Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 70: Holding up a desk lamp

Published 9th February, 2024

Hannah Fry, Lily Hevesh and Brian David Gilbert face questions about Tokyo text, state symbols and copyright clauses.

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: Jason Roberts, Tarun, Hans Bartel, Wes Potter. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:In 1969, who asked the US Postal Service to change the state abbreviation for Nebraska from NB to NE?

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

Welcome to this very special show, which has been voted the funniest ever episode of Lateral by the International Time Travellers Club. So no pressure for our guests today.

We start with mathematician and writer Hannah Fry. Welcome back to the show.
Hannah:Hi. Thank you for having me. That was a really...

I'm annoyed that you made up that joke and I didn't. That was great.
Tom:(laughs) I'll be honest. I don't write most of these.
Tom:This is... just a brilliant one that's come in from the producer. Sometimes they try and have me talk in a pirate accent. Sometimes they give me just long strings of alliteration.

This one, be proud of this one, to our team.
Hannah:You are their meat puppet, Tom. That's...
SFX:(both laughing)
Tom:Thanks for that.
Hannah:You're welcome.
Tom:I was gonna ask how it was first time on the show for you last time, but you know what? I've just been called a meat puppet. I might just move on.

How was your first appearance last time?
Hannah:It was good. I think, you know, I think we worked well as a team. I think that we got some lateral stuff out there. We basically we had fun, and that's what it's really about.
Tom:Also joining us:

Domino artist extraordinaire. Professional domino artist. I don't know what... How on earth do you describe someone who puts up dominoes and knocks 'em down for a living? I don't know.

But Lily Hevesh, welcome back to the show.
Lily:Thank you so much. Yeah, and you can also just say domino builder or domino setter-upper. Sometimes people say that. (laughs)
Tom:What's the biggest thing you've made with dominoes? I feel like that's the obvious question everyone has to ask, but do you have solo stuff? Do you have team efforts? How does it all work?
Lily:Yeah. Actually, earlier this year, I was in the Netherlands helping to set up 800,000 dominoes, and this took over 30 people in two weeks to set up.
Tom:Wow. How long does it take to knock down?
Lily:I think it was around 20 minutes. But keep in mind, this is considered the largest community domino build, unofficial kind of world record.
Brian:Oh my gosh.
Lily:Not Guinness, but you know, the team of people who just love dominoes.
Tom:Well, thank you very much for returning. The third member of our panel today... quietly whispering "Oh my gosh" in the background at the number of dominoes.
Tom:Writer, YouTuber Brian David Gilbert, welcome back to the show.
Brian:Hello, hello. Happy to be back. Also happy that I am not a domino setter-upper, because I feel like that would be more stressful than doing surgery for me.
Brian:My hands would be shaking the entire time. So yeah, I'm glad that that's not my profession.
Tom:I feel like I'd want my surgeon to have steady hands. But you would really be more nervous doing that than something like surgery?
Brian:Oh, 100%. Some person, who cares.
Brian:If I'm letting down all of my friends who have been setting up dominoes for two weeks, that's a big deal. A person's life? Pssht.
Brian:Who cares, whatever. It's not a big deal, but...
SFX:(others laughing)
Brian:The dominoes, stressful.
Lily:That's so interesting 'cause people always tell me, "Oh, Lily, you should be a surgeon with your steady hands."

And I'm like, "Oh no. Definitely not."
SFX:(Lily and Brian laugh)
Lily:Not for me.
Tom:Somewhere there's a sitcom double act here, and I can't quite figure out where it sits.
Tom:Good luck to all three of you.

Our guests have to use enough foresight on these questions so that when they look back to where they've been, they walk into the right answer before they've even seen it.

Got that? Good. 'Cause here comes question one:

Tokyo-Narita Airport has several signs written in both Japanese and English. One sign says three words of English, but a different message in Japanese. What are the messages?

I'll say that again.

Tokyo-Narita Airport has several signs written in both Japanese and English. One sign says three words of English, but a different message in Japanese. What are the messages?
Hannah:Is it something to do with the cultural differences between people who might have English as their first language and people who might be native Japanese?

So for example, in Japan... eating or drinking in the street is considered extremely rude. But... Or actually the shoe stuff as well, taking your shoes off...

There's a real cultural difference between Western and Japanese sort of way of life.

So I wonder whether it's something about just saying to people in English, "Don't be so rude." (chuckles)
Tom:As a tourist in Japan, it is terrifying. Just, I was constantly worried that I was just gonna commit some sort of social faux pas, just by absentmindedly doing something that would be normal in the UK.
Hannah:I did a filming trip in Japan, and we had a guy who we'd hired to come with us. And I was pretty sure by the end of it that his only job was to tell us what we were doing that was rude.
SFX:(group snickering)
Brian:Yeah, I feel like it has to be something related to that.
Lily:Yeah, I was thinking along those same lines, or even just a translation difference. Maybe there isn't an exact translation, so it has to be something else.
Tom:You're vaguely along the right lines. You're right that this only works in a place like Japan, where you generally only expect the locals to speak the local language.
Tom:But it's not so much an instruction. It's not a warning. There is a message here that is aimed at everyone. It's just different in the different languages.
Hannah:The message is different?
Tom:Yep. One sign says three words of English, but a different message in Japanese.
Lily:And I was just at that airport earlier this year. I should have looked a little closer.
Hannah:And it specifically is at the airport?
Hannah:And is it to do with the airport?
Tom:Yeah, you wouldn't really put this anywhere else.
Brian:Do you think it's...

