No Such Thing As A Fish - 523: No Such Thing As A Dice The Size Of The Universe

Episode Date: March 21, 2024

Dan, James, Anna and Matt Parker discuss, Rising Sun, falling bridges, celebrity computers and tearaway trolleys. Visit for news about live shows, merchandise and more episodes....  Join Club Fish for ad-free episodes and exclusive bonus content at or

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Starting point is 00:00:00 Hi everyone, welcome to this week's episode of No Such Thing As A Fish, when we were joined by the incredible mathematician, YouTuber, science communicator, all-round smart guy Matt Parker. Now, a lot of you will know a lot of Matt's work, he's written a lot of books, things to make him do in the fourth dimensions, one of his. Humble Pie was an absolutely massive book for him. He has a new book out. It is called Love Triangle, The Life-Changing Magic of Trigonometry. I haven't read it yet, but I can tell you having read his other books, it is going to be absolutely incredible and you can pre-order it right now by going to That's
Starting point is 00:00:50 Don't forget that s if you're in America And you can pre-order a signed copy with a limited edition dust jacket Of course, it will be available in all of the local book shops and probably in those big online book retailers as well. A few other things about Matt, he is in a podcast called A Problem Squared with Bec Hill, who you might remember from a few months ago, she came on the podcast and talked about Cabbage Patch Kids. Bec and Matt have this incredible podcast, it's definitely worth listening to and there is also a podcast of unnecessary
Starting point is 00:01:25 detail that Matt does with two other ex-Fish alumni Steve Mould and Helen Arnie from the Festival of the Spoken Nerd. Anyway I'm sure you're gonna love this week's show don't forget at the end of it go to to pre-order Matt's new book Love Triangle but for now all that's left to say is on with the podcast! Hello and welcome to another episode of No Such Thing as a Fish, a weekly podcast coming to you from the QI offices in Hovern. My name is Dan Schreiber, I am sitting here with Anna Tyshinsky, James Harkin and Matt Parker.
Starting point is 00:02:18 And once again, we have gathered around the microphones with our four favorite facts from the last seven days. And in no particular order, here we go. Starting with fact number one, that is Matt. The first computer to ever discover a shape starred in the 1980s sitcom, well, starred, was in an episode of the 1980s sitcom, Laverne and Shirley.
Starting point is 00:02:40 Oh, wow. There are a couple of concepts in there I'm not familiar with. I like to pack a lot of concepts into a sentence. Yeah. Okay, so computer, shape, Laverne or Shirley. Can we talk about how you discover a shape? Yeah, good point. That feels like a big question.
Starting point is 00:02:57 I also don't know what Laverne and Shirley are, a show you'd recommend? I'm unfamiliar with their non-computer based episodes. I used to watch it as a kid. Really? Yeah, yeah. And it's good. Yeah, it's I mean it was a spinoff from Happy Days. Yeah, it's Gary Marshall who was the yeah the creator of it He was the Happy Days guy. Yeah. Yeah, apparently it was a lot of that. Sorry, we're in Laverne and Shirley territory now. That wasn't the main part of my... Apparently they were like really kind of like, you know, they had lots of fights on set and Happy Days the cast they used to put glass to the walls to hear the arguments that were going on the other side yeah that stuff. Unhappy Days. Yeah. But it was it was early 80s I think Laverne and Shirley so it
Starting point is 00:03:38 that's quite early for no it's not that early for computers is it? It was a 1980 episode and the same computer had previously starred in the land of the Giants in 1969 So it was in 60s like sci-fi and being in a 1980 sitcom was actually like the final bit of its Hollywood career. Yeah It's pretty about you've you've as a result of this fact, and we will get to the new shape. Sorry, Anna, for knocking out of this,
Starting point is 00:04:10 but this website that you sent us... Starring the computer. Starring the computer is phenomenal. It's the IMDB of computers and movies that they have appeared in. And it's run by this one guy who, he has this amazing Twitter account where he just constantly puts up photos from movies he's watching going what's this does anyone know
Starting point is 00:04:28 and the people go hunting to try and track down the exact computer that's in the in the movie. What was this computer? The Burrows 220. Okay, once you've seen it in Laverne and Shirley do you think people then go well I want to watch the land of the giants now and I want to watch. Watch his entire back catalog. Yeah, yeah like you might do with an actor. then go, well, I want to watch the land of the giants now and I want to watch. Watch this entire back catalog.
Starting point is 00:04:45 Yeah, yeah, like you might do with an actor. Well, what's good about this computer? The Burrows 220 really looks like a computer. Like if you're thinking 60s computers, like with tape spinning and lights flashing, it's like your classic retro computer look. OK, I read that a similar one, which was the B205. Oh, yes. Was the back computer in Batman. Okay, I read that a similar one, which was the B205, Oh yes.
Starting point is 00:05:05 was the back computer in Batman, according to the Z. So that's, cause I wondered if there were ever computers that played other computers, and I guess that's an example. Like a Mac playing a Dell or something. Yeah, yeah. But I wanted to find out more about the back computer. Unfortunately, one of the most popular internet firms in Lagos is called Back Computers.
Starting point is 00:05:25 I'm going to google anything, that's all you get. I did find a few things about the Back Computer. And by the way, the Burrows 205 absolutely smashes the hell out of the 220. It does, it had way better casting. Yeah, it's in the top ten most appeared in movies computers in the world. Same family of computers for the record. One big Burrows family. A dynasty, you might say. What you get with the back computer, the Burroughs 205, is you get the back correction signal
Starting point is 00:05:52 which alerts Batman when he has said something incorrect. You have the back computer input slot which I remember. Wait a minute, so they invented the QI Klaxon in a way. Exactly, yeah. There's the input slot where it's kind of's kind of like where you would it's like a mail slot where you'd put your Post in but it's like here's an entire book and you just shove the book in and it computes the whole book really quickly Wow Accelerated concentration switch that's sort of giving it more computing power in order to deal with a problem and special escaped arch criminal bat locator
Starting point is 00:06:21 Which is a preset Basically, but specifically for like the joker and the redlar. Okay that's clever. Or find my phone app but like find my villain. Yes exactly yeah and the bat keyboard that's an actual thing it is a keyboard which only has I think five or six or seven keys on it and you can make any letter by playing a chord do you know these math like chordal keyboards so you don't need 26 keys to play all the Do you know these, Matt? Like chordal keyboards. So you don't need 26 keys to play all the keys. It's like what a stenographer would use.
Starting point is 00:06:49 I think so, yeah. But it was used for like disabled people who only had one hand or something like that. And you could type letters quickly by knowing that if you want to do an A, you might press the first one, the third one, and the fourth one or whatever. Oh, that's clever.
Starting point is 00:07:02 Because there's 30, well, if you include pressing nothing, 32 options. So you've got enough for the whole alphabet. With how many keys? With five. With five keys? Five keys will give you 32 options. All right.
Starting point is 00:07:13 Including the null press, which is not using the keyboard. So 31 distinct presses. And then if you include your nos? Now you can do upper and lower case. I do have a keyboard. I removed all the keys apart from the zero and the one on a keyboard. Because I can type in binary so I could enter. I included the backspace. I'm not a monster.
