Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 79: Deliberately faulty rulers

Published 12th April, 2024

Sabrina Cruz, Melissa Fernandes and Taha Khan from 'Answer in Progress' face questions about universal units, vocational voices and quizzical questions.

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: Lucas Röttger, Brian M., Simon Giesen, Cody Wheeland, Jake Mellor. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:What is colloquially measured in terms of transatlantic flights?

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

Transatlantic passenger travel. The War of 1812. The Arctic Naval Training Pact.

Now there is one more chapter we can write in the history of British–Canadian relations.

Please welcome the team from Answer in Progress. Welcome back to the show.
Sabrina:I was so confused.
Tom:Was that a "terrible" from Taha there?
SFX:(group giggling)
Tom:I mean, it's normally me that's insulting the script writers here. It's rare for the guests to come in on that.
Taha:I was like, "Wow, we really jump into the questions immediately with this new format."
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:It is lovely to have you all back on the show.

We'll start with Taha. How are you doing?
Taha:I'm doing fantastic.
Tom:What are you working on with the channel at the moment?
Taha:Oh, you know, I feel like Sisyphus.
Taha:Pushing a never-ending boulder up a never-ending cliff. I'm working on this video that I feel like I was working on the last time I was here. Which is about personal finance and money. It's just...

Never again will I ever take a big project on.
Tom:I feel like that's a good rule to live by. Just don't take on big projects.

Also joining us, Melissa Fernandes.
Tom:How are you doing? Welcome back.
Melissa:Hello. I'm... I'm good. I'm excited for some more questions. And answers?
Tom:We hope. (chuckles)
SFX:(Sabrina and Melissa laugh)
Taha:Good brand. Yep.
Sabrina:What type of answers? Are they in progress?
Melissa:Maybe. Probably.
Tom:There's a question mark there. I'm like, I don't know what to follow that with.

Also, the last member of the trio, Sabrina Cruz.
Sabrina:Hello, it's me, Sabrina. I am doing great.

I love an excuse to do some trivia at 9 am.
Tom:Well, thank you for being up bright and early.

Our questions are a little like the Canadian wilderness. Unexplored, breathtaking, and prone to make you feel hopelessly lost. So strap on your boots as we trek into question one:

Where do citizens of Moscow use the mnemonic "Your boss calls you to work, your wife calls you home"?

I'll say that again.

Where do citizens of Moscow use the mnemonic "Your boss calls you to work, your wife calls you home"?
Sabrina:I'm trying to write it down so I can see the letters at the start. Wait, would it be in Russian?
Tom:Yes. Yes it would.
Tom:I appreciate that you went straight to, "This is a word in anagram one". This has been translated.
Sabrina:Dang it! Where— When do you use mnemonics in general? You're trying to... You're trying to remember things. What do they need to remember? What do people generally need to remember?
Taha:How about this? What mnemonics do we use in our lives? And then maybe...
Sabrina:The one about planets and— Is it like soup? My— My soup? What's the soup— What's the planet one? You know the solar system? I feel like there's soup in there.

Yeah, Saturn is probably the word soup, you know? I feel like we could create our own.
Taha:Big elephants only understand little elephants. Small elephants. I don't know which one that is.
Sabrina:What would you use to remember that?
Taha:How to spell 'because'?
Tom:(laughs) Okay.
SFX:(Sabrina and Melissa coo, giggle)
Sabrina:That's so cute. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Say it again.
Tom:Say it again.
Sabrina:Big elephants—
Taha:Big elephants only understand little elephants.
Melissa:Where's the C?
Tom:That's 'BEOULE'.
Taha:This is gonna go on the internet!
Tom:You've got a mnemonic for 'beoule'.
Melissa:(giggles profusely)
Sabrina:Oh no!
Taha:It's something like that. Big elephants... can...
Tom:Always understand smaller elephants.
Taha:There you go.
Tom:Well, I'm backsolving that too, but I don't know if that's actually it.
Melissa:That's even more complicated than remembering 'because'.
Tom:Just remember the word 'because'.
SFX:(Sabrina and Melissa giggle)
Sabrina:North, south, east, west. Never eat shredded wheat.
Melissa:Oh yes.
Sabrina:Never enter stinky bathrooms.
Melissa:What was the one we were trying to solve?
Sabrina:Your boss calls you to work, your wife calls you home?
Taha:Wait, can you say the words? 'Cause we— I think the number of words will be important. Because that's what mnemonics are, right?
Sabrina:But it's translated.
Taha:Yeah, but the number of words! Surely the number of words will be the same.
Sabrina:It's not necessarily one-to-one. It could be conceptually different.
Sabrina:He's nodding.
Tom:I'm nodding.
Sabrina:This is a podcast, but he's nodding. (laughs)
Taha:Hmm. What's a mnemonic?
Sabrina:It's a tool to remember things.
Tom:It's not necessarily actually remembering letters or something specific. It's any mnemonic to help you remember a thing.
Sabrina:Is it about phone calls? Thematically, it feels like something about, like, do you need to do a... You know how you sometimes need to hit numbers in order to call in a direction?
Melissa:Mmm! Like an area code or something?
Sabrina:Yeah, that's what the word is. Is it area code related? Could it be? I don't know.
Taha:Is it related to remembering you have a wife?
Melissa:Or you have a job?
Sabrina:Remembering you have a job.
Sabrina:(wheezes confoundedly) I guess.
Sabrina:(laughs) Okay.
Taha:I guess.
Sabrina:Okay, okay, wait.
Taha:That's the only thing— Okay. What do you need when you have a job?
Sabrina:There's a certain directionality to it. You— A boss. That's a thing that happens. (laughs)
Taha:See, this just reminds me of the saying... What is it? My boss makes a dollar, I make a dime, that's why I poop on company time?
SFX:(others giggling softly)
Sabrina:This is a reminder to poop at home.
Tom:Of those last two suggestions, Sabrina, you're a lot closer with directionality there.
Sabrina:I feel like people without jobs could also benefit from knowing the cardinal directions.
Taha:What about Moscow? What's that all about? What's that in, you know, that's in the clue. So what's that all about?
Tom:Yeah, this is specific to Moscow.
Taha:Not even Russia, just Moscow.
Tom:Just Moscow.
Sabrina:Your boss calls you to work. Your wife calls you home.

