Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 68: Bright green icing

Published 26th January, 2024

Molly Edwards, Becky Stern and Jenny Draper face questions about fancy flowers, shirt selections and car coordination.

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: Henry Moors, Charlie Brodersen, Nix, Jonathan Watkins Bitel. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:What common wild plant gets its name because it resembles something when the sun rises?

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

Take a measure of intriguing stories, a little bit of sideways thinking, two shots of humour, and a splash of anecdote. Shake and pour over ice, and please enjoy our guests responsibly, who today are:

from the London History Show, J. Draper.
Jenny:Hello, good to be here.
Tom:How are you doing? Welcome back to another episode. How did you feel about last time?
Jenny:Yeah, I really enjoy coming on this show. It's so much fun. And yeah, thank you very much for having me.

These questions are always utterly bizarre. I wish I read the funny pages more. Those weird page seven parts of the newspaper, 'cause I feel like that would come in handy.
Tom:The question I always have for returning guests is, what are you working on at the minute? 'Cause it's going to be a few weeks till this episode comes out, so what can people expect if they look now at what you've been making?
Jenny:So, I'm currently working on an episode about Boudicca, who burned London to the ground in 60 CE, and yet we have a big statue of her right next to Big Ben.
Tom:And I'd ask why, but the answer is going to be watch the video about it, isn't it?
SFX:(group laughing)
Jenny:The answer is the Victorians.
Tom:Oh, okay. The answer's always the Victorians.
Jenny:Yeah, Walter Scott! Sorry.
Tom:(laughs) Also returning to the show, our botanist and science communicator, Molly Edwards.
Molly:How's it going, Tom? Thanks for having me.
Tom:Well, thanks for being back on the show. How did you find it last time?
Molly:Oh, I loved it. It tickled my brain. It was great.
SFX:(both laughing)
Tom:I'm just getting praise for the show here. It's lovely. Thank you very much.

What are you working on at the minute then? What can people expect from you in the weeks between this recording and the episode coming out?
Molly:Yeah, I've been visiting some fun labs. I think I'll have a video coming out where I visit a lab at Purdue, and we do some really crazy genetic manipulations on a really common weed that grows out of the pavement. And so we'll be doing some fun, weird things with plants.
Tom:And I want to ask more, but the answer is again, going to be watch the video on your channel. The last person we have today is a maker, and I don't know how else to describe, you make all sorts of stuff with all sorts of things. Becky Stern.
Becky:Hey, nice to be back. Yeah, I can teach you how to knit and program microcontrollers.
Tom:Can you teach a microcontroller to knit?
SFX:(Molly and Tom laugh)
Becky:I do have a knitting machine. Yeah, knitting machines though, they hurt my feelings.
Tom:Oh, okay.
Tom:I feel like I want to make a joke about the Luddites. But A) I'm not qualified, and B) Jenny will correct me on it.
Jenny:I actually don't know that much about the Luddites. But yeah, knitting machines are really, really tricky, right? It's really hard to get machines to knit.
Becky:Soul crushing. But let me tell you what I'm working on. It's a costume about Inspector Gadget.

So I'm Penny, and my very tall, lanky partner is Inspector Gadget, and I have made the computer book and the computer watch and the phone cosplay wig and this whole big Inspector Gadget costume that you can watch a video about on my channel. I've been working on it for more than a year. I'm a really serious Inspector Gadget fan.
Jenny:We are living in the future.
Molly:Yeah, this is going to be great.
Jenny:This cartoon that was insanely futuristic as a kid is... It's now, it's happening.
Tom:Good luck to all three of you. Our questions have more unexpected twists and turns than the Las Vegas Spaghetti Bowl. So let's hang a right onto question one.

In 1979, Sri Lanka did something to their official banknotes that China once did to their paper currency for over 900 years, but no longer. What is it?

I'll say that again.