Starting point is 00:07:32 So I could enter. So I could type out. I tried doing it on stage. I'd type people's names in binary, then hit enter. Really? And it would come up and text. That's efficient. Wow. I was looking at that website for all the examples of this B205, which is what the bat computer is. And one just caught my eye, which was Sex Kittens Go to College,
Starting point is 00:07:54 the movie. I don't know why, but this is an amazing movie because it didn't just have this computer in it, the B205. It also had a robot called Electro in it. And Electro was an exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair. It was like a huge seven foot tall robot. It could walk by voice commands. So if you told it to walk, it could walk. It could speak 700 words using a record player. It could smoke cigarettes, blow up balloons
Starting point is 00:08:21 and move its hands and arms. Cool. All the parts of the Turing test. Wow. So this was like a really famous robot in the World's Fair in 1939. And then by, you know, the 1960s, it was in Sex Kittens Go to College. That's so good. What a career decline. Is it good or is it depressing for that poor robot?
Starting point is 00:08:40 I just love it. I love all the movies. Like, I didn't read that movie. Like, there are so many, like you get big ones like Austin Powers, the spy who shagged me. It appears in that. But then you also got Dr. Goldfoot and the bikini machine. That's so good. And the Burroughs, by the way, it was a company. Yeah. And it was started by William Seward Burroughs, who was a grandfather of William S. Burroughs. Really?
Starting point is 00:09:00 From the B generation. And he invented, at least this is, I'm sure there are other claims to it, but he invented and filed the patent for the big generation. Yeah. And he invented, at least this is, I'm sure there are other claims to it, but he invented and filed the patent for the first calculator. God, you wouldn't imagine that spawning William Burroughs two generations later. Sort of like chain smoking, romantic. Wife shooting. Wife shooting. He likes to put that further down his CV. People rarely talk about the fact that he killed his wife.
Starting point is 00:09:20 Yeah. Well, apparently he said that he was trying to do a William Tell thing. Yeah. And shoot an apple off her head and accidentally shot her. Yeah. I'm not sure we all buy that. But apparently that will get you off in court because he didn't go to jail. Yeah. Everything was fine. Yeah. She's leaving an apple nearby at the scene of the crime. Yeah. That's what I was aiming for. Another cool pop culture computer crossover I came across. Did you guys know that Steve Jobs is Homer Simpson's uncle? Oh, yes. Yes. This is so weird. This fact.
Starting point is 00:09:55 It's so weird. It's so bizarre. So Steve Jobs' dad is a guy called Abdul Fattah Jandali. Steve Jobs was put up for adoption by this guy because his partner's family disapproved of the marriage because he was Syrian Muslim. So Steve Jobs went up for adoption, never met his father actually. This guy, Abdul Fattah Jandali, had another kid also who ended up estranged from him.
Starting point is 00:10:19 She's called Mona Simpson. And she married a guy weirdly called Richard Apple. So Steve Jobs' brother-in-law is called Apple. She married a guy called Richard Apple who is a writer on the Simpsons and he came up with the character of Mona Simpson, Homer's mum, named after his partner Mona Simpson. So Steve Jobs' sister is Mona Simpson, Homer Simpson's mum. Okay. Yeah, I followed that, but maybe because I knew it beforehand. I'm not sure if that worked because we got too confused. I'm imagining a very complicated family tree.
Starting point is 00:10:51 Yeah, I think you like the Habsburgs. You know that family tree where they're all kind of Yeah, it is like that. And also if that like branched out into fiction for one bit of it, it's a little bit like Icelandic sagas where you're like, is this true or is it not? So shapes, you were, how does a computer... how does a computer invent a shape? Well this is the problem. So everyone, and this is a perfect example of what happened in computing, everyone loves the B205 and all these other fancy computers. The B220 was like a vacuum tube miscalculation because they barely made any, no one really bought them, transistors had come along and blown these old ones out of the water.
Starting point is 00:11:31 So they were pretty much a forgotten computer until I was reading a old maths paper from 1962 and it was someone called Donald Grace who was trying to find the biggest shape. Now you're gonna need some constraints on that otherwise the bigger shape is whatever shape the universe is but they were trying to work out the biggest shape that you could fit in like a unit sphere. Okay so the biggest shape you can fit in a ball. Okay. And you can imagine it the size of the universe if you want, no one's stopping you. Or you can imagine it at a nice manageable basketball-esque size. And to make it a bit more manageable again, they would do it for the number of vertices,
Starting point is 00:12:14 the number of corners a shape has. And Donald specifically was curious what's the biggest shape with eight vertices on it. Which some people might think, we just work out how to put eight points on it which some people might think we just work out how to put eight points on a sphere as far apart as possible and join them all up to make a cube and doesn't work that is the that is the best way to position your points on a sphere and that's actually quite difficult to do that's a whole other no one has a good systematic way to arrange dots on a sphere that's so interesting well in that in that regular way that makes a cube.
Starting point is 00:12:47 Despite all the funding from Big Golf. What is the biggest golf? Yeah, there's no, it's called the Thompson problem. There's no, cause it came out of... Is it named after golf, Alexi Thompson? It's not. Oh, right. Okay.
Starting point is 00:13:04 It came out of Thompson looking at electrons in an atom trying to work out how they'd be spaced. And they're like, oh, well, it's easy. They just space such that they've got the as close as possible to the same distance between them. And we just work that out. That's really hard to work out. And it doesn't even solve this other problem. So we were a bit, mathematicianematics was a bit of a dead end and Donald Grace was studying at Stanford, studying what would later be called Computer Science and they were like, you know what, I'll just see if I can get a computer to solve this problem. Because if I program a computer to start with eight points on a sphere and work out the shape that they define
Starting point is 00:13:40 and then jiggle them all around a bit and see which direction of jiggling increases the volume by the most and then just do that more times than a and see which direction of jiggling increases the volume by the most And then just do that more times than a human ever could you'll eventually evolve your way into the biggest possible Shape. Wow. Yeah, okay So I read the paper and I wasn't kind of aware of that at the time I was just looking because I like the shapes I was uh Reading through the paper and there's a line that said, we ran this on a Burroughs 220 computer system. And I was like, that's weird.
Starting point is 00:14:07 Like, that's commonplace in modern math research. But I was looking at this going, that's what? A computer already? And the paper was submitted in August 1962. I'm like, how? How did he have access to a computer? And it turns out they did have a Burroughs 220 at Stanford. They got it in 1960.
Starting point is 00:14:25 So Donald has since passed away, spoke to his kids, and they're like, oh, we used to volunteer and go in at night. He would take the night shift from the computer lab. That meant he could run his code on the computer, because otherwise they were not going to waste their computer time for someone finding the biggest shape. Yeah, exactly. And he found it. He found the biggest shape.
Starting point is 00:14:43 And he published it. And he's like, I found this thing. And... Do you have any idea? Can we explain what the shape is? Or is it tough? It looks a little bit like a dice from D&D. Okay, yeah. It's made entirely out of triangles. But because it's not like an icosahedron, like a D20 or like a D8 that's nice and neat because they're platonic solids, it's somewhere in the middle. So it's still a lot of triangles put together and it looks quite regular, but it's not exactly tidy because that's an awkward number of vertices to have.
Starting point is 00:15:14 So you couldn't roll it as a physical die? It would be slightly unfair, yeah. And it's massive. I mean, it's going to be difficult, isn't it? Heavy. It's the size of the universe. Well, yeah. Can we talk about golf? Yeah, sure. I made a classic error there. Can I say no? No, you can't say no, because this is interesting. So I learned this from researching for this.
