destination. Damn it! Oh, pride cometh before a fall and all that.
Michelle:Get back in here, Tom. We need you.
SFX:(Michelle and Tom laugh)
Joe:What was different about this route is the question. That's a weird thing to ask.
Kip:If it helps, this is an unusual route, but it is not unique to the sole Buenos Aires route.
Michelle:Is the answer we're supposed to be giving the location of the stopover?
Kip:Not the stopover.
Michelle:So the answer is a location.
Kip:Think more about Seoul and Buenos Aires rather than where she might be changing.
Joe:Are these exactly opposed on the globe?
Kip:And so...
Tom:It doesn't matter whether you go west or east.
Joe:It's the farthest apart that she could possibly be, so there is no lowest carbon emission route.
Tom:You have to go one way or the other, and it's gonna be about the same no matter what.
Kip:Yeah, so Buenos Aires is roughly on the opposite side of the world to Seoul. This means any direct path connecting the two cities will be the shortest possible path. Therefore, regardless of where she chooses as her layover airport, she will always be taking the shortest one-stop flight possible.
Joe:Tom's writing that down for future flight booking purposes.
Kip:It is easier to understand the concept if you think about travelling from the North Pole to the South Pole via a point X. Regardless of where X is, there will always be a route from the North Pole through X to the South Pole that's the shortest distance possible.
Tom:Oh, that's weird. That's one of those horrible mathematical things that sounds really counterintuitive. There's an old thing that there is always two points on the equator exactly opposite each other that are the same temperature. Which sounds complete rubbish.
Tom:And I'm not going to do the full explanation, but no matter what, there are always two points that do that, and this is one of those mathematical things. Ah, I hate the question, but thank you, Kip. That was...
SFX:(Tom and Michelle crack up)
Tom:The mathematicians will be happy.
Kip:And it was from Brian, so we should say thank you to Brian.
Joe:Thank you, Brian.
Tom:Thank you, Brian.
Joe:The entire time we were doing that, I had this little tiny Earth sitting right in front of me, and I didn't look at it once until the very end.
Tom:One last thing then. At the start of the show, I asked

what the opposite of 'Always coming from take me down' was?

And knowing that several people are already angry at me for this, does anyone wanna take a punt?
Joe:Oh, as soon as you started reading that again, I immediately started cracking up.
Tom:Go ahead, Joe. Give us the answer.
Joe:I'm so sorry to do this, but you've all just been rickrolled in reverse.
Tom:"Always coming from take me down" would be the inverse of "Never going to give you up".
Michelle:Oh my god!
Tom:And I apologise.
Michelle:Oh my god, Tom!
Tom:(laughs) Oh, I've got a pattern of doing things like that. Sorry folks!
Tom:That is our show. To the three players, thank you very much. Let's find out, where can people find you? What are you up to?

We will start with Michelle.
Michelle:Thank you so much for having me, Tom, and you guys can find me at Michelle Khare on YouTube.
Joe:That was so much fun. You can find me at Be Smart on YouTube and at @DrJoeHanson.
Tom:And Kip.
Kip:Thanks for having me back. You can find me on most forms of social media... Well, depending on whatever their name is, at Kip Heath.
Tom:You can track the decline of Twitter by how enthusiastic your sign-offs have been for it over the course of this series.

If you want to know more about this show, you can do that at, where you can also send in your own guest questions. You can find us at @lateralcast on pretty much all the social networks, and you can watch video highlights every week at

With that, thank you very much to Kip Heath.
Kip:Thank you.
Tom:To Joe Hanson.
Joe:No, thank you, Tom.
Tom:And Michelle Khare.
Michelle:I still think vasectomy was a potential answer.
Tom:It always is.
SFX:(both giggling)
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
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