Could it be something, I don't know, my head's going, urban planning. Is there a highway situation where you have to drive in one direction to go home, another direction to work, and there's a gigantic wife in the sky who's telling you home's this way?
Taha:I think there is— I think it is that. I think it's something to do with... how many lanes are open on the motorway one way versus another. One way streets might flip.
Taha:Public transit might work in a slightly different way during rush hours versus not rush hours.
Sabrina:Oh, during rush hours.
Taha:Could be parking, free parking, when it's not work time.
Melissa:Hmm, that doesn't feel like directions.
Taha:Tom did point at me when I said public transit.
Tom:Yes, I was surprised, given that you have done entire videos about public transit, that you went to cars first.
Taha:Moscow is too cold for public transit.
Sabrina:Wait a second.
Melissa:Wait, what?
Taha:But I've never been to Moscow.
SFX:(group laughing)
Sabrina:Wait a second.
Tom:Sorry, remind me where you are right now. All of y'all.
Taha:Listen, we went to Canada to do a public transit challenge, and famously Canada was bad at public transit.
Melissa:It wasn't because it was cold though.
Sabrina:We were in Ottawa. It was specifically Ottawa. The place where they blew up their airport glass because a plane was too fast.
Taha:Yeah, we did learn that.
Tom:The best possible public transit in Ottawa is in the winter where the canal freezes, and suddenly there's a high-speed skate route in the middle of the city.
Melissa:There you go.
Sabrina:That's a very loose term of public transit.
Tom:We are on public transit.
Sabrina:We're on public transit.
Sabrina:So was this potentially like a... governmental...

Because it's public transit related. Was this a mnemonic that... PR firms for the government were trying to get people to remember a certain policy that they were enacting? It kind of has that vibe.
Taha:Is it like a "see it, say it, sorted" kind of energy? Where it's like... It's the institution trying to encourage this phrase.
Sabrina:Only you can stop forest fires.
Tom:Where do you hear that slogan, Taha?
Taha:On the Tannoy, on the platforms. And in the tubes.
Melissa:Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Okay. Is it potentially the, if it's public transit, I don't know if they have subways or underground.
Tom:They do, the Moscow Metro.
Melissa:Okay. What if it is the shape of the path... that looks like a ring, maybe?
Tom:Oh, I thought you got it then. I thought you'd got it. (laughs)
Sabrina:The shape.
Tom:It's not that.
Taha:The shape... of... The shape of... I think that's...
Tom:It's a bit more literal than that.
Taha:You can't say a lot more literal, Tom. The show's Lateral.
Taha:I can't think about anything literal.
Tom:The Moscow Metro has a lot of lines that sort of just go outwards. There is a central hub, and things spread out from there.
Sabrina:So does, hmm, does one look like a W? Or whatever the Cyrillic letter for W is?
Taha:You go inwards for your boss, and you go outwards for your wife.
Taha:Now, what does that mean?
SFX:(group laughing, stammering)
Sabrina:My struggle here is certainly that they would remember where their home is, and they don't need a mnemonic for it.
Tom:So, if you are on a subway station... What are some of the things you need to figure out?
Taha:You need to figure out which way you're going. So, basically, if you're going one way, you're going towards your boss. And if you're going the other way, you're going towards your wife, so... Your boss calls you to work, and your wife calls you home.
Taha:Which means there is a... This might be gendered, but I think—
Sabrina:What if the boss is a woman, Taha? (laughs)
Taha:I don't think there is any girl boss happening in this situation. I think the Tannoy guy is a guy when you're going towards work, and it's a woman when you're going away.
Tom:Yes it is.
Sabrina:Shut up!
Tom:On the Moscow Metro, the gender of the announcements changes depending on whether you're going into the city or out of the city, which is a clue for people on the train as to which way you're going, like a confirmation that you're going the right way on the train.
Taha:The women on this podcast currently are gobsmacked.
SFX:(others laughing)
Taha:They're outraged. They're like, how dare the boss not be able to be a woman.
Tom:I mean, as I understand it, this has been going on for a while. This is not a new mnemonic or a new system. This is a very long-standing mnemonic.
Melissa:This is still happening?!
Tom:It's not an official government policy. This is something that got coined by someone who was listening to this, who came up with the phrase.
Sabrina:Certainly there has to be something official about the weird coincidence that all of the trains going (laughs increasingly) out of the city are women, and all of the trains going into the city are boys.
Tom:It was originally a clue to help the blind apparently. Just one more thing, one more wayfinding sign.
Taha:It's actually inclusive, Sabrina!
SFX:(group laughing)
Sabrina:Dang it!
Taha:How dare you be outraged by this.
Tom:And also, even if you don't understand Russian, you can still clue in to that being one more thing for direction.

