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Noggin Hoggin' Challenge Starting on Monday November 18, 2013

Here are the past questions which were used in this Noggin Hoggin' Challenge, along with the answers we accepted and an explanation.

 

Bonus Question (Head Start Clue)

Plague - ancient and recent history
Extinct - mountain dweller
Snack - yummy protein
Traveller - swarming nomad

According to records, when was the last Canadian sighting?

Acceptable answers:
1902

Explanation:

Locust is the name used to identify certain types of short-horned grasshoppers when they morphologically change and begin to swarm as a result of overpopulating their habitat. Stressful environmental conditions that cause them to eat and reproduce uncontrollably lead to overcrowding, indiscriminate consumption of all surrounding plant matter (sometimes leather, cloth, and softwoods, as well), and a repetitive pattern of migratory swarming behaviour. Locust plagues have been reported throughout history, and are even notable events of the Bible and the Quran.

The Rocky Mountain locust (Melanoplus spretus) is an insect species that inhabited the west half of the US and parts of western Canada until it became extinct at the end of the 1800s for reasons that are unclear. They swarmed in record numbers, far greater than other locust species. The largest swarm covered an area of nearly 513,000 km2, bigger than the entire Yukon territory! The estimated 12.5 trillion insects involved would have had a combined weight of nearly 25 billion kilograms! According to the Guinness Book of Records, this is the largest known concentration of any type of animal in the Earth's history.

This destructive pest was last officially sighted in southern Canada, in 1902. Because it was so prevalent for so long, propagating at such an overwhelming rate, no one ever dreamed that it might become extinct. As a result, barely any specimens were preserved (though some samples have been extracted from the ice of Grasshopper Glacier, in Montana).

As it stands, ours is currently the only continent devoid of any major locust (aside from Antarctica, of course). Although Grasshoppers can still be a pest and pose a significant threat to North American crops, their numbers do not even come close to the concentrations of swarming locusts. If the Rocky Mountain locust was still around, agriculture on this continent would have been profoundly affected; we would have had to develop ways to cope with them — perhaps even eating them! Locusts are not only edible, but highly prized in many countries for their reported great taste and nutritional value. They are especially rich in protein and are a valuable food source in times of famine (when they are often quite prevalent and are often one of the major contributing factors to food scarcity).

Suggestions for further research and reading:

  • Where in the world are locusts still a threat to local agriculture? What are some of the ways that they are controlled?
  • What are some other major agricultural pests in Canada and how do we deal with them?
  • What other insects are important sources of human food, and where are they primarily consumed?
  • How might swarming behaviour benefit locusts (why do they do it)?


 

Question for Monday November 18, 2013:

You'll soon discover the riddles below refer to exceptional people, notable places, revolutionary events, or symbolic objects relating to Canada's history.

  1. For nearly a decade, we graced the back side of the red paper bill only to be replaced by an icebreaker on polymer last year.

  2. I stand proudly overlooking Canada's legislative establishment, astrolabe in hand.

  3. Harris was first commissioned to depict us, but our likeness was destroyed by fire.

  4. Made of iron, I marked the completion of a project that brought national unity to a whole new level.

  5. To visit me, follow the light as you trek as far east as possible.

  6. I welcomed a million newcomers to this country in the 19th century, and served as a point of departure for our soldiers during WWII.

  7. My majestic circular arc draws millions of tourists every year, and honeymooners are especially fond of dropping by.

  8. I am a prominent Canadian commemoration sitting high atop a hill overseas.

  9. Our stetson hats and yellow stripes are strikingly distinct.

  10. Symbols typically have multiple meanings, and I am no exception. Mathematics aside, here I represent a blending of two groups to produce a unique culture.

Collectively, the answers to these clues recently joined forces to lend creative appeal and awareness to which popular book? (Two words)

Acceptable answers:
Canada ePassport
Canada Passport
Canada e-Passport
Canadian Passport
Canadian ePassport
Canadian e-Passport

Explanation:

The answers to the 10 riddles are listed below.

