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Noggin Hoggin' Challenge Starting on Monday April 24, 2017

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)
Attractions built to delight and entertain visitors of all ages remain frozen in time near the ginger coloured forest. Some say this fun zone never did host a single soul, while others claim it was in fact operational, albeit only for a few hours, and only for the purpose of distracting locals from a nearby momentous disaster. Fast-forward a few decades after the disaster to November 2016, and a way to mitigate the horrific effects from that fateful accident slides into place, reminding us of what happened and making headlines around the globe. A token of remembrance to honour those first on scene was erected in the vicinity. What term is used to refer to these people?

Acceptable answers:


This question is referring to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster of 1986, which is considered by many to be the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.


Explosions and fire from one of the Reactors was caused by a combination of human error and design flaws. The result: immediate, large-scale radioactive contamination was released into the atmosphere. The contamination spread over much of Western USSR and Europe, but naturally, it was the more immediate areas that were hit hardest. The Wormwood Forest surrounding the power plant saw very high levels of radiation that killed most of the trees, turning them into a ginger colour (hence the nickname Red Forest).

The town of Pripyat is located a little over a mile from the nuclear plant, and was inhabited mostly by power plant workers and their families. One of the most infamous photos associated with the Chernobyl disaster is of a decaying ferris wheel in the midst of an amusement park, which most likely didn't offer a single ride to anyone before the catastrophe shut it down forever. The amusement park was constructed to entertain the residents of Pripyat, and was due to open mere days after the explosion, however Pripyat residents abandoned the area and it remains empty to this day.

In the minutes, hours, days, and even years after the blast, the battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved hundreds of thousands of workers, known as liquidators Anyone that played a part in mitigating the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster -- including plant employees, firefighters, military personnel, reporters and civilians -- were classified as liquidators and received both recognition and compensation for their heroic efforts.

In late 2016, a giant protective metal shield to confine residual radioactive materials slid into place over the old reactor. Titled the New Safe Confinement (NSC), it was built on site over a period of about 7 years.

An unbelievable amount of information and photos, including tour opportunities and and blogs from those who have seen the area firsthand, can be found online to satisfy further curiosity.


Question for Monday April 24, 2017:
To which city does the skyline in the image belong?


Acceptable answers:
Hong Kong
Hong kong


In house testing of this Noggin Hoggin' question suggests one of the most efficient ways of finding out the answer to this question is to use an internet search engine to describe the photo and then compare results to the image provided.

How well you describe the given image would impact how quickly the results feed you back an image that looks similar enough to compare. Words such as mountains, harbour, busy metropolis, skyscraper, and aerial view for example, would yield fairly good results in an internet search. In fact, using those exact key words, the city of Hong Kong is one of the top results.


Question for Tuesday April 25, 2017:

What appears to be a path to nowhere became a path to intrigue when they were viewed from another perspective in the 1940's by a Long Island scholar. Were extraterrestrials involved? One astronaut still stands on site.


The world took notice! UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage site, but not before the lizard's tail was cut off. A spider and birds appeared. Green Peace left their mark. But it was the whale that surfaced closest to the airport named for the woman who worked tirelessly as its guardian.


This woman, who mastered five languages and mathematics, had lost something tangible before she dedicated herself to the life long cause. What caused the loss?

Acceptable answers:


The Nazca Lines are a fascinating collection of large ancient geoglyphs in the desert for southern Peru. Although they have been documented for hundreds of years, the first modern day scholar to seriously study the lines was Paul Kosok from Long Island University in the 1940s. Paul flew over the lines and realized one was shaped like a bird. He began to study how the lines were created. Maria Reiche, a German Mathematician and archaeologist assisted Paul and helped to figure out the purpose of the Nazca Lines.

Maria Reiche, worked a lifetime to gain recognition and protection of the Nazca Lines. In 1995, the Nazca Lines were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As you can see in the picture of Maria, she lost a figure on her left hand to gangrene.


Question for Wednesday April 26, 2017:

A once-modern and futuristic "spacecraft" hovers in plain sight of its scientific neighbour in a park in the capital of Alberta.

At a time when the world seemed obsessed with outer space, it drew many visitors, including the royal variety. In recent decades, however, it stands lonely and neglected, but not forgotten.

A pending transformation sure to renew public interest is expected to be complete before the current decade is over. When the spacecraft first materialized, a chunk of space rock was located inside. How much did it weigh, to the nearest pound?

Acceptable answers:
sixty eight
68 lbs
68 pounds


In Alberta's capital city of Edmonton, near the Telus World of Science building in Coronation Park, the Queen Elizabeth II planetarium is undergoing a big facelift.

In 1959, construction was planned to commemorate a visit from Queen Elizabeth II. Building commenced shortly after her visit, and Canada's first public planetarium opened in September 1960. At the opening ceremonies, Professor E. S. Keeping represented the University of Alberta and presented a sixty-eight pound fragment of the Bruderheim meteorite to the planetarium. The fragment was made the centerpiece of the building's astronomical display. The building remained open until 1983.