Sabrina, over to you for the next question.
Sabrina:Let's do this.

In the Game Boy Advance title Boktai, the player enters the time and their location before assuming the role of the hero, Django. His weapon fires bolts of energy at various undead enemies. Now, why would parents approve of the game's special feature?

I'll say it again.

In the Game Boy Advance title Boktai, the player enters the time and their location before assuming the role of the hero, Django. His weapon fires bolts of energy at various undead enemies. But why would parents approve of the game's special feature?
Taha:I feel like... I don't actually know this, but I feel like I've got a pretty good guess.
Tom:Are we all going to take a guess at this and just see?
Taha:Melissa, do you have a pretty good guess, or are you confused?
Melissa:I'm like, I'm 50% there, but I'm not 100% there. I feel like... I'm just gonna say my answer.
Sabrina:How many of you are gamers? How many of you owned a Game Boy Advance?
Tom:Absolutely not.
Melissa:I didn't own a GBA.
Taha:I had a Game Boy Advance SP.
Melissa:That sounds—
Taha:Which was backlit, whereas the Game Boy Advance was not. So, I was cooler.
Tom:I feel like the first note on Sabrina's question card is gonna be, it's not anything to do with making sure that they're in bed by a certain hour. It locks it to that time.

But I feel like Taha and Melissa are both going, "Yeah, that's it".
Taha:I think, yeah, I think it's... It's to keep track of night and day, 'cause they don't want kids playing an undead game in scary hours.
Sabrina:I'll say this, it doesn't have that extreme of narc energy to it, but you're on the right track.
Taha:Okay, here's my other theory. I think it is that it's kind of like a Tamagotchi in that the undead only spawn/roam at night, which means they don't play at school.
Sabrina:Why'd you go with Tamagotchi instead of Minecraft? (laughs)
Taha:Yeah, I'm saying it's connected to the day and night cycle. Like, they go to sleep at night, and they are awake in the day in the same way that the zombies are only roaming at night. And so they don't play Game Boy during school hours. Maybe it's the opposite.
Sabrina:I feel like you're getting further... You're getting colder. You're going deeper into the night. You might be focusing on the wrong time.
Melissa:Does it have narc-adjacent energy, or...
Sabrina:It does have narc-adjacent energy! (giggles) What do parents say when their kids are being little gamers? Little game boys?
Melissa:"Dinner is ready." And then the kid's like, "Uh uh, I gotta finish my level." And I'm like, "Dinner's getting cold. And they're like, "Uh-uh-uh."
Sabrina:You are on the right track with the fact that... the game has a reason for wanting to know the time and location.
Tom:And location?
Sabrina:It has something to do with... Yes.
Taha:I think that means it's connected to the... the sunrise and sunset?
Taha:Maybe there was a really nice sunset in the game...
Taha:And you get to look at it, and that's why the parents were happy.
Melissa:Yes, this is good for the kids.
Tom:The game refuses to turn on that backlight after night so you don't end up staring at it under the covers, and... just, again—
SFX:(Sabrina and Melissa giggle)
Sabrina:You've gone too deep into the narc field there, Tom.
Taha:I have a question.
Taha:The game only works during twilight.
Sabrina:Why are you choosing such specific times of day? (giggles)
Taha:I don't know.
Sabrina:Okay, so... I think you guys are on the right track with thinking about daylight. I think that, you know... You... It's narc-adjacent. The parents are kind of...

They're trying to encourage parents to buy this for their kids. This is a perk of the feature, but it's not... It doesn't have to do anything with going into the night, you know, it's not locking things off.

I think it's worth remembering this part of the question, where the nature of his weapon... It fires bolts of energy at undead enemies.

