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Noggin Hoggin' Challenge Starting on Monday April 26, 2010

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)
A certain "Canadian" film was nominated for two Oscars but lost out to Amphiprion ocellaris. Bruno's pedigree was immortalized by one artist, but originally recorded by another. What is the real last name of the latter?

Acceptable answers:
Thornton

Explanation:

Amphiprion ocellaris is the Latin name for the orange and white striped clownfish made popular by the movie "Finding Nemo". An Oscar is the name commonly used to refer the golden statuette presented to the winner of an Academy Award (for some interesting information on the origins of the name 'Oscar', you can refer to Wikipedia's information). So for the first part of this question, we are looking for a "Canadian" film that was nominated for two Academy Awards, but was beaten by "Finding Nemo".

"Finding Nemo", the very popular computer-animated movie released in 2003, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film of that year. There were two other nominations for the award that year - "Les triplettes de Belleville" and "Brother Bear". Like "Finding Nemo", "Brother Bear" is also an American Disney film. "Les triplettes de Belleville" (or "The Triplets of Belleville"), however, is a Belgian-French-Canadian international co-production, clearly the movie we must be looking for.

The movie's plot centers around the characters of Madame Souza, an elderly woman, her grandson, Champion, and their hound dog, Bruno (for more information about this great movie see the Wikipedia article about it.

When the question mentions "Bruno's pedigree", it is a reference to his being a "hound dog". Elvis Presley was the artist who immortalized the song "Hound Dog" in 1956. Be that as it may, the song was originally recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in 1952.


 

Question for Monday April 26, 2010:

Acceptable answers:
Russia
Russian Federation
The Russian Federation

Explanation:

This question is written almost exclusively in Braille - a system of raised dots embossed on paper widely used by blind people to read. The first part of the question appears below along with its translation:

 

An example of the
precursor to the
writing system used
here is shown below:

As an aside, you will notice that by its very nature, Braille representations of individual letters takes up much more space than traditional typed characters, and so books written in Braille represented this way would be massive. This is known as "Grade 1" Braille, and is typically only used by people just learning it. As a result, "Grade 2" Braille was developed, which extends traditional Braille by adding hundreds of contractions and other space-saving measures to greatly reduce the volume of a work in Braille. We decided to go easy on you with this question by using the simpler "Grade 1" Braille.

In any case, to go further with this question, we next need to discover the precursor to Braille. Braille was inspired by a similar writing system developed by Charles Barbier for Napoleon that could be used by soldiers in the dark. His system, which he called "Ecriture Nocturne" (night writing), never really caught on. Louis Braille identified its primary shortcoming - the symbols could be up to 6 dots high and 2 wide, making them too large for a person to identify without moving their finger vertically across the letter. In addition, night writing was phonetically-based; words were written as they sound, not necessarily as they were spelled, which made it more difficult to both read and write. So he developed his Braille system of symbols 3 dots high and 2 wide, which is still in common use today.

In any case, we now have to translate the pattern of dots written with Barbier's system of night writing as follows:

 

mosqou

This may not make a lot of sense yet, but let's continue with the rest of the question in Braille:

 

What country, written
in normal English,
is this city found in?

We know that the word 'mosqou' must represent a city. Remember that night-writing is phonetically-based, which means the city wouldn't be spelled like 'mosqou', but rather would sound somewhat like 'mosqou'. The city being referred to is therefore Moscow.

The question asks which country this city is found in, so our answer to the question is "Russia", or more formally, the "Russian Federation".


 

Question for Tuesday April 27, 2010:

Canada is full of interesting places with interesting history. In the city below there are almost 50 murals depicting the early history of the area.

 

Find the clock tower located at the CPR train station in this city that reads 6:48 via "Street View". From here walk north 3 blocks and west 1 block over a series of tunnels teeming with interesting local tales. At the intersection, you will see a large painting on the side of a building. Depicted here is a memorable prayer. Who does the writer ask to be blessed with "your protecting hand"?

Acceptable answers:
My children and my wife
His children and his wife

Explanation:

This question required you to use the clues in the provided Google map to figure out what city you needed to visit to find the prayer. By Googling many of the unique street names on the map and taking into consideration that this city is somewhere along the Trans-Canada Highway 1 which runs coast to coast, students should be able to isolate that this city is Moose Jaw, Saskatachewan.

The next step involves finding the railway station with the clock tower. There are two old stations in Moose Jaw; the CPR Station and the CN Station. If you follow the tracks you will see that the two have tracks that cross but do not connect. Ultimately, you will find the old CPR Station to be located at the south intersection of Manitoba Street and Main Street.

To confirm your findings, the best way is to use Google's relatively new "Street View" tool, as the question implied. Google has spent the last few years mapping out Canada and the world with their Street View cameras. Many people across the country (ourselves included) have spotted a Google car rolling through their communities last summer with a panorama camera mounted to its roof. Street view is built into Google Maps and is available at maps.google.com. Simply drag the little yellow man in the zoom controls onto the map to see the view of the map as it would appear from the street.

