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Noggin Hoggin' Challenge Starting on Monday April 8, 2019

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)
Can you spot all of the differences when comparing these two pictures?
How many are there in total?
Please submit your answer in numerical form.
Hint: The answer is not a prime number.



Acceptable answers:


The arrows indicate the 12 differences between the 2 images.



Question for Monday April 8, 2019:

For centuries, humans have been experimenting with the ability to "draw with light". The camera obscura is proof of this.

Early in the 19th century, a crafty man living in France became fixated on capturing images without relying on the artist's hand alone. In the earlier part of his life, he tinkered with inventions in several other domains, but in his 60s, he partnered up with a nearby visionary who was also hunting for a way to capture moments in time in a more realistic way. Together, they enjoyed nearly 5 years of testing and experimenting before one of them suddenly died.

The surviving Frenchman continued to conduct all kinds of experiments with light and chemicals. He relied often on his late partner's notes and findings, and even worked with his materials. Several years later, his dedication paid off. The result was vivid, permanent, and practical. When this discovery was demonstrated to a group of respected scientists, and then to the government of France, it left them all awestruck. The French government offered a lifetime pension to both the tireless Frenchman and his deceased partner's heir in exchange for the right to go public. The government then shared the details of this revolutionary process as a free gift to the rest of the world.

Most would agree that conducting experiments for scientific advancement requires perseverance. In this story, careful consideration of chemical options was a critical part of their trials and research. While some historians insist (and can offer proof) that it was indeed a steadfast approach and endless hours of evaluations that allowed the surviving Frenchman to prevail, others implied that some good old-fashioned luck led to an accidental discovery. Regardless of how it came about, he did indeed find the right combination of chemicals to achieve the major breakthrough he'd been striving for.

Those who believe that serendipity played a part buy into the idea that something broke, resulting in the quintessential mirror that could hold a memory. Name the item that broke.

Acceptable answers:
a thermometer
mercury thermometer
a mercury thermometer


The overt references to photography and its invention should have allowed you to come across a man by the name of Nicéphore Niépce. With a little research about this Frenchman, you'd be able to view some of the first photographs ever taken while confirming you were on the right path. Along with the invention of photography (although sometimes disputed, since his partner is also sometimes credited) he's been commended with the invention of both heliography and the the internal combustion engine.

Niépce's early successes with photography required roughly eight hours of exposure time, so not only did it limit when he could take a photograph (daylight required), portraits weren't an option, since no one would be able to sit still for that length of time. His passion and determination to capture images in a more timely manner led to a meeting with someone likeminded and equally tenacious: Louis Daguerre. Their sharing of ideas and experiments over a five year period saw some progress, but in 1833 Niépce died suddenly.

Niépce's death didn't deter Daguerre; he persisted with research and experiments. Various sources online share research gathered by credible experts on the history of photography, and they assert that Daguerre's eventual success (creating the daguerreotype) came solely as a result of hard work, a sharp mind, and sheer determination. They refer to correspondence and recordings of conversations from 1838-1839 which support this. They also reject that luck or chance had any part in Daguerre's succcess.

There are plenty of other sources, however, that insist he did get lucky. That story goes something like this:


While taking a photo with the camera obscura one day, Daguerre needed sunlight for hours before trying to fix the photo, but clouds rolled in ruining the conditions. So, Daguerre removed the plate from the camera obscura and abandoned the idea for another day. He placed the photographic plate into a cabinet. When he reached for the plate to try again a day or two later, to his great surprise and excitement, he saw a clear image of what he'd intended to photograph the day the clouds rolled in!

He realized one of the chemicals in the cabinet must be responsible for this amazing success and went about a meticulous process of elimination to identify which one it might be. Eventually, he established that a broken thermometer had leaked some mercury vapour, which was the key element he'd been searching for.

We will likely never know for certain whether Daguerre stumbled upon his discovery, or whether it really just came down to his years of dedication and ambition. Regardless, he went on to refine his approach until only minutes, rather than hours, were needed to expose a photo. Improvements to the development and fixing process followed, and notes from his earlier partnership with Niépce's were critical to these refinements. The result of their years of work would be known as the Daguerreotype, a copper plate with a mirror like finish, highly polished and coated with silver particles, sensitized with iodine vapors, exposed in a camera obscura, developed in mercury vapour, and stabilized with salt water.

When his process was introduced to the public in August of 1839 by the government of France, it became an overnight sensation. Daguerreotype parlous (photo studios) began to open in different parts of the world, and that industry flourished. Millions of daguerreotypes would be created over the next 20 years, until new processes known as wet collodion glass negative and albumen prints would supersede Daguerre's invention.

