Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 53: The criminal caught by a toy

Published 13th October, 2023

Corry Will, Luke Cutforth and Jack Chesher face questions about Chinese curios, perilous Perspex and dynamic drinks.

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: Tim, Steve Piers, Yifan, Noson Daitchman. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:In German supermarkets and restaurants, what can be bought in varieties marked 'loud' and 'quiet'?

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

Welcome to a very special show, as it's our first birthday!
SFX:(guests applaud)
Luke:Woo, happy birthday!
Tom:Unfortunately due to an administrative error, the caterers sent the party food to the Literal with Tim Schott podcast.
Corry:(Corry laughs)
Tom:So if you're listening, Tim, please do enjoy the vol-au-vents. Meanwhile, joining me to share a plate of slightly out-of-date biscuits...

please welcome a first-timer on the show, from Living London History, Jack Chesher.
Jack:Hello. (chuckles)
Tom:How are you doing, Jack?
Jack:Yeah, I'm very well, thank you. How are you?
Tom:I mean, we're a long way into this recording block now, and I'm told by the producer, this is the part where I start getting competitive. So I'm going to try and rein that in a little. How are you feeling, first time here?
Jack:Yeah, I'm good. A little bit nervous. I don't know. Obviously, I don't know what to expect, really, with these questions. But no, looking forward to it.
Tom:I don't think I have any questions coming up, unfortunately, about London history, but that is your specialty, right?
Jack:That is my spe— yeah. I'm a London sort of tour guide and blogger and content creator. So, yeah, that's a shame then.
Tom:Also joining us on the podcast this week, we have one half of the Sci Guys podcast, Corry Will.
Corry:Hello, the best half of the podcast, if I do say so myself.
SFX:(Tom and Corry chuckle)
Tom:Without wanting to spoil the joke that I tried to set up, which hasn't worked there... There might be someone taking issue with that later. Now, this is a return to the show for you. How was it last time?
Corry:It was very fun, actually. And one of my favorite parts is when it suddenly comes up, and I see it online. Little video, like, "Oh, I did that!"
Tom:"That's me! That's a thing!"
Corry:(Corry laughs)
Tom:And also joining us from the Sci Guys podcast, the other half of the show, Luke Cutforth.
Luke:Hey, the best half, if you ask me.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:I mean, I'm not going to put you two in a duel to the death here. You do sort of bring different things to the show.
Luke:Thank you. As one of our subscribers put it, Corry does the research, and Luke...
Tom:(Tom laughs uproariously)
SFX:(Jack and Luke snicker)
Corry:It's not untrue. (laughs)
Tom:Well, best of luck to all three of you with today's questions. Just because it's our birthday doesn't mean the show is any different. We'll be blowing out candles while igniting the spark of creativity. Or alternatively, just getting a big sugar rush from all the frosting on the cake. So, I'm gonna help you to a generous slice of question one, which goes like this:

At the Tokyo Hands store in Shibuya, a step on the staircase has the number '-1.260' written on it. The step above reads '-1.365'. Why?

I'll give you that one more time.

At the Tokyo Hands store in Shibuya, a step on the staircase has the number '-1.260' written on it. The step above reads '-1.365'. Why?