It's estimated that 6 million dollars will be needed to update the building, and there's no question it will retain it's unique shape of a hovering spacecraft or UFO. The city of Edmonton also recently granted the building heritage designation and protection.


Question for Thursday April 27, 2017:

Another playoff season is set to start in the NHL. In our fictional scenario below, the teams have finished their 82 game regular season of play and all their stats and points are shown. You have been called into head office to create the playoff First Round Schedule, using the team stats included in this scenario.

Determine which team will go up against the Oilers, and which will go against the Canadiens in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

What is the shortest driving distance between the two cities' arenas represented by the two teams you chose? Round your answer to the closest hundred kilometres.



Acceptable answers:
1900 km
1,900 km
1900 kilometers




When creating the schedule for the First Round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the following procedures and rules are followed for determining the placement of teams:

  1. Eight teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. So 16 teams in the total league make the playoffs. There are two conferences; Eastern and Western. Each Conference is divided into two divisions.
  2. In the playoff series format, the first, second, and third place team in each of the four divisions qualify for the playoffs automatically.
  3. Two additional teams from each conference, regardless of divisional alignment, also qualify for the playoffs by having the highest point totals out of the remaining teams in the conference. These teams are referred to as the Wild Cards. Since there is no attention paid to divisional alignment with the wild cards, it is possible for a single division to produce both wild cards.
  4. In the First Round, the eight teams are split into two separate brackets by division. Each bracket consists of the top three divisional qualifiers and one of the wild cards. The lower seeded wild card plays against the division winner with the best record while the other wild card plays against the other division winner, and both wild cards are de facto #4 seeds. The other two series match the second and third place teams from the divisions.
  5. Any ties in the standings at the end of the regular season are broken using the following protocols, applied in order and stopping when a criteria results in a winner:
    1. The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
    2. The greater number of games won. Shootout wins are not included in the tie breaking procedure. This figure is reflected in the ROW column.
    3. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs.
      1. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, the points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game are not included.
      2. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any "odd" games, are used to determine the standing.
    4. The greater differential between goals for and against during the entire regular season.

Using the procedure shown above, you will find the Edmonton Oilers, who were top of the Western Conference, will play the lowest seeded wild card team in the Western Conference, which was the Winnipeg Jets. The Montreal Canadiens who placed first in the Eastern Conference after regular season, would also play the lowest seeded Wild Card team in the Eastern Conference. This was the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The question asked for the shortest driving distance between the two cities' arenas represented by the two teams you chose.

The Winnipeg Jets play in the MTS Centre and the Columbus Blue Jackets play in the Nationwide Arena. There are a couple of driving routes between the two arenas, but the shortest driving distance is 1909 km, which rounds to 1900 km. There is a faster route that would take less time, but would require a further driving distance of 1961 km, which would round to 2000 km. But since we asked for the shortest driving distance, 1900 km is the answer we were looking for.

Hopefully knowing how to seed teams for the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs will improve your fan experience. Enjoy the good old hockey game!


Question for Friday April 28, 2017:

Discovery and innovations don't typically happen independently and isolated from other factors. Instead, ideas are built upon one another, ultimately leading to new understandings that at first glance seem completely unrelated to the initial insight. One person who well understands the connections in such trains of innovation is science historian James Burke.

In one episode, it can be shown that a wealthy benefactor by the name of Smithson ultimately led to the fall of the idea that Newton's physics perfectly explained the movement of objects on the Earth and in the universe. Along the way, something was developed that reduced the travel time on a typical journey for many travellers by up to 6 weeks. In what year did travellers begin to be able to take advantage of this new innovation?

Acceptable answers:


James Burke is a British personality who gained fame for hosting the BBC documentary television series Connections and The Day the Universe Changed. The italicized word connections in the question hinted that we were concerned with the former series, as well as the two sequels Connections2 and Connections3 produced by TLC.

The format of the Connections shows is to start out with a historical discovery or innovation, which then leads to another, and so on along a chain of related connections, until a relatively modern, yet seemingly unrelated concept or invention is reached. The intent is to help demonstrate how the modern world isn't the result of discovery made in isolation - instead, everything is the result of a web of interconnected events.

For this question, we refer to an episode starting with Smithson (who founded the Smithsonian), and ending with the fall of the idea that Newton's laws of physics perfectly described the natural world (it was supplanted by Einstein's special and general theories of relativity). Looking through a guide of episodes in the series will reveal that the third episode in Connections3, entitled "Drop the Apple", matches this plot summary.

Perhaps you found a detailed enough episode synopsis that contained reference to something reducing travel time by six weeks, but as a typical Connections episode might link between 15 – 20 concepts, it is likely that the most practical way to solve this question is to just watch the episode in question. Fortunately, there are several copies of the episode available on YouTube.

After watching the show, you'll learn along the way that the Suez Canal reduced shipping times from Africa to Europe by up to 6 weeks. The Suez Canal was constructed between 1859 and 1869, and opened for use in 1869.