Starting point is 00:15:38 I looked at my golf balls and there's loads of dimples on them, right? And all the dimples are hexagons. Or are they all hexagons, Matt? Because it's a sphere. Theyples on them, right? All the dimples are hexagons or are they all hexagons Matt? Because it's a sphere they can't be right and so I found out that every golf ball has 12 pentagons on it Yeah, it's amazing if you get that was Anna by the way Weird Star Wars creature that just suddenly came on set. We went to Epcot, Disney World, and I made everyone else with stop so we could look at the massive Epcot sphere, which is a giant golf ball, I guess. I'm like, in there somewhere, I said, are 12 pentagons. Oh, my God.
Starting point is 00:16:15 I'm going to try and find some. But the interesting thing is, this is the least interesting part of it. Now, I think this has improved my golf game, because what I do is when I put the ball on the tee I line up one of the pentagons to where I want to hit and it helps me concentrate That that's the part of the ball that I want to hit. Oh, that's great. Yeah, that's like with bowling I use the I use the triangle in the middle. Well, you're supposed to that's what they're there. I don't think anyone does Yeah, I mean that's all that's there for. That's quite annoying for the golfer behind you who has to wait for you to just constantly
Starting point is 00:16:49 go hang on, I know there are loads here. Trying to find his pentagon. Well that's amazing, isn't it? Yeah, that's incredible. Twelve pentagons because you can't put hexagons on a sphere. You can't. And I've gotten very upset because the UK street signs for a football stadium have a picture of a football and they've forgotten the pentagons.
Starting point is 00:17:07 It's all hexagons, which is mathematically impossible. So, why, it can't be if they made the sign work. Well, they just drawn a hexagon kind of slightly distorted grid and then cut out a circle of it and put on the sign. And we never see the other side. Yeah, of course. So I ran a big petition. Right. I got 20, So I ran a big petition. I got 20,000 signatures on a parliamentary petition.
Starting point is 00:17:28 So the government has to write to you at that point to say what they're going to do about this important issue you've raised. And they wrote to me to say they're not going to change the street signs to be correct. They're like, no. They said that the correct geometry would be so similar to the current signs, there's no point changing it. And they also said the correct geometry would be so distracting, it might increase the likelihood of accidents.
Starting point is 00:17:49 Really? Absolutely bullshit. Heckle Lane. We've got an election coming up. Thank you. I think if any party decides to go for that, we're going to change the shape of footballs on road signs. It's going to be a huge majority.
Starting point is 00:18:03 I completely agree. Although I did now talk to someone who makes custom footballs on roadsides, it's going to be a huge majority. Yeah, yeah. I completely agree. Although I did now talk to someone who makes custom footballs, soccer balls, and got them to make me a ball where from one specific angle, it looks like the street sign. So someone who runs a company called 12 pentagons, John Paul designed this ball where from the front and the back looks like the street sign, but like the equator around the bit is a nightmare a company called 12 Pentagons. And John Paul designed this ball where from the front and the back looks like the street sign, but like the equator around the bit is a nightmare of weird shapes to patch the geometry together
Starting point is 00:18:33 to make it work in physical reality. And you have that. I got the ball. I took it up to Liverpool football club. No. Yeah, I got there sports analytics team to have a kick around with it. I was not allowed the, they're like,
Starting point is 00:18:44 you have to come on a day where we can guarantee there will be no players around. Imagine if Mo Salah played with that ball and it fucked up his entire career. I can't play with these other balls anymore. This is the one. It'd be great to see a lower league team like in the EFL training with that ball, knowing the game with that ball, then playing a Premier League team and just seeing the difference.
Starting point is 00:19:06 And you deal with the ball. Yeah, exactly. If the guys at Tremere, my team are listening, give her a go. Can't be much worse than what's happening this season. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:19:15 Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Stop the podcast. Stop the podcast. Hey everyone, this week's episode of Fish
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Starting point is 00:20:48 save 10% of your first purchase of a website or domain by simply using the code fish. Do it now. Okay, on with the podcast. On with the show. Okay, it is time for fact number two. That is James. Okay, my fact this week is that the woman who invented the trolley problem was the daughter of a man who made railway tracks for a living.
Starting point is 00:21:14 So amazing. And the trolley problem is the issue where you're in a supermarket and one of the wheels get stuck and you can't push in a straight line. No, it's when your coin won't fit into the slot to release it from the big bunch of trolleys. I feel like I have to give a little bit more information about the trolley problem. So it's like a philosophical idea that you've got a trolley or like a trolley car in America, I guess it is, and it's going down some tracks and it's going to kill five people who are working on the tracks or who are tied to the tracks depending on the version. But you have a lever and you can pull the lever and the trolley can go in the other direction and it will kill only one person.
Starting point is 00:21:50 Do you pull the lever to kill that one person or do you just do nothing and let the five people die? And not everyone agrees with what's the correct answer. So it's always interesting. Yeah. And that was, so that was originally called the tram problem, which was created by Philip of foot She married a guy called foot which feels quite rebellious if your dad makes railroad tracks
Starting point is 00:22:10 That's true and she is known as the grand dam of philosophy Yeah, and her mother was Esther Cleveland who was the first president's child to be born in the White House The daughter of Grover Cleveland, and her father was William Sidney Bentz Bossanque, who managed Skinning Grove Steelworks in Yorkshire. And he made a lot of the tracks for the train tracks in the North of England, and I'm not sure it had any bearing on her philosophical works. I just like the idea. I think it's good that she had parents who worked on railroads, because imagine if her parents were like an accountant and a librarian. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:22:48 Like it'd be a very different hypothetical situation. Five people all want to borrow the same book. One other person needs it for their... Or this bookshelf is going to fall on... It's going to go one of two ways. There's five people on one side, you can shove it the other way and get one person. That's what I'm thinking, yeah. I don't think it would have caught on as the philosophical meme it is today. But Philippa Foote was amazing. She's incredible and it's
Starting point is 00:23:12 amazing that all the connections, you know, granddaughter of Grover Cleveland came up with this massive philosophical dilemma, flatmate of Iris Murdoch, you know, she's like got so many interesting little cultural touch points that I'm just surprised I've never heard of. I love her foot. I guess they all, there seemed to be a coterie of very interesting female philosophers around about that time, which I suppose was the 30s and 40s. 40s. She got her degree in 42. Got it. So around the 40s. And yeah, Iris Murdoch, who I'd never really thought of as
Starting point is 00:23:41 a philosopher, and that's just my ignorance. I just read a couple of Iris Murdoch's years ago and it makes me feel much more highbrow now having read them because really Iris Murdoch books, have you guys ever read her? No. They're basically about loads of people having affairs. Well, the two that I read and I think all the rest of them. But once you notice she's a moral philosopher,
Starting point is 00:23:59 there's a huge moral undercurrent that you're supposed to think about. So the trolley problem, so it started as a tram problem with Philippa Foote. Actually, let's go around the table. Sorry to interrupt that. Yeah, yeah. Let's go around the table. Pull or nut pull. Great game.