I'm gonna apologise to everyone in Japan for my pronunciation of Shibuya. Shibuya? I honestly...
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:It's a department store in Japan, okay? We'll just go with that.
Corry:That helps a lot. There are 365 days in a year. I know that.
Jack:That's immediately what I thought as well. They correlate to a day, a particular day in the year, possibly, or a significant date in the history of the company.
Luke:Or is there something to do with coordinates?
Corry:It's slow shoppers. That's how long it takes to get up the steps because there's just so many people? Maybe that's it. That's it, right?
Tom:Not quite.
Tom:Not exactly.
Corry:(Corry laughs) Oh, minus, minus one point is— Oh dear, this is tough.
Jack:And do they all have numbers on them, or is it just...
Tom:Yes, they do. All of those steps have numbers. I've just given you a couple of examples of them.
Jack:Do the numbers relate to a floor in the building, possibly? Like it would be the sort of 1.–something something, 2.–something something, relating to different areas?
Luke:Like it's on floor -1, but you're on the way down to -2. So you're like part of the way there. Is that what you mean?
Jack:That is sort of what I mean. Yeah, I think so. I don't know.
Tom:That might work if the numbers were the other way around. But in this case, as you go up, the numbers get lower.
Luke:Now, Tom, can I ask a question here? I may be mishearing what you're saying here, but you're saying... Did you say a "Tokyo hands" store? Like a store that sells hands?
SFX:(others laughing)
Luke:If there's anything I've learned about this show, it's that every piece of information is crucial. So I thought I'll check that, 'cause it sounds like a shop that sells hands.
Tom:(Tom laughs weakly) As far as I understand it, they might sell gloves or things like that, but it is a fairly upscale department store.
Corry:And the numbers, the second was -1.365. And the first was -1.260.
Tom:Yeah. I wouldn't necessarily say first or second, but those are two numbers on the steps.
Corry:So do the numbers relate to the steps specifically, or could I take one of the numbers and put them on any other step and it would still work?
Tom:No, in this case, you would have to put that number on each step.
Luke:And the steps are sequential. So there would presumably be another step with a higher number after the higher number, and a lower number with the— Okay, after the lower number. Do they go below 1 or above 2?
Tom:Oh, yes.
Luke:They do, okay. But is there anything specifically interesting about these two that you've decided to tell us about?
Tom:No, no, the question writers are just being jerks. There's some numbers on some steps.
SFX:(group snickering)
Luke:Okay. God.
Jack:I was thinking possibly something to do with the altitude of the steps, or the heights of the steps, possibly, the sort of difference in heights between them.
Luke:Oh, sea level, sea level.
Jack:Sea level, yeah.
Tom:That's closer to it.
Corry:Is it distance from a peak of some sort? There are mountains in Japan.
Tom:Not quite.
Luke:No, ok— (laughs)
Tom:I'm hesitating with that. Again, I don't want to just immediately no-but you here, as opposed to yes-and, but I can't— You're starting to head the right way.
Luke:Oh, is it a ratio of the height of the building? So for example, if you're on a floor on the way down, you're... you're below the building by 1.01–whatever a building's worth. Is the one a quantity of something? Is it relative to a height?
Tom:It is a quantity of something. It's not height.
Luke:Okay, okay.
Tom:It's certainly related to the height. The numbers do get steadily more negative as you go up... but it's not telling you how high you are.
Luke:Steadily more negative as you go up. Okay. Oof. And if there were to be an underground area of this building, would the numbers get steadily higher as you went down?
Tom:No, you'd have to move where the zero point was.
Luke:Ah, okay. So let's try and figure out where the zero point is then. Okay. So where could the zero point— Could it be... It's not sea level.
Corry:Is it important that this is in Japan?
Tom:I have actually seen this in a few places in Japan. And I've never seen it outside there. But it's more a social thing. It's intended to kind of nudge human behaviour a little.
Jack:I was gonna say, it must be there for a reason. To sort of provide a—
Luke:Ooh! Is it to do with getting exercise in some way? Like you're climbing up stairs, and that is exercising you?
Tom:Yep, so what might those numbers represent?
Jack:How many calories you're burning?
Luke:Oh, calories, yes!
Luke:You got it, you got it.
Tom:(Tom chuckles)
Luke:Well done, Jack.
Tom:So what would the zero point be?
Jack:The bottom of the stairs, really.
Tom:Yep. It starts at zero at the bottom of the stairs.
Luke:Oh, brilliant.
Tom:And as you step up, there is just a marker on each step showing how many 'calories' in the colloquial term, kilocalories, you have burned going up. It's not much. It's a fraction of a calorie per step, but they mark them out for you. I've seen this in a couple train stations in Tokyo when I was there. There's a few places that just tell you how many calories you burn going up the steps... in an attempt to encourage that.
Corry:I feel like it might be more discouraging having to look at it and see, "Ah, I've walked up all these steps, and I've burned exactly three calories."
SFX:(Corry and Luke chuckle)
Jack:Yeah, sort of a chocolate biscuit's only 100 calories, isn't it, yeah.
Luke:I feel like that's particularly interesting, because as far as I recall, now you'll have to fact check me on this, but I think that calories were invented by— Sorry, the idea of 10,000 steps, for example, was invented by a Japanese pedometer maker. And so, maybe this is just the idea of fitness every day, as opposed to always working out all the time. But just generally incorporating fitness into your day, might be more of a general government policy or cultural thing in Japan than it is over in the West?
Tom:I think it is, but it also sort of had the opposite effect on me, in that I was coming up to, I think it was Tamachi Station, which has this. And I looked at the steps, and it told me it's gonna be about three calories, and I thought, I'll just take the escalator. It doesn't make that much difference.
Jack:It's not worth it.
SFX:(Corry and Luke laugh)
Tom:It's not worth it.
Luke:As if the only point of exercising is to burn calories.
Corry:I actually do have one single fact about Japanese pedometers, which is a very me fact to have.
Tom:I want a jingle for this. I want "Corry's Japanese Pedometer Fact" jingle to go in here.
SFX:♪ (chiptune music) Corry's Japanese Pedometer Facts.
Corry:So, for the release of Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, there was a Pokéwalker, and it was basically a pedometer that you catch little Pokémon on it. But it was such a good pedometer... (cracks up) that all of the pedometer companies were like, "Oh, we should try and copy this." There have been studies on this pedometer, because it was more accurate than anything else on the market. But it was just made to get kids to... buy more Pokémon stuff and walk around. So there you go.
SFX:(Corry and Luke crack up)
Tom:That has been Corry's Japanese Pedometer Fact.
SFX:♪ (chiptune music)
Tom:Each of our guests has brought a question along. I don't know the question. I definitely don't know the answer. And we're going to start today with Luke. What have you got for us?
Luke:Okay, so my question has been sent in by Yifan, and it is that:

In the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, Chinese generals were given a 3-inch, flat-backed talisman, featuring a tiger facing to the left. How were they used to keep the peace?

I'll give you that again from the beginning.