Exhibits featuring daguerreotypes across North america still exist today. Some enthusiasts imitate the processes invented by Daguerre to this day, too, and delight in creating their very own.

Be sure to take a look at a "mirror with a memory" or two online to see what they look like for yourself!


Question for Tuesday April 9, 2019:

"Read" the passage below.

These words were spoken by a fictional character in a popular narrative.

What is this charcter's full real name in the novel? (Do not enter her nickname.)


Acceptable answers:
Jean Louise Finch



This quotation about a love of reading is written in Braille, so a reference of some sort would be necessary to decipher it. Many Braille charts can be located online for this purpose.

The verse itself comes from a novel set in the Great Depression with a storyline that explores strong themes such as race, class, tolerance and courage.

In "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, the narrator and protagonist is commonly referred to by her nickname, Scout Finch, but her real name is Jean Louise Finch.

This book continues to be read and studied by students nationwide, and nearly 40 million copies have been sold to date.


Question for Wednesday April 10, 2019:

A dark time in Canadian history can be attributed to a miscommunication between two transport vehicles, each carrying supplies related to the World War in progress overseas. The earth-shaking event occurred shortly after the two had a fateful meeting in a narrow passageway.

A man standing near the site was made aware of the impending crisis, and acted quickly to send out the following message to all of his fellow coworkers in other locations. (We've converted it to emoji-form for the purpose of this question.)

Decipher the message to help identify the name of the person who sent it.

Then, determine the street name of his home residence at the time of the incident.

As your final answer, find the median age of those who perished on the same day and lived on the same street as the messenger. Unlisted ages listed should be excluded from your data set.

(Hint: Detailed records of those who perished are accessible in a database today.)

Acceptable answers:
29 years old
twenty nine
Twenty nine


The Halifax explosion that occurred in 1917 was catastrophic in terms of loss of life (reports vary, but just under 2000 deaths have been recorded), injuries sustained (again, although approximate, estimates sit at around 9000), and far-reaching damage to the surrounding area.

On December 6, 2017, the SS IMO was departing the harbour, reportedly on the wrong side of the channel, and collided with the SS Mont Blanc, who was entering the harbour on the same side. After several warning blasts and a failed attempt to change course, the IMO bumped into the side of the Mont Blanc at a very low speed; approximately 1 mph. While the initial damage to the Mont-Blanc appeared minor, barrels of benzol on deck had toppled and broken open. Friction between the two boats created sparks, and a fire broke out and quickly spread. Terrifyingly, the SS Mont Blanc was carrying a full cargo of munitions for the war. The captain of the Mont Blanc ordered the crew to abandon ship; only a handful of people knew the nature of their cargo, and the captain was one of them. The collision happened at about 8:45 am.

In the ten or fifteen minutes following the collision, the crew of the Mont Blanc attempted to put as much distance between themselves and the burning vessel as possible. As they came ashore, they shouted warnings and encouraged those nearby to run for their lives, while doing the same themselves.

A train dispatcher working near the shoreline heard the commotion and the warning. Vince Coleman's first instincts were likely to flee the area too, but he decided to resist that impulse in order to send a telegraph to warn train employees working in other parts of the province, and specifically to an inbound passenger train due to arrive on the scene shortly. The building where he stayed to tap out the message was very near the burning ship, but he remained in place until it was sent.

Many historians agree on the essence of the message, if not the exact words, which were:

"Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbour making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys."

Shortly after 9am, the explosion of the Mont-Blanc sent out a shock wave that destroyed the north end of the city. The pressure of the explosion resulted in a 16 meter tidal wave. The ship was obiterated; a 1140 pound piece of the anchor was found partially buried several miles from the explosion.

There is some discrepancy between whether or not Coleman's message reached the inbound passenger train in time to stop it, or if the train was simply running late. Regardless, the 300 or so passengers onboard were spared.

Because his message travelled to other stations, word spread quickly to many parts of the province about the impending disaster, allowing for relief efforts to swing into motion immediately. A snow storm blew in the very next day, complicating efforts to locate and help the wounded, so in a situation where every minute counted, Coleman's actions had great significance.

Once you've identified that Vince Coleman successfully sent this iconic message to numerous nearby train stations moments before the blast, you can the begin to find more details on this man of courage. Ultimately, of course, Vince Coleman did not survive the explosion.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic offers a wealth of information on the explosion of 1917, including an exhibit featuring many photos, artifacts, and narratives. But it's the Nova Scotia Archives and Records that provides a searchable database listing names, and addresses, and other details of those who died.