By using Google Street View, you will see the exterior of the old CPR Station and the clock tower that reads 6:48. This was the time in which that picture was captured. After confirming that you are starting in the correct location, you can quickly move your Street View icon 3 blocks north and 1 block west. This would place you at an intersection of Fairford Street W and 1st Avenue NW.

By panning around and looking at the building in the NW quadrant of the intersection, you will see a mural showing firefighters. It is titled "Towns AFire!" and was painted by Gus Froese in 1991. The mural depicts fire fighting equipment and the local fire hall in 1910. On the right corner of the mural is "A Fireman's Prayer". By zooming in using Street View you can read the prayer and find that the fireman who wrote this prayer is asking for a protecting hand for his children and his wife if he were to lose his life while protecting others.


 

Question for Wednesday April 28, 2010:

On the roof of the world, a blue jewel is floating in the sky. In the air, the wind horse carries another jewel, which is said to grant wishes.

Give the romanized native name of both jewels in order, separated by a comma.

Acceptable answers:
Puma Yumco, Chintamani
Puma Yumco, Cintamani
Puma Yumco,Chintamani
Puma Yumco,Cintamani
Lake Puma Yumco, Chintamani
Lake Puma Yumco, Cintamani

Explanation:

The "Roof of the World" is a metaphor describing the highest place on the planet, the mountainous interior of Asia. It is also frequently used to refer to specific areas in this region, such as the Pamirs, Tibet, the Himalayas and Mount Everest.

On the southern Tibetan Plateau is Lake Puma Yumco, which literally translates to "The Blue Jewel which is floating in the sky" (Wikipedia's information). This our first jewel.

We are told that the second jewel is carried by a wind horse. The Wind Horse (or Windhorse) is a mythical creature representing Tibetan beliefs that predate Buddhism. It is often portrayed on prayer flags from which prayers are believed to be carried to the heavens with the strength of the horse and the speed of the wind. In fact, prayer flags are so strongly associated with this creature, that they are often erroneously referred to as Wind Horses themselves. The Wind Horse is customarily depicted carrying either The Three Jewels or, more commonly, The Wish Fulfilling Jewel, on its back. This jewel is named Cintamani or Chintamani (Wikipedia's information).

Now, the question asks us for the "romanized" native names of both jewels. To romanize a language means to tranliterate (or transcribe) it from its native form to the modern roman (or latin) alphabet, which, conveniently, is the same alphabet used in English! For example, the name of the Wish Fulfilling Jewel should really be properly written as चिन्तामणि, the way it is written in its native Devanagari script, but as this is very difficult for most people with English keyboards to enter, we asked for its romanized spelling of "Cintamani" or "Chintamani". Romanizing is not the same thing as 'translating', which seeks to change languages while maintaining the original meaning.

Puma Yumco and Cintamani (or Chintamani) are the romanized native names of the first and second jewels, in order.


 

Question for Thursday April 29, 2010:
Sigñor Bona Slang may have been a fictional character, but his career and the safety device used by his trade inspired a very real inventor. This former teacher decided he needed a jumping off point for a high flying career. With hope springing eternal, he leapt to work bringing his lofty dream to fruition and backyards across the world. He met a special friend in the mid 20th century and the two were a very popular couple. Their picture was taken and history was made. How much did he pay to hire his new pal for the photo op?

Acceptable answers:
150
150.00
$150
$150.00
150 dollars
one hundred and fifty dollars

Explanation:

Searching for Sigñor Bona Slang we find the lyrics to The man on the Flying Trapeze written by Walter O'Keefe in 1933.

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.
His movements were graceful, all girls he could please
And my love he purloined away.

This young man by name was Sigñor Bona Slang,
Tall, big and handsome, as well made as Chang.
Where'er he appeared the hall loudly rang
With ovation from all people there.

As most people probably know, or assume, trapeze artists use safety nets to catch them should they fall. The nets are not strung taut because if you fell from 50 feet high to a tightly strung net, you'd bounce right back up and probably shoot right off the side. Instead, the nets are strung a little looser which absorbs much of the impact but still gives the acrobats enough rebound to perform additional stunts if they choose. The idea of a taut net was what gave Mr. George Nissen the inspiration to built a bouncing surface for gymnasts to practice body control and stunts.

On a trip to Mexico as part of a diving team he discovered the word "springboard" in Spanish was trampolin. He added the "e" to the end and with his friend Larry Griswold started the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline and Tumbling Company.

The picture being talked about in the question was a publicity stunt created by Mr. Nissen. His inspiration for the picture came from a picture of his young daughter Dagmar standing on the steps leading up to a jet with the kangaroo logo on the side.

George found a man who rented out 2 kangaroos to pose with. One kangaroo was $50.00 but the other was $150.00. George opted for the more expensive animal because he was told "Well, the one for $150.00 won't kick you so hard." George worked with the kangaroo and realized that he could "control" the animal by holding it's front paws. He maneuvered the animal to one end of the trampoline, started jumping in tandem with it, and history was made.