In the fourth and third centuries BC, Chinese generals were given a 3-inch, flat-backed talisman, featuring a tiger facing to the left. How were they used to keep the peace?
SFX:(Corry and Tom crack up)
Tom:You've just got three baffled people on that one.
SFX:(group laughing)
Luke:That's the tone!
Jack:Is the tiger significant in kind of Chinese— Is it— Does it symbolise something, the tiger?
Luke:That is a very good first question, and I'm gonna ask it back at you. Does it symbolise something?
Jack:Um, gosh.
Tom:It's one of the signs of the Zodiac, I think. The Chinese Zodiac, unless I'm very much mistaken.
Corry:It is, yeah.
Tom:You can have a year of the tiger.
Jack:What would tiger symbolise?
Corry:Strength, power.
Jack:Independence or something? Cats.
Tom:(Tom chuckles) Holding your child up above a giant precipice as part of a ritual.
Corry:That's lions.
Jack:That's lions, Tom.
Tom:Oh dammit!
Corry:It's in the name, Tom. (Corry laughs heartily)
Tom:It is as well. It is. That's a complete blunder there.
SFX:(Corry and Jack laugh)
Tom:Tiger King is very different to Lion King, and I've only just realised how similar those names are in my head.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Corry:Good lord.
Tom:Also, how has it been three years since Tiger King, and I've never made a connection to Lion King before in my head? The whole internet must have got to that joke before me.
Jack:Oh my gosh, yeah. You know, I hadn't thought of that either. That's obviously why they called it that, wasn't it? I don't know, or maybe not.
Corry:I think it's just 'cause he was the king of the tigers, really.
Jack:Yeah, true.
Luke:(Luke snorts)
Corry:You know, much like in The Lion King, Simba was just the king of the lions. Sorry, spoilers.
Tom:Yeah, yeah.
Luke:Well, he can't wait to be the king of the lions, more precisely, Corry.
Corry:No, so, you said 3rd and 4th century.
Luke:I said the 4th and 3rd century BC.
Luke:That's why it's the 4th and 3rd, 'cause... The lower it gets, the closer you get to Jesus.
Corry:(Corry chuckles)
Jack:(Jack snickers snidely) Presumably looking left is significant as well.
Jack:Would you use it for something, the medal possibly? Other than just hanging around your neck to sort of have, to stamp something? I don't know, like a seal?
Tom:No, no, it's not a seal, it's a tiger. Sorry.
Luke:(Luke snorts)
Corry:(Corry laughs)
Jack:We've had lions, seals—
Tom:Hi, today I'm in crap pun mode, apparently!
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:I've got nothing else to hang on to with this question.
Corry:You said it was to keep the peace, Luke?
Luke:Yes, it was used to keep the peace. I did say that, or I asked you how it was used to keep the peace. So I suppose, by extension, it was used to keep the peace. You got me there. But, you were pretty warm straight away by asking, what does a tiger represent? So I think, sort of dabble around in that area.
Tom:Okay, and avoid any and all stereotypes and offence to anyone Chinese. Cool, here we go.
SFX:(Corry and Luke laugh)
Luke:We're playing Cancel Tom Scott Bingo. How will it end?
Tom:(Tom laughs) It's been a long time coming.
Corry:That's why the channel's ending at the end of the year. 'Cause he's getting cancelled.
SFX:(group laughing)
Jack:It doesn't sort of remind them... It's not a symbol of kind of the royalty or something, and reminds them who's in charge, and it keeps the peace and that sort of thing?
Luke:Very, very warm. Very warm. Almost on fire.
Corry:So is it royalty, or is it maybe something more spiritual? Is it reminding people of a person?
Luke:It's reminding people of a person.
Jack:The king? The emperor?
Luke:The emperor? The king indeed. The king.
Tom:Okay. And they're all facing left. Is it like a reminder they're all trying to go in the same direction, and they're all working together?
Luke:That's an interesting question, Tom. I don't know the answer to that. (Luke laughs nervously) One of the kind of clues I've got here is: What would a left and right facing talisman give you?
Corry:Oh, oh! Hold on. Wait, hold on. Is it to stamp something? Is that what this is about? 'Cause if it's facing left, if you stamp it, would it then face right? Is my brain working?
Tom:No, you're right. It'd be a mirror image if you stamp it.
Corry:Because I feel like left is usually evil and bad, right? No, I don't think that, but others have thought that throughout history.
Tom:I think that's mostly a Christian thing.
Corry:Oh, so it is, yeah.
Tom:I think that would be later.
Corry:Mm, it would be.
Tom:Yeah, because the Latin for left and right is sinister and dexter, or sinistra and dextra, something like that, which is where we get those word roots from. But I'm not sure that'd be... 4th, 3rd century BCE in China.
Jack:So it represents the king. It's looking, is it looking— Well it doesn't mean it's always looking in the same direction, does it? Because presumably they'd be wearing it. Do they wear it?
Tom:Did the king have a right hand pointing tiger, and they could link the two up as a... Power Rangers "by our powers combined" kind of thing there?
Luke:Okay, so you're getting towards the right direction. That actually is a clue, a right direction. I want you to think about what would happen when you joined a left and right facing tiger talisman, for example.
Corry:They would kiss. Everyone has a right facing one.
Luke:(Luke laughs uproariously)
Corry:And then the left ones, they kiss.
Luke:And the king loved tiger kissing, yes.
Corry:(giggles) That's it.
Tom:They could lock into each other. If you have a design, one left, one right, you could connect them face to face?
Luke:Correct. Now, I'll introduce a new sort of idea here for you, which is I want you to think about how something similar might be used in modern day. In, for example, nuclear launches.
Tom:Right, so nuclear launchers have what's called the two-man rule.
Tom:That you need two keys... in order to activate something. And the keyholes are far enough apart that one person can't operate both. You need two people with two keys turning at the same time. So, is this more an authentication thing of proving you are who you say you are... by being able to lock this in?
Luke:Yes. This was basically a system to stop coups. So basically, generals could only move their army if the left and the right sides were clipped together to form a complete 3D tiger. So it is a sort of authentication system to say these two things have come together. They've clipped together to make one full tiger. And now the army can proceed with whatever orders you're trying to give it.
Tom:The king or someone authorised by the king had the right hand side. The general had the left hand side. And so only when they're together...
Jack:Only when they make the decision together and combine the tigers.
Corry:Who do they show this to? Like the army? "Okay, we're going, guys. See? There you go."
Tom:That's the point. If you're the general and you say, "Yeah, absolutely got the talisman. Whatcha gonna do about it? I've got the army."
SFX:(group giggling)
Luke:Yes, you're absolutely right there. Basically the king holds the right hand side, and the left hand side is held by a general. And when combined, they can move the army. So I suppose in that sense, the king is kind of the arbiter. The king decides what— The king's the one who sees it and also has the other seal.
Tom:Thank you to Noson Daitchman for sending this one in.