In my head, I'm thinking it's like, what if there's a different style of soap dispenser in the bathroom? And it's just for the English speakers. It just says, "Please don't worry." And it's like, "It's supposed to act this way. We promise, this is the thing that it's supposed to do."

And then in Japanese, it explains exactly what you're supposed to do with it. But in English, it's like, "Nah don't, tell anyone. This is exactly how it's supposed to be."
Hannah:Or the bum washers that they have in the toilets.
Brian:Yeah. Yeah.
SFX:(Hannah and Tom snicker)
Tom:I'm sure it's a technical term for those, and they're wonderful, and I want one for my own home, but—
Hannah:The phrase is, "Please don't worry."
Brian:Yeah, please don't worry.
Tom:The mood of what you're saying is correct. It is definitely one targeted at Japanese folks. One targeted at everybody else.
Lily:Maybe there's a certain lounge for Japanese people. They get the local lounge.
Hannah:Or if it's specifically in an airport, could it be to do with passports or visas? I wonder... Where local people have a certain way of getting in, and foreigners have to go in a different queue.
Tom:I think you were closer when the mood was "Please don't worry."
Brian:Okay, funny.
Lily:Why would people be worrying?
Tom:I'm not saying that's right. It's not "please don't worry."

But the mood is closer than an instruction or a command or something like that.
Tom:And it only works because Japanese is basically localised to the one country. This definitely wouldn't work in the UK. It definitely wouldn't work in the US.
Hannah:What, as in the message wouldn't work?
Tom:Just the concept of this pair of signs would not work.
Hannah:Would it work in Hungary?
SFX:(Brian and Tom crack up)
Tom:I do not know... enough about Hungary to answer that question.
Hannah:It's a language that doesn't have roots in any of its surrounding (snickers) countries' languages.
Lily:Is it a historical message? Something from their culture that's... very old in...
Tom:It's really simple. This kind of message will be all over the world in airports, in languages, everywhere.
Lily:Like "Safe travels. Have a good trip."
Tom:That sort of thing, yeah.
Hannah:"Have a nice flight." Right, let's think of three-word phrases that would make sense.
Lily:Enjoy your flight.
Hannah:Enjoy your flight. Yeah, that's good.
Tom:You're in the wrong bit of the airport.
Hannah:Early on.
Lily:Okay, okay.
Tom:You're in departures there.
Brian:Oh, so we're looking for arrivals.
Hannah:Welcome to Japan.
Tom:"Welcome to Japan" is the English phrase.
Tom:What's the translation of the other one?
Brian:Don't worry about it. Or whatever we said before.
SFX:(others laughing)
Hannah:Welcome to Japan.
Hannah:is the English phrase?
Tom:In English, you nailed it. Word for word, big letter—
Hannah:Welcome home?
Tom:Welcome back. Welcome home is the Japanese phrase. Absolutely right.
Hannah:Oh, that's cute!
Lily:I like that, okay.
Tom:The translation is literally "Welcome back", which I have written here as "okaerinasai". Apologies to Japan. So yes, if you can read Japanese, it tells you "Welcome back."

If you can read English... you're probably not coming back, and... "Welcome to Japan" still works if you're returning.
Hannah:They have that in Ireland as well, you know.
Hannah:Yeah, but in Irish. Which of course... even people in Ireland don't speak. (laughs)
Tom:I mean, we will get complaints if you blanket statement that one.
Hannah:I think the Venn diagram of people who don't live in Ireland and people who speak Irish is... I mean, they're not.
Tom:That's true.
Tom:So, yes, the sign in the arrivals says, "Welcome to Japan" in English and "Welcome back" in Japanese.

Brian, we will go to you for the next question. Whenever you're ready.
Brian:Yeah, absolutely.

This question has been sent in by Wes Potter.

As a last-minute favour, Jenny held a tall desk lamp for a photographer colleague. How did this immortalise her?

It's a very quick question.
Brian:As a last-minute favour, Jenny held a tall desk lamp for a photographer colleague. How did this immortalise her?
Hannah:So is there a famous photograph of somebody holding a desk lamp?
Tom:The only famous desk lamp I can think of is the Pixar one.
Tom:Is the one that bounces along, goes (imitates bouncing)
Hannah:Mm. But there's also that actual, that sort of, that shape of desk lamp is also very famous.
Hannah:Yeah, Anglepoise. There you go. That's a very, very famous design.
Lily:Why am I thinking like, you know, in Harry Potter with the Basilisk, and if you look at it in the eye, then you die. Something like that.

