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Noggin Hoggin' Challenge Starting on Monday May 4, 2009

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)
Created in 1935, a particular game's goal is the domination of a market by a single person. Using the standard game board playable in 1970, how much money would you have if you added up the purchase values of all the properties, subtracted the amount of money dealt to a player at the beginning of the game, and divided the answer by the amount of money you would receive if you won second prize in a beauty contest?

Acceptable answers:
419 dollars
$ 419.00

750 million people have played Monopoly since it was patented in 1935 by Charles Darrow. The total value of all the properties on the game board is $5690. Each player starts the game with $1500. When a player picks up the card that tells them they won second prize in a beauty contest, they are awarded $10.

($5690 - $1500) ÷ $10 = $419


Question for Monday May 4, 2009:
Sarah went to rent a DVD, and paid the cashier with a $5 bill. The change she received back is hidden in the picture below:


How much did it cost to rent the DVD?

Hint: The change hidden in the picture is actually quite big in size, not small. If you are stumped as to how to find the change hidden in the picture, ask your friends, parents, or teachers for help. Someone you know is almost guaranteed to know how to see it. And remember, it's not too late for your friends to sign up to the Noggin Hoggin' Challenge today themselves if they haven't already!

Acceptable answers:

The key to solving this question is to find the amount of money hidden in the picture.

In 1971, Hungarian neuroscientist Béla Julesz published a book called Foundations of Cyclopean Perception. In it, he described a phenomenon he discovered where two pairs of random dot patterns are observed with each eye separately. If a some of those dots are offset horizontally between the two pictures, they would give the illusion of a three dimensional image where they were at a different depth than the others. He referred to this phenomenon as "Cyclopean Vision", and the diagrams became known as "Random Dot Stereograms".

In 1979, Christopher Tyler, a student of his, refined the technique to provide the same effect within a single image instead of two. The resulting pictures became known as "Random Dot Autostereograms" or "Single Image Random Dot Stereograms". It also was later discovered that random dots were not entirely necessary in autostereograms, but rather any repeating pattern with a large amount of detail could be used.

In the early 1990s, Random Dot Autostereograms became wildly popular with the "Magic Eye" series of books and posters. Like other fads, it was seen virtually everywhere for awhile, and then faded from popularity. If you have never seen a picture like this before, it is almost certain that those a bit older than you have - the phenomenon was almost impossible to avoid.

To see the hidden picture in the image, view your computer monitor from a regular distance, and then try and focus your eyes to a point behind the screen. What you are trying to do is actually become "wall-eyed", the opposite of "cross-eyed" - you are trying to make your eyes look straight ahead instead of focusing on the relatively nearby monitor. It may take a bit of practice, but most people can learn to do it, usually within just a few minutes.

The two small squares at the bottom of the picture can help you out. You want to have your left eye looking directly at the left square and your right eye looking directly at the right square. When they are properly aligned, you will see what appears to be three squares along the bottom. Once this is so, slowly move your eyes upwards to the rest of the picture, and the following three dimensional shape should materialize in front of your computer monitor:

Once this can be seen, the rest of the problem becomes basic arithmetic. If Sarah paid the cashier with a $5 bill and received back 25 cents in change, the cost of renting the DVD was $4.75.


Question for Tuesday May 5, 2009:
A sound recording was made at the conclusion of an expedition carried out quite some time ago.

You should see a button above which you can click on to play the sound. If not, you will need a relatively up-to-date web browser with Flash installed to hear the recording.

In what city would you find the largest accessible remnant of this expedition?

Acceptable answers:
Houston, TX
Houston, Texas
Houston Texas

Well known are the first words spoken by Neil Armstrong when man first set foot on the Moon: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind". But less well known are the last words ever spoken on the surface of the Moon, right before astronaut Gene Cernan climbed onto the ladder of the lunar lander:

Bob, this is Gene, and I'm on the surface; and, as I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come - but we believe not too long into the future - I'd like to just (say) what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. "Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."

Man last set foot on the Moon on December 11, 1972 - 37 years ago, with Apollo 17. Very few people at the time suspected it would be so long before we returned - we're still working to duplicate what mankind once managed to accomplish decades ago.

Currently, NASA is working on the Orion spacecraft, shaped similarly to the Apollo capsules, but three times larger. It is intended to be reused up to 10 times. Initially, it will be launched on the Ares I rocket (also under development) for trips to the International Space Station and Low Earth Orbit once the Space Shuttle is phased out. Later, it will be launched on an Ares V rocket, which will have sufficient power to travel to the Moon, and eventually Mars.

NASA plans to have man return to the Moon by 2019, but a lot remains to be done between now and then. Though the timeline may be adjusted periodically, the next decade promises to be a very interesting time for human spaceflight.

The largest surviving and accessible remnant of the Apollo 17 mission is the Command Module "America", which splashed down back on Earth on December 19, 1972, carrying the three Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt (larger pieces associated with the Apollo 17 mission exist, but they either remain on the Moon or at the bottom of the ocean). The Apollo 17 Command Module is currently located at NASA's Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. All other command modules from the previous Apollo missions are located at various other locations throughout the United States.


Question for Wednesday May 6, 2009:
For almost as long as mankind has been around, we have tried to understand as much as we can about the world and universe we find ourselves in. In recent years, giant leaps and strides have been made towards this.

Sometimes discoveries are made purely by chance. In 1964, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were working at Bell Labs on developing a new, highly sensitive antenna. But they discovered that the antenna picked up a noise they just couldn't explain, which came through as a type of static. They tried everything they could think of to determine where this noise came from. The noise was the same in every direction, no matter which way they pointed their antenna, so they reasoned that it wasn't coming from space. They thought that perhaps it originated from nearby New York City, but eliminated that possibility too. Eventually, they discovered a lot of pigeon droppings in their antenna and thought that may have been causing the problem. But frustratingly, even after everything was immaculately cleaned, the noise remained.

When all other options had been eliminated, they were forced to conclude that the noise came from everywhere in the universe at once, and published a paper about their findings. It was later identified to be "cosmic microwave background radiation" - left over energy from when the universe began in the Big Bang. Penzias and Wilson later received the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery.

In 1989, a satellite named COBE was launched to try and help understand what the universe was like billions of years ago, just shortly after the Big Bang. One of the things it did was to measure this background radiation, and in doing so, it made a startling discovery. Previously, it was thought that this radiation (which is an indication of the 'temperature' of space) was the same in all directions, however, it found small fluctuations. Astronomers were later able to identify these as "seeds" from which galaxies, and ultimately our Sun, the Earth, and even us, were formed.

Above: A map from COBE showing temperature fluctuations throughout the entire universe

In 2001, a new satellite was launched, headed by the scientist who was the deputy principal investigator on one of COBE's experiments called the "Differential Microwave Radiometer". This new satellite greatly refined the measurements made by COBE, and enabled astronomers to calculate things like the age of the universe and its composition to unprecedented, and currently unsurpassed, accuracy. It also helped provide evidence that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating, not gradually slowing down as would be expected from any other conventional explosion we are familiar with. Scientists still have no concrete idea of what is causing this.

What do scientists currently consider to be the most accurate estimate of the age of the universe? Express your answer in billions of years, rounded to the nearest hundred million years.

Acceptable answers:
13.7 billion years
13.7 billion
13 700 000 000
13 700 000 000 years

As it mentions in the second to last paragraph, the successor satellite to COBE was able to calculate the age of the universe to unprecedented, and currently unsurpassed, accuracy. Therefore, we first have to determine what satellite is being referred to in order to determine the current most accurate estimate of the age of the universe.

The deputy principal investigator for COBE's Differential Microwave Radiometer was Dr. Charles Bennett. He later went on to become the principal investigator for the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), launched on June 30, 2001.

This highly successful mission has produced an unparalleled wealth of valuable information to cosmologists trying to understand the structure and origins of the universe.

In 2003, based on the first year's data collected from the probe, scientists calculated an estimated age of the universe to be 13.4 ± 0.3 billion years. In 2006, after having collected data for three years, they refined their estimate to 13.73 ± 0.16 billion years. Finally, in 2008, a further revised estimate of 13.73 ± 