  1. The Famous 5 (Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney, and Henrietta Muir Edwards) were a group of Canadian women active in various campaigns for women's rights. They appeared on the backside of Canada's red $50 bill from November 2004 until March 2012, when the new polymer bill was introduced. The image on the back side of the latest $50 bill depicts the CCGS Amundsen, an Arctic icebreaker and research vessel operated by the Canadian Coast Guard.
  2. A statue of French explorer Samuel de Champlain holding an astrolabe sits atop Nepean Point in Ottawa, Ontario, overlooking Parliament.
  3. Robert Harris is best known for his painting of The Fathers of Confederation, which was burned in the fire that destroyed the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa in 1916.
  4. The ceremonial final spike driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway is commonly referred to as The Last Spike.
  5. The most easterly point in Canada is Cape Spear, home of the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  6. Pier 21 is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It functioned as both an ocean liner terminal and immigration shed from 1928 to 1971, and when Canada entered the WWII, the pier was taken over by the Department of National Defense and served as a departure point for most of the Canadian servicemen and women who fought in Europe.
  7. Niagara Falls is comprised of three waterfalls that straddle the border between Canada and the United States. The Horseshoe Falls are the most powerful in North America and lie on the Canadian side. Over 50,000 Niagara honeymoons are arranged each year.
  8. The Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France commemorates Canadians who served in WWI and are presumed dead with no known grave. The monument sits at the highest point of Vimy Ridge, and was erected on land granted permanently to Canada by France in 1922, in recognition of Canada's war efforts.
  9. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) provides policing services to all of Canada at a federal level, and also on a contract basis to the three territories, and eight of Canada's provinces. The RCMP are easily recognized in their distinctive Red Serge, a scarlet ceremonial uniform with a stetson hat with a wide flat brim. Their dark blue trousers feature a yellow stripe running down each side.
  10. Infinity, the concept of something that is unlimited or endless, is a well known mathematical symbol. (∞) For this clue, however, we allude to the white infinity symbol which appears on the Metis flag, where the two conjoined circles are said to represent the unity of two cultures; Aboriginal First Nations and European (primarily French). The flag was first used by Metis fighters in 1816. It is the oldest patriotic flag indigenous to Canada.
  11. The pages of Canada's newest Passport design display images relating to each of the answers above.

    Collectively, the portraits reveal essential moments in time as Canada grew and evolved into the nation we know today. Canada's ePassport has been available to all Canadians since July 1, 2013, and is a required travel document for citizens wishing to travel abroad.

    Interestingly, the complexity of the images are not only for viewing pleasure; they act as a security feature that makes the passport more difficult to counterfeit.

    Suggestions for further research and reading:

    • What is unusual about the statue of Samuel deChamplain? Might this have been done intentionally?
    • Daredevils are drawn to Niagara Falls to perform what sort of incredible feats? Do many survive?
    • What events initiated Niagara Falls' reputation as the "Honeymoon Capital of the World" in the early part of the 19th century?
    • How many human figures are part of the Vimy Memorial, and what do they symbolize?
    • There are several more iconic images displayed in the new passport design; what are they?
    • Do you feel that any people, events, places, or items were overlooked? Which ones?


     

    Question for Tuesday November 19, 2013:

    Once upon a time, a traveller used the mandible of the largest Canadian deer species to repair his broken cart wheel (or so some have told).

    Years later, at the same site, the head tax drove some of its targets far underground to eke out a meagre, hidden existence.

    Today, you can walk in their footsteps.

    Take the indoor Street ViewTM tour (don't be shy—just walk right in!), explore the world below, and tell us exactly how many ceramic soup spoons have been laid out on the china cabinet counter.

    Acceptable answers:
    5
    five
    Five
    5 spoons
    five spoons
    Five spoons

    Explanation:

    The largest Canadian deer species is the moose, and "mandible" is another word for "jaw". The cart wheel story is one legend that attempts to explain the origin of the city of Moose Jaw's name — there are a few!

    The head tax was a sum imposed on every Chinese person entering Canada, starting in 1885. It was meant to discourage Chinese immigration because the prevailing racist attitudes of the time meant that there was concern about their increasing numbers in Canada (tens of thousands had come to work as underpaid labourers on the Canadian Pacific Railway).

    Following the completion of the CP Railway in British Columbia, anti-Chinese sentiment drove many workers east where they sought employment opportunities. Some settled in prairie towns like Moose Jaw.

    It has been documented that Chinese immigrants began moving into underground tunnels under downtown Moose Jaw to evade the head tax. Some may have simply been trying to make a living, away from public persecution and discriminatory attitudes that held that the Chinese population was harmful to the the local economy. The conditions were cramped and unsanitary, yet many made their home and raised family there.

    Using Google Street View, the Tunnels of Moose Jaw can now be explored online. If you take the time to "walk" through all the passageways and levels, you will find a china cabinet with a missing door on which 5 white Chinese spoons have been arranged.