But also in Greek ancient mythical things, if you look at Medusa, it's like you're not— You just become stone. Something like that.
Tom:It's a cursed Anglepoise lamp that turns whatever is in its light to stone.
Hannah:You know, Bohemian Rhapsody, where they've got the photographs and their faces like (gestural noises)
Hannah:So I wonder whether the image that's really famous is you don't see a desk lamp in it at all. You just see something that's lit from above.
Brian:If the photographer truly was like, "Oh, I didn't set up any lights for Queen, the very famous band," I feel like...
SFX:(Hannah and Tom laugh)
Brian:that photographer would get fired pretty quickly.
Hannah:Okay, so in which case, it's something that's more impromptu. But is it— Are we on the right lines there though, of making lighting—
Tom:A famous photo of someone with a desk lamp?
Hannah:Is the desk lamp in the photo?
Brian:That's... I will say... I'll give you a hint and say that the desk lamp was intended to resemble something else.
Hannah:What, wait, as in... So, in the— Wait, was it a desk lamp?
Brian:It was a desk lamp. (stammers) Jenny held a desk lamp, but it was not intended to look like a desk lamp in the final photo.
Hannah:In the photograph.
Lily:Oh, so then it must be some sort of prop. Like, I don't know, maybe like... the sun or... something else. I'm just thinking, what could it be if it's just a bulb and maybe... a shield around it?
Hannah:Yeah, or unless it's inside something like, I don't know. I'm not sure where I'm going with that. (laughs) No, I can see from afar, it looks like, you know, a light shining out of something like...

Okay, so for example, you know in Pulp Fiction, where they open the... They open the suitcase...
Hannah:Yeah, thank you. They open the briefcase, and then the light shines out of it. I wonder whether it's inside something.
Tom:Photographer friend, though. I feel like there's gonna be a famous photograph that we're missing here that is... that somehow has a person holding a lamp in it that doesn't look like a person holding a lamp?
Brian:You were— You're on the right track there, Tom, in terms of Jenny was standing in specifically to be a model for this situation.
Brian:And you will definitely know what this photograph is. I feel 100% certain that all three of you have seen this photograph at some point in your life.
Tom:Why do I feel like this is an album cover or a movie cover or something like that?
Brian:Getting warmer.
Lily:Yeah, it's gotta be something really iconic, like everyone's seen. Pop culture.
Tom:It's gotta be a big pop culture thing.

I'm just thinking about all the Industrial Light and Magic stuff, where they made everyday objects look like ridiculous things. They've got a starship that's actually based out of some old 1950s construction set, Meccano, Legos they've put together. Is there...
Brian:Yeah, I think you're going a bit too far in terms of how this photograph, I would say was a...
Brian:I'll say it's a reference, but the final photograph looks pretty dang similar to what was going on with the original impromptu modeling.
Hannah:Okay, so this is some impromptu modeling.
Hannah:Just being like, "Hey, I wanna try this thing. What about this?" And then the final photograph ends up being much more famous.
Brian:Mhm. And I'll say that, I guess, the final photograph, I would say the thing that you know is slightly more... stylized than a photograph, I guess might be helpful to say. Or maybe I'm putting you in the complete wrong direction. But it is still—
Hannah:So, hold on. When you say that we know this, that all of us have seen it, have we seen the impromptu version or the final version?
Brian:You've definitely seen the final version. I know that, I'm pretty sure that's the thing that you've seen. And again, Tom, you were getting in the right direction when you were talking about movies.
Tom:Oh, I'm gonna kick myself, 'cause it's gonna be really obvious in hindsight what this is.
Lily:Is this a Star Wars movie cover or poster or...
Brian:It's not— I'll— The other hint I'll give you is that it's not for a specific movie.
Hannah:But for a franchise?
Tom:Oh, oh, hold on. If it's not for a specific movie, it's gonna be one of the... the slates, the idents that studios use at the start. So, is it... What's the studio that just has the woman holding the torch in the air?
Hannah:I got it! (hums fanfare) Universal.
Brian:Not Universal, but...
Lily:Paramount. Is it Paramount?
Tom:It's the other one. It's...
Lily:I can see it. I just—
Hannah:20th Century Fox. It's 20th Century Fox.
Tom:No it's Columbia Pictures.
Hannah:Is it?
Tom:It's the woman holding the torch at the top of the Columbia Pictures thing.
Brian:That's correct. She is the torch lady from the Columbia Pictures logo. And I love how all of you knew exactly what it was and then said every other studio name in existence before getting to it.
Tom:Great branding there. Just brilliant branding by Columbia.
Lily:Yeah. I can literally see it in my mind. I'm like, what is it called?
Brian:Yeah. What's I think really interesting about this from the notes is that it was a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer, Kathy Anderson, who just was tasked with taking the reference photograph for the Columbia Pictures logo, and then a model couldn't be found in time.