Starting point is 00:24:14 Would you pull or nut pull? Pull. Pull, yeah. But what depends on the fray, the whole point is you change insignificant details and it flips what people will say. Okay. And that seems to be what happened. So this one seems to be relatively straightforward, although there's some disagreement, but almost everyone says they would pull.
Starting point is 00:24:30 But then when you add lots of other bits to the scenario, and that seems to have been done by this other woman called Judith Jarvis Thompson, who was the person who made the trolley problem famous, came up with the term the trolley problem, that's trolleyology is this whole kind of area of study that's because of her. And yeah, she expanded on it with loads of possible examples. I think the most famous is probably the bystander case where rather than being the driver of the trolley, you're now just on a bridge and you see the driver of the train faint. And then as a bystander, do you step in and then that's like, are you're intervening now?
Starting point is 00:25:03 Well, it's slightly different. The bridge one's slightly different. There's two options that Judith came up with. One is that you're on the side watching the trolley come and there's a lever that you're able to pull. So you now need to make the decision. The five people or one people. The bridge decision is you're standing on the bridge. You've suddenly done an interesting calculation where you realize that if you chucked what they call the fat man, someone big enough, not yourself, you've diagnosed you're too small, but there's someone who's big and weighty next to you and you somehow have the skill to throw them off the bridge and stop
Starting point is 00:25:35 it would you then do that? That's the biggest dilemma because that's taking an innocent bystander. Well then there is another version where the bystander is not just big enough to stop the train but he's also the person who put the five people on the track in the first place so he's the villain so is it better to push him if you know he's a bad guy he's the one who set this whole terrible scheme up did he do it deliberately yeah I need so much backstory now okay well what the five people done to him oh well that's a good question this is why if they're workers
Starting point is 00:26:04 versus tied to the track, yes, can change it sometimes. Because are they foolish workers who didn't follow health and safety? Or are they there of no fault of their own? Or you're right, they had it coming mate, you don't follow health and safety. This feels like a game of pool whenever I go to a pub and you have to work out what rules you're playing before you make sense. Two shot carry, is it two shots in the black? What is it?
Starting point is 00:26:23 But I like the bridge one because a lot of people would, in the standard issue version of this, pull the lever and sacrifice one person to save five. But then there's the hospital waiting room problem, which is where a perfectly healthy person walks in and sits down in the hospital waiting room and they realize there are five people who all desperately need an organ transplant. And if they got the organ, they'd all live. So if we take this one healthy person, we can take their organs and five people, which in the abstract is equivalent to the same problem.
Starting point is 00:26:53 But now it's universally no, as opposed to almost universally yes. Yeah, and I think this is what befuddled old Judith Jarvis Thompson, and she changed her mind on her solution. She said you shouldn't push the bystander off and this was years later. So it was in the seventies that she came up with her. It was a bit late by then because she's already killed 500 people doing experiments.
Starting point is 00:27:14 She suddenly was like, I feel terrible about this. It's wrong. But she said, it's kind of what you were saying, Matt. She said, actually, if you're on the bridge and you've got the option to push someone off the bridge to save the five people but sacrificing them, would you sacrifice yourself? And if the answer is no, then you've got no right to sacrifice the other person. And if the answer is even yes, you've still got no right because their answer might be no. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:27:38 Which kind of makes sense. Well, is it absolutely right, Danny, definitively saying that? My answer to the trolley problem, if I'm on the trolley, I would immediately look out, see if someone's standing near a lever, go pull the lever for Christ's sake if you want, or yell up to the bridge. Are there anyone who's just having a bad time of it? You just kind of want to be a hero? You need to be over 16 stone and having a bad time of it.
Starting point is 00:27:59 Judith Thompson was really important in the abortion debate and around Roe vs. Wage, she wrote probably the most famous or maybe the most seminal paper about it with another thought experiment that she came up with, which, and I guess what's quite fun about thought experiments is that kind of a bit funny. Abortion often not a funny subject, but in... But Judith made it funny. You know what? She found the comedy. And she said in defense of abortion, she wrote, imagine this, you wake up one morning and you find yourself back to back in bed with a famous, unconscious violinist. Nigel Kennedy, say.
Starting point is 00:28:35 Not say Nigel Kennedy, yet. In fact, because he's probably the only famous violinist you can name. Jack Benny. All right, you can have Jack Benny. Jack Benny. This is a game I was not equipped to play. Jack Benny. All right, you can have Jack Benny. Jack Benny. This is a game I was not equipped to play. Vanessa May. Very good.
Starting point is 00:28:50 All right, it can be any famous unconscious violinist. It's not really important which specific violinist it is. Go on, Dad. We're playing the famous violinist tennis. No, no, no. Please. I'll go on. I can't think of one. So the famous violinist has a fatal kidney. Sorry, that's just the smallest violin playing for me in my sadness of losing.
Starting point is 00:29:11 So the violinist has a fatal kidney ailment and the Society of Music Lovers have therefore kidnapped you and rigged up your circulatory system to the violinist and this will save the violinist, him or her. And you go to the hospital and you're like, someone's rigged up my circulatory system to the violinist and this will save the violinist him or her. And you go to the hospital and you're like someone's rigged up my circulatory system with this fucking violinist and I don't want it there. And the hospital's like look we're super sorry wouldn't let it happen if we'd known about it but now it's happened it's kind of letting him die if we unplug you. She says should you have to agree to be plugged into him and her argument is no
Starting point is 00:29:44 you shouldn't have to agree. It's your body. Will Barron And the doctor also says, in nine months, it'll all be fine and you'll be unplugged anyway, right? Emma Watson The doctor says in nine months, it'll be fine. Yes. Although she sort of expounds on it a bit because, you know, if you have a child often it's not straight up. So in nine months, it'll be fine. But there are scenarios. Will Barron You still have to look after the... Will Barron It's a traumatic unplugging.
Starting point is 00:30:02 Emma Watson You've got to look after the violinist. Will Barron You've got to change the nappy. I think Philippa Foote's original one was also about abortion, the one with the trolley problem. Because it had the trolley problem in it, but it also had another quandary, which was a magistrate who executes one man in order to quell a riot in which five innocent men will die. And so she asked people, should you be able to execute one person
Starting point is 00:30:27 to save five people in the riot? And almost everyone said no. And then you said, but should you pull this lever so that the trolley kills this one person? And almost everyone said yes. And she's like, this is a weird dichotomy of ideas. And I think, I think maybe that's where argument came in of one of them, the judge is actively killing someone
Starting point is 00:30:44 versus just not saving people, wasn't it? So she was like, that's quite slightly different. Yeah. It's very confusing. And then Daniel Bartles of Columbia University says this is all bullshit because these dilemmas are really engaging situations that people enjoy thinking about, but in real life, you wouldn't enjoy it at all. If you had to make that decision, you probably would be a bit stressed. On Mastodon, the new Twitter, there's a user called Sidereal who came up with a solution where the trolley is going down and you've got a lever.
Starting point is 00:31:16 And what you do is you pull the lever just when the front wheels of the trolley have passed, but before the back wheels of the trolley have passed. And that will make the trolley car stop. You kill everyone. No, you kill no one. And apparently this is how railroad workers stop runaway trains and how railroad robberies used to take place in the Wild West as you would make the tracks change just as the train's going over you.
Starting point is 00:31:43 Right. So that's a way to trick it. That's brilliant. Did you read the really recent story about a runaway train? No. No. Like two weeks ago, it was mad. In Japan, it was a freight train.