Now... now what does that make you think of?
Melissa:Bursts of energy?
Taha:Star Wars.
Tom:Big flashes of light. Noises.
Melissa:I went in a weird space.
Sabrina:Go. Chase it!
Melissa:I was thinking about... how cereal in the morning gives you energy. What if it reminds your kids to eat breakfast in the morning?
Sabrina:It does come from a place of care. I'll say that.
Taha:Okay, what are the things of care? You need sleep. You need food. You need exercise. You need a 12-step skin care routine.
Taha:What else do you need?
Sabrina:I just made a video about it, Taha. What was the thing?
Taha:I don't know what else you would need.
Sabrina:Okay, here's a little hint. How are games distributed for the Game Boy Advance?
Sabrina:There might have been something a little bit... special about those cartridges.
Taha:Glow in the dark. There were glow in the dark cartridges.
Sabrina:There were. There were also other things. I remember that there was the one for Guitar Hero. Where it had little buttons on it. There are other things that might have to do with the time of day.
Taha:There was a light meter? There was a light meter, and you could only play it in the light.
Sabrina:Keep going, keep going. What would a child want to do?
Taha:Play under the covers at night, trying to grind Pokémon at night.
Sabrina:What if there's a light meter?
Taha:Then you can't. Then you have to use a flashlight, and then the jig is up.
Sabrina:What if a child isn't smart enough to use a flashlight? What if the Earth had a natural flashlight?
Taha:Well, you can only play in the sun.
Sabrina:With the time of day! (laughs)
Taha:You can only play in the sun. I feel like this is obvious now. I feel like it's...
Taha:The thing came with a light meter, and you could only play it in the sun. And that was good, because then the parents... are confident that they're not playing this game at night.
Tom:Why are parents approving of that?
Taha:Because you can't play at night.
Sabrina:I'm so sorry.
Tom:You have to go outside! You have to go outside to play it!
Sabrina:This was the most internet kid indoor people challenge on earth!
Tom:It's the wrong way 'round! They're not tracking—
Melissa:Who games outside?
Sabrina:That's the point. We're trying to get the kids to game outside. It's Pokémon Go to the Polls, you know what I mean?
SFX:(group laughing)
Taha:This is... I hate it. What a silly idea. You just play it next to the window. Everyone's gonna sit on their windowsill and just play it.
Sabrina:The moment that you were like, "Oh no, it always has to be at night under the covers" I was like, this is the wrong audience. They have never once considered going outside.
Tom:So if the game knows that it should be light outside, does it— It can't refuse to play. What was the energy weapon about?
Taha:Charge the energy weapon.
Sabrina:There we go. It's a power-up.
Taha:You've got a real-life solar panel for your internal game.
Taha:That's kinda fun.
Tom:Oh, that's really clever.
Melissa:That's cool.
Sabrina:Yeah, so, the Game Boy Advance games, they were released on cartridges, and Boktai's cartridge included a light sensor, which influenced how difficult the game was to play.

Now the game's full title was Boktai: The Sun Is In Your Hand! Which is so good! (laughs)
Taha:That is good.
Sabrina:And if the game was played in direct sunlight, Django's solar weapons, they would charge up. So during the evening hours, the player would have to avoid enemies because their gun ran out of battery. In addition, vampires would not appear during daylight hours. So you were right, kind of, about like, "Oh no, the Tamagotchi zombies. They're gonna get ya." And some indoor levels had skylights, which could only be discovered in the daytime.

It was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2003, and Boktai received 36 out of 40 from the Famitsu magazine.

So, it's a good game. Like, I'd take it. Pokémon Go to the Polls!
SFX:(group giggling)
Tom:Thank you to Cody Wheeland for this next question.

One American has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for World Figure Skating, US Hockey, and US Speedskating. While these honours were given sincerely, they were somewhat ironic. Who was he, and what was the irony?

I'll say that again.

One American has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for World Figure Skating, US Hockey, and US Speedskating. While these honours were given sincerely, they were somewhat ironic. Who was he, and what was the irony?
SFX:(Tom and Sabrina laugh)
Tom:You're gonna have to explain Gritty. You've gone for the joke, and now you have to explain Gritty.
Sabrina:Gritty is the mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers, a hockey team.

And he is like Cookie Monster... was dumped inside of radioactive sludge.
Sabrina:It's wonderful.
Melissa:Okay, but I was on the same wavelength as you. I was like a mascot, must be like a mascot.
Sabrina:Right? Like a Winter Olympics mascot. It has that energy to it. It's like, who's gonna be that good at three different things?
Melissa:Speed skating, hockey, and figure skating.
Taha:Wait, did you say medals?
Tom:Inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Taha:Hall of Fame. What if it was a hockey person... who did something in a match that was extremely elegant and very fast?
Taha:They just did some move...
Taha:In hockey that was like, "Wow"?
Sabrina:Okay, I feel somewhat obligated to get the answer on this, because I do consume hockey, but I feel like I would have heard about a hockey player that was so incredibly elegant that they were inducted into a skating hall of fame and a speedskating hall of fame.
Tom:Melissa, you're right. It would be very, very strange for someone to be that good at all three sports.
Melissa:Is it a person?
Sabrina:(gasps, whispers) Is it a person?
Tom:It is a person.
Sabrina:Is it a person wearing a costume, Tom?
SFX:(Sabrina and Melissa crack up)
Tom:No, it's not. You're going the wrong way with mascots. But you do know his name.
Sabrina:Wayne Gretzky. (laughs) Damn— I'm so confused by the silence!
Taha:We, yeah, I don't know. I was waiting for Tom to be like, yep.
Tom:No, it's not Wayne Gretzky. It's not.