So Anderson used Jenny Joseph, who was working at the same newspaper office. Just again, a random newspaper employee, and put her in a sheet and then held a desk lamp up, and now she will be in the final logo forever.
Lily:That's so funny. It became so famous. Who knew?
Hannah:So then, hold on. Let me understand. So the final photograph...
Tom:It's drawn over to make the...
Tom:The final image, right?
Brian:That's correct.
Tom:It's a reference photo That they then painted over to make the Statue of Liberty holding a torch up, or is it just a woman holding a torch up? I think it's just a woman holding a torch up.
Brian:Just a woman holding a torch up, yeah. In a sort of toga-ish thing. Again, that just was a bedsheet, I guess.
Tom:This next question was sent in by Mitchel van Ham, Andy Johnson, Nathan H., and Bruno V.

So I'm slightly worried that someone might know this, but good luck! In 1994, TSR released an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons book called Encyclopedia Magica, Volume 1. Why were readers confused by the frequent use of the words 'iwizard' and 'dawizard'?

I'll say that again.

In 1994, TSR released an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons book called Encyclopedia Magica, Volume 1. Why were readers confused by the frequent use of the words 'iwizard' and 'dawizard'?
Lily:What was the second one? 'DAO Wizard'?
Tom:D-A. Hannah is writing these down.
Hannah:I am.
Tom:Brian just looks quite confused, but I think of the people here, I feel like... why do I feel like Brian has the most D&D experience?

Am I just extrapolating from Dropout here, or am I just stereotyping you?
Brian:I mean, you're doing both, but it is true.

I think I probably do know the most, but that being said, this came out the year I was born. So I am still struggling a little bit.
Brian:Sorry about that, but... The thing there when you're saying 'eye wizard'... like the physical eye? Like you have... or is like as if Steve Jobs invented this?
Tom:It's as if Steve Jobs invented this.
Brian:Okay, alright, gotcha, 'iWizard'.
Tom:Which also is probably a good riff in itself.
Brian:(wheezes) Yeah. Okay. Well then, I—
Lily:I was thinking the same thing. I was like, sounds like an Apple product.
SFX:(Lily and Tom snicker)
Brian:'Cause here's the thing about, I would say most fantasy weird things in that era is that they were trying, if they made 'dawizard' because they thought, I don't know, it sounded like an MC name from early hip-hop, I wouldn't put it past them for them to try to make that cool hip reference, but I feel like that's not right.
Tom:It's not, but I love the idea that at some point, there was a Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook that was inspired by early hip-hop. I just feel like that's...

That also feels like the kind of thing you'd ask ChatGPT for these days.
Hannah:Why were people confused?
Lily:Was there similar language in the game that sounded like 'iwizard' and 'dawizard'?
Hannah:How much Dungeons & Dragons knowledge do you need to have to be able to answer this question, Tom?
Tom:Absolutely none.
Tom:Well, maybe a tiny amount. You would need to know what Dungeons & Dragons is and talks about.
Hannah:Okay, so there's dice in Dungeons & Dragons.
Hannah:Now we've reached the limit of my knowledge.
Brian:There you go.
SFX:(group laughing)
Lily:All I know is that it takes a long time to play.
Brian:Mhm. And even longer to try to organize groups, yeah.
Tom:(snickers) Yes.
Lily:Yeah. But I hear the people who are into D&D are like, they're like, that's their thing. It's kind of like... I dunno, it seems like a fandom almost.
Brian:Definitely, which makes me think that again, first off, Dungeons & Dragons enjoyers tend to be very, very intense about their rules.

And so I can't imagine it being a rules issue that's confusing them. I can't imagine it's that that's the breaking point. But maybe...
Brian:Is it— Does the— Does 'I' and 'da' stand for something? Is it like, 'I' is an introverted wizard, and 'da' is the district attorney wizard, or something like that, and they have to...
Brian:figure out how those could be combin— Maybe there's something there?
Tom:They're just single words, lowercase.
Tom:'Iwizard' and 'dawizard'.
Hannah:Tell us the bit about Dungeons & Dragons that we need to know in order to be able to...
Tom:Honestly, I can't give much more without giving it away. I would think more about the... I feel this is the sort of thing where writing the words down might help a little.
Hannah:Is it something to do with the way that you type it?
Hannah:So there was this quite sweet thing about typos.

Like, so Google Trends of different typos, and there was one that was really strange. And it was... and people thought that it was... Everywhere in the world had one word that was the same typo, a Google Trend for it, but France was different. And then people realised, it's because the E and the W in the French keyboard or E and Z are swapped over or something.
Tom:Yeah, they have AZERTY keyboards instead of QWERTY, I think.
Hannah:Is it? Yeah. So I wonder whether 'D-A'... I wonder whether it's a typo, but maybe typed in a different language.
Tom:It's not a typo. It's not a slip of the things. These words were all the way through the book.
Tom:No, not really. Brian, I think you may be able to help here with some words that might come up when you're talking about D&D.
Brian:Oh, gosh. Oh, the, I mean... No, I was originally gonna be like, sometimes depending on, dice checks are called DCs and stuff like that. If there's another related word in Dungeo— But I feel like that's too much institutional knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons to be...
Tom:Yeah, you don't need that much.
Hannah:But you're saying it is to do with the keyboard?
Tom:Not the keyboard, but word processing.
Tom:This was an error that came in during production.
Brian:Oh, is it related to people trying to look up 'Wizard' and then having to go to a different part of the book to figure— No?
Tom:Not quite. Brian, talk me through some D&D combat here. Let's just say I'm rolling against something.
Tom:Talk me through a battle.
Brian:Ah... oh god. I mean now, I'm gonna have my D&D cred really questioned here.

