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Noggin Hoggin' Challenge Starting on Monday April 18, 2016

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)

Early in the 20th century, Alexander Graham Bell's youngest daughter married a zealous plant explorer. Together, they purchased a winter retreat in Florida where he could sow and nurture a wide range of tropical, rare specimens from other countries right in his own backyard.

A dear friend of the married couple, a retired accountant, founded a much larger public garden in the same vicinity in the later half of the 1930s.  Together, the two friends who shared a similar passion would work tirelessly to collect, document and study tropical and subtropical plants from around the world. The accountant named this 33.6 hectare conservatory in honour of his plant loving friend.

This impressive collection of vegetation remains open to the public today, where many original specimens collected on a pre WWII expedition still grow. Significant expansions and renovations, some as recent as 2014, include science buildings, art centres, and a butterfly exhibit.

One of the pavilions located in the southwest corner of this sprawling garden was named after yet another botanical enthusiast who lived from 1914-2007. Not surprisingly, he too was a rare tropical plant aficionado. This man greatly influenced the popularization of a wondrous plant in North America, and visitors to the aforementioned pavilion will still see it growing there. Within minutes of tasting its fruit, an astonishing transformation ensues.

What is the binomial name of the plant that bears this magical fruit?

Acceptable answers:
synsepalum dulcificum
Synsepalum dulcificum
Synsepalum Dulcificum

Explanation:

Marian Bell, the youngest daughter of Alexander Graham Bell, married David Fairchild in 1905. Fairchild was employed by the United States Department of Agriculture in the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction. Decades of his life were spent searching the world for useful plants that could be introduced into the USA. In 1917, he and Marian purchased a home in Coconut Grove, Florida to pass their winters, but eventually they'd reside there permanently. Here, "The Kampong" introduction garden was born, and it would flourish with plants he collected on his worldly expeditions. David Fairchild is credited with introducing thousands of varieties and species of plants into the United States, including mangos, alfalfa, nectarines, bamboo and flowering cherries.

Shortly after moving to Miami permanently, a fellow plant collector/accountant/attourney came into Dr. Fairchild's life: Col. Robert H Montgomery. Col. Montgomery was a founding partner of the accounting firm Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery, later known as PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Fairchild and Montgomery both shared a vision of a year round outdoor garden in the continental USA where tropical plants would thrive.

In 1936, their vision took shape as groundwork began on the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Montgomery donated the 33.6 hectares (or 83 acres) of land, as well as funds for plant collecting and garden development. Montgomery named the garden after Fairchild, in recognition of his lifelong dedication to the introduction of plants to the country. The Fairchild Tropical Garden officially opened to the public on March 23, 1938.

On the map below, we find the Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion in the southwest corner. (It also happens to be the only "pavilion" listing in the garden.)

Upon searching for details about Bill Whitman, the tale of yet another plant hunter unravels. Several sources, including his obituary printed in the New York Times dated June 4, 2007, state that "Mr. Whitman managed to cultivate other fastidiously tropical species like rambutan and langsat, and he was recognized as the first in the United States to popularize miracle fruit, a berry that tricks the palate into perceiving sour tastes as sweet."

The miracle fruit is indeed fascinating. First discovered in West Africa, the berry contains miraculin, a glycoprotien which binds to the tongue's taste buds, and makes sour food taste incredibly sweet. Reportedly, lemons, limes, and grapefruit taste like a very sweet candy, and bitter liquids such as apple cider vinegar taste like apple juice. For best results (if you ever have the opportunity to try a miracle berry or tablet) let it sit on your tongue for a minute before tasting begins, and expect the effects last roughly one hour.

Not only was Bill Whitman instrumental in popularizing this plant, but he was also one of the first to grow it successfully in the US. Although there are a handful of other berries that are capable of "taste twisting", Synsepalum dulcificum is specifically listed as one of the specimens growing at the Fairchild garden. Both the "Virtual Herbarium" (a database of specimens growing in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden), as well as their online catalogue, confirm this.


 

Question for Monday April 18, 2016:

The Good:
Bananas, Chocolate, Coconut
Tropical Climate

The Bad:
Earthquake/Tsunami damage within the last 10 years
Volcanic action

The unusual:
A chunk of time is completely missing from its history—almost as though it never happened. 

In which month and year did this deliberate "time-warp" occur?
(Enter your final answer exactly as shown, without abbreviation: Month, YYYY.)

Acceptable answers:
December, 2011
December, 2011.
December 2011
December,2011
December,2011.