Wayne Gretzky was not a figure skater or speed skater.
Taha:Oh, so they have to be—
Sabrina:They actually genuinely competed in all of them. It wasn't just a hockey player who did...
Tom:They've made a contribution to all three sports.
Taha:What if it was a manufacturer? They manufactured things for all three sports.
Sabrina:Mr. Bauer Mx...Mx...Knifefeet.
SFX:(group giggling)
Tom:Sorry, was that Bauer McKnifefeet?
Sabrina:(snickers) It was.
Taha:I think we got it. I think that's it.
Sabrina:I think that's it.
Sabrina:To do— To make a contribution to all three sports does feel like the thing that they have in common.

Or a Zamboni driver?
Taha:What's a zamboni?
Tom:Not much! What's a zamboni with you? Sorry. (chuckles)
SFX:(Melissa and Sabrina laugh)
Melissa:They're the people who clear the ice off and make it smooth again after people have carved it up with their skates.
Taha:So, Mr. Zamboni maybe? The guy who invented Zambonis?
Tom:Taha, you are absolutely right. Despite not knowing what a Zamboni was until about ten seconds ago.
Tom:It was Frank Zamboni, the inventor of the Zamboni
Taha:Let's go!
Tom:ice resurfacing machine.
Sabrina:Let's go! (laughs)
Taha:We salute your service.
Sabrina:I'm so glad that the Zamboni is named after Mr. Zamboni.
Tom:(laughs) Right?!
Sabrina:So good.
Melissa:That's great.
Tom:So, the last part of the question. What was the irony?
Melissa:He didn't skate.
Sabrina:He hated knives.
SFX:(Tom and Sabrina laugh)
Melissa:He ate knives?
Sabrina:He hated knife feet.
Taha:His name was actually Mr. Calzone, and he invented the calzone. What if he was like... he's the GOAT of ice skating, but hated ice skating?
Tom:Yeah, he didn't even like ice skating. He just invented the machine to resurface the rinks.

He's also in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Sabrina:It makes total sense if you think about it. He was trying to get rid of all evidence of skating from the ice. He was an ice enthusiast.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:He also invented a track cleaner for NASCAR races, an artificial turf roller, and a milk tank and pasteuriser.
Taha:Okay, one of those is not like the others.
Tom:One of those is not like the others, right?
Taha:Yeah, he really likes smooth surfaces and also pasteurised milk.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Taha, over to you for the next question.
Taha:Okay, this question is sent in by Simon Giesen.

The ownership of the summit of Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc, is a long-standing dispute between Italy and France. However, since 1802, the Netherlands has also claimed ownership of Mont Blanc's summit. How?

I'll say that again.

The ownership of the summit to Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc, is a long-standing dispute between Italy and France. However, since 1802, the Netherlands has also claimed ownership of Mont Blanc's summit. How?
Sabrina:You can just do it. I claim ownership.
Tom:I was gonna say.
SFX:(both laugh)
Tom:I'm also gonna claim Mont Blanc's summit right now. I'm just gonna invent a flag and stick it in there.
Taha:Alright, let me read the question again. Italy, France, Tom Scott, and the Netherlands claim ownership of Mont...
SFX:(group laughing)
Sabrina:Okay, I've got two theories. You want to hear my two theories?
Sabrina:Theory one. I didn't even wait for an answer.

Theory one. The first person to summit it was from the Netherlands, and they put their flag down.

Theory two, airspace. They just own the airspace that the summit is in.

Was I close with either of those?
Taha:I would say you weren't close with either, but one was closer than the other.
SFX:(Tom and Sabrina giggle)
Tom:I'm pretty sure it's not airspace, 'cause the Netherlands is nowhere near the Alps.

It is very famously... quite flat... and a good bit of it's below sea level.
Sabrina:Exactly. It's where you don't expect them.
SFX:(Tom and Sabrina laugh)
Tom:You always find a Dutch where you least expect them. That sounds rude... but I don't know if it is?
Melissa:For a second, I was like, wait, they share a border, right? I forgot what the map looked like.
Melissa:They don't share it. They don't.
Sabrina:Stop! Don't reveal that we're North American, Melissa! (giggles) Put it away!
Melissa:I was like, wait a second. We're a little too far away from each other to share that.
Sabrina:Did something special happen in 1802? I don't know European history. That sounds like a them problem.
Taha:I would say... something did happen in 1802, in which— which resulted in them also claiming ownership. I feel like that's a given.
Sabrina:Was it something that happened in the Netherlands or on the mountain?
Taha:Now that is a hard question to answer.

I would say it happened both in the Netherlands and on the mountain.
Sabrina:(hoots softly) Hmm!
Tom:They successful— No, it's way too early to have a wireless telegraphy link that they linked back from the summit to the mountain just to claim it. That doesn't—

That makes no sense in several different ways.
Sabrina:(laughs) They... planted...

Netherlands are the tulip people, right?
Tom:(snickers) Yeah, yeah.
Sabrina:They put a tulip and a bicycle on top of the summit.
Taha:And a canal.
Sabrina:(cackles breathlessly)
Tom:The thing is, we've run through all the Dutch stereotypes, but none of those are wrong.
Sabrina:(giggles) There we go.
Taha:So... No, but they did do something.
Sabrina:The color orange. I'm just going through anything I know about the Netherlands.
Tom:Did they steal the summit?