Starting point is 00:31:54 It had 50 carriages and it went for 80 kilometres on its own. Totally driverless at 100 kilometres per hour. So the driver disembarks for like a driver stop at a station in a place called Jammu and it just started rolling and it kept going. And they had to close all the road crossings ahead of it. They were like, oh my God, this, we can't stop this train like quickly make sure pedestrians
Starting point is 00:32:16 aren't crossing the tracks. Went for 80 kilometers. And eventually I think someone came and put like blocks on the track to stop it. Some random train. And there was no people on it to drive it gone. No people just shed loads of bricks, I think. That's the worst case scenario.
Starting point is 00:32:32 Not pillows and marshmallows. Sadly not. Do you guys know Vsauce, the YouTuber? Yeah. Oh, your buddies with him. You're actual friends. Are you? I really want to know your opinion on the fact that he actually tried the trolley
Starting point is 00:32:47 problem for real, which has never been done before and is so weird to watch. I mean, I think he did it. He's claiming to have done it. Yep. It's really hard to work out if people are acting or not because you really... Did he kill five people or one person? Next video comes from jail. Maybe it's also Michael in jail here. Yeah, it wasn't quite that extreme, but basically he took volunteers from the street and told them they were in an experiment about high speed rail and like we're testing this train, this automated train, took them into a switching station and he says, why don't you have a look at how this switching station works while you're here? And there's a guy who's there
Starting point is 00:33:24 saying, hey, this is the button I pressed to put the train on a different track. And then he gets a phone call and has to leave. So the volunteers just alone in the switching station and they suddenly see a train coming and they're watching workers on the track with headphones on so they can't know what's happening. And they think that the only way to save these workers is to click that switch they've just been shown and to kill one person but save the other five. And it's incredible to watch and it's mad to me that it was allowed to happen. But he took it through this like ethics board and everything. Wow. He went through the ethics boards and seven people did it. Do you want to guess how many?
Starting point is 00:33:58 Because obviously the other thing about the trolley problem is people always say they'd switch and in real life would you actually? Yeah, yeah. Seven people, how many people do you think click the switch? I'm going to go one. Yeah, I think just like if you're in someone else's office, you just don't want to touch anything no matter what. All the other social like you're like, oh yeah, yeah, people dying, but the social awkwardness of touching someone's workstation. That's how good human beings are You're absolutely right. It's two people And a lot of them did say that they were like well, it's not really my I don't know. Maybe he's probably got under control
Starting point is 00:34:34 Yeah, yeah gosh it is part of the dilemma that you sort of think the act of pulling the lever Makes you complicit to a murder versus yeah, I hadn't thought of that really like that being part of the emotion I'm deciding you die. Oh, yeah It's your job Then you could be negligent for not pressing it right? Right, you've let five people die and it's your job and you should have made that decision But if you've just be left If you've misunderstood this situation, you make it worse.
Starting point is 00:35:05 I'm releasing more trains. Okay, it is time for fact number three, and that is Anna. My fact this week is that on the first ever road trip across America, multiple bridges collapsed under the weight of the cars and had to be rebuilt along the way. Wow. It's presumably crumbled behind you? Often crumbled with the vehicles on it and they would plunge into a river.
Starting point is 00:35:36 Oh, right. Because I was thinking like, Dan, maybe it's like, you know, when you're walking in the countryside and you have to close all the gates behind you, it's just like consider it driving in America. Put that bridge back up. Yeah. So cows can cross. This was a very specific road trip
Starting point is 00:35:51 and it involved a lot of cars. So it was 1919 and it was 79 vehicles. Specifically, it was the Army Motor Transport Corps and they were driving across America to check out the state of the road. So it was ordered by the War Department, this road trip, and they were driving across America to check out the state of the road. So it was ordered by the War Department, this road trip, and no one had ever traveled from East Coast to West Coast in America because the roads just weren't equipped for that.
Starting point is 00:36:13 There wasn't an interstate road system. And so this trip was commissioned to see if the roads were passable and it turned out not really. And there were just constant diversions because road like cars would sink in the mud or they often had to disassemble covered bridges because the trucks were too tall so they'd have to take a bridge apart and then put it back together when the trucks have gone through. And then if you look up news reports about it, it was a huge media deal. Every news state they
Starting point is 00:36:40 went into this caravan of cars. Everyone was like, hey. So it was always reported in the news and the news was always saying, you know, 12 bridges repaired today, eight bridges collapsed today, you know, none of the 12 bridges, this truck fell and had to be pulled out of a gully. So really, if you were a small town, you'd want to divert the roads to your worst bridges so that you're getting free repairs. What was the date again? Sorry, Anna, I know you said. 1919. 1919. Gosh. And how many cars were on it? There's about 79 vehicles. And it took a surrogate a long time because the roads were so bad. So
Starting point is 00:37:13 it took all together, they traveled 3,242 miles and it took 62 days, which ended up being an average of about five miles an hour, a bit over five miles an hour. Wow. They took 20 days longer to do this than the record for running across America today. Right. Oh, wow. So then this caused this report to be written by loads of people, one of whom was a chap
Starting point is 00:37:37 called Eisenhower in 1919, who went on along for the road trip, wrote a report saying, we've got to fix these roads, became president more than 30 years later, was like they haven't fixed these bloody roads yet and so he was the one who fixed the roads. I find it amazing that the interstate system in America is basically an army thing, it's a defence thing isn't it? That's why they built it. Is that why they did it initially? It's actually officially known as the Dwight D Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. So yeah, but then after it had been going for 40 years, they claimed that it had saved the lives of 187,000 people.
Starting point is 00:38:13 Is that because it's so safe? It is because motorways and highways are just super safe compared to normal roads because everyone's going in the same direction. Yeah, yeah. And it's so regimented how it works. So it is, I didn't really know anything about the interstate highway system, but all the rules are exactly the same across the board. So America didn't have a unified road system by the 1950s. You still couldn't really cross efficiently from one state to another, because it's just not in a state's interest to make the crossing between states good. So the federal government took over. And yeah, it's super safe, but like everything down to the last detail is the same across
Starting point is 00:38:49 the board. So tunnels and bridges are exactly the same high everywhere. There's the same gradient of slope at the edge of the roads for water runoff. Everything's the same. That's cool. Universally across America, still to this day. Just in the interstate highway system. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:39:04 Wow. And sweetly Alaska and Hawaii both have interstate highway roads even though they've got no states to go to. I've been on the one in Alaska and it's not like, it doesn't seem the same as the ones in New York. Oh does it not? No. Really? No. Okay yeah they maybe have played it a bit fast don't they, so the rules out there. The ones in Hawaii are the ones in Honolulu. They're exactly like anywhere in America, for sure. The average age of bridges in the US is a year younger than me. Wow. Are we talking like 54, 55 years? Slam dunk.
Starting point is 00:39:37 And will that always be true? They age with you? No, they'll chase them and repair them and get new ones. They're not going to get older than you though sadly are they? They're not going to change you and repair you. That's true. How often do you remove a bridge though? Like how many bridges are we losing? I guess if they totally replace one that would reset the clock. Well a third of them are classified as structurally deficient in the US. So they are having to replace them but they've kind of kicked the can down the road for years and years and years.