Question for Saturday April 29, 2017:

Ever since humans have looked up into the night sky, they have asked the question of whether or not we are alone in the universe. Though we have known for quite some time that stars were individual suns, many quite like our own, it's only relatively recently that we have had the technology to discover if any of those stars have planets around them. The first discovery of a planet orbiting another star was in 1988, though it wasn't confirmed until 1992. Since then, exoplanet discovery has come at an incredible pace - currently, nearly 4000 have been discovered. They seem to be almost everywhere astronomers look with the right equipment to see them, and so far, on average, there seem to be more exoplanets than stars.

Of course, not all exoplanets are "Earthlike" - many are much smaller or larger than Earth, or orbit their sun at a distance that would make the surface temperature much too cold or hot for life as we know it. Yet, some are discovered in the habitable, or "Goldilocks zone" - neither too hot nor too cold, being the right distance from their sun to allow for liquid water on the surface, which of course make them the best candidates so far for life elsewhere in our galaxy. In fact, from what we've seen so far, about 20% of the Sun-like stars have an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone.

In August of 2016, astronomers announced that they had detected just such a planet orbiting around Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our Sun. The planet is 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, and though Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf and therefore much cooler than the Sun, this planet is very close to the star, so temperatures at the surface are expected to be warm enough to allow for liquid water. Because it is so close to the star, its year lasts only 11.2 of our days. If you grew up on this planet, you'd be 32 times older than you are now!

Of course, the discovery of this planet has re-kindled interest in trying to answer the question as to whether life may exist in other solar systems.

You do some research and find that in 1974 a famous interstellar message was sent from a massive radio telescope in Puerto Rico, to announce to the universe that we are here. The message, however, was directed to a star cluster known as M13, which is about 25,000 light years away. At best, we wouldn't be able to expect a response for 50,000 years, to allow for time for our radio message to reach M13, and then receive a message back if there is someone there to send one.

This situation is a lot different though. Since Proxima Centauri is only 4.2 light years away, if there is intelligent life on its Earth-like planet, we might be able to expect a response in only 8.4 years.

The telescope in Puerto Rico is no longer the world's largest - just a month prior to the announcement of the planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, China completed building a radio telescope with a surface area nearly 3 times as large. So, you decide to send a proposal to them to send a message similar in format to that sent in 1974 from the telescope in Puerto Rico.

The message sent from Puerto Rico contained 1679 binary digits (bits). The message you wish to send to Proxima Centauri is much smaller, consisting of just 143 bits, as follows:


When this is decoded, what single word (as interpreted by humans) could most accurately be used to describe the message?

Acceptable answers:


In 1974, the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico was used to send an interstellar message to the globular star cluster M13. Its message was encoded in a 23 × 73 pixel image, with one frequency representing a pixel that is off (ie: zero), and a slightly different frequency representing a pixel that is on (ie: one). When plotted out, it made the following image, consisting of 23 × 73 = 1679 pixels, or bits:

The reason that the dimensions of 23 and 73 were chosen was that both were prime numbers. As a result, the total number of bits (1679) is a number known as a semiprime, which by definition can only be obtained by multiplying those two specific numbers (other than itself and 1, of course). Any alien intelligence encountering the signal would hopefully realize that a valid way of interpreting the string of ones and zeros would be to plot them sequentially in a rectangle with dimensions of either 23 × 73 or 73 × 23 - there is no other ratio that would work to contain exactly 1679 bits. By contrast, if there were something like 1500 bits in the message, there would be 22 different ways to arrange a rectangle (2 × 750, 3 × 500, 4 × 375, etc.) as opposed to just one.

The Arecibo message was meant to be interpreted by civillizations without knowledge of our language or culture, and as such contains within it, a "Rosetta Stone" of sorts to help define how to interpret the message. It starts out with a representation of numbers, goes on to explain DNA and nucleotides, and continues to include information on the size and structure of humans, Earth's population, our solar system, and the telescope that sent the message. Of course, these cryptic symbols can be something of a challenge even for humans to understand exactly what it is being referred to, though there are lots of online resources available to help explain how the message should be interpreted if you're interested.

In contrast, the message you are sending is much simpler, and has foregone trying to include instructions on how to interpret it. Nevertheless, it is constructed in much the same way.

The 143 bits in the message is a semiprime, with prime factors of 11 and 13. This means that a message encoded similarly to that sent at Arecibo should describe an image either 11 × 13 or 13 × 11 pixels in size. Using a "1" to represent a darkened square, and a "0" to represent a light square, we get the following two possibilities:

Clearly, the 11 × 13 image can't easily be said to represent something, though the 13 × 11 is an accurate depiction of a symbol typically used on Earth to represent peace. Therefore, the answer we were looking for in this question is "peace".

One final thing to note - whether in the case of the Arecibo message, or the peace symbol we sent, there is no way of guaranteeing that an alien civilization would assume the same conventions we did of building up the image in a similar manner to the way in which we in "western society" read, namely from top to bottom, left to right. In fact, many cultures even here on Earth use different conventions, and it is equally conceivable the image could be constructed starting with the bottom row and working right to left, or any other combination. But fortunately for aliens receiving the Arecibo message or our own, the fundamental meaning wouldn't change - the only effect of different conventions of converting a string of binary data to a two dimensional grid would be a possible rotation and/or mirroring of the image. In any case, the fundamental message would remain unchanged.