So you're gonna be basically, when you're first fighting someone, you have to check, you roll dice to see if it hits. And then you roll dice for the damage related to it. But I'm trying...
Lily:Damage Wizard?
Tom:Mm, now you're very close, very quickly.
Brian:Oh, oh.
Tom:"Damage Wizard" is almost the clue you need to unlock it.
Lily:Damn wizards.
SFX:(group laughing)
Lily:Damage wizard.
Tom:It was meant to be 'damage'. What they got was 'dawizard'.
Hannah:Oh, auto-correct!
Hannah:A find-and-replace.
SFX:(guests clamouring)
Tom:So what changed? How did they end up with 'dawizard' and 'iwizard'?
Brian:Oh my gosh.
Brian:Oh, Mage Wizard. Image Wizard.
Brian:It's Image Wizard and Damage Wizard. And those are... okay.
Tom:It was originally 'image' and 'damage', and someone did a find-and-replace to change 'mage' to 'wizard'.
Brian:Oh my gosh.
Tom:And then they just did not proofread it any further.
Hannah:And hang on, is there a mage— Does 'mage' mean something in Dungeons & Dragons?
Brian:Well, I think that that might be the issue, is that somebody wrote it as 'mage' for the entire time.

But in, if you're talking about classes, I think they've only had wizard class at that point. I don't believe mage was a class at that point. So, and I don't think it still is.
Hannah:But so, 'mage' is a Dungeons & Dragons word?
Tom:'Mage' is another word for 'wizard'.
Tom:It's just a synonym for 'wizard'.
Lily:Oh, I did not know that.
Hannah:I did not know that either.
Tom:Oh, that's— Okay, that's why you two had some problems with that. Okay, sorry.
Brian:I had no excuse.
Tom:'Mage' is a synonym for 'wizard'.
Tom:Okay. 'Mage' is a synonym for 'wizard', so... The writer simply described 'mage' all the way through, presumably 'cause it sounded more magical or fantastical than 'wizard'. And someone went, "Oh we'll just find and replace that back."

And so throughout the book, they were talking about, not 'images', but 'iwizards', and not points of damage, but points of 'dawizard'.
Brian:I just think it's amazing that in my head I'm like, "Oh yeah, everyone knows mages."

And then I'm like, "Oh no, I guess I am more nerdy than I think."
Brian:Everyone must know what a mage is.
Tom:Yeah, sorry.
Tom:That one's on me as well. That's on me.
Hannah:Oh, no, no, no, no, no, Brian, I... You cut me open, and I bleed nerd. It's just a different type, different class of nerds. Okay?
Brian:Yes, yeah.
Tom:Hannah, the next question's yours. Over to you.
Hannah:Okay. This question was sent in by Tarun.

The cruise ship Oasis of the Seas is 72 metres tall above water. Denmark's Storebaelt Bridge has a clearance of only 65 metres. What two solutions – one technological, one scientific – did it use to pass under this bridge safely?

Let me give it to you again.

The cruise ship Oasis of the Seas is 72 metres tall above water. Denmark's Storebaelt Bridge has a clearance of only 65 metres. What two solutions – one technological and one scientific – did it use to pass under this bridge safely?

I would quibble the word 'safely', frankly, but...
Brian:Okay. Well I'm glad that you mentioned that, 'cause I— Immediately in my head, I thought, okay, what they had to do is get everyone on the cruise ship to jump at the same time.

So it pushed it down and then they drove through really fast, and that was the way that they got—
Hannah:Okay, for real, for real. You've basically got one already. (giggles)
Lily:Wait, what?
Hannah:It's not jumping up and down, but it is a way to get it to sink lower in the water.
Tom:But load it with as much stuff as possible. Make it heavy, make it sink lower?
Hannah:Nope, you did actually say it, Brian. You did actually say the exact correct thing.
Hannah:But it's not about weight, yeah.
Brian:Oh, so it's like a buoyancy, just...
Tom:Is there something about ships going fast, pulling more draught?

I remember reading something about that in a navigation guide to mariners, that when your ship is going at speed... the pressure, the ground effect or whatever the equivalent of that is, sucks it down to the ground a little bit more. 'Cause you have to be worried about that if you're in shallow water.

But if you are actually trying to get under a bridge, what you would do is put the hammer down, get the propeller going as fast as you can, and Fast and Furious it – as much as you can on a cruise ship – underneath this bridge.
Hannah:That is exactly right.

The... Do you want... I mean, that's the scientific solution, yes.
Brian:There's a technical one too?
Hannah:Absolutely right. That's one half of it. It's the hard one, I'll be honest. But you're exactly right. It's...

The only equation that anyone knows about aerodynamics is Bernoulli, which is that speed and pressure are related, and if you increase speed, you know, you change pressure. And that's exactly the effect that's going on as you described. So, just smash it.
Tom:Because ships ground because of that.