Starting point is 00:40:07 Who has a longer life expectancy? You or the bridge? The average bridge or you? I reckon the bridges probably don't drink as much as me. But I get a bit more exercise. Who would you save in the trolley problem? There's a trolley who's going to kill a bridge. There's a bridge on top of a fat man. Do you push them up? I would love to see a website where it's you and listed all the other bridges of America and let's see who wins. Let's see who makes it to the end. This is like Liz Trust versus a lettuce.
Starting point is 00:40:36 This is a terrible memento Mari which I wasn't expecting. There'll be a great update. The chains has outlived another bridge. Bridges are not surprised collapse with cars. Engineering and designing a bridge is complicated. Yeah. And more engineering is kind of experimental. I mean less so now we've got computers. Now we're in the post-Barrows 220 era.
Starting point is 00:41:03 But back in the day, you'd build a bridge, you'd over engineer it a bunch and hope it stays up. But it's only really as good as the load cases that have been over it so far. Right. So when they wheeled out cars, I'm not surprised. This is a whole new load case. Yeah. The bridge has failed. Yeah. They built a bridge in the north of England in 1846. It was a railway bridge and it was fine. It was like longer than they'd ever built before.
Starting point is 00:41:29 So they tensioned it up to make it extra stiff and trains were going fine over it. And then they added a bit more rock and aggregate to the top of it to kind of protect the sleepers. And that additional mass opened up a new mode of movement for the bridge that they'd never seen before. And the next train that went over, the middle of the bridge was long enough that the middle bit could twist. And they just, they'd just never seen that happen before because no bridge had been big enough or had that load put on it. And that's now Alton Towers.
Starting point is 00:41:57 Exactly. What happened? A lot of injuries. Five people died. The first train that went over after they'd added this extra rock caused it to twist in a new mode in the middle of the bridge that hadn't been seen before and it'll happen every now and then we'll build something bigger or different to before yeah and until you test it we have
Starting point is 00:42:20 no I mean now obviously with computers we can do a lot more modeling and testing in advance but but particularly historically, it was a build it and survive a bias. Yeah. Whenever I'm on Instagram and I'm just scrolling through videos, there often is an advert that comes up for a game where you have to build a bridge
Starting point is 00:42:37 and you have to put the positions of the, yeah, the steel underneath it. And I just watched this ad for minutes on end because every conceivable way I think a bridge should be built, it collapses and flips and crashes. Well, thank God you're not a civil engineer. Not the first time I've thought that, to be honest. Just saying, yeah, Matt's right. It's more complicated than we realise.
Starting point is 00:42:59 Yeah. But like, it was kind of a big deal at the time, although I have to say I've forgotten about it and so reminded researching this, but like the Millennium Bridge was a big case, wasn't it? And exactly as you say, sort of untested, it was a huge deal. So for our listeners, it was a quite beautiful bridge across the Thames in London that was opened in the year 2000 in the summer. And I think it closed after two days because it was wobbling, wasn't it?
Starting point is 00:43:24 It was moving about seven and a half centimeters backwards and forwards. And people felt sick. Which didn't sound like a lot but if you're standing on this bridge... That's earthquake level feeling. Yeah it's noticeable and it's because it was able to move from side to side and what I really like about it is London is called the wobbly bridge. They didn't call it the bouncy bridge because it wasn't going up and down. It was very specifically going side to side. It had this lateral back and forth.
Starting point is 00:43:47 They accidentally, when they built it, tuned it. I say tuned, it wasn't deliberate. It ended up being tuned to be able to resonate at about one hertz. And when a human walks, we take about two steps a second. So we're basically a mass going backwards and forwards at a rate of one hertz. Right. And people walking across the bridge are naturally walking at a hertz
Starting point is 00:44:10 where their body's moving backwards and forwards once a second. And it would cause the bridge to move a little bit. But then you had the synchronizing effect where because the bridge is moving slightly, people are more likely to step in rhythm with it. Yeah. And so they would then match.
Starting point is 00:44:24 We're all natural dancers, aren't we? We're all natural. So yeah, then it makes it worse and worse. I feel like is it the same as on a trampoline? You know, when someone's bouncing and you automatically bounce in sync with them to make it more comfortable. Yeah. So it's quite cool to imagine everyone on Millennium Bridge was walking exactly in step.
Starting point is 00:44:41 And then all vomiting. Yeah. Yeah, you've got seasickness going over a bridge is is it the case that they had to fix it? Was it dangerous because you could break the bridge? All right, it could have got worse and worse So at the levels it was happening, it wasn't dangerous, but no one wants to be on a bridge wobbling back and forwards Generally, maybe you'll feel sick. That's why they had to fix it. This is my new entry for how I'd solve the trolley problem I would yeah, I'd be on the bridge. I would see the trolley coming, and I'd say, everyone, let's walk in sync and let's down the bridge.
Starting point is 00:45:09 Shake the bridge. Shake the bridge. It costs an extra five million pounds to fix. It was like on the original budget of 17 or 18 million to build it, it took them two years and five million pounds to. They had to add extra damping to take out those frequencies.
Starting point is 00:45:23 Yeah, yeah. By doing that, they increased the damping below 1 and 1 1.5 hertz by about 15%, 20%. And that was enough to stop that runaway feedback group. Right. How interesting. So if you got a load of shorter people with shorter legs walking along, might it happen again?
Starting point is 00:45:40 If you were able to walk at a frequency that. Would it be faster, or like racewalkers? The way it's been designed now, you'd have to be running. You'd be at a higher frequency to cause a problem, but you'd have to have a lot of people running at once to fall in sync. So if the London Marathon changes, divert. That could be a problem, yeah. But they do this, like people who work on designing football stadiums have to make sure the stadium
Starting point is 00:46:07 is not accidentally tuned to any of the frequencies where a concert that's put in the stadium might match to. Oh, interesting. Yeah. What do you mean? Because then the actual structure could vibrate at the same. The whole structure, this video of people dancing in a stadium, although it was a football chant that people were doing and you can see the whole structure starts to go up and down because they've hit that resonant frequency.
Starting point is 00:46:28 That's extraordinary. So every engineer on a stadium has to go, the referee's a wanker. Okay, don't do it to that one. Not that one! The famous one up near where I live is the Broughton Suspension Bridge between Manchester and Bolton, which collapsed in 1831 and was supposedly because people were marching across it and that resonance caused the bridge to collapse. I think that's the first, in my research, that's the first bridge that collapsed due to a resonance.
Starting point is 00:46:57 Supposedly, yeah. And they, the military from then on were always told to break step when they cross over a bridge. It is sensible to not walk exactly at the same pace if you're going over a bridge I think. Yeah actually for the British army at certain points you have to stop playing the music. So you know the trumpeters have to shut up as you go over a bridge so you can all walk really carefully not coordinating with anyone else's walk. Everyone walked totally randomly. And different to everyone else walking randomly. You could just put some music that's really difficult to dance to. Yeah, I would go for it. Something like some Shostakovich.