Explanation:

You may have chosen to begin searching for locations that experienced Earthquake/Tsunami damage in the last 10 years. If so, you'd find about 11 prospects. Likely, Japan, Chile, British Columbia, and the Kuril Islands were quickly eliminated from the list of possibilites because of either their climate or the foods listed in "The Good" clue. These foods are major exports from the place in question, which we know is tropical.

This leaves us with Sumatra Island and Pangandaran (both in Indonesia), and a quick internet search tells us that the food items aren't nearly as relevant as they are in the other locations, thereby eliminating a few more possibilites.

We now have the following options to consider:

  • Solomon Islands
  • New Zealand
  • Samoa

In September 2009, a magnitude 8 earthquake near Samoa led to a large tsunami which resulted in loss of life and severe physical damages.

In Samoa, principal agricultural exports include fish, coconut products, cocoa and bananas.

With those facts established, let's consider "The Unusual": a time warp resulting in lost time. A good bet would be to consider time zones or even better, the International Date Line, since time travel is still only possible imaginatively. Samoa happens to be very near the path of the International Date Line, and with a little more research, we learn that in December of 2011, Samoa moved from the east side of the International Date Line to the West, primarily because Australia and New Zealand have become important trading partners and Samoa wanted to align itself closer to their local time. Prior to 2011, being 21 hours behind made business difficult because having weekends on different days meant only four days of the week were shared workdays.

Therefore, Samoans skipped from December 29, 2011, right to December 31, 2011, which means for them, December 30, 2011 never actually happened.


 

Question for Tuesday April 19, 2016:

Johnny calls up his friend Ryan, and asks if he's free to come over for a game night. Plans are set, and that Friday, they set up for games in Johnny's livingroom.

 

To warm up, they begin with a friendly and relatively quick game of Yahtzee.

Johnny rolls the following combinations and notes the totals accordingly in the lower section of his scoresheet.

He had no luck with straights. What were his total points for the lower section? __________

 

Later than night, well into a game of Monopoly, Johnny rolls the dice, moves his hat token the corresponding number of spaces, and lands on a place Ryan owns.

A few rolls later, Johnny lands on another space owned by Ryan.

Find the combined total amount Johnny had to pay out to Ryan for these two rolls.__________

 

Lastly, the boys decide on a game of Scrabble to cap off their game night. Below is a shot of their board with a few rounds of play remaining.

When Johnny adds the letters "AUTO" to the word "BIOGRAPHY" (which Ryan had played earlier), how many points is he awarded for generating the new word "AUTOBIOGRAPHY"? __________

To arrive at the final answer to this question, find the sum of the Yahtzee and Scrabble points, subtract it from the Monopoly total, divide by 3, and record your answer in the space below.

Acceptable answers:
600

Explanation:

To solve this question, begin with scoring the Yahtzee points using a blank scoresheet. If you haven't played the game before, you'll find all of the rules for adding the points there.

Total Yahtzee points = 125

Next, you'll need to determine the names of the properties on the Monopoly Board where the hat token landed. These are Pennsylvania Avenue and New York Avenue, respectively. Looking at those cards will tell you how much Johnny had to pay Ryan, based on how many houses or hotels were on that property. Since there were 3 houses on Pennsylvania Ave, the cost was $1000, and a hotel on New York Ave requires the same payment.

Total Monopoly dollars paid = 2000

Finally, the two boys end the night with a game of Scrabble. Some impressive words were made, but "autobiography" is the only one we need to score. Since we removed the individual letter points from the tiles in the photo, begin by finding a reference for these, and allocate each letter it's respective value. *Remember: the letter "O" sits on a square that offers a double letter score, and Johnny can't reuse any of the double letter or triple word bonus points that Ryan was awarded for the word biography, either.

Let's add up the points:

A = 1
U = 1
T = 1
O = 2 (1+1 for double letter score)
B = 3
I = 1
O = 1
G = 2
R = 1
A = 1
P = 3
H = 4 (don't count the double letter score, it's already been used)
Y = 4

= 1+1+1+2+3+1+1+2+1+1+3+4+4

= 25

It's important to remember that this word also covers a triple word score! Therefore:

25 × 3 = 75

Total Scrabble points = 75

Sum of Yahtzee and Scrabble points: 125 + 75 = 200

Monopoly money minus total from games above: 2000 – 200 = 1800

1800 ÷ 3 = 600

Final Answer: 600


 

Question for Wednesday April 20, 2016:

In the late 1980s, a persistent 18-year-old student resolved to complete a 4 year program at the institution pictured below and have absolutely no debt upon graduation. He declined financial help from his parents, and the little savings he did have would barely make a dent in the costs for his first year of studies.