In 2018, a common criminal used a child's toy to assist in shoplifting some expensive electronics. While fleeing the scene, he left behind the toy, which also allowed police to charge him with attempted theft. What was the toy, and how was he caught?

One more time.

In 2018, a common criminal used a child's toy to assist in shoplifting some expensive electronics. While fleeing the scene, he left behind the toy, which also allowed police to charge him with attempted theft. What was the toy, and how was he caught?
Corry:So my immediate thought is a child's lockpicking set, but... I don't think they sell those outside of Scotland, so... Next!
SFX:(others chortle)
Corry:(Corry laughs)
Tom:I'm glad you've got that accent, Corry. That saved me for that joke.
Corry:(Corry laughs heartily)
Tom:(Tom sighs heavily)
Luke:My immediate thought is less racist. And, it is that I know that, for example...
Corry:(Corry laughs bewildered)
Luke:It is illegal to pretend to have a gun. Even if it's not a real gun. So I'm gonna take a guess that this is like a child's replica gun or some kind of... water pistol. And... (sigh) When they left behind the toy, they— The fingerprints are on the gun, and so they know that he— But the gun was from the shop itself. Does that make sense? Am I anywhere close?
Tom:There was a key word in there. It wasn't 'gun' or 'water pistol' or anything like that, unfortunately. There is the offence of 'going equipped' in Britain as well. Or at least that's the slang for it. Like, if you have a lockpicking set with you, and do not have a reasonable excuse for having a lockpicking set with you, I think that is a crime in the UK. If you are carrying equipment—
Corry:Like with knives.
Tom:Yeah, if you're carrying knives and are not a chef on the way to work, or something similar, that is an offence. In this case, nothing quite so ominous.
Jack:So, I thought, possibly... Well, no, my immediate kind of— I was trying to think of toys, and I thought of an Etch-a-Sketch. So, maybe drawing out the map of the building. How, you know, how to get in and how to get around where the goods are so that he could, you know... so it's not suspicious carrying an Etch-a-Sketch necessarily. Maybe it is if you're an adult, I don't know.
SFX:(group laughing)
Jack:And then...
Tom:It's suspicious for different reasons.
Jack:As he's leaving, the idea would have been to, you know, erase it with the side thing and destroy all the evidence, but he forgot to do it and dropped the Etch-a-Sketch.
Luke:(Luke snorts)
Corry:That would suggest that he was walking out very calmly, because if he was running, that Etch-a-Sketch would have been gone. You know, you just shake it.
Tom:(Tom laughs)
Corry:(Corry giggles)
Jack:Yeah, that's true.
Corry:My mind is going to... radio controlled cars? So not like running one inside the building or whatever, but I feel like you could... If there's a PIR security system... I don't know anything about electronics. If there's a PIR security system, I feel like you could use some kind of radio controller to get into there, I think.
Tom:He is trying to get around security systems. You're right, there. But just having the radio controlled car or the Etch-a-Sketch or whatever wouldn't let the police link him to the crime.
Corry:Did you say when this happened?
Corry:That's when kids were playing with... phones and whatnot. You have electrical toys for children. As opposed to plastic things. And whatnot.
Jack:It's not sort of like... Play-Doh or something like that, and he's left his fingerprints in the Play-Doh?
SFX:(Corry and Luke gasp)
Tom:Yes! Yes, it is!
Luke:I remember seeing this! Yes!
Corry:(laughs) No way!
Luke:He used Play-Doh to... something to do with a lock. He forced it into something, or he covered it over CCTV cameras or something like that.
Tom:He covered it over the speaker on the alarm on the stuff he was stealing, to try and muffle the sound.
Corry:Brilliant. Oh, yes!
Jack:Oh, and he printed his fingerprints.
Corry:That is genius. I love that.
Jack:That's not genius 'cause he left his fingerprints all over it.
SFX:(group laughing)
Corry:If you're gonna commit a crime, wear gloves obviously. That's rule number one. But yeah, that is a good idea. Other than the fingerprints.
Tom:He left behind some of the Play-Doh when he was startled and fled the scene. And it had a perfect impression of his fingerprints, which were already on file from previous arrests. So, that was an almost perfect connection to the crime.
Corry:I feel like you're asking to be caught at that point, you know what I mean? If you know that you've got your fingerprints on file, and you're not even... Wear gloves, everyone! Please, wear gloves, for crimes.
Jack:You've chosen the exact children's toy that leaves an exact record of your fingerprint.
Tom:You know, someone also using "my first DNA analysis kit" in order to just break into something.
SFX:(group laughing)
Jack:Leaving the result.
Tom:The same year, apparently, police in Wales identified a drug dealer because he sent a WhatsApp photo holding the drugs. And camera phones are clear enough that you could see the fingerprints in the photo. And that was enough to identify him.
Jack:That's amazing.
Corry:That's terrifying.
Tom:Yeah, it is.
Corry:Again, wear gloves for crimes. I'll say it for the third time. If you're gonna commit a crime, please wear gloves.
Tom:Next question comes from Jack. Take it away.
Jack:Okay. So my question is:

Four friends – Henry, Heidi, Hamid, and Hazel – walk into an unfamiliar bar and notice that there is a table shuffleboard game. However, the bar manager advises Hazel that she mustn't play, but the others can. Why?