Starting point is 00:47:33 Get all three of the best known violinists. Stop the podcast! Stop the podcast! Hi everyone, we'd like to let you know that this week we're sponsored by HelloFresh! That's right, guys, do you want to make your life easy? Just make it easy as hell, getting to the end of every evening, knowing that there's a big meal to cook for yourself and maybe for a family. Do you want to just have it so that you have a recipe ready to go with the times printed out for you
Starting point is 00:48:08 with all the proportions there? Well, that's what HelloFresh is. It's a box that arrives at your door and allows you to make delicious, brilliant meals for everyone in the family efficiently. Let me give you some of those meals, Dan. Teriyaki salmon, poke-style bowl. Crispy sea bass and lime coriander rice. Don't
Starting point is 00:48:28 they just make your mouth water? They sound incredible. And honestly, HelloFresh, if you've not tried it out, I do highly recommend you giving it a go. Not only is it tasty and it's wholesome and it really is the sort of home-cooked meal that you dream of, but again, super quick recipes and you've got vegan options, you've got vegetarian options, you get healthy snacks snacks it's so much more than just the main meal you can see through a whole big menu of stuff to order from absolutely and right now you could discover the delicious possibilities with hello fresh by visiting hello fresh that's forward slash new fish and when you do that you will unlock more in your kitchen and you'll get 60% off your
Starting point is 00:49:08 first order and 25% off the next two months. Use that link and get 60% off your first order and 25% off the next two months. Do it now! Ok on with the podcast! On with the show! Okay, it is time for our final fact of the show, and that is my fact. My fact this week is that in the board game Rising Sun, players are able to collect monsters that are inspired by both Japanese mythology and, by complete accident, a New Zealand farmer. This is the board game which they put on Kickstarter. They needed 300,000 in order to get the game going, but they ended up getting over 4 million dollars. And so they had all this additional money. I know, like, well, we might as well add a farmer.
Starting point is 00:49:55 With all this extra money. That was a stretch call. Yeah. One guy from New Zealand gets to pick a monster. So what they did was they said, okay, well, as we've got all this extra money what we're gonna do is we're gonna produce more characters So it's like a bonus pack that you get so one of these monsters is called the Katahi and basically it's described as Manawa Bradford a spirit monkey that is very hairy and gets engulfed in rage and you the New Zealand farmer down
Starting point is 00:50:22 I've never seen you consumed with rage. No, but you have seen me naked. Which made him pretty angry actually. But yes, so then what happens is the game comes out, all these characters are out there and then there's this guy who's online who says, hey, I'm actually from Japan and I've never heard of this character. Does anyone know anything more about it? So it sparks off a big, you know, hunt online for people to try and get to the bottom of it. Someone eventually discovers that there's a Wikipedia page,
Starting point is 00:50:51 Legendary Japanese Monsters, that has all the characters on it and in there is an entry for this Katahi and a guy in New Zealand, 19 year old and his buddy, dicking about online, went to this page and they named it after him and It just sat there for over a year and the makers of this game went on to Wikipedia Cut and paste all of the characters on there didn't do any additional research That's great and ended up using him and so he's immortalized in this game as a Japanese mythological character Awesome. Yeah, that's just gonna encourage more people to edit Wikipedia and the desperate. Hope they'll make it to a ballgame. Yeah, that's true And there's this great line which says Someone was describing it saying this is the most exciting thing to happen in Dannevarck
Starting point is 00:51:33 Which is the rural town where he's from in New Zealand since someone tried to open a brothel there in 2008 and it lasted precisely three weeks I think I mean people got really moralistic about it. One woman said she'd sit outside the brothel every day knitting to shame anyone who came in. And she also said, I can't see any of our men paying a hundred dollars a bonk. Which I can see a lot of her men reading that and going,
Starting point is 00:51:56 can't you love? Okay. A bonk. I know, she's from the fifties. One of the district council chiefs said that brothels were a legal business and the only thing that they could do was impose environmental conditions on it. And his name was Roger 20 Man. Which sounds like something on the menu.
Starting point is 00:52:15 No. Have we ever mentioned the Ant & Dec, Saturday Night Takeaway board game? I don't think so. You say that as if we must have mentioned it. It's such a big deal. That game we play all the time. Yeah, we've mentioned it in pretty much every episode. I don't know what you're on about.
Starting point is 00:52:30 This came out in 2017. It was an Ant and Dec board game called Saturday Night Takeaway based on their TV show, and it was basically a quiz. So you would play the board game and get lots of trivia questions. Sounds good. It was in theory good, except it was just riddled with mistakes One question asked where is Stonehenge located? It said Somerset They said that Albert Einstein died in 1949 instead of 55 which is I guess, you know
Starting point is 00:52:55 You're not gonna automatically know if that's right or wrong. How about this one true false? This is not the question I'm really rephrasing the question here true false. The moon is the same distance from London to Australia Incorrect incorrect. Yeah, then it's incorrect that they said that they they find it was a factor of 10 Yeah, they said it was the same distance as London to Blackpool In answer to how far away is the moon they put 225 miles as the correct answer. It's posted 238,000 The short-lived TV game show color of money I only know it from the game in pubs You could choose from yeah, they hired a mathematician to analyze the game for them and a mathematician Ran the numbers and came back and said, this is a terrible game. No one's ever going to win. And they're like, Oh no, but I tested
Starting point is 00:53:48 it when I was home with the family and my grandma won and everyone had a great time. And so they put the game into production and basically no one won. And that was it for the game. That sounds like a good thing for the production company though, right? Or if it doesn't make good TV. No one wants to watch it. If you know, you know. Did they ever think of putting that grandma on the show?
Starting point is 00:54:09 They should have. Lucky grandma. That's where you're going wrong. Sweep up. Take it all home. It's like the fruit machines, pokies. You can tune the payout rate. Like it's not doing, you're pulling the lever, but it's just hitting a switch that's then
Starting point is 00:54:24 spinning the things. And the payout rate is programmed in to be once every kind of so often. It's not even doing something particularly randomly, it's evening out the payout rate. Right, so you just have to watch and once it's been long enough, then you go on. When I used to work in a bar, we would watch it.
Starting point is 00:54:43 And if no one won all night and people were playing it all night, then once everyone else had gone home, we'd put a lot of tips in and lose all our tips. We were just terrible at those. Like for instance, there was a QI quiz machine game. Oh yeah. And have we said this on here? I don't think so. So there's a QI quiz machine game. And before it went out, they sent me all of the questions so that I could check through them to make sure there wasn't any mistakes and make sure that it was kind of QI as it should be.
Starting point is 00:55:11 And there was probably, I think it was 20,000, it might have been more. Anyway, I had a database of all the questions and they put one in the pub next to where we worked. Yeah, just in Corvangardin, it was a pub down the road. I was like, brilliant, this is, we're gonna clean up here. And so we went and played and we just lost all our money.
Starting point is 00:55:28 We just couldn't win. We just hit every clack, so it was ridiculous. Oh my God. On Japanese games, in the 1980s, and I think it was 1985 or 1986, did you know that almost half of Japanese people owned a computer domestically?
Starting point is 00:55:44 When in the US, for instance, that was about 9%. Will Barron In what year? Emma Cunningham I think it was 1985 or 1986. I don't know how to write this down. I just read it this week. But that's because they all owned Famicon, which was a family computer, which was the Nintendo console thing. And they were all playing Nintendo. Will Barron In 1990, I only knew one person who had a computer in Bolton.