Ships are like, yeah, we absolutely have clearance to get through this. Yeah, we've got a metre, two metres of clearance. It's fine. And then they go a bit faster and get sucked down and ground on the rocks.
Brian:That's wild.
Tom:Okay. That's half of it.
Hannah:That's half of it. The hard half. The hard half.
Lily:That was a great guess.
Brian:Yeah. That's also the scary half of it, right? That's terrifying, to be like, "Okay, we have to go really, really quickly. Trust me, it's gonna go below the bridge."
Tom:I've seen footage, and this is not what this cruise ship did, but I've seen footage of somewhere in the... I think it's Florida. It feels like it should be Florida.

It's somewhere on the grand tour around the American waterways that boats do, where there is one low bridge that sailing ships can't get under unless they weigh down one side of their boat, tilt the whole thing over about 20 degrees, so they've got a little bit more room, and the mast can just sneak under the bridge because it's going at an angle.

This is not what the cruise ship is doing. I'm just saying after you finish listening to this, go and watch some videos of them doing the tilty under the bridge thing.
Hannah:The tilty under the bridge thing. So, the thing is that you are on the right track in the sense that actually with the tilty under the bridge thing, it is about one key point that needs to get under the bridge.
Lily:Is it just the mast?
Lily:Yeah, the tallest point of it. So does the mast go in? It shrinks down?
Hannah:You absolutely nailed it. I mean, you guys, you got that so quickly.
Hannah:I was like, this is really hard. How is anyone gonna get this? But no, but no.
Hannah:I didn't... you know... This is the type of people, the calibre of people that we're talking about.
SFX:(others laughing)
Hannah:Okay, so yeah. Essentially it's the first time a cruise ship has ever had it. It's got a telescopic smokestack that can be retracted down.
Hannah:And also because there is 20 metres of water between the keel and the bed of the strait... what they do is they just, exactly as you say, Tom, just smash it through. And if they do those two together, then they can manage to clear the bridge by 60 centimetres. This is what I mean about saving.
Tom:That's not enough. That is not enough.
Hannah:I entirely agree. So 70— So this thing is seven metres too tall, and it makes, you know, almost eight metres by doing these two things together.
Brian:That's unbelievable.
Brian:That is also like, I assume that they have to make sure everyone is under the decks, right? No— They— That being said, I know that there's somebody who's out there trying to smack the bridge as they go past, but...
Tom:Right? "Everybody down."
Tom:No, absolutely not. I wanna hit it.
Hannah:So this ship, it was built in Finland. But if it was ever to get to the USA, it needed to clear this bridge.

I mean, you would think maybe, a bit more forward planning would've been useful. But it does—
Tom:They did. They built a telescopic— That's forward planning, that is.
Hannah:Give it a bit more than 60 centimetres, my goodness. But yeah, it's, they use the same technique when they're docking in New York City to go under... There's a bridge in New York City they need to get under. Yeah.
Lily:Oh, wow. Did they tell their passengers that?
Lily:They're like, "Oh yeah, surprise. We just gotta go, pssht!"
Tom:They're gonna be out on deck celebrating it. You know they are.
Hannah:Just, you know, cruise ship version of limbo, isn't it?
Tom:Thank you to Michael Teasdale for this next question, and it's a sports one. Good luck.

Near the end of the final game of the Atlanta Falcons' 1972 season, the clock was stopped so that running back Dave Hampton could be presented with a game ball by his team. When the game ended, this ceremony had become ironically painful. Why?

I'll say that again.

Near the end of the final game of the Atlanta Falcons' 1972 season, the clock was stopped so that running back Dave Hampton could be presented with a game ball by his team. When the game ended, this ceremony had become ironically painful. Why?
Hannah:Did they accidentally give him the ball that was being used in the game rather than a special game ball?
Tom:(wheezes) No, the ceremony went off exactly as planned.
Hannah:Right, what sport is this?
Tom:It's American football.
Brian:I'm guessing the ball was used in the game, and I'm guessing that this guy was retiring or something. It must've been his last game, and they were like, "Here, have the game ball for whatever," or, and then... Yeah, I feel like it has to be that kind of ceremonial thing, or else no one would be cool with them stopping gameplay if we're in the middle of it.
Tom:It wasn't a retirement ceremony. It was more of a celebration. But yes, this was prearranged that, yeah. We're gonna stop the clock for a little while and let this celebration happen.
Tom:You have done a thing. Here is the ball you did the thing with.
Hannah:You have done a thing.
Lily:Was someone getting married? Did somebody propose in the middle of the game? They had to stop the clock...
SFX:(guests crack up)
Hannah:Is the thing that they did relevant?
Hannah:You have done a thing, and here is the ball you did the thing with.
Brian:So I'm not obviously that well versed in American football, but I know enough about how the game is played to make me think that it was... If he's a running back, it makes me think that he did an incredibly long run in order to get a touchdown. So he went, you know, 60 yards or whatever to get that, and they gave him the game ball for doing it. Which makes me think that right after that happened, somebody ran 70 yards or something like that.
Tom:You are along the right lines, and you've given our other two players all the key information they need to know on what running backs do.
Tom:But this was a pre-planned celebration. They knew it was probably gonna happen during this game.
Hannah:Oh, did he get a certain number of touchdowns, or a certain number of... (stammers) sport—
Tom:Brian, fill in the rest of that sentence.
SFX:(group laughing)
Brian:Yes, so... he must have broken a record for touchdowns, or receptions, right? He caught the ball more than anyone else has.