Four friends – Henry, Heidi, Hamid, and Hazel – walk into an unfamiliar bar and notice there is a table shuffleboard game. However, the bar manager advises Hazel that she mustn't play, but the others can. Why?
Luke:Is this a true story? 'Cause it sounds kind of like one of those very—
Tom:It doesn't feel like a true story.
Luke:(Luke laughs heartily)
Tom:It feels like something that the question writer has made up as a word puzzle somewhere, but okay.
Luke:It feels like a GCSE exam question, yeah.
Tom:(Tom laughs)
Jack:As far as I'm aware, a hypothetical situation.
Corry:So the answer isn't something like sexism. You know?
Luke:(Luke sputters)
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:And we've got Heidi in there as well. You know, that's a fairly gendered name.
Corry:Oh, you're allowed one girl. It's no girls allowed, you see. So one is fine.
Tom:No, we've got Henry, Heidi, Hamid, and Hazel.
Jack:And Henry, so two girls, two boys.
Tom:Okay. What do we know about shuffleboard?
Luke:Okay, so shuffleboard basically, you have, it's sort of like curling that you see at the Olympics, where you throw a little weighted disc along the ice, and then someone quickly sweeps the surface to make it go really fast. But this instead happens on a sort of long table that you might see in a bar.

Sort of like the kind of thing you might see in medieval times, people having a banquet around. And like the table in that painting of the Last Supper with Jesus.

And you basically throw your weighted disc from one end to the other. There's some sort of sandy stuff along the surface to make the disc sort of travel better. And you're trying to get it as far down the table without falling off the sides or off the end. You got that?
Tom:And the next day, one of the people at the table betrays you. Got it.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Luke:And they all played a game of shuffleboard after the dinner.
Tom:I think it's on the floor as well, usually, right? They're just kind of pushing stuff along with... Pushing the discs along with a stick.
Luke:Shuffleboard is usually with your hand, yeah.
Jack:And you wanna try and land them in, you know... You get most points for landing it in the end...
Jack:...sort of section.
Luke:So I'm going to start out trying to think laterally and ask, is there something called 'hazel' involved in shuffleboard? Is that what the sand, the dusting on the table's called? So every time it's Hazel's turn, someone goes "Hazel", and then... some shuffleboard attendee comes and puts loads of stuff all over the table, and you're wasting all your hazel. And so you're just like, "Hazel can't play."
Tom:The table shuffleboards are made of hazel wood, and so she's not allowed to play because her name is the same as— I don't know where I'm going with that.
Luke:We'd keep sliding stuff on her face if she played shuffleboard, so she can't play shuffleboard.
Jack:So, you're actually, weirdly, sort of very close.
Luke:(Luke laughs triumphantly)
Jack:Complete shot in the dark answer. That sorta then went down the wrong route by saying you're sliding pucks over her face.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Do we know everything we need to know about these four people? Is there something special about these that hasn't been mentioned in the question? Or is Hazel just... a person?
Jack:Yes, there is something... about them... that you... that would help you answer this question.
Luke:About the people?
Jack:Well, about Hazel.
Luke:Okay, so I'm gonna guess there's something in the shuffleboard game that is called or is referred to as 'hazel'. So is the scoring system, is one of the areas on the board called a hazel point, a hazel score, a hazel area? And then when you're trying to top up the points, it's Hazel's turn. You say, "Hazel." You think you've just scored the jackpot and get 100 points? And actually, it's just Hazel's turn. So she has to leave.
Jack:It's not really anything to do with her name... but her name is a clue.
Luke:Okay, so...
Jack:Think back to what you said... before... about how you play shuffleboard and what you would use to play shuffleboard.
Luke:Your hands. Hazel doesn't have any hands. And so we're leaving her out.
Corry:(Corry snickers)
Luke:That's not very nice. Ableist, Jack. What's wrong with you?
Corry:Terribly ableist, yeah.
Corry:(Corry giggles)
Jack:You did say it earlier actually.
Luke:Did I? (laughs)
Corry:So Hazel is... The name— It's— Her name isn't important, but 'hazel' is important.
Jack:Her name, you could get it without her name. It's the name isn't really relevant, but I think the question writer has put that name in as a bit of a clue.
Luke:Okay, well, Tom was talking about wood. Tom was talking about hazel wood. So... let's go there.
Jack:Hazel is also not just a type of wood.
Corry:It's also the color of Marge Simpson's eyes. Fun fact, there you go. Another one for me. Ohh!
SFX:(others chuckling)
Luke:Hazel is not just a type of wood.
Jack:So that is what you said earlier, and that is a lot closer to the answer.
Luke:Okay, so it's a sort of dusting. Oh gosh.
Corry:Is it what the discs are made from? Or is it to do with the sand?
Jack:No, it's not what the discs are made of.
Corry:Oh, it's what the table's made from.
Jack:Not what the table's made of.
Luke:No, it's what the sand is. It's the sand that you sprinkle, the sort of stuff that you lubricate the table with. Is it like— an oil! An oil? Hazel oil?
Corry:Hazel oil. That sounds like a thing.
Jack:Very close with hazel oil, yeah.
Luke:Like a sap. It's like a sap. Oh, like you're smearing hazel sap or something like that on the table. Oh gosh.
Jack:Yeah, so sometimes they do use other things. But, so this particular thing they use... for the sand means that Hazel can't play shuffleboard.
Luke:Because every time they say, "Hazel, it's your turn", and they call "Hazel", they're gonna do something to do with the shuffleboard. Okay. (laughs)
Tom:Is Hazel allergic to something? And this is what they use for shuffleboard?
Jack:Yes, exactly.
Tom:What on earth do they use in shuffleboard that a person's gonna be allergic to?
Corry:Pollen. Hazel? What, oh my gosh.
Luke:Whatever Hazel is, that's what they use.
Corry:You're gonna be allergic to crustaceans? Pollen? What else? Oh my gosh.
Jack:No, it's something that's... crushed that's used as the sand or the sort of lubricant on the table.
Corry:Oh, wait, is she gluten intolerant or something? Is she coeliac, and she can't touch?
Jack:She's not gluten intolerant. What is a common allergy?
Corry:Peanuts. Oh, peanut oil! They use peanut oil.
Jack:So she's allergic to nuts.
Luke:And they use nuts on shuffleboard?
Corry:Oh, ground up nuts as the... Oh, they use ground up walnut or peanut shells or something as the dust.
Corry:Hazelnuts! Oh my gosh!
Corry:(Corry laughs hysterically)
Corry:(Corry wheezes)
Luke:She's named after the thing she's allergic to? That's so cruel.
Tom:We're gonna seem really stupid, but I promise you. When you're sitting here, and the question's asked... your brain just does not connect the word 'hazel' and the word 'nut' to the word 'hazelnuts', alright? For some reason... For some reason... that just did not connect.
Luke:In the last time we were on the show, Tom, there were all these comments going, "I was screaming at the screen the whole way through. How did these idiots not get it?" That's going to be one of these clips. We're gonna get screamed at.
Tom:You try sitting here, alright? If you're watching, you try sitting here and just...
SFX:(guests wheezing)
Tom:Well, you know what I'm gonna take away from this question is the fact that... thousands of people have just been listening to this, and just yelling the word "NUTS!" out loud repeatedly...
SFX:(Luke and Jack chuckle)
Corry:Oh wow.
Tom:for the last two minutes.
Jack:And you were so close right near the beginning. I thought we were gonna get it in about two minutes, and then you went... (laughs) You're sort of dancing around the answer.
Tom:They use hazelnut oil? Or hazelnut—
Jack:They sometimes use different materials, but there's this sort of rough sand that obviously helps the puck sort of slide along the table and protects the polish of the table. And there's a brown version of this sand, that they use crushed up walnut shells actually, usually. But she is allergic to nuts. The bar manager would have asked them if they had a nut allergy, and so she couldn't play.
Tom:You can't play some types of table shuffleboard with a nut allergy. That's amazing.
Jack:There's another, apparently another type that uses dry cornmeal and silicon beans, so— silicon beads. So, if you're allergic to nuts, you can use that type of shuffleboard topping.
Tom:Good luck folks, here we go.