 

His university of choice was nothing to scoff at. Established in 1867, notable alumni now include YouTube and Paypal co-founders, and in the early 2000's, both Microsoft and Intel claimed to hire a significant number of graduates from this school.

Futhermore, the campus library offers one of the largest academic collections in not only the United States, but the world.

Although this young man's situation seemed nearly impossible, he devised a clever and expeditious plan and quickly amassed nearly $30,000 to pay for 4 years of tuition. He ultimately graduated with a degree in food science, and he did so debt-free.

Cent by cent, the collection of necessary finances piled up within just over a month's time, but he didn't do it alone. One famous accomplice -- a journalist -- and thousands of strangers took action to make his dream a reality. Provide the number of the box that temporarily housed the funds until they could be delivered.

Acceptable answers:
13
thirteen

Explanation:

In 1987, long before the concept of online crowdfunding became popular, 18-year-old Mike Hayes devised a novel, brilliant solution to his tuition woes. He approached the media to campaign for pennies to fund his education at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, pictured above.

Established in 1867, this campus library system boasts one of the largest university libraries in the U.S., second only to Harvard. Notable alumni include Steve Chen and Jawed Karim – co-founders of YouTube, and Max Levchin – PayPal co-founder.

In an effort to raise money quickly, and to avoid burdening his parents or himself with debt, Mike Hayes wrote a letter to columnist Bob Greene, a newswriter syndicated in more than 200 newspapers. Hayes implored Greene to publish a nationwide plea for one-cent donations to help him pay his way through post secondary. Greene was amused and ultimately obliged, printing a persuasive write-up with an address to which readers could send their pennies. That address was printed in the original story as:

Many Pennies for Mike
Box 13
Rochelle, Ill. 61068.

Mike figured that he'd need $28,000 to fund four years of tuition, books, room and board. He felt his plan would work, because from his point of view, he wasn't asking for a lot of money. Rather, he was asking for very little money, but from millions of people. He was right; donations began rolling in within days. In fact, so much mail came in that workers had to measure it rather than count it by hand. A few months into the project, over 77,000 letters were received.

Mike received dominations from every state in the United States, as well as Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas. Although most people sent pennies as requested, nickels, dimes, quarters, and even a few $100 cheques accumulated.

A family friend volunteered to temporarily direct the opening of Mike's mail at the post office, as well as wash and count all the coins. Washing the money became necessary, because many people glued or taped the money to a letter, resulting in jammed or broken coin counting machines.

Ultimately, Mike Hayes graduated with a degree in food science, and thanks to thousands of strangers, all his bills were paid in full upon graduation.


 

Question for Thursday April 21, 2016:

While researching your family tree, you find out that your great (×7) grandfather was a carpenter who unexpectedly made a very famous name for himself in horological circles.   A reward was posted for the solution to a centuries-old problem, which he ingeniously managed to accomplish.  But perhaps because of his background, the invention he developed to address the problem wasn't taken seriously and it took regal intervention for him to receive even a small part of the promised reward.

As you read more about his background and story, you are astonished to find that the original prototype of his invention still exists.  Feeling understandable pride that you come from such lineage, you decide that you want to see the original invention that in particular sparked all the controversy, in person.

So you decide to fly to the busiest major international airport serving the city where prototype is located, with the plan to take public transportation from there to where it is displayed (after all, the flight cost a lot, and your budget doesn't include paying for taxis or rental cars).  Unfortunately, when you arrive, you find that both the bus and National Rail services are on strike, so you'll have to make do with other methods (fortunately, there are several public transportation options still available, including one which is very popular and heavily used).

To get from the airport to where your notable ancestor's invention is displayed, you decide to take this popular mode of transportation, and use the route with the fewest stops.  Which lines will you have taken to get to your destination? Enter your answer as the name of the line(s) in the order you take them, separated by a comma and space between each, and not using the word 'and'.

Acceptable answers:
Piccadilly, Jubilee, DLR
Piccadilly, Jubilee, Docklands Light Railway
Piccadilly, District, London Overground, RB6, RB1

Explanation:

In the early 1700s, travel by ship across the Atlantic Ocean was becoming more common. But with that came a significant problem - though it was relatively straightforward to determine a ship's latitude using sightings of the Sun and stars, there was no easy way to determine a ship's longitude. To determine longitude, one method is to use celestial sightings together with accurate knowledge of the time of the observation as it would be measured at a fixed point on the Earth (by convention, for British ships, the local time at the Greenwich Observatory in London was used; French ships typically used the local time at the Paris Observatory in Paris, France). The problem was that in those days, clocks were notoriously inaccurate - particularly when located on the pitching deck of a ship.