Starting point is 00:56:06 Yeah, there you go. And it was called, interestingly, everyone called it FamilyCom, and they still do and it's still always called FamilyCom. But the name is FamilyComputer because they weren't allowed to trademark it as FamilyCom because there was an oven released a couple of years earlier, which was FamilyConvection Oven, which was Family Con. Just on board games, cool new weird board games, which are always fun. People are always coming up with them these days. Have you guys heard of Consentical? No, and I already regret half hearing about it. Go on, guess what it is.
Starting point is 00:56:42 Yes, you can touch my balls. So it's a cooperative card game for two players and it's about a consensual, crucially, sexual encounter between a curious human and a tentacled alien. Oh wow. Consentical. And the way it works... I see like tentacle. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:57:04 Tentacle. Not testicle. That's Dantzler. I see like tentacle. Yeah. Tentacle. Not testicle. That's Dantzler. I see consentacle. Consenticle is a testicle one. I think consenticle is the one where if you were Mr. Tickle. There are lots of variations. It's like the trolley problem.
Starting point is 00:57:17 It was built on a lot. Anyway, it sounds super fun. So you've got these cards, which are things like, things that you might want to do to this alien that you fancy with tentacles. So like wink, gaze, envelop, bite, lick, penetrate is one of the cards. And you convey which card you want to mutually put down
Starting point is 00:57:37 with faces and gestures. So you make a certain face. I'm looking at Matt and it's like very awkward. I don't want to be thinking. Not me, I'm looking at Matt and it's like very awkward. I don't want to be thinking. Not me, I'm looking at that plant over there. Showing a lot of copies of those QI books up there. That looks as penetrating at that plant. There's a famous, is it by Hockaside, there's a famous painting of a woman having sex with a octopus. Yeah, with an octopus. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:58:01 Yeah. And a load of octopus scientists looked at it and said it didn't look like the octopus was enjoying itself Because apparently octopus is have ways of changing their body whenever they're mating and stuff like that I think there was a exhibition at the British Museum that had a bunch of these were effectively a monster erotica paintings and in the year that they were there if you go to the website and you look to the data, there were more searches for that exhibition than there were for the opening hours of the British Museum. Well maybe that's why it's this game, you know, it's like stop having this non-consensual sex with octopuses. So what happens, sorry, you put the cards down and I would need to convey through a
Starting point is 00:58:41 series of looks and gestures what kind of sex move we should make with each other. And then we would... Just look at the table. The plants over there if you need it. And then you would play a card, and I would play a card, and we would hope that our cards mutually matched each other and built trust between us. Rather than being non-consensual. It's snap. It's sexy snap. It's Snap. Yes. It's Sexy Snap. Sexy Snap.
Starting point is 00:59:06 It's Snap. Oh Snap. Oh Snap. Here's a really random thing that is a board game I'd love to get my hands on. It's a game which you can get in Sierra Leone, which is essential to be played by anyone who's trying to obtain a driver's license. Supposedly it was very effective. It's not really, but it's just the only piece is the car.
Starting point is 00:59:26 Yeah, right. The car. Yeah. I think you go around the board and whatever you land on, it asks you a question about the highway code. Yeah. Right. And you have to play it for two to three months. And then you do the test and the game supposedly
Starting point is 00:59:40 gets you ready for the test. Oh, right. It's so good. I could do with that. I'm learning to drive at the moment. And I'm dreading the theory test because it's a big old book to read Highway code so a board game would be amazing. There you go. If you're listening, please God make the board game As difficult as possible Did you guys ever play the game guess who yes still play it, still play it. Good on you mate, it's not going to help you pass your test.
Starting point is 01:00:05 Yeah, I guess. That was invented by this couple called Aura and Theo Costa, who created a company called Theora. It was invented in the 60s. Theo was actually a classmate of Anne Frank, went to school with her. No! Yeah, interestingly. His original name was Morris, but he was brought up in the Netherlands when it was under German occupation so changed his name and hid his Jewish identity.
Starting point is 01:00:34 And yeah, they married and they became amazing game designers. They designed loads of extremely popular games, one of which was Guess Who? And they died, one of them died in 2019, one in 2021 I think think both age 90. And their gravestones are the Guess Who pop ups. You can flip their gravestone down? You can't flip them sadly. That would be so cool. But no, you can't. What is it? What do they have?
Starting point is 01:00:56 They just have the same design as the Guess Who pop ups, which are quite similar to an actual gravestone. Optimal Guess Who. You want to be able to split the remaining possible people as evenly in half as possible. Yes. Because you want to basically do a binary search. You want to split it in half each time.
Starting point is 01:01:16 Yeah. And that's the fastest way to get to the final answer. And the way you need to do that is by stacking your conditions at once, which a lot of other people will claim is cheating or making the game not fun anymore. But you can say like, if it's a man, do they have glasses? Or if it's a woman, have they got a hat?
Starting point is 01:01:37 And there's still a yes or no response. But now you've used the categories to better split the options in half. That is so much better than the way we play it. Yeah, that's brilliant. We always say, does your guy like peas? And you just have to make a judgment. Deep into their eyes. Would you trust them with the trolley problem?
Starting point is 01:01:56 So roughly, how quickly do you destroy the seven-year-old you're playing? I wonder, have mathematicians had a go at the other game invented by Aura and Theo Costa, which is the, and they made it in the 1970s, the popping out rubber spheres game that's become really popular recently. I've only seen it because suddenly I'm surrounded by young children. Yeah, we've got a few at home.
Starting point is 01:02:18 Yeah. Yeah. Do you guys know what I mean? The fidgety toy thing. Yeah. Yeah. And people are into it. Stress ties. I always thought- Not only babies were into it, but apparently it's popular. I thought they were invented by someone who is inspired by a field of breasts.
Starting point is 01:02:29 You're absolutely right. And that is Orocosta. Wow. Really? She was actually sweetly and darkly inspired by her sister, who very sadly got breast cancer. And she had a dream around that time of a huge field of her sister's breasts, and woke up and went to the game designer and was like, make me a field of boobs. Wow.
Starting point is 01:02:49 Oh my God. I had a dream last night where there was a referee in a football match and he tried to send one off, but he pulled out a rice cake instead. Oh yeah. Can we turn that into a game? Not all dreams are going to be money-spinners. That should have been her tombstone, a giant rub or a gravestone that you could push down into the ground.
Starting point is 01:03:06 But then what if she pops it back up? That is scary. Okay, that's it. That is all of our facts. Thank you so much for listening. If you'd like to get in contact with any of us about the things that we've said over the course of this podcast, we can be found on our various social media accounts. I'm on Instagram, on Shriverland. James? My Instagram is no such thing as James Harkin.
Starting point is 01:03:34 Matt? I'm standupmaths pretty much everywhere. Yep. And Anna? You can find us on Twitter, on at no such thing, or on Instagram, no such thing as a fish or you can email Yep. Or you can just head straight to our website, which is no such thing as a You'll find all of our previous episodes up there. You'll find a link to club fish, our secret members club where we have lots of bonus episodes. But most important of all, you should find yourself to a pre-order link for Matt's new book, which is coming out this
Starting point is 01:04:01 June. You were saying June in the UK, August in the US. And where's the best place for them to go? If you go to, you can get the signed pre-ordered copies by me, but you can support your local independent bookshop or anywhere else online to pre-order it. Remind us what it's called. It's called Love Triangle. Okay, that's it. We'll be back again next week with another episode, and we'll see you then. Goodbye. and we'll see you then. Goodbye!

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