A clear Perspex box of around 100 similar items is on view in a public place. Some people have described this as "basically a bomb", even though it's there for a safety reason. Where has the box been installed?

And one more time.

A clear Perspex box of around 100 similar items is on view in a public place. Some people have described this as 'basically a bomb', even though it's there for safety reasons. Where has the box been installed?
Luke:Okay, firstly... where are you having something for safety reasons that's also in on display somewhere?
Corry:Lots of places. Airports. You have all those people standing there. They're on display. They're not doing much, but they're there for safety reasons on display.
SFX:(Tom and Jack laugh)
Luke:So it's a clear Perspex box with 100 armed policemen inside.
Corry:(Corry laughs uproariously)
Tom:Side burn on the US TSA there for some reason!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:They're not entirely unjustified, but still.
Corry:My mind jumps immediately to knives, but knives and bombs aren't... They're not the same thing, to my understanding.
Tom:(Tom laughs)
Jack:It must be sort of wires and electronics for it to be perceived as a bomb, surely.
Luke:Well, it's 'basically a bomb'.
Corry:It could also be like TNT or something. You know?
Luke:(Luke sputters)
Corry:Oh, like a, oh, come and drop— If you've got any bombs, come and drop them off in our big box.
Tom:Oh, yeah, the bomb amnesty box, yeah.
Corry:Yeah, exactly.
SFX:(group laughing)
Luke:Okay, I like that lateral thinking there, Corry, of "it's there for safety reasons" is to get the bomb, the TNT into the box, as opposed to it being safety itself. That is some nice lateral thinking. It doesn't sound like it's right, but it sounds like— I like it.
Jack:So, the fact it's Perspex must mean that people need to be able to see inside of it to check everything's there, and to check it's all kind of in place. Well, I feel like we're along the right lines with an airport or something, like a train station or something to make sure that everything's running okay.
Tom:There's certainly a lot of people around here.
Luke:So like an art museum...
Corry:Yeah, it's just an installation down at the Tate, you know.
Jack:(Jack chuckles)
Corry:I'm feeling something like— I say this. If it's a bomb... it doesn't necessarily need to be wires and whatnot. It could also be something like manure. Just anything that, you know, when put inside of a Perspex box—
Luke:100 caesium atoms.
SFX:(group snickering)
Corry:I don't think that's quite enough.
Luke:In a box. It's an amnesty box for your caesium. Bring your caesium down, guys, and hand it in. Don't get it wet, though.
SFX:(group laughing)
Corry:(Corry laughs harder)
Luke:"Oh no, it's raining! Close the box!"
SFX:(group laughter intensifies)
Corry:Really should have put a lid on that box, you know?
Luke:Can somebody put something in the box? Is there a little slot or some kind of opening there?
Tom:No, it's just on display.
Corry:So it's a sealed box, okay.
Jack:Switches, or something like that, with lights on, you need to be able to check the lights are on, they're flashing. You need to check that all the lights are flashing, so it looks like it's counting down. It's got a timer on it, maybe?
Tom:In this case, it's only 'basically' a bomb. It's not deliberately a bomb.
Luke:It's explosive in some way.
Corry:Yeah, a bomb is something that explodes very easily, right?
Tom:You've got a Perspex box with a load of 100 similar items inside it.
Corry:Similar, but not the same, so...
Tom:About a hundred.
Corry:So are these items inherently... shall we say, explosive, or... is it a reaction between them and each other? Or just you leave them over time, and they become... more dangerous?
Tom:If these degrade in just the right way... Yeah, you could have something explosive here.
Luke:Right. So it's loads of Samsung Galaxys from about four years ago. They're all hanging out in a Perspex box. And it's like, you have to hand in your Samsung Galaxys at airports. You're not allowed to— Certain— One Samsung Galaxy, before you get on a flight, you're not allowed to... It's all the confiscated Samsung Galaxys whose batteries explode, and they're not allowed on planes. And it's saying, don't take this phone on your plane. Here's 100 of them, for some reason.
Tom:You're surprisingly close. It's not a specific brand of mobile phone, but it is a box of 100 damaged mobile phones. That's why it's basically a bomb.
Luke:Wow, so it's phones that have exploded at some point, and it's showing them off and going, do not be this person.
Luke:Don't put your phone in the hold.
Tom:They haven't exploded. Not yet anyway. That's why it's basically a bomb. It's 100 damaged mobile phones. So why has someone installed a Perspex box of 100 damaged mobile phones next to a queue of people?
Corry:Oh my gosh, hold on, this is... It's next to a roller coaster or something.
Corry:And people have dropped their phones out of it. So it's just a display to show, be careful with your phone or it will fall out. Wow!
Luke:(Luke chuckles)
Tom:This is in a few places: Energylandia in Poland, Hersheypark in Pennsylvania. I've seen it in a couple places. When someone loses their phone on the ride, and it flies off and is shattered beyond recognition... At some point, someone will pick it up, and it goes in the box as a reminder to those who follow.
Corry:That is so dangerous and unnecessary. Oh my gosh!
SFX:(Corry and Jack laugh)
Tom:You say that. I've been on a rollercoaster, and I don't know what it was or what happened... But as we took a high speed curve, I just saw something out the corner of my eye fly past and go doonk-doonk-doonk off three metal supports and fly off. So presumably, that was someone holding their phone
Jack:Someone's phone.
Tom:and filming, lost it, and off it goes at relative speed of 100 miles an hour to the next coaster, so... There is a reason it's there.
Luke:I wonder if anybody's ever dropped their phone at the top of the loop, and then been hit on the head by it on the way out of the loop.
Jack:(Jack chuckles)
Tom:I don't know, but... That sounds like evil Dude Perfect.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Jack:Was gonna say, it takes the perfect photo of everyone on the rollercoaster as it fell down.
SFX:(group laughing)
Jack:And then you catch it again on the bottom.
Tom:I mean, you do hold in zero G at a moment there. In theory, you could let it go for just a second. But I wouldn't advise trying it.
Corry:You could engineer a rollercoaster such that... I think, I don't know actually. I don't know how fast the phone would fall. But you could probably engineer one where you're able to go around the loop, drop it, and it arrives at the bottom at the same time as you, maybe?
Tom:Well volunteered.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Corry, over to you for the next question. What have you got for us?
Corry:This question has been sent in by Steve Piers.