Really, I'd say that I have a very cursory knowledge, and the way that I'm speaking about this is really making that clear, I think to everyone.
Tom:You actually said the words earlier.
Brian:Was it receptions or yards run or...
Tom:Yards run.
Brian:Yards run, okay.
Hannah:Oh, did he run a certain number of yards?
Tom:1,000 over the season.
Hannah:That's not that many yards, is it?
Tom:For an American football season, that's a lot for a running back.
Hannah:They do that in 45 minutes in a football game. Come on guys.
SFX:(group laughing)
Lily:So was that a new record, and then you got the game ball for that?
Tom:It was an achievement. They knew this guy's gonna hit 1,000 yards in the season probably in this game. Other team, are you okay with us doing the ceremonial thing? And, here's the ball you did this with. So yeah, you've worked out the ceremony. I don't feel too bad about just giving you that one.
Tom:That's what happened.
Hannah:So then, I like Brian's idea of somebody else beating him in the same game.
Brian:Yeah. It's either somebody beat him in the same game, or the more morbid answer is that he broke his leg immediately afterwards. That's the other thought I can have for that being ironic.
Tom:I mean, the pain here is emotional, I think, rather than physical.
Tom:I'll tell you, it's the last game of the season.
Hannah:Did they lose the big cup? (snickers)
Lily:Oh, was he retiring or something? Maybe that was his actual last game. So it was emotional 'cause he couldn't play anymore afterward.
Tom:Oh, possibly, but that wouldn't be ironically painful.
Hannah:So ironically painful.
Hannah:Implies... that he can't run anymore. (laughs)
Tom:Okay, it's not that ironic.
SFX:(group snickering)
Tom:There's something else that can happen to a running back.
Hannah:Right. They can... get...
Brian:Oh, did he fumble or something? Or got an interception based on him, where he was supposed to catch it, and then somebody else got it? Oh, that wouldn't be ironic for the running, I think.
Lily:Maybe he got tackled and... He wasn't— Or he— Hmm.
Brian:Okay, here is where maybe my knowledge of football might be helpful, but what happened is that he was—

He made the 1,000 yards, okay? He made the full 1,000 yards, and they did it exactly when he hit 1,000 yards. The next session, somebody tackled him and pushed him back two yards, which took him back to 998 or something like that.
Tom:It was a six-yard loss. He ended the game and the season on 995 yards despite the ceremony.
Hannah:That's hilarious.
Lily:Aww, wow.
Tom:His quote was, "Right now it's the most disappointing thing that has ever happened to me."
Brian:That's crushing.
Hannah:That's embarrassing.
Lily:That's so sad.
Tom:The following season, 997 yards.
Tom:It was the one after that when he got 1,000, and he retired at the end of that year.
Hannah:You would, wouldn't you? You would, you would.
Brian:It's a white whale for sure.
Hannah:Hey Tom, I'm loving these questions on Dungeons & Dragons and American football. But next time I come on, could we do one on differential calculus? (laughs)
Tom:Alright, well, let's see if there are any questions about differential calculus in the show. Lily, over to you.
Lily:So this one was sent in by Hans Bartel.

In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt decided to rerun for president. Three million pamphlets were printed featuring his photo and a speech. However, his team leader noticed the photo had a copyright note. How did they turn the situation around?

I'll read that one more time.

In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt decided to rerun for president. Three million pamphlets were printed featuring his photo and a speech. However, his team later noticed that the photo had a copyright note. How did they turn the situation around?
Hannah:So as in it was printed on the photograph, a little thing saying copyright? Is that what, am I imagining the right thing?
Lily:Yeah, the photo did have a copyright note on it.
Hannah:And there were thousands of pamphlets. So you can't just cross them out.
Lily:No, you cannot.
Hannah:Did he go and get a running mate called copyright?
SFX:(group laughing)
Lily:No. (giggles)
Tom:Is the problem that the photo has a watermark on it, or is the problem is that the photo is copyrighted, and they just can't use it?