 

Question for Friday April 30, 2010:

A popular song once proclaimed that "boots were made for walking", however, not all footwear can make the same claim. History reveals that our need to elevate ourselves and stand out in a crowd has occasionally superseded functionality.

One clear example of this tendency reached its highest peak at over two feet (though less than three), and actually became outlawed in some regions. It quite literarily and literally made an impression on The Prince of Denmark – in which tragic Act?

Acceptable answers:
2
Two
Act 2
Act Two
Hamlet Act Two
Hamlet Act 2

Explanation:

There are a few different items that come to mind when we think of footwear that can "elevate" a person, namely elevator shoes, high heels, platform shoes, and maybe even stilts.

Based on the given information, we know that we are looking for something that "reached its highest peak at over two feet (though less than three)" - a height somewhere between 24 and 36 inches. A little research reveals that the world's most towering stilts were recorded at more than 40 feet tall, the loftiest high heels at 16 inches, and the tallest elevator shoes only give the wearer a boost of 5 inches. So none of these meet the criteria.

A specific type of platform shoe, called a 'chopine' (or chopin), was extremely popular throughout Europe between the 15th and 17th centuries, but particularly so in Venice where extreme examples were documented to have reached 30 inches! Women who wore these could only get around by means of canes, or the aid of servants which had to continually be at their side to avoid dangerous crashes (Wikipedia's information). Sumptuary laws were passed banning this outrageous footwear.

We are told that this "literarily... made an impression on The Prince of Denmark". This is a hint that the question deals with literature, which is further supported by the mention of a "tragic Act". 'Tragedy' is a form of art portrayed in classic theatre, and plays are traditionally divided into a number of 'acts'. "The Prince of Denmark" can be none other than William Shakespeare's ill–fated Hamlet.

The only reference to the 'chopine' in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is in Act 2, scene 2, where the Prince jokes about the height of the shoe (which was fashionable at that time) to a player:

                      "By'r lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven
                      than when I saw you last by the altitude of a chopine."

In any case, the Act we were looking for is therefore "Act 2".

It is also interesting that the same wording is found in James Joyce's Ulysses, Episode 9, Scylla and Charybdis:

                      "He creaked to and fro, tiptoing up nearer heaven by the altitude of a chopine..."

Joyce parodies, alludes, and refers to hundreds of other writers and their works in Ulysses.


 

Question for Saturday May 1, 2010:

Some tourists can be spotted miles away. This purple grandma, who loves to travel, was captured up close. She loves to pick up local trinkets and souvenirs from her exotic destinations.

 

High resolution version of above picture

A historic church is just visible in the distance. What type of wood was used to construct the pews and pulpit of this church?

Acceptable answers:
Koa wood
Koa
Acacia koa
Acacia koa wood

Explanation:

We wanted you to use the items in the photo to isolate where this person was visiting. To make it easier to zoom in on details in the photo, we provided a high resolution image to work from.

From the image, you should have been able to quickly make the initial assumption that the location was in Hawaii or one of the Polynesian islands from the beautiful flowered necklace. In Tahiti, these necklaces are called "hei", and in Hawaii, "lei" of Plumeria flowers (which grow prolifically and wild there) have become an iconic symbol of the island.

The second clue was in the lady's hand. As can be seen by zooming in on the larger picture, it is a brochure from Atlantis Submarines. Also in the background is the same logo on a sign at the office of Atlantis Submarines. If you were to search on the website listed on the brochure, (www.atlantissubmarines.com), you would be able to find that they have operations in three locations in the Hawaiian islands, as well as one in Guam and several in the Caribbean. But since flowered necklaces are not commonly seen in Guam or the Caribbean, this confirms that the photo must have been taken in Hawaii, and even narrows down our location to one of three specific locations in Hawaii where this company operates - addresses in Honolulu (Oahu), Lahaina (Maui), and Kona (Big Island of Hawaii).

Using a resource such as Google Maps and Google Street View, you would be able to find these three locations to try and narrow down the possibilities further. Using Street View with the two addresses for Atlantis Submarines in Oahu and Maui will very quickly tell you that they are not similar to the location seen in the photo. Unfortunately, the Kona area on the Big Island of Hawaii is not yet available on Street View so you would have to try a different tactic.

If you try to do an online search for churches in the Kona area, some of the primary links that show up reference the Mokauikaua Church. From pictures of its towering single white steeple, you can very quickly know that you have found the correct church.

The Mokuaikaua Church was the first Christian church in Hawaii. Construction began on the church in 1835 and was completed in 1837. Its 112 foot steeple was the highest structure in the area for many decades and served as a navigational landmark for travelers.

There are many web sites that write about the history of this church. From these you will find that the pews and pulpit of the church are made from Hawaii's Koa wood. The Koa tree (a type of acacia) is endemic to Hawaii. This means these trees are unique to the Hawaiian islands and can't be found anywhere else. Despite this, they are the second most common tree on the islands, and are one of the fastest growing trees there. The wood is reddish and due to its beautiful grain, it is often sought for use in furniture and wood carvings. Koa wood also has good acoustical qualities and thus is used in the construction of many stringed instruments such as ukuleles and guitars.