After an actress broke her ankle when filming the 1979 film The China Syndrome, it eventually led to the invention of Pizza Hut's Cheesy Bites pizza. How?

One more time.

After an actress broke her ankle when filming the 1979 film The China Syndrome, it eventually led to the invention of Pizza Hut's Cheesy Bites pizza. How?
Luke:I'm going to start us off here by saying, I think that part of the reason the Cheesy Bites pizzas exist, stuffed crust pizzas exist, is because there's some immense tax break on dairy that's a hangover from the war in America? Something like that? Is that correct?
Corry:I mean... No, but...
SFX:(others snickering)
Corry:It's in the right ish area, if that makes sense. You're absolutely dead wrong on every single detail, but...
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:But the vibes are right.
Corry:You're in the right spot. Yeah, it's the right vibe, exactly.
Luke:It's tax. It's about tax and money and financial incentives.
Jack:Was she supposed to be the actress in something else, and she broke her ankle, so she couldn't be in it? And that affected— That made someone invent the Cheesy Bites pizza? There's a big leap in there, but...
Luke:(Luke snorts)
Corry:I mean, it— (Corry laughs) It was less about... her not... being able to be in something else... And more about what she went on to do... after breaking her ankle.
Luke:She invented the Cheesy Bites pizza.
Corry:Well done Luke, you got— No, no. (laughs)
Luke:I did it!
Tom:Okay, this isn't like... I'm gonna drill down on what this pizza is, first of all. This is like having a tear-and-share extra bit 'round the pizza. It's not like they've just stuffed the crust. They've got a whole rip off the crust here, and it gives you something that could have been cooked separately, but it's... food innovation from the '80s, so...
Corry:(Corry laughs) Yeah, I mean... I guess the pizza itself... isn't all that important to this. I mean, it might be easier if you know who the actress is. So she was in 9 to 5, On the Golden Pond – or On Golden Pond – and Barbarella.
Luke:Three films I have never seen. (Luke snickers)
Tom:Is that Dolly Parton?
Corry:No, at "9 to 5", you would think Dolly Parton, but it's not Dolly Parton.
Tom:Alright, you've got three men looking on with no idea of film knowledge here.
Luke:(Luke laughs)
Corry:Yeah. Yeah, look, you call yourself a filmmaker.
Corry:So she needed help
Tom:(Tom chortles)
Corry:before she was okay to work again. That's kind of key there.
Luke:She had to eat loads of cheese to rebuild her bones because of the calcium in the cheese.
Jack:The calcium. (chuckles)
Luke:And she thought...
Corry:That's not how that works!
Luke:How do I get more cheese out of this pizza?" And so she invented, like I said. She invented the Cheesy Bites pizza.
Tom:I think our question writer might be hoping that one of us can identify the actress from that clue. (laughs) And I feel like we're kind of... dancing around in the dark here.
Corry:In the early '80s, she became famous for something else. And that's quite important. If you're going into the cheese... she's not really super related to the cheese.
Jack:Was she sort of had to be helped in a wheelchair or something by somebody else?
Corry:So she was helped by someone else. It wasn't a wheelchair. It was more about sort of... rehabilitation after she'd hurt herself. If that helps.
Tom:Who was the physio?
Corry:I don't have the name of the physio here.
SFX:(group laughing)
Corry:But, but... you won't know the name of the physio. You'll know the name of the actress who's actually very famous for something else in the '80s that's related to what the physio helped her with.
Luke:Okay, did she, for example, do loads of exercise videos? Was she one of those people who sold exercise DVDs?
Corry:Spot on, absolutely. So she sold exercise DVDs.
Tom:Oh? Well, video, VHSs back then.
Corry:VHS, yes, VHS.
Luke:Who was that really famous lady? Oh, that's so annoying. Pamela Anderson?
Corry:Not Pamela Anderson, no.
Luke:Okay, yeah.
Jack:It's not Olivia Newton-John, is it?
Corry:For some reason, I feel like that's closer, but it's also not correct. (laughs)
Tom:Not Olivia Newton-John. I'm just naming names from the '80s in my head now, like Gloria Estefan. That's not right, she's a musician.
Corry:Her surname sounds like a car brand, if that helps.
Luke:Bugatti. Lamborghini.
Tom:Betty Ford. Betty Ford who set up the clinics. But no, she's not an actress.
Luke:Sandra Toyota.
Corry:When I say sounds, it rhymes with a car brand.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Luke:Sandra Bloyota, famous exercise woman.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Oh god, give us some initials or something.
Corry:So her initials are JF.
Tom:Jane Fonda.
Luke:Jane Fonda.
Jack:Oh, Jane Fonda.
Corry:Jane Fonda, exactly.
Tom:Ohh, okay. We got there. We got there. Alright.
Corry:So you've got that it's Jane Fonda and her exercise videos. How does that then relate to Pizza Hut's stuffed crust?
SFX:(group cracks up)
Tom:Oh my god...
Luke:Was she doing a goop thing where she was saying that... cheese is really good for you, actually?
Corry:It's kind of the opposite of that, actually.
Jack:So she was saying cheese is very bad for you, so that sort of gave it great press?
Corry:So yeah, it is about the price of cheese and... her sort of...
Luke:(Luke gasps)
Corry:advertisements for certain dairy products.
Luke:Okay, so she said that cheese is awful for you, which crashed the price of cheese. And cheese became really cheap. And then Domino's were like, "Hey, the cheese is really cheap. Let's give everyone more cheese."
Corry:(laughs) No, so you're spot on. It is actually about economics.