In 1707, a fleet of four warships ran aground in poor weather, mostly because the navigators had no way of calculating their positions. More than 1500 sailors lost their lives, which resulted in the Parliament of the United Kingdom offering monetary rewards (called Longitude rewards) for anyone who could come up with a practical method of determining a ship's longitude. One way of solving this was to build a very accurate clock.

Self educated and following his father's trade as a carpenter, John Harrison found himself fascinated by clocks, and taught himself how to build and repair them. When he heard of the prizes offered, he got to work on building something accurate that would work on a ship.

He built several clocks, eventually ending up with his fourth version (now known as the H4).

The timepiece was extremely accurate - losing only seconds over several months at sea. But possibly because of his lack of formal recognition as a master clock maker, the Board refused to acknowledge his success and provide his reward money until King George III stepped in. Even then, he only received a partial payment of £8,750 - far short of the £20,000 he was entitled to.

In any case, H4 still exists, and is housed in the National Maritime Museum, just a few hundred metres from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, England. So that's where we have to go to.

The busiest airport serving the London area is Heathrow, so we need to take public transportation from Heathrow to Greenwich. Since the buses and National Rail (the company operating long distance trains within England, including some within London) are not available, we're left with using the "Underground" - London's famous and heavily used public transportation infrastructure, often called "the Tube".


(Click image to download a PDF version)

No matter which terminal at Heathrow you arrive at, you'll be starting out on the Piccadilly line (lower left of the map). Your destination is either the Greenwich or Cutty Sark stop on the DLR (either station is reasonably close to the National Maritime Museum). The route on the Underground with the least stops would be to take the Piccadilly line to Green Park, transfer to the Jubilee line to travel to Canary Wharf, and then finally transfer to the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) line to your destination.

The route with the least number of stops if you elected to take the Thames Clipper Ferry (though it costs more), would be to take Piccadilly to Earl's Court, a short hop on the District to West Brompton, the London Overground to Imperial Wharf, then the RB6 Ferry at Chelsea Harbour to Embankment to transfer to the RB1 Ferry to Greenwich. Though we wouldn't recommend it because it is more expensive and would take substantially longer, it is a valid route.

As a final note, the DLR is mostly an above-ground railway, but is still considered part of the "Underground" in London, and operated by Transport for London, so it would continue operation, along with the other lines shown on the map, even if National Rail workers were on strike.


 

Question for Friday April 22, 2016:

While walking through the mall one day, you find a shirt in the window with abstract patterns printed on it that catches your eye. You walk into the store, decide you want to buy it, and bring it up to the teller. As she rings it through, she reminds you that you'll need to follow the washing instructions.

You look the shirt over and can't find anything obvious. "What instructions?", you ask.

"They're printed right on the front in plain view", she smiles as she replies.

You look intently at the shirt, puzzled. "All I can see on the shirt are these abstract patterns!"

"Precisely!", she replies.

You stare at the patterns trying to fathom how in the world that washing instructions can be part of the patterns. "I still can't see anything, even though I'm starting to go cross-eyed looking at them!".

"Actually, you'll want to do the exact opposite of that", she mentions.

Frustrated more than ever, you continue to gaze at the patterns, until.. just maybe... you catch a brief glimpse of... something.. Then suddenly, it all snaps into focus, as a big smile spreads across your face, finally understanding.

The patterns on the shirt can be seen below. What two washing instructions must be followed?

Enter your answer as the two instructions in the order they appear, separated by a comma and space.

Acceptable answers:
hand wash, do not bleach

Explanation:

If you saw this question and had not the slightest idea what to do, hopefully you did as the question suggested - stared at it until your eyes start to get tired! That actually might have worked! Or, if you found yourself stuck and asked someone at least 10 years older than yourself, they might have recognized what to do.

In either case, the two images are both autostereograms. Though the concept was known and understood for quite some time, they became wildly popular in the 1990s after being marketed through a company called "Magic Eye" as books and posters that were found virtually everywhere. The idea is that if you allow your eyes to look straight ahead (as though you are looking at something behind the computer screen), your eyes will lock onto similar, though not completely identical patterns. The differences between the patterns will fool your brain's depth perception to make it seem as though you are looking at a three dimensional image.

What you are trying to do is look at the picture "wall-eyed". This is the opposite of cross-eyed - you are trying to make your eyes look straight ahead instead of converge (cross-eyed is making your eyes converge when they normally would look straight ahead). If you do look at the picture cross-eyed, you may perceive depth, though it would be opposite to what is intended (objects that should appear close appear far, and vice versa).