    Suggestions for further research and reading:

    • What other stories can you find to explain the mystery of the name "Moose Jaw"? Can you come up with your own explanation?
    • Can you find other places with neat names of obscure or debated origin? How did the place where you live get its name?
    • What are some theories on where the expression "a Chinaman's chance" comes from? What do they reveal?
    • What infamous person is rumoured to have made use of the tunnels of Moose Jaw? Is this factual or an urban legend?
    • What other interesting places can you virtually visit using Google Maps' indoor Street View?


     

    Question for Wednesday November 20, 2013:

    Birds of a Feather, Sing Together!

    Listen carefully to these avian sound clips (you may not be able to listen to them on a tablet or smartphone — try a computer) while bearing in mind that the photo montage depicts the vocalists, each of which can be heard in Canada. Simply match the call or song you hear to the correct bird. The final answer will be a series of lowercase letters from a to i, listed in the order the sound clips appear. Do not use commas or spaces to separate your letters.

    1.

    2.

    3.

    4.

    5.

    6.

    7.

    8.

    9.

    Acceptable answers:
    gcbihadef

    Explanation:

    Here is the photo montage once again, with each of the birds identified by name.

    You may have had to do a bit of research to identify these birds by their appearance before moving on to making the sound association. Each of these birds has a fairly distinguished call, so once you determined the species, you should have been well on your way to matching the photo to the sound clip.

    Here are the proper pairings.

    Sound clip 1: g

    Sound clip 2: c

    Sound clip 3: b

    Sound clip 4: i

    Sound clip 5: h

    Sound clip 6: a

    Sound clip 7: d

    Sound clip 8: e

    Sound clip 9: f

    Therefore, the correct final answer would appear as: gcbihadef.

    Suggestions for further research and reading:
    How many of these bird sounds have you heard in your own backyard?
    What are the differences between birdsongs and birdcalls?
    What is notable about the song repertoire of the Brown Thrasher?
    List three renowned composers that include music that sounds like birdsongs or birdcalls in their work?


     

    Question for Thursday November 21, 2013:

    I am faceless!

    There are multiple stories and superstitions about my origins (involving dukes, emperors, and admirals), though the truth speaks of simple artistic expression. Some may tweak me for luck (please don't pick me—that's just gross!) if they can sight me in the arch and reach 7 feet.

    We were once many, but now we are few. Six of my kin can be sniffed out in the same neighbourhood as John Snow's pump. Those with a taste for immeasurable wealth seek to spot us all.

    Another feature, in a different SENSE, is pinna-cled in the same area.
    On what fragrant street?

    Acceptable answers:
    Floral
    Floral Street
    Floral street

    Explanation:

    The Seven Noses of Soho (a.k.a. the London Noses) are part of an art installation by Rick Buckley. In 1997, Mr. Buckley made replicas of his own nose out of plaster of Paris and mounted them on buildings so that they protruded all around London, England. There were about 35 noses to start, but only 10 or so reportedly remain.

    Since the source of these noses remained a mystery until 2011, when the artist finally revealed himself, a number of urban myths naturally arose to explain their existence. The nose at Admiralty Arch, for example, was alternatively rumoured to be modelled after Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington, and Admiral Lord Nelson. Some superstitious people also claim that he or she who lays eyes upon the 7 Noses of Soho will attain infinite wealth.

    John Snow was a doctor remembered for his contribution to epidemiology and public health, due to his role in tracing the source of a 1854 London cholera outbreak to the Broad Street public water pump, in Soho. He famously had the handle removed from the pump when his investigative work and germ theory of disease led him to believe that it's water source contaminated.

    Also in the area of Soho is/are the Floral Street Ear(s), by artist Tim Fishlock (some say 1, others 2 - we haven't visited to check for ourselves). Although there were more of these originally, according to some sources, our research did not uncover information about specific sightings. Maybe you'll have more luck...

    Suggestions for further research and reading:

    • What was the artist, Rick Buckley's, motivation/inspiration for exhibiting his nose in public places?
    • It is said that 10 of Mr. Buckley's noses remain, can you discover where the other 3 are situated?
    • Can you confirm the existence or discover the location of any more of Tim Fishlock's ears?
    • Can you spot all Seven Noses of Soho yourself using Google Street View?
    • Is there any interesting art or architecture in your community? What information can you find about the artist(s)?
    • If you had to plan a walking tour of your community, what sights would you include, and why?
    • What observations led Dr. John Snow to formulate his hypothesis on the cause of the London cholera epidemic of 1854?