So what happened was, Jane Fonda broke her ankle. And then she had sort of physiotherapy for that, and she got really into exercise. She made these exercise videos.

And in that, she was sort of saying, you know, go for semi skimmed milk, be healthier. And so people started going for semi skimmed milk.

And then what do you do with the rest of the milk that has been skimmed? You make cheese. And so suddenly, there was a lot of really cheap cheese, and then Pizza Hut bought up that cheese, and put it into their stuffed crust. (laughs) So, Jane Fonda breaking her ankle indirectly resulted in the invention of Pizza Hut's stuffed crust.
Tom:The last thing then. At the start of the show, I asked the audience:

In German supermarkets and restaurants, what can be bought in varieties called 'loud' and 'quiet'?

Does anyone want to take a quick punt at that?
Jack:Ooh, the only thing I— (Jack laughs)
Jack:The only thing I thought was sort of food that you— In the cinema or something that you don't want to be... noisy.
Luke:Ooh, crisps, popcorn. That kind of thing.
Jack:Yeah, exactly. But that's probably totally wrong.
Tom:It is quite literal. One of these options will be louder than the other.
Corry:Is it smooth peanut butter and crunchy peanut butter?
SFX:(group laughing)
Corry:Something like that.
Jack:What is a loud food? Explo— What's that, popping candies, do you know? Things like that.
Luke:Coco Pops.
Luke:No, Rice Krispies.
Tom:They don't all use this, by the way. There are other words for this, but some of the brands choose 'loud' and 'quiet'.
Corry:Is it like popcorn? You have loud corn, which is popcorn, and quiet corn, which is sweet corn.
SFX:(Corry and Luke snicker)
Tom:More of a bottle.
Luke:Oh, like Coca-Cola, like fizzy pop.
Corry:Oh, water! It's... What is it, still and sparkling water?
Tom:Still and sparkling water would be 'quiet' and 'loud' water for some German brands.

Thank you very much to all of you. We'll find out, what's going on in your world? Where can people find you?

We'll start with Jack.
Jack:So yeah, you can find me on my website, I've got a book out called London: A Guide for Curious Wanderers. And yeah, @LivingLondonHistory across the social media networks.
Tom:And when we have two people on from the same show, I never know who to go to first, so... Alright, well, Corry. You are pointing at yourself, Corry!
Corry:(Corry laughs)
Tom:Tell us where people can find you.
Corry:You can find me at @NotCorry everywhere, and you can find me also at Sci Guys, or at my house.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Don't encourage people! Luke, how about you?
Luke:You can find me at @LukeCutforth everywhere. You can also find me on the Sci Guys. And if you come to my house, I... I'm not responsible for my actions.
Corry:(Corry laughs uproariously)
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:That's a good threat we've got there.
Luke:That includes you, Corry!
Tom:It's a good threat. If you want to know more about this show, and definitely not come to anyone's house, then you can do that at, where you can also send in ideas for questions. You can find us at @lateralcast pretty much everywhere, and we have weekly video highlights at

With that, thank you very much to Luke Cutforth.
Luke:Thank you, Tom.
Tom:Corry Will.
Corry:Thank you very much, Tom!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:And Jack Chesher.
Jack:Thank you very much, Tom.
Luke:(Luke laughs heartily)
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
Luke:Thank you very much, Tom.
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