People who have never tried to view these before invariably find it frustrating in their first few attempts, particularly when people around them are succeeding and claiming to see something that doesn't at all appear to be there. But given enough patience, most people manage to succeed - and when you do so, the visual illusion is very dramatic!

In any case, once you do see the image, you'll see 3 dimensional shapes like these:

They are simply standard laundry symbols for "hand wash" and "do not bleach".


 

Question for Saturday April 23, 2016:

It is during the second World War. You live in Paris, which has been occupied by Nazi Germany since June 14th, 1940. At first, it wasn't so bad. But as time went on, it became more and more obvious that life as you once knew it was quickly changing. A curfew was in effect at 9:00 pm - if you weren't back home in your house by then, you risked being arrested. Food was rationed, getting more scarce and expensive. Worst of all, you never knew how things would be from one day to the next.

Finding out news about how the war was going was next to impossible. Newspapers were strictly censored, and the local radio stations were in control of the Nazis, so even though you had no way to know for sure, you suspected that everything you heard was propaganda. If the Germans were doing as well in the war as they were saying, certainly it would be over soon, wouldn't it?

Yet it was obvious that things were getting worse instead of better. You were desperate to hear non-German opinion on the state of the war. But one big problem was that all radios capable of picking up transmissions from long distances were confiscated - in fact, it became considered treasonable to even listen to overseas broadcasts.

But you weren't about to let that stop you. Using some of your basic electronics skills, you constructed a radio capable of listening to shortwave broadcasts. It was pretty primitive, and had to struggle to pick up distant stations while being overwhelmed from the stronger local signals, but late at night under your covers, you slowly came to discover that things weren't going quite as perfectly for Germany as they were leading you to believe.

One morning, while searching the airwaves for some news, you stumbled across a short message that was repeating over and over. Fading in and out, and obviously not intended to be heard by anyone outside the Nazi military, you knew instantly that a new attack was starting. Here is what you heard:

Note: You have to have Flash installed to use the audio player above. If you do not (for examples, iPhones and iPads do not support Flash), you might try to download the audio file directly here.

In the format YYYY/MM/DD, what day was it?

Acceptable answers:
1942/08/23

Explanation:

In and amongst the static and other signals you hear on the radio, you will have noticed a Morse code signal that faded in and out. Fortunately, the message repeated over and over, so it didn't matter if you couldn't always hear it.

The Morse code message you would pick out of the radio signal is:

... S
— T
.— A
.—.. L
.. I
—. N
——. G
.—. R
.— A
—.. D

.——— J
. E
— T
——.. Z
— T

Or, put together "STALINGRAD JETZT". Translated from German, this would read "Stalingrad Now" in English.

The question mentioned that the message told you an attack was starting. On August 23, 1942 (1942/08/23 in the format we were asking for), Germany launched an ground-based attack against Stalingrad in Russia, which became known as the Battle of Stalingrad. It became one of the largest and bloodiest battles in history, and is usually regarded as the turning point in the war. After losing so many of their soldiers in the 5 month long battle, Germany withdrew many of their troops from the West to replace them, and never recovered from it.

However, earlier than that, from July 17, the Luftwaffe had begun to bomb the city from the air. As a result, there are varying opinions on when the battle is said to have officially started, and in any case, as the Morse code message "Stalingrad Now" can apply to any launched offensive at Stalingrad, we accepted all dates in the range from July 17 to August 23.

As a side note, in and amongst the static, Morse code, and Hitler giving one of his infamous speeches, you likely noticed a song playing. Called "Lili Marlene", and recorded by Lale Andersen in 1939, it tells the story of the anguish a soldier feels in being separated by his sweetheart. To loyal Nazis, the song seemed to be anti-war, so it was banned by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief. However, in 1941 a German radio station in Belgrade playing music to their troops in North Africa was bombed and most of their records were smashed. One of the few that survived was Lili Marlene, and since they had little else to play, broadcast the song. The German troops loved the song, including Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who overrode Goebbels and asked the radio station to play the song every night.

The Allied troops in Africa also heard the song every night, and fell in love with it and the message that they could relate to just as well. Eventually, an English language version was also made, and the song ended up with a unique distinction as being loved by both German and Allied troops, becoming an icon of World War II.

Though we tried to be as authentic as possible in creating the radio signal, we did take a bit of artistic license. Any military orders sent by the Germans wirelessly would almost certainly be encrypted by their Enigma machine. Considering that cracking the code generated by an Enigma machine was a major effort throughout the war by numerous intelligence agencies from several countries, we thought it best to leave that for another Noggin Hoggin' question sometime.