     

    Question for Friday November 22, 2013:

    World Geography

    9 P in S___
    10 P and 3 ___ in C
    50 ___ (48 CS) in the US
    7 C and 4 ___ on E
    195 ___ in the W, not including T

    What is the name of the highest and most prominent point in this "rich" __ __ __ __ __, where you can see 2 O?

    (Unscramble the letters you found in the first part to fill in the blanks and answer the question above — use only English characters for your answer, no special letters or accents.)

    Acceptable answers:
    Cerro Chirripo
    Chirripo
    Cape Point
    Table Mountain

    Explanation:

    These are the solutions to the 5 World Geography statements:

    9 Provinces in South Africa
    10 Provinces and 3 Territories in Canada
    50 States (48 Continental States) in the US
    7 Continents and 4 Oceans on Earth
    195 Countries in the World, not including Taiwan

    This results in the following mystery letters: A, T, S, O, and C.

    You may have considered "9 planets in solar system" as a solution for the first clue, but notice that these were specifically World Geography statements, and furthermore, it should have read "8 P in THE S__" if that were the case.

    Unscrambling the letters results in the following word possibilities:
    ASCOT
    COAST
    COATS
    COSTA
    TACOS

    Searching for "rich coast" or "rich costa" online will lead to the country of Costa Rica, meaning, literally, "rich coast" in Spanish.

    The highest and most prominent point in Costa Rica is Cerro Chirripó, a mountain in the Chirripó National Park. When the sky is clear, you can see across the entire country from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.

    Although Costa Rica is not particularly wealthy economically, it is known for its great biodiversity. It is also the first country in the Americas to outlaw hunting for sport.

    Alternatively, Cape Point, in South Africa, could also be interpreted as the place for which we were looking. It is, disputedly, touted as the place where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Cape Agulhas makes the same claim. It is an area with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and rich cultural heritage.

    Suggestions for further research and reading:

    • What is the definition of a country, and why is Taiwan not considered a country?
    • What is the difference between height and prominence?
    • Why is Pluto not considered a planet anymore?
    • Why is there so much biodiversity in Costa Rica?


     

    Question for Saturday November 23, 2013:

    Acceptable answers:
    cashews
    cashew

    Explanation:

    To start solving this question, you would identify that the first picture is that of a "QR Code" (if you didn't know this, a Google search for "square code" would help). Since QR codes started to become very popular a few years ago, a wide variety of apps were made available for people with smart phones to be able to decode them. You can use such a smart phone to decode our QR code, or you can use one of various online tools to do so. Failing that, if you really want to understand how QR codes work, and have a lot of time to kill, you can also have a go at trying to decode them by hand.

    In any event, once you have decoded the QR code, you will be left with the following message:

    During lunchtime at school, Evan developed a severe allergic reaction to something and started having trouble breathing. Fortunately, the school nurse had an EpiPen on hand and the injection helped with the immediate symptoms, but he is still being rushed to the hospital. In the commotion, his lunch kit fell on the floor, and you find the following scrap of paper from a label inside. What specific food item would you suggest he be tested to see if he is allergic to? We're looking for a specific food, not a class of foods.

    The scrap of paper shows a fragment from a UPC bar code - the type of code typically found on food and retail products. Unfortunately, the scrap of paper is ripped in such a way that it would be doubtful for a barcode scanner or online decoder to be able to decode it for you. So you're left with having to decode this one manually. Fortunately, UPC codes are much easier to decode than QR codes.

    Again, there are several online resources online that tell you how UPC codes are constructed, such as the one on Wikipedia. You'll see that there are start and end zones that consist of thin black, white, and black lines, and a middle zone that consists of a thin line pattern of "white, black, white, black, white". Other than that, on the left side, numbers are encoded by lines of different thickness that are always "white, black, white, black". And on the right side, the pattern goes "black, white, black, white" though the pattern of different thicknesses is the same as on the left.

    When you've done decoding the UPC number, you will have a result of "078742093222". There are lots of UPC databases online (do a Google search for UPC code lookup - a good one is the UPC Database). A search in one of those databases for 078742093222 will reveal that the product is a 16 oz container of cashews halves and pieces, made for Walmart.

    One thing to keep in mind about UPC codes is that there is no central, official database of products. This is because manufacturers are given their own prefix to the number, but are free to allocate the remaining numbers within their block however they want. Most online UPC databases are built through submissions by the people who use them, so in cases like this it's always a good idea to try a few searches on different databases to make sure they agree.