They printed three million of these, and actually turns out they don't have permission to use the photo.
Lily:Yeah, so basically the, on the back of the photo, someone noticed that there was a copyright notice. But they didn't see that on the front of it.
Tom:So they've got three million pamphlets that if they distribute, they're violating copyright, and someone's gonna sue them.
Lily:Yes, yeah.
Brian:Okay. But this was Teddy Roosevelt rerunning, right, for office? This was his second?
Lily:Yeah, so he is already president.
Brian:So did he just change copyright laws? Did he just shift the copyright laws and be like, "Actually no, we've decided that this is cool"? Was that how it worked?
Tom:"I don't care, as long as we win, I will pardon everyone involved for copyright infringement."
SFX:(group snickering)
Tom:Oh, it's a civil tort. That wouldn't be able to do that, never mind.
Lily:If only he had the jurisdiction to do that.
Hannah:Okay, so is it... So somebody would've owned that copyright?
Hannah:So somebody would... be the person who would... they would be worried about suing them. Did he—
Tom:They just killed him.
Hannah:Exactly, they have him killed.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Also, the answer to this is you license the photo from him. You just pay the guy some money, but...
Lily:You're on the right line...
Brian:With the killing?
Lily:Tom, what you just said is sort of on the right line.
Tom:With the killing or the money thing?
Lily:The money thing.
Tom:It's gonna be a really boring question if the answer is they license the photograph.
Lily:So, you're on the right lines, Tom.

Basically the licensing cost for the photo was estimated at $1 per copy, but the campaign team found that the studio that took the photo, they were not very notable. Nobody had really heard of them before.
Hannah:So then if they didn't know... Could they turn it to just do a collab?
SFX:(group laughing)
Brian:Do a nice little influencer post.
Brian:This will bring a lot of eyes to your whole deal. Guys, this is just a bunch of exposure for you. You're gonna love it.
Tom:Hold on, there's that line in Inception where the rich guy goes, I bought the airline. "I bought the airline. It seems neater." And I feel like if you, rather than pay $3 million to license this photo, you just buy the little studio
Hannah:Nice, yeah.
Tom:...that owns the copyright and you just take over the entire company, and you let them forgive them.
Lily:So one of two things that you just said is correct. Which one? Which one do you think it is?
Tom:It's either buying the company or being an influencer. Alright, well, I said buying the company. I'm gonna stick with it.
Hannah:Buying the company. Yeah, I switch. I'm flaky as anything.
Brian:I stick with influencer, but I think it's just somebody married someone in the company and then became the proprietor of... I think it was a marriage situation. That kind of collab.
Lily:Yeah, so basically because the studio is so, you know, not popular, they basically turned to them and said, "Oh, this would be great exposure for you." So they asked the photographer to pay for the publicity.
Brian:Oh my god.
Hannah:That's amazing. I feel like these tricks are carrying on right now. Yes.
Tom:That's not even "We'll pay you in exposure." You'll pay us for the exposure. That's incredible!
Brian:That is... the gall.
Lily:Yeah, the fact that they said yes to that, I'm like, what?
Hannah:They said yes? Wow.
Tom:(laughs weakly)
Brian:That's amazing.
Lily:It was $250 in fact.
Tom:For a reverse licence. That's amazing.
Lily:Yep. And then at the end of it, he didn't even win the election.
SFX:(Hannah and Tom laugh)
Tom:Very last thing then. Thank you to Jason Roberts for sending this question in.

In 1969, who asked the US Postal Service to change the state abbreviation for Nebraska from NB to NE?
Hannah:Is it someone whose initials are NB?
Tom:It very much is someone whose initials— Well somewhere whose initials are NB.
Lily:Would we know this person?
Tom:You would know the place.
Hannah:Oh, a place that's got the initials NB.
Tom:You'd probably know the place.
Lily:New Brunswick.
Tom:New Brunswick in Canada is very close to Nebraska. And the post was going the wrong way because everyone just wrote 'NB'. The Postal Administration of Canada asked the US Postal Service, can you make it 'NE' instead?
Brian:That's great.
Lily:That makes sense.
Tom:With that, thank you very much to our players. Congratulations on running the gauntlet.

Let's find out, where can people find you? And in the months between this recording and the episode going out, what have you been up to?

We will start with Brian.
Brian:Yeah, you could find me on YouTube if you just search up Brian David Gilbert. I've also been doing a lot more stuff with Dropout recently. And yeah, you could just find me around there. Hire me to write your TV shows, all those things, you know.
Tom:If there are any TV commissioners listening, talk to Brian. He's good.
Brian:Yeah, reach out.
Tom:Hannah, what's up with you?
Hannah:I'm actually Prime Minister now.
SFX:(group laughing)
Hannah:It's been an extremely busy few months. And yeah, I'm on track for my plans of world domination. So... yeah.
Tom:Where can people find you other than 10 Downing Street?
Hannah:You know, just search me. (giggles) I'm @FryRsquared on social media, but I have shows on Bloomberg and BBC and podcasts and blah, blah, blah, blah.
Tom:And Lily.
Lily:You can find me on mostly YouTube. Just search @Hevesh5, or you could just search 'dominoes'. You'll probably find me. But I'm working on, you know, making new dominoes. We just came out with a new Disney set. So, very excited to get that out and, you know, just get more people into building.
Tom:And if you wanna know more about this show, you can do that at, where you can send in your own ideas for questions. We are at @lateralcast pretty much everywhere, and there are weekly video highlights at

With that, thank you very much to Lily Hevesh.
Lily:Thank you so much.
Tom:Hannah Fry.
Hannah:Yay, thank you.
Tom:And Brian David Gilbert.
Brian:It's been a pleasure.
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
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