Did someone Dutch climb Mont Blanc, chip off the top of the mountain, and take it back to the Netherlands, and now there is a museum somewhere in the Netherlands with the former summit of Mont Blanc?
Sabrina:That's so European. They love taking things.
SFX:(Sabrina and Melissa laugh)
Taha:That is basically what happened.
Sabrina:No! (laughs)
Taha:So... they own a chunk of granite taken from the summit.
Sabrina:Why would they do that?
Taha:I guess you could just do that.
Tom:Nothing's stopping you.
Taha:In 1787, geology pioneer Horace Bénédict de Saus— Saussure...?
Tom:Everyone in France just got angry, and we're gonna roll with it.
Taha:Sorry, France.
SFX:(scattered laughter)
Tom:Not me to pick on your pronunciation too much, but you said " Horacehor-is, Horacehor-ass, whatever" in the manner of someone from east of London dropping his Hs. It was just—
Tom:'Orace. 'Ello, I'm 'Orace.
Taha:'Orace. 'Orace! 'Orace de Bénédict! Yeah.

...led the first scientific expedition to Mont Blanc. At the summit, they dug for the highest peak of rock they could... and claimed they had found the summit. They chipped off a piece of the granite and took it home.

In 1802, the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands acquired items from the expedition, including the granite fragment, now known as the tip of Mont Blanc.
Tom:Thank you to Jake Mellor for this next question.

In 2007, the Australian quiz show Spicks and Specks asked a question about the Men at Work hit Down Under. The pop group was paid their usual royalties, and then ended up losing money. Why?

I'll say that again.

In 2007, the Australian quiz show Spicks and Specks asked a question about the Men at Work hit Down Under. The pop group was paid their usual royalties, and then ended up losing money. Why?
Sabrina:Can I point out the weird amount of layers inside that question?
SFX:(Tom and Sabrina laugh)
Sabrina:What is— Are we asking— Are we trying to answer why the quiz show asked this question, or why they lost the royalties, or why they lost money?
Taha:Or why it was a hit?
Sabrina:The quiz show played the song, they didn't have it licensed, and so they got hit with a fine.
Tom:No, the pop group lost the money.
Sabrina:(snaps fingers) Dangit!
Tom:The quiz show is a show about pop music and pop music history, so they were just asking a question about the Australian hit.
Taha:Wait, so they asked a question on their quiz show, and as a result, the pop group lost money?
Tom:Yeah, they got the usual royalties for it being played out, but they lost money.
Sabrina:The quiz show asked a question that revealed... where the answer revealed something about the song... that then got the band hit with a fine, right? It was probably like, it samp— They pointed out that the song sampled something that they did not clear the sample for. And so...
Sabrina:They— (laughs) It was some researcher who thought everybody knew this fact. Was not a known fact. And so they got hit with a fine.
Taha:Surely that's right.
Tom:You have basically hit every point on the first take.
Melissa:Look at that.
Tom:Well done. Yes.
Sabrina:Let's go! Has to happen once.
Taha:Sabrina remains undefeated.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Oh, that sounded almost bitter there, Taha.
Sabrina:(cackles softly)
Taha:We're all proud of Sabrina.
Tom:So, do you know the song? And do you know what it might have sampled?
Melissa:I don't know the song.
Taha:I don't know the song. But I know what it's—
Sabrina:Toto – Africa. (giggles profusely)
Taha:Is it another famous thing with 'down under' in it?

I mean, I don't know the song.
Tom:I believe through fair use, we are allowed to play just a brief sample of the chorus here.
Sabrina:I'm already dancing to the song.
Tom:So the song in question is one that you've probably heard, which is:
SFX:♫ ("Down Under" by Men at Work chorus excerpt)
Tom:Have you heard that before, or am I asking a question to Gen Z again about a pop song no one's heard?
Sabrina:(laughs) It's been looping at— That exact thing has been looping in my head since you asked the question.
Melissa:I don't know that one.
Taha:Yeah, never heard that.
Sabrina:Really?! Oh no! (laughs)
Taha:Is it not Toto – Africa?
Sabrina:I swear it's Toto – Africa! Is it not Toto – Africa?
Taha:I've never heard the song before.
Tom:Those are two songs with the same vibes but are completely unrelated.
Tom:Sabrina, this is down to you. I'm gonna play you the actual part that was under contention. I'll see if you can work out what song it was.
SFX:♫ ("Down Under" excerpt highlighting flute refrain)
Tom:It is the flute solo that is used a couple of times in there. Did that ring any bells?
Sabrina:(giggles faintly) Lizzo. Sorry.
SFX:(both laughing)
Tom:So, you successfully nailed basically every element of the question, despite not really knowing the original song, and not knowing the thing it sampled. Congratulations, that is just a brilliant sweep of a question.
Tom:I'll give you the details.

The panellists were asked: "Have a listen to this. Name the Australian nursery rhyme this riff has been based on."

That riff is very similar. We don't know if it was actually taken from, but it was very similar to Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, which is not traditional. It was written by someone who died fairly recently. It's still in copyright.