This database allows us to locate Coleman's name and address: he lived at 31 Russell Street.

You can then use this same database to find others who lived on Russell Street. In the search field, enter "Russell", and select "Address" as the keyword.

The results of this search produce a list of 30 entries. One woman's age is unlisted (Eva McMillan), and Jean Bauer died on December 7, the day after the blast, so we must exclude these from the set. James Estano passed away from his injuries a whole year later, so he too, must be excluded.

This leaves us with 27 entries that need to be ordered from youngest to oldest so we can determine the median age. Remember that the median age is calculated by arranging a data set from least to greatest, and finding the middle number in the set.

The correct answer, therefore, is 29.


Question for Thursday April 11, 2019:

Darcy enjoys exploring the backcountry of north central Alberta, especially finding relatively unknown lakes with great fishing. One day, he stumbled across the best site he'd ever found and wanted to be able to return later with his friends.

He didn't have a GPS, but wasn't really lost - he knew how to hike back to his car. But he had parked along the side of the road in the middle of a forest that looked like every other spot along the side of the road for hundreds of kilometres. Resigning to the fact that he would probably never be able to find the lake again, he started heading for home. After a few kilometres, he spotted a ranger station and stopped to see if he could ask if the ranger knew anything about the lake. There turned out to be nobody around, but Darcy did manage to find a map of the area posted in an information display case outside and was able to figure out where on the map the lake was (it had fairly distinctive streams entering and exiting the lake), so he knew he had the right place.

On the map was a coding system that seemed it might have something to do with location, so he took a picture of the lake on the map with the hope that when he got home he could figure out where exactly it was:

He tried entering the codes he saw into Google Maps but had no success. He knew that Google Maps wouldn't exactly be able to give a street address for something in the middle of the forest, but in his research of how to identify a place outside an urban area, he stumbled across something called Google "Plus Codes" which would do the trick. He'd love to be able to give his friends the "plus code" for this lake, but has no idea what it could be.

Can you help Darcy? He's looking for the 10 digit "Google Plus Code" that represents the place where the small stream on the north side joins the lake. What is the entire code, including the area code (including the plus sign, your answer should be 11 characters long)?

Acceptable answers:


In 1871, to help with settling the west, the government of Canada initiated the Dominion Land Survey System. In an effort to support agricultural development and assert sovereignty over the area (at the time, there was concern that the US might expand into what would become the prairie provinces), they adopted a systematic grid-like system to divide land into different parcels in what became the world's largest survey grid.

The project was undertaken in five stages with only slight variations in the structure. They started with defining a "first" meridian (north-south line) just west of Winnipeg, and then defined further meridians (second to seventh) further west, starting at 102° longitude and every 4° longitude from there. These meridians were painstakingly surveyed, though with the limited technology of the time, some survey markers ended up a few hundred metres from their theoretical positions. Nonetheless, it is those survey markers that officially define the meridians and provincial boundaries rather than "perfect" geographical coordinates.

They also defined east-west "baselines" with the first starting at 49° latitude (essentially the US-Canada border for most of the region), and then subsequent ones being every 24 miles north of the previous one, ending up at 60° latitude (the northern boundary of the prairie provinces).

Starting at the intersection of each meridian and baseline and working towards the northwest, they then defined townships, which were each a square 6 miles on a side. But since north-south lines get closer together as one approaches the north pole, and the intention was to divide up the land into roughly square patches, halfway between base lines there is a "correction line" where they take away one of the townships between meridians. If this wasn't done, townships would get narrower the further north they are. By removing townships periodically, the remaining ones get a bit wider to compensate for the unavoidable narrowing.

The townships are defined by their "township number" (number increasing as you go north from the US-Canada border) and "range number" (numbers increasing as you go west from the meridian).

The townships were then further divided into 36 sections, to make each section a 1 mile × 1 mile square. Each section would then be roughly 640 acres. Sections were then divided according to two different systems. They could either by divided into 4 quarter sections (designated NW, NE, SE, and SW, and each encompassing 160 acres), or into 16 legal subdivisions (each encompassing 40 acres). Many farmers in western Canada obtained title to quarter sections of land, which are written as Quarter-Section-Township-Range-Meridian. In other words, our lake on the map is centered roughly in the quarter section designated as:

NW-1-66-8-W5, which can be decoded as:

NW Quarter section
Section 1
Township 66
Range 8
West of the 5th Meridian

In Alberta, the official system (The Alberta Township Survey) also takes into account road allowances (typically, there is a rural road running along the section boundaries every mile east to west and every two miles north to south). But essentially the process is the same.

A quick overview on the structure of the Alberta Township Survey System can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-township-survey-system.aspx.

So the first step is to find out where the lake generally is. Various online tools exist to convert from the Alberta Township system to latitude and longitude. If we do so, we find that the centre of the quarter section will be located at approximately 54.6868305°N, 115.0788953°W.

If the online tool you decide to use asks for the legal subdivision, it may be helpful to realize that the centre of the NW quarter is the same as the SE corner of LSD 13, the NE corner of LSD 12, the SW corner of LSD 14, or the NW corner of LSD 11.

In any case, if you then use Google Maps to find the location, you will find that the lake on the diagram is known as "Archie Lake", just a bit east of Swan Hills, Alberta.

As Google mapped the world, they realized it was important to be able to attribute an address to a location. In cities and towns, conventional addresses work fine. But in rural areas, or areas where addresses are ill-defined, they needed another approach. Latitude and longitude coordinates work world-wide, but it is difficult for people to remember long numbers with lots of precision after the decimal point.

So they developed a system they call "Open Location Codes", otherwise known as "Plus Codes", that works on many levels similar to the Alberta Township System, but globally. They start by dividing the Earth into blocks of 20 degrees by 20 degrees (9 north to south and 18 east to west), and then continue to subdivide each of those blocks into smaller 20 × 20 sub-blocks. They use a "base 20" system to designate the blocks, chosen from an "alphabet" of digits and letters specifically chosen to be visually unique (no confusion between '0' and 'O' for example), and unlikely to spell out real words in most languages. Every 2 letters or numbers added onto the code allows the position to be specified more and more accurately, without limit. However, the most common Google Plus Codes are 10 characters long, which narrow down a location to around 15 metres - sufficient for most addressing uses.

One of the "identifying" features to a Google Plus code is that they contain the character "+" after the 8th character. This was chosen to help identify what the code represents, as well as allow for the first few digits (representing a larger area) to be omitted if the general region is otherwise known by context. This question asked for a 10 digit plus code, which means the area code (general region) cannot be omitted.

A good summary for how Google Plus codes work can be found at https://github.com/google/open-location-code/blob/master/docs/olc_definition.adoc.

In any event, the question is looking for the position of the mouth of the stream. There are many ways to find a Google Plus code for a location, but one of the most straightforward is to just use Google Maps directly. If you go into Google Maps' satellite view, zoom in and click on the location as accurately as possible, Google Maps will put a little pin where you click, and below that will show you the latitude and longitude of the point in a little window. If you click on the latitude and longitude, it will bring up info on that spot on the left, and you'll see the associated "plus code" there. We accepted 4 different answers, for the four locations nearest the mouth of this river.

With such a plus code in hand, Darcy can just give the code to anyone he wants to meet at the location. All they need to do is then type it into the search bar of "Google Maps" from anywhere in the world, and it will allow them to navigate to the exact spot.


Question for Friday April 12, 2019:

While travelling on holidays in Europe, you decide to visit the Louvre in Paris, France. As you wander through the various galleries, a small square of plastic on the floor catches your eye. When you pick it up, you realize it is an SD card that someone must have dropped.

After arriving back in your hotel, you put it in your laptop and realize it contains a family's photos of their vacation. You decide to make it your mission to try and return the card to the family. You look through the pictures to try and find some identifying details, but though you see the same members of the family over and over in the photos, you find you're no closer to finding out who they are or where they are from.

About ready to give up on the situation as hopeless, you mention it to a friend of yours who asks if you've checked any of the metadata in the images. Though you've never heard of such a thing, you definitely don't admit that, but then quickly research on the Internet how to go about doing so. You download a program that lets you view image metadata, and are excited when you see that the owner of the SD card must have been a photography enthusiast - he had his camera configured to add information about the photographer - in particular, the "Creator's Address" field in the metadata of the photos has information!

Your enthusiasm was short-lived, however. When you pulled up the information into your simple metadata viewer, it showed you this to represent the photographer's address:

Obviously, you figure that there must be an encoding problem.

To try and dig further into the problem, you see that your software provides the ability to view the "raw" data. When you do so, it gives you the following information, which it says is in "hexadecimal" format:

38 2F 33 20 D0 9A D0 B5 D0 BC D1 81 D0 BA D0
B0 D1 8F 20 D1 83 D0 BB D0 B8 D1 86 D0 B0 2C
20 D0 A1 D0 B0 D0 BD D0 BA D1 82 2D D0 9F D0
B5 D1 82 D0 B5 D1 80 D0 B1 D1 83 D1 80 D0 B3

You learn that computers can encode text as hexadecimal numbers. One of the original (and most common) encoding methods is something called ASCII, and you learn that your software decodes the metadata information as ASCII. But clearly this isn't right approach to decoding this data.

Try and figure out what encoding scheme is used to store the address information for the photos. Once you've sorted out the person's address and are ready to send the SD card back to the family, what is the name of the island (not the name of the city!) you will you be sending it to? Use characters from the ISO basic Latin alphabet to write your response.

Acceptable answers:
Krestovsky Island
Krestovsky Ostrov
Krestovskij ostrov
Krestovski Island


Internally, computers always work with numbers. The smallest amount of memory in a computer is a 'bit' - a representation of 0 and 1, or on and off. By combining multiple bits, we can make larger numbers. A typical grouping in a computer is a set of 8 bits, called a byte. With 8 bits (8 zeros and ones), we can represent a number from 0–255. More conveniently, sometimes computer scientists prefer to represent these numbers in hexadecimal (a base 16 format where each digit can have one of sixteen values, 0-9 and A-F). Written this way, a group of 8 ones could be written as FF, which represents the number 255 in decimal.

To work with letters, a computer can be told to interpret certain numbers as letters, in what is called an encoding. One of the first encoding methods used in computers was called EBCDIC, developed by IBM, which had its origins with punch cards. It wasn't as convenient for more modern computers to work with, however, so over time ASCII became the default standard.

However, even ASCII eventually began showing its age. Developed by English-speaking computer scientists, it only provided for the encoding of characters in the English alphabet (no accented letters or letters from other languages), which along with punctuation marks and control characters, filled the first 128 values that a byte could hold.

There were multiple competing standards for byte values from 128–255. Since there weren't anywhere near enough possible values to encode all the world's alphabets, different people used those values (sometimes called upper ASCII) to represent different things. There were literally hundreds of different types of encodings that could be used, to represent letters used in different languages. But this lead to a great deal of confusion considering that a person had to know beforehand which encoding was used to properly represent a document with non-English letters. Also, there was no way to combine letters from different encodings into a single document.

The "gibberish" shown when the data was decoded, is as it would have appeared interpreted as ASCII with the standard Macintosh encoding for upper ASCII - clearly not a good representation of an address.

To offset the limitations of ASCII, Unicode was developed in an effort to develop a standard representation that can contain far more than just 256 different characters. Instead of using 8 bits, they used more - 16 bits initially, later extended to up to 24. This allowed for the encoding of millions of characters, enough for all the world's languages.

But the problem is that since it used more than the 8 bits that ASCII used, existing programs which dealt with text would have to be completely rewritten to support Unicode directly. So in 1992, a clever encoding scheme called UTF-8 was developed. Essentially, it would keep the representation of the first 128 values the same as traditional ASCII, so programs which used English text exclusively wouldn't need to be changed (at the time, almost all programs used English text). Then, it would use the "upper ASCII" region to encode higher values, but also flagging to a computer if more bits were required than the ones available in the traditional single byte. By doing so, it solved the problem neatly - all the world's characters could be encoded, but older software that used English text as ASCII wouldn't have to be rewritten. By 2009, UTF-8 had become the dominant encoding method used on the web, and currently UTF-8 (and ASCII, which is now effectively a subset of UTF-8) accounts for nearly 99% of all web encodings.

As you may have guessed by now, the hexadecimal data was UTF-8 encoded. If you were to enter it into an online decoder (or decode it by hand - try it sometime, it's actually quite fun!), you would have seen that it represented the following text:

8/3 Кемская улица, Санкт-Петербург

You may deduce that the language is in Russian - at any rate, entering it into a resource like Google Translate will give you an address of:

8/3 Kemskaya Street, St. Petersburg

Entering the address into a resource like Google Maps will bring you to an apartment building in St. Petersburg. Further investigation will show that the island it is on is named Krestovsky Island (if you answered Krestovsky Ostrov, we accepted that too - Ostrov just means Island in Russian). The reference to "the ISO basic Latin alphabet" just means to use the regular characters you are used to typing in English - the name of the island, written in Russian, is Крестовский остров, but most participants would likely have a difficult time in typing that for their response! Instead, we wanted the standard transliterated (written using the closest corresponding letters of English) version of the name.


Question for Saturday April 13, 2019:


Acceptable answers:
Westdale Secondary School
Westdale Secondary



In Frozen - the Broadway Musical, the actress who sings the song "Monster" is Caissie Levy (who plays Elsa). Caissie graduated from Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1999.