In 1979, Sri Lanka did something to their official banknotes that China once did to their paper currency for over 900 years, but no longer. What is it?
Becky:Burn it.
Tom:Just, just all of it. They just did a KLF.
Becky:No, not all of it. Just the part to reduce the inflation or something. I don't know.
Tom:I just realised I threw the phrase 'did a KLF' into the conversation there, which I suspect no one's gonna get the reference of.
Jenny:Mm-mm. Nope.
Tom:They were a band from the late '80s, early '90s. Basically invented acid house music. Earned a million pounds in royalties. And decided that as art, they were going to take it in cash to a Scottish island and burn it.
Jenny:Oh, wow! What, you're joking?
Tom:They did. I suspect much later they regretted it. But it was art. It was definitely art.
Molly:Yeah, totally.
Becky:There's a Dutch, there's an artist in Europe being sued right now for some gallery for... he 'took the money and run.'
Jenny:Take the Money and Run, yeah.
Becky:Yeah, as the art piece. He's being sued, and now he has to return the money.
Tom:Yeah, he took the money and just delivered a couple of blank canvases, right? And just said, "That's the artwork, you paid me for it."
Becky:Well, he said, "That's the artwork. I named it 'Take the Money and Run'." But you said it was a one-time thing? Or a thing that China did for— You said that China did it for 900 years.
Tom:Yeah, China did this—
Becky:Paper money. They've had paper for money for 900 years?
Tom:I mean, you name it, China probably invented it first.
Jenny:Is this something that's like, the design of the money? Like what's printed on it?
Tom:Yeah, yeah, you're in the right area there.
Molly:But it can't be be one of those mic— the sort of crazy tech we use now for preventing counterfeit stuff, right? 'Cause it's been around for 900 years.
Becky:Yeah, like the super fancy... Have you been following the glitter controversy and these high-tech film cutting companies that, yeah, they make the glittery film on the money. That can't be it.
Tom:I remember there being a controversy about glitter because there was a big long read about the glitter industry that said the glitter company refuses to say who their biggest customer is. Which of course sent every nerd on the internet into overdrive trying to figure it out. Is it fighter jets? Is it car paint? Is it currency counterfeiting? Well, the opposite of counterfeiting.
Jenny:Did we ever find out who it was? I can't remember that.
Becky:It's ongoing.
Becky:It's in all of those things. None of those things are secret. But yeah, the really thin, fancy films are in money, but it's a high-tech thing. So that can't be 900 years of China, but there's some kind of anti-counterfeiting. Is it some kind of anti-counterfeiting, Tom?
Molly:Is it, the lengths of the notes are different so that people can tell what notes they are? Like what the value is by their length? 'Cause some people— Sometimes countries introduce it or take it away. I don't know.
Tom:You're vaguely in the right area. You're all talking about design now. That's the area we're talking about.
Jenny:So, is it that they had... I'm sure that the Chinese did not have the same guy on their money for 900 years. That can't be right. They put the guy who'd been on the Chinese money for 900 years, and they're like, "We're having him too."
Becky:That seems like it could be the case if it's like Confucius or something. You know, why not?
Molly:Oh yeah, is it a quote? Like an 'In God We Trust' kind of thing, but a saying that they borrowed from?
Tom:It's more of an artistic choice.
Molly:An artistic choice, okay.
Tom:But there was a cultural reason China did it as well.
Jenny:Is it the colour of the notes? So... in the US, you guys— all the money's the same colour, but in this country, they're all different colours, so you can tell them apart? Is that what they did?
Tom:No, but you are... I can't say any more than you're dancing around the design.
Jenny:Did they make them all red?
Becky:Did they put a person on the money for the first time?
Tom:No. It's not just Sri Lanka that's done this. Brazil, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong have all done this over the last 30 years as well. But there is a reason why China would do this. Why it would be natural for China to do this.
Jenny:Something they've got a lot of in China? Is they make it out of silk, or...
Molly:Oh yeah, put silk threads in it, maybe? They have little threads running through the paper.
Becky:Yeah, I mean even American money now is part fabric, right?
Jenny:Yeah. Ours used to be cotton, I think.
Tom:American money even has more than one colour now. Just sometimes.
Jenny:Ooh, do you?
Becky:Just sometimes. Just sometimes. Let's not go crazy about making the bills a different shape or anything.
Becky:He made wide eyes about the shape of the money.
Tom:There are banknotes in existence right now. Brazil, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka all do this.
Jenny:Is it a funny shape on the edge? Like our stamps? A cool edge?
Tom:It's basically just a printing decision.
Molly:Yeah, is it... (stammers) the bleed of the print? It goes all the way out to the edge or not?
Tom:You said square a little while ago, and that wasn't quite right either, but there's one other option there.
Molly:Rectangle, square, trapezoid. (chuckles)
Jenny:Did they change it from portrait to landscape?
Tom:I mean, the other way 'round. But yes, I'll give you it.
Tom:Sri Lanka changed to portrait notes in 1979. Since then, Brazil, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, that's a design decision. So that was the change. Why did China do that for 900 years?
Jenny:Because they write vertically.
Tom:Because they write vertically.
Molly:(grumbles) Mhm.
Tom:Spot on.
Jenny:Oh, man, I said that as a joke! Yay!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Yes, for 900 years, Chinese banknotes, originally promissory notes, were portrait, because China writes vertically.

Becky, first guest question of the show, over to you.
Becky:A bookshop has wall-mounted a French novel written in 1844. To its top left is a Charles Dickens book, a Ken Kesey book, and a Shakespeare play. To its bottom left are works by Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, and A.A. Milne. Name the book.

I'll read that again.

A bookshop has wall-mounted a French novel written in 1844. To its top-left is a Charles Dickens book, a Ken Kesey book, and a Shakespeare play. To its bottom left are works by Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, and A.A. Milne. Name the book.
Jenny:So, A.A. Milne wrote Winnie-the-Pooh.
Tom:Vonnegut could be Slaughterhouse-Five or Catch-22. Is Catch-22 Vonnegut? No, that's Heller.
Tom:Vonnegut is Slaughterhouse-Five.
Jenny:Slaughterhouse-Five is legit.

Do they all have the same word in the title?
Becky:No. They have a common thread, but it's not the same word.
Tom:The only French novel that I can think of is Les Misérables. That's literally the only one...
Jenny:I mean, I'm guessing it's a Hugo novel.
SFX:(group laughing)
Jenny:Or like, Molière. But I dunno what the thread would be. So, okay, so we've got Charles Dickens... Ken Kesey, I don't recognise that name.
Tom:No we're looking blank on that one, okay.
Molly:Okay, blank, Shakespeare.
Jenny:Who was after Kesey?
Tom:King, Vonnegut, and Milne.
Jenny:King, Vonnegut, and Milne.
Tom:So we've got Winnie-the-Pooh on the bottom. It's gotta be a Winnie-the-Pooh book.
Jenny:Yeah, surely.
Molly:Surely, right?
Jenny:We presume it's a Winnie-the-Pooh book. Is this like... So it's how many altogether? Six? Seven?
Molly:And the French one is the seventh? Okay.
Becky:The French one, and it's the third.
Jenny:The third.
Molly:Is the number of books total significant or is it just—
Tom:Oh, so there's seven of them. Okay. We've got—
Becky:There are seven books in total in the question. But there are more of them involved than that in the...
Tom:Oh, that throws out all my trying to crack this like it's a connections puzzle or something. Okay, fine.
Jenny:But the books that they've listed in the question are enough for us to pick up the common thread, I guess.
Becky:Yes, it's a common thread, but it's not the same word. So perhaps you should think of more books.
Jenny:Is it like, they all have a colour in the title? Or...
Tom:There's some top left and bottom left, so what kind of layout has that with... with the French book, presumably on the right of what looks like an arrowhead or something like that? It feels like it's pointing a certain direction.
Molly:But there might be more. We don't know the placement of the other books, right?
Becky:They're on a wall in a bookshop.
Molly:In a bookshop. Is it a ti— Is it ti— ...No.
Jenny:Is it their bestsellers? "Here are our top bestsellers ever"?
Becky:That's not what the answer to the question is, but surely they're all very famous books, yeah.
Molly:I'm going through my Shakespeare Rolodex and trying to figure out what the common thread is with Winnie-the-Pooh. (laughs)
Becky:Yeah, right.
Tom:Okay, so, somewhere near the Winnie-the-Pooh book, there is a Vonnegut book. Now, the Slaughterhouse-Five. What other Vonnegut books are there? I can't remember my Vonnegut.
Molly:Nope, same.
Jenny:I'm drawing a blank on it. To my shame.
Becky:They've got one of the books? Okay. Your Slaughterhouse-Five is the Kurt Vonnegut book.
Becky:...that we are looking for, but yeah.
Molly:Is Winnie-the-Pooh the Milne?
Becky:Winnie-the-Pooh is a series of books. So you're gonna have to get more specific.
Molly:Oh, pick one, okay.
Jenny:The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ? Now they're all called something like that, right?
Tom:Something about Hundred Acre Wood.
Molly:Oh, and a hundred— Christopher Robin and... I don't know my Pooh lore.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Blustery Day, isn't that one of them? Something like that.
Jenny:But they're all anthologies of short stories. So Blustery Day would be an individual story.
Becky:I'll give you another clue. There's something in the middle of this arrangement. And it's not the book we're looking for.
Jenny:Are they making a clock?
Jenny:So they've all got numbers?
Tom:A Tale of Two Cities.
Tom:A Tale of Two Cities.
Jenny:Or Two Gentlemen of Verona?
Jenny:No, there's gotta be another one. Hang on, the—
Tom:It's The Three Musketeers! Because if it's on the far right of the clock, it's The Three Musketeers.
Becky:(laughs) Jenny had the premise right. It's a clock with each title forming a number. Tom got the name of the book, which is The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. Now what are the other books? We got Shakespeare, we got Ken Kesey, We got Charles Dickens, Stephen King.
Tom:So Shakespeare's in like 12 or 1. Twelfth Night.
Tom:I don't know the Kesey book.
Becky:Ken Kesey wrote a book about a guy in jail. It has the name of a bird in the title.
Jenny:One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ?
Tom:One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest . Nice. Two o'clock has to be Dickens. That, I think, Jenny, you've got Tale of Two Cities.
Becky:It's Tale of Two Cities. Or the other one, I suppose, would be fine, as it also says two. And then now we're looking for the four from Stephen King.
Tom:We know five is Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five. What Stephen King novel has a four in the title?
Jenny:Mmm... hmm... Misery... Ku— no. Dark Tower... Dreamcatcher.
Tom:I think you might have to tell us the other two.
Becky:The Stephen King novel is Four Past Midnight. And the A.A. Milne book is Now We Are Six.
Molly:Oh, yeah.
Becky:Great job, everyone got the premise of the clock on the wall of the bookshop featuring many famous books that all have numbers in the title, including The Three Musketeers, written by French author Alexandre Dumas.
Tom:Next one's from me, and was sent in by Nix.

Thank you very much. Typically, the Wikipedia page for 'Cleopatra' used to receive 7,000 page views a day. Since 2020, it has steadily increased to 200,000 views a day. Why?

I'll say that again.

Typically, the Wikipedia page for 'Cleopatra' used to receive 7,000 page views a day. Since 2020, it has steadily increased to 200,000 page views a day. Why?
Jenny:I mean, they are making a movie about her with Gal Gadot.
Tom:Are they?
Jenny:Yeah, I'm guessing that isn't really a lateral thinking question.
SFX:(Tom and Molly laugh)
Jenny:That wouldn't be very lateral. Just, do you know that there's a movie?
Tom:Oh no, we're doing full-on product placement now. We're not just having...
SFX:(Jenny and Molly laugh)
Tom:You know, we might be slotting some adverts in at some point around here. You know, there might be some host reads. I've been thinking about sponsored questions and things like that, but we are not product placing in the middle of questions yet. I mean make an offer, if anyone wants to.
Becky:Cleopatra 2020!
Tom:It's been a steady increase.
Molly:A steady increase?
Becky:A steady increase?
Jenny:Specifically 2020. Is that significant?
Molly:Yeah, is it... Did one of the coronavirus pages link to her for some reason?
SFX:(Molly and Tom laugh)
Jenny:Is there someone famous who's called Cleopatra, and they keep getting the wrong page? Well, I can't think of anybody.
Becky:I mean, she's always been a badass lady.
Becky:People are just starting to recognize how cool she is.
SFX:(others laughing)
Jenny:Yeah, she's been really unsung throughout history.
SFX:(group laughing)
Becky:And there are— There have been continually some new Egypt discoveries happening, but not related to Cleopatra specifically, right?
Tom:I was surprised the number was that low back then. 7,000 a day feels like it should be low for a big historic figure like that, but yeah, certainly there isn't any other figure that's seen that sort of increase without there being, you know, news events or movies or something like that.

In this case, it's not that there happens to be a new movie.
Becky:Texas finally put her in a textbook.
Jenny:We'll let you have one woman!
Tom:But she has to be ancient and long gone and no threat to anyone!
Becky:And use makeup that causes cancer.
SFX:(Tom and Molly crack up)
Tom:We laugh, but there's gonna be a couple of months between recording this and when the episode comes out, and honestly...
Jenny:Hooh. Yeah, best not make jokes. We're tempting the devil here.
Becky:Somebody wore, went as her for Halloween and then sparked a years long trend of Cleopatra Halloween costumes. Heidi Klum.
Tom:It's a steady increase. This is just continuing to roll onwards.
Jenny:Is it that her page has been translated into a really big language, like Chinese or something?
Tom:This is English language.
Becky:Field of Egyptology has been growing steadily since...
Jenny:She's just popular, I don't know what else...
SFX:(group giggling)
Jenny:Why does there need to be a reason that she's popular?
Becky:It's just so hot right now.
Tom:That's... Why does there need to be a reason? There isn't a particular reason that Cleopatra in herself is interesting here.
Jenny:Okay. Is it just, there's more people going onto Wikipedia?
Tom:No, it's—
Jenny:No, he said this was unusual.
Molly:No, it's specific. Yeah, was there a product or a... a health phenomenon that someone needed to look up that led to her...?
Jenny:Is there an app called Cleo? Is that...
Tom:No, but you're starting to move towards the right area there. There's some technology involved. Almost like it was chosen at random.
Jenny:Is Cleopatra the name of a computer thing? Like, is she the name of an AI or a ChatGPT database? Have they made a lady bot called Cleopatra?
Becky:He said it was something related to— Could it be somebody Cleopatra interacted with a lot, like...
Molly:Antony. (chuckles)
Jenny:Marc Antony.
SFX:(Jenny and Molly laugh)
Becky:Sorry, he's just a white guy. I can't remember his name.
Molly:Yeah, just a guy.
SFX:(group laughing)
Molly:Is it a satellite or something in orbit that we communicate with?
Tom:It wasn't because of anything going on in the world. It was picked almost at random.
Molly:A hurricane? (snickers) No?
Tom:What might drive a load of traffic to one Wikipedia page for no obvious reason?
Jenny:Did the 'Random Page' button get stuck... on her?
Becky:Is it something like... on Reddit when they're protesting, they're putting the pictures of John Oliver.
Molly:Oh yeah.
Jenny:Yeah. (laughs)
Becky:And that's a non sequitur.
Jenny:Yeah, I've seen people try and explain to... old-fashioned news anchors, why sexy John Oliver, and...
Jenny:They have a whole hell of a time.
Tom:It's not in protest ...but it's the same sort of thing. They could have picked anything for that. Didn't have to be John Oliver. Could've picked basically any noun to fit in there, and it's the same sort of thing.
Jenny:Is she being used as a placeholder for another website, like a link?
Tom:A placeholder, an example. Something like that, certainly.
Molly:Was she an avatar for something?
Tom:What's been used a lot more over the last few years? Sort of steadily, more and more people are starting to interact with this.
Jenny:Zoom? Masks?
Molly:Yeah, just an AI chat, like...
Tom:Yeah, I'll give you that.
Jenny:She's— I can't say her name too loud, 'cause...
Becky:Oh, she'll wake!
Tom:Oh, you have one! Oh, you've just activated everyone's listening, haven't you? Oh no!
SFX:(Tom and Molly laugh)
Tom:Sorry to anyone who had that on the speaker.
Molly:Is she the default face for one of the...
Becky:She's the default request.
Molly:Request for, yeah, for one of the—
Tom:You know what, I think between you, you're all close enough.

When you set up Google Assistant, and when you're going through the tutorial, or if you just wait on the Google Assistant screen and have some examples come up, it might suggest:

"Try saying, 'show Cleopatra on Wikipedia'."
Molly:Ohh! Whoa! Okay.
Tom:I think between you all, you got all the relevant parts of that.

Yeah, it's one of the example search terms since 2020, and as that software got rolled out to all the Google Assistants, and more and more people bought the Google Assistants that have displays, either the owner or their kid would see the instruction and say it.

And so, suddenly, Cleopatra's Wikipedia article is getting a load of hits, because one engineer picked that name almost at random.
Jenny:Wikipedia drama is just fascinating.
Becky:It's not random. It's because she's a cool lady!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Molly, next question's from you. Whenever you're ready.
Molly:Okay, this question has been sent in by Charlie Brodersen.

Unhappy with what was happening, cake artist Natalie Sideserf started to use bright green buttercream in her projects. Why?

One more time.

Unhappy with what was happening, cake artist Natalie Sidesurf started to use bright green buttercream in her projects. Why?
Becky:I think I know, so I'm gonna sit this one out.
Tom:Alright, it's on me and you, Jenny.
Jenny:Alrighty, so, is she making... Is she changing the colour of something to bright green? So, like... She's annoyed that... the... What I'm thinking of is... those period adverts where it shows blue water instead of blood.
SFX:(Tom and Molly laugh)
Jenny:But you can't— The green doesn't work, but maybe something like that, where she's like, "Why aren't you making it green?"
Molly:(laughs) I love that, but that is not the reason.
Tom:I'm just trying to avoid going on a long rant about how fondant is terrible and should be banned, and she was just unhappy with fondant, and so therefore just switched to buttercream. But that also does not explain the green.
Becky:I agree with you, Tom. Fondant, anti-fondant solidarity.
Tom:Thank you. Wait, do we have unanimity? Unanim— Unan-inim— Uni— Are we all in agreement on that?
Becky:It looks great, though. I like watching people make stuff out of it.
Jenny:I'm part of the even more heathen pro-marzipan gang.
Tom:Oh, no.
Becky:Oh, I'm totally pro-marzipan.
Tom:Oh, no.
Becky:I love marzipan.
Tom:Sorry, we were all angry at you for the concept of marzipan there. Sorry, carry on.
SFX:(Jenny and Molly laugh)
Jenny:Okay, so did she not like the colour before it was bright green? Is that what she's angry about?
Molly:No, she... That was her anger towards... Not green buttercream was not the reason.
Jenny:Okay. "Blue!"
Tom:Is there cake piracy? Are people ripping off her designs, or... No, because you can't... I don't know, I'm just stuck on the phrase 'cake piracy' now, and I don't even know how that works.
Molly:It's a great word, and you should keep talking, Tom.
SFX:(group snickering)
Tom:Well, yes, but also now I've taken piracy in the terms of swashbuckling. And honestly, that's...
Jenny:Arr, my hearties.
Molly:Arr. (laughs)
Jenny:Get you to cakewalk the plank.
Tom:Eyy, there we go.
Tom:It was in there somewhere.

So, because I've put things in videos before to make them less likely to get ripped off by other people, because I'm sending out a lot of just DMCA claims to TikTok right now 'cause there's AI apps that will just take my channel and convert it into... badly produced stuff there.

So I'm like, is there something that people were ripping off her designs or her photos or something like that? But it's like, "Oh no, that's definitely mine. It's got bright green but—" But that doesn't make sense, 'cause you could— If you're ripping off her design, you could just not use the green food colouring.
Molly:/(laughs) Keep— You're so— Tom, you're so close.
Molly:Keep talking, keep talking, keep talking. Yeah.
Jenny:Oh, man. Okay, so she's... Is it... not like people stealing her...
Tom:People weren't paying her.
Jenny:Oh, because it goes green screen, right?
Jenny:You can make your cake into a green screen.
Molly:That would be really cool. But that's not it.
SFX:(group laughing)
Molly:No, but you're so close. You're really, with the piracy and everything, you're really, you're...
Tom:Oh, I thought you had it then. I really thought you had it.
Molly:When I first read the question, I was like, "Oh, green screen, something cool," but no. (laughs) But I feel like we should tell her that that's a really great idea she should try.
Jenny:Green screen cake.
Molly:Have you considered?
Jenny:YouTube cakes are so beyond my care. And they probably have done green screen cakes.
Molly:Yeah, probably. And the fondant, that smooth surface, would be so good for...
Tom:Are people claiming that they made her cakes? And so her signature is that she uses green buttercream and makes them look worse?
Molly:Yeah, yeah, yes, basically. So it's, yes, yes. You got it, Tom.

She, I think... people have been just re-uploading her videos as their own. They remove her voice and face and stuff. And so when she does the slice and has the reveal of the green buttercream in the layers in the inside of the cake, then it's her signature. And so yeah, the outside still is pretty and has fondant and decorations and stuff, but the inside slice is where it's kind of her way to prevent people from stealing her content.
Becky:Or at least make it easier to do the DMCA takedown when she does find people pirating her content.
Jenny:Ahh. Yeah, I was thinking she was making a green Pikachu cake or something.
SFX:(Tom and Molly laugh)
Tom:It's on the inside is the bit I couldn't figure out.

Thank you to Jonathan Watkins Bitel for sending this question in.

Helen places an online order for two smart shirts – one for each of her twins. The shirts are the same size, shape, colour, and design. How did she give the shirts to the correct child, even though they arrived unlabelled?

I'll say that again.

Helen places an online order for two smart shirts – one for each of her twins. The shirts are the same size, shape, colour, and design. How did she give the shirts to the correct child, even though they arrived unlabelled?
Jenny:Oh, when you say a smart shirt...
Molly:Yeah, smart, I have— Yeah, I have the same question. (laughs) Smart as in...
Jenny:Do you mean a smart shirt as in one that's got a colour, or do you mean one that's got... a computer in it?
Tom:Oh! (laughs) I hadn't even thought of that reading! Okay, no, a dress shirt. A formal shirt. A shirt that you could put a tie over and go to the office with.
Becky:Can you mention again the traits that the shirts share? Size, colour...
Tom:Size, shape, colour, design.
Jenny:So what's the difference?
Becky:Yeah, that's the thing, if they're this— There's gotta be something different about the shirts from each other, right? Because otherwise, if they didn't matter, this wouldn't be a question.
Tom:That is correct.
Molly:Does design encompass every— or can you be like, they're buttons. It's not their buttons, but... how nitpicky can we go?
Tom:Why might it be their buttons?
Jenny:Because women and men's shirts button the other way 'round. So if she's got a twin that's a girl and a twin that's a boy, the buttons would be on the opposite ways.
Tom:Then you might accidentally stumble into the answer to the question immediately. Congratulations!
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:And this is why you always say an answer even if you think it's stupid, because you're right. Molly, it was the buttons. And Jenny, you're right. Traditionally, men's shirts button on one side. Women's button up on the other. Which I think was to do with having your servants dress you? I think that's a story.
Jenny:I have also heard that.
Jenny:Yeah, I don't know how true that is. But yeah, it's a story I've heard as well.
Tom:Yes, and they were fraternal twins, not identical twins. That was the thing that you just completely skipped over in the question! (laughs)

Congratulations, to all of you. We'll just move on. I can just screw that question up.
SFX:(paper crumples)
Tom:We'll move on.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:So as I try and unrumple this paper, Jenny, over to you for the next question.
Jenny:Okay. "Jake, I'm arresting you for a hit-and-run," says a police officer, showing him a recent photo of his car from CCTV.

Jake protests, "The car's in the same place as your photo. Someone ran into it while it was parked."

The officer replies, "I think that's highly unlikely." Why?

So I'll read it again.

"Jake, I'm arresting you for a hit-and-run," says a police officer, showing him a recent photo of his car from CCTV.

Jake protests, "The car's in the same place as your photo. Someone ran into it while it was parked."

The officer replies, "I think that's highly unlikely." Why?
Tom:Man, I know we're supposed to come in with immediately a stupid answer on this to get it going, but I've got nothing!
Molly:Was there motion blur or something in the photo? It wasn't...
Jenny:There's no motion blur.
Tom:And the car's parked in the same spot.
Jenny:The car is in the same spot.
Tom:And I'm going to assume that he doesn't have a dashcam, or they haven't got him on CCTV somewhere else actually hitting the person.
Tom:I'm also assuming that this is a fictional scenario made up by the question writer, and not a thing that's actually happened in history.
Molly:Who's to know?
Jenny:I mean, I don't know that one for certain. So I mean, I would hope so too. But yeah, that's not confirmed by my notes. Maybe it is real.
Becky:Something about, is there additional evidence like maybe the CCTV access. Maybe there's another picture from previous that shows the car, and it's not damaged? Presumably we're being able to see the damage to the car.
Tom:There's a big old blood stain on the front of the car now.
SFX:(Jenny and Molly laugh)
Becky:It's a big— Or the fender is dented and then he has earlier CCTV footage of it being not dented.
Jenny:Yes, you're right. So there's damage on the car now. Jake is contending, "Well, that's 'cause someone hit me while I left it there." And the police officer's like, "No, that's not what happened."
Tom:I have to remember that hit-and-run is not just hitting a person. Hit-and-run is any incident where there's damage and someone has driven off.
Jenny:Yeah, it took me a while to get that as well.
Becky:So he has CCTV footage of the parking spot being empty, proving that the car wasn't there the whole time?
Jenny:You would think so, but no.
Tom:So it's like a photo of the car as it was. A photo of the car now. Or, they can look at the car now.
Jenny:As it is now.
Tom:And the car is now damaged.
Molly:But it's being implicated in a hit-and-run.
Tom:Something between there means there's evidence that he drove out and came back at some point.
Tom:Is it... okay... Is it that the ground under the car is wet, and it's rained, and... there's not a dry patch under the car?
Jenny:So, nothing has changed on the street.
Jenny:It's a good answer, but no. Nothing has changed on the street.
Molly:Was the car it hit a really weird col— A really weird color, like lime green? And it left a big, lime green streak on the car?
Jenny:That would work either way, right? If Jake was hit by the green car or...
Molly:Oh shoot, yeah, okay, yeah, yeah.
Tom:Also, only when you cut into it and reveal what's inside.
SFX:(Jenny and Molly laugh)
Becky:It's cake.
Jenny:The police officer's like...
Molly:The car is cake!
SFX:(Tom and Molly laugh)
Becky:That's the answer. Because the car is now cake!

He has an alibi.
Jenny:He does not have an alibi. This is not how the officer knows.

So Jake is right. The car is in the same place as it was in the photo. The photo doesn't show the milometer, so the officer can't prove it's moved that way. Nothing's changed on the street. The tyres are flat.

It is something to do with that part of the car.
Molly:The location it happened in has a... an endemic soil type. (laughs)Like clay.
Becky:Yeah, exactly.
Molly:And the same clay was on the—
Tom:Are we looking to prove that the car has moved? Is that all we need to prove, or do we need to prove that the car definitely hit something versus something hitting it? We just need to prove this?
Jenny:We need to prove that Jake has been driving this car in between... the CCTV photo being taken and now.
Becky:You said it's something to do with the tyres?
Jenny:And it is something to do with that part of the car.
Tom:Debris and the dust in the wheel wells.
Jenny:So you're right, it is something very small. But it is something you can see from the photo of the car. Are any of you car drivers? Yeah.
Jenny:I know that... you said you're from New York, so I thought maybe not.
Becky:Well, well, yeah, I have a cargo van and three motorcycles, and I have had some experience... claiming insurance claims where my motorcycle has been damaged while it's been parked and having to demonstrate
Jenny:Oh no.
Becky:that it was parked while it had the accident.
Jenny:Oh, this might come in handy for you in the future then.
Becky:Mostly they just believe me.
SFX:(group laughing)
Jenny:Yeah, mostly the office is not like, "I think that's highly unlikely."
Becky:But I am trying to think of my own cargo van. How can I tell that it's been moved? Well, it's just like in a slightly different spot in the spot. It's not as close to the curb as it was.
Molly:It's not like the meter maids are— they chalk your wheel, and then... you bring it back, and... so even if you've parked in the same spot, it's probably not lining up with the chalk?
Becky:Is it the writing on the tyres? The writing on the tyres is in a different position?
Jenny:You're getting close. You're thinking along the right lines.
Tom:Sorry, can you explain chalking the wheels to me?
Molly:Yeah sometimes meter maids will chalk your tyre and the pavement, and so if... to see if you've moved your car.
Becky:For the two hour parking or whatever.
Molly:Yeah, for two hour parking. So you can like maybe make an argu— sometimes you can get in your car and move it forward a couple inches, and then if the chalk doesn't line up, the meter maid can't ticket you because, yeah.
Jenny:So this is a real life way that traffic wardens or meter maids do figure out if your car has moved, but it's not chalk. It is something you can do from a photo.
Becky:Is it the valve? The location of the valve on the tire has moved?
Tom: Oh!
Jenny:There we go! Good job! Nice. So yeah, the position of the tyre valves has changed. So that you can tell, that car has moved since this photo was taken because the tyre valves are...
Becky:Must be some crisp CCTV camera they got going on there.
SFX:(group laughing)
Molly:Enhance, enhance!
Jenny:Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Well done. So yeah, the position of the tyre valves has changed. Although Jake's car is in the same place, and nothing's changed on the street, the tyre valves are in a different position. So that means that even, you know, that the car has to have been driven somewhere in the meantime.
Becky:Because Jake lied about it, he's guilty.
SFX:(group laughing)
Jenny:Or at least he's like, "Hey, he's hiding something, right? He's doing something shady." And yeah... Genuine police forces use this to to determine whether a car has been, yeah, involved in a hit-and-run or has been stolen, to know if it's moved or not.
Tom:Which brings us to the question I asked the audience right at the very start. Thank you to Henry Moors and his father for sending this one in.

What common wild plant gets its name because it resembles something when the sun rises?

Does anyone want to take a quick guess before I give the answer to that?
Becky:Defer to the plant expert.
Molly:I know, I should know this, right? I don't. This is going to be a new plant factoid for me. I'm excited. (laughs)
Jenny:It's a plant we're going to know? Yes. Is it a plant that means just 'sunrise' in Latin or something?
Tom:No, but it's a plant that opens up at sunrise. Not a sunflower, but one that opens up.
Molly:Oh, a four o'clock or something? No, but that doesn't— That's not what it looks like. It doesn't resemble the sun.
Jenny:A daisy does that.
Tom:Yes, it does.
Jenny:Why is a daisy called that then?
Molly:Oh, because it's a 'days'...?
Molly:From the day! (laughs)
Tom:You've got the 'day' part right. What does it look like when it opens up?
Jenny:An eye.
Tom:An eye.

It comes from the Old English for "day's eye", because the disc of the flower is revealed in the morning.

Thank you very much to all of our players. Congratulations on running the gauntlet once again. What's going on with you all? Where can people find you? What are you up to?

We will start today with Becky.
Becky:Hey, you can find me, Becky Stern, on the internet, my website, or my YouTube channel. And let me know what you think of my Inspector Gadget cosplay.
Jenny:Hello, I am @JDraper on YouTube, and @JDraperLondon on TikTok, and you can find me for all sorts of London history.
Tom:And Molly.
Molly:I'm @ScienceIRL on the internet, and I'm doing my sciencey thing, playing with plants, doing weird experiments, visiting labs, all that good stuff.
Tom:And if you want to know more about this show, you can do that at We are at @lateralcast pretty much everywhere, and there are regular video highlights at

With that, thank you very much to Molly Edwards.
Molly:Thanks so much, Tom.
Tom:Jenny Draper.
Jenny:It was great to be here. Thank you.
Tom:And Becky Stern.
Becky:Thanks so much.
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
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