There was a lawsuit over it, and it was purely because one Australian panel show went "That's a bit similar, isn't it?"
Taha:That's pretty strong evidence, 'cause a layperson has basically connected the two.
Taha:I mean, that must've been hard for them to argue against in court.
Sabrina:Now I want to hear the song.
Tom:In the end, the company that owned the rights settled for 5% of the royalties from 2002 onwards. They wanted 60%, so, y'know... there were some arguments.

Melissa, last guest question of the show is yours.
Melissa:This question has been sent in by Brian M.


Stella needs to make a replacement shelf bracket precisely to line up with the existing screw holes. She draws her wooden design using a ruler where the markings are 1% further apart than normal. Yet, the bracket fits perfectly. Why?

One more time.

Stella needs to make a replacement shelf bracket precisely to line up with the existing screw holes. She draws her wooden design using a ruler where the markings are 1% further apart than normal. Yet, the bracket fits perfectly. Why?
Tom:I have a very specific question. Is she in Philadelphia?
Sabrina:(wheezes) She is Gritty. (giggles profusely)
Melissa:I don't know, and I don't think that is a relevant...
Melissa:That is, I think that is irrelevant.
Taha:Is there different rulers?
Tom:Yes. And so there is the Philadelphia foot and the Philadelphia yard, which are used only for... working out building layer— building plot sizes.
Tom:No, and also, thinking about it, that wouldn't work for a bracket, 'cause as soon as you're inside the house... As soon as you're inside the house, you'd go back to using normal measurements. It's only for land plot sizes.

I thought I was being really clever there, and I was just entirely wrong.
Taha:I have two thoughts. Was the wall that they are mounting onto... I'm assuming they're mounting onto a wall. They didn't say that, but I'm assuming that's a thing.
Sabrina:I like my shelves on the ceiling.
Taha:It's not exactly flat. It's curved. So...
Taha:Having 1% extra would do something.
Sabrina:What was your second thought?
Taha:My second thought is that I'm wrong.
SFX:(Tom and Sabrina laugh)
Taha:I don't remember my second thought.
Sabrina:I have something that is quite similar to your thought, I think. But it— You specified 1% and wood. And I had this door inside of my old childhood home that during some seasons, that door closed just fine. And then other seasons, the door didn't fit into the doorway. So does seasonality or heat have something to do with this?
Melissa:Not seasonality. You're kind of teetering on potentially heat... But you're getting closer.
Tom:Wood expands when it's wet as well. So maybe this is on a ship or something like that, but... Why would your ruler be different?
Taha:I feel like your ruler isn't different. It's potentially that you have to... drill the holes or carve the wood at a different state to what it will be when it's on the wall?
Tom:No... If I'm remembering the question right, the ruler has... The ruler is wrong, if I'm remembering the question right.
Melissa:Correct. The rule— The mark— The markings on the ruler are 1% further apart than usual.
Sabrina:Is the ruler made out of wood? (laughs)
Melissa:The material of the ruler is irrelevant, but...
Melissa:They're using this ruler intentionally.
Sabrina:So what I'm hearing here is that Tom understood the question correctly, and you and I, Taha, didn't.
Taha:Yeah. Yeah.
Taha:Yeah. I thought they were using a normal ruler and just calculating—
Sabrina:And measuring 1%.
Taha:Yeah, yeah.
Tom:The wood's gonna shrink then. If they're making the holes 1% bigger than they should be... then the wood is going to shrink by about 1%, and then the bracket will fit in just fine. Is that the correct order of events?
Melissa:Yeah, that's the correct order of events that things would happen.
Taha:So the wood would be wet when it's carved or crafted. Well if— What's the CNC machines? Do they use water?
Tom:The water jets.
Sabrina:Oh yeah, some do.
Melissa:What's a CNC machine?
Sabrina:Computer Navigated Cutter. (snorts) Was a full on guess. I have no idea.
Tom:(laughs) I don't know what CNC actually stands for. I've used that word so many times, and yet, have never thought to think what those letters stand for.
Tom:Thank you to the producer: Computer Numerical Control. So... mm. So... mm.
Sabrina:I got one. One out of three.
Taha:I feel like your one was better, Sabrina.
Sabrina:Yeah, exactly. (chuckles)
Melissa:Okay, I feel like I need to give a hint. The final product that Stella is making is not made from wood.
Sabrina:Oh, it's a mold! It's a mold— It's like she— The mold—

So then it will naturally... She makes the thing big, and then she casts it, and then she... (spits) ...does other stuff to it.

I don't know how molding works.

Or it's like one of those molds where it's like you have to destroy the thing in order to create... You know what I'm saying?

I'm not making a full sentence, but you get the vibe I'm putting out into the world.
SFX:(group laughing)
Taha:The mould... The mould has to be 1% bigger so that the thing is 1% smaller.
Melissa:Yes, that is right. So basically Stella...
Melissa:The material that Stella is making this bracket from is cast iron.

So she's got to make the pattern 1% bigger so that when you pour the cast iron in, it cools, it shrinks, and then it fits perfectly.

So like that wooden... that ruler...
Sabrina:It shrinks 'cause it's metal! It's juicy metal!
Tom:That's it!
Melissa:So that's why the ruler is 1% bigger.
Sabrina:I meant to say liquid metal, not juicy metal. I'm so sorry.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:And that is what it shall forever be known as.
Melissa:But also, I guess wood doesn't expand as much, or shrink as much as cast iron, but that was—
Sabrina:You didn't interact with this door, dude. This door really—
Taha:Your specific door?
SFX:(Sabrina and Melissa laugh)
Sabrina:Yeah, my specific door.
Taha:Is made out of juicy metal.
Melissa:Did you get stuck? What happened?
Sabrina:Listen, I never closed it out of fear that I'd get stuck inside. It was in the mudroom. You know the room that's an unfinished part of the basement that's definitely where murders would happen? It was that room.
Taha:Ah yes, the murder corner of the basement we all have.
Sabrina:Doesn't everyone have that room in their home?
Melissa:Like a cold cellar, right? Like that room?
Sabrina:My family would just store pallets of Coke Zero inside that room.
SFX:(Taha and Sabrina crack up)
Melissa:Keeps it cold.
Sabrina:This is...
Melissa:So basically she needed to take shrinkage into account when she was making the bracket. And because different materials shrink differently depending on what you use... In the case of cast iron, it's usually between an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch for every foot that will shrink.

And so, you have these special rulers called shrink rulers or pattern maker scales that have these measurement markings that are slightly larger, so that when things shrink... it's actually the right size.
Tom:Just one last thing then, which is the question I asked the audience at the start of the show:

What is colloquially measured in terms of transatlantic flights?

Any quick guesses from the Answer in Progress team?
Sabrina:Carbon emissions.
Tom:Ooh. You know what? That is a valid alternate answer.

I think that's the first valid alternate answer we've ever had in all the episodes of Lateral.

I can't tell you you're wrong. That is also colloquially measured in transatlantic flights. It's just not the answer I've got on my card.
SFX:(both crack up)
Sabrina:Those are my two answers for you.
SFX:(Melissa and Sabrina giggle)
Taha:No, I was gonna go for carbon emissions as well.
Tom:There is one other thing used by doctors.
Tom:Doctors. If they're explaining something to a patient.
Sabrina:Thromb— The— The deep vein thrombosis situation. I don't know. (laughs)
Taha:How many holidays they had that year.
SFX:(Tom and Sabrina chuckle)
Taha:I don't know. No? 'Doctors' is really throwing me off.
Tom:It's radiation. If you are explaining to a patient how much radiation they're going to get from an X-ray or a CT scan...
Tom:You can also explain the dosage as being equivalent to a certain number of transatlantic flights. From all your reactions—
Sabrina:Am I getting irradiated during a flight?
Taha:When I go to Canada, do I get... radiated?
Melissa:That's why we send Taha over the sea and not Sabrina. (laughs)
Taha:I've been taking one for the team the whole time! You guys are travelling next time. I'm done with radiation.
Tom:Alright. Sudden follow-up question. Can you work out why?
Sabrina:The sun, you're closer to it.
Sabrina:That can't be it.
Tom:Mm, I mean—
Melissa:Oh, I was like, yeah, that's right!
Tom:It's not really the sun, although you can get more sunburn. There's something that isn't in the way anymore.
Taha:Oh, the ozone layer. Wait, no, we don't go above the ozone layer. Never mind.
Sabrina:(laughs) Damn, he's totally flying... What's the galactic airline?
Taha:What's not that cloud cover?
Tom:The atmosphere in general.

Cosmic rays get stopped by the atmosphere. If you are 30,000, 35,000 feet up, a lot of that atmospheric protection is gone.

So a normal chest X-ray equals about two transatlantic flights.
Melissa:Well, Taha...
Sabrina:That's the there and back. That's the round trip.
Tom:Yes. It's meant as a reassurance that it's not actually all that much radiation. But I do fear that I've now—
Taha:I've had three chest X-rays this year.
Tom:I now feel like I've freaked you all out about the tiny amount of radiation you're gonna get.

So with that, while you're all still here and not entirely freaked out... tell us about Answer in Progress. Where can people find you?

We're gonna start with Taha.
Taha:In the production of Answer in Progress videos, I've had three chest X-rays.
Taha:It's been horrifying.
Tom:Melissa, tell us about some of those videos.
Melissa:We make videos like: Why are there so many pasta shapes? Why you can't sleep?
Sabrina:(laughs) That's not a video we've made! I was like, that's not the name of the title!
Tom:And Sabrina, where can people find you?
Sabrina:You can find us at, or with the new handle system,[@ symbol] answerinprogress.
Tom:It's such a bad system.

Well, if you wanna know more about this show, you can do that at where you can also send in your own ideas for questions.

We are on YouTube multiple times a week at the increasingly irritating or I'm glad it's not just me who's angry about that.

And we are at @lateralcast basically everywhere else.

With that, thank you very much to the team from Answer in Progress: Sabrina Cruz.
Sabrina:Woo! Thank you!
Tom:Melissa Fernandes.
Tom:And Taha Khan.
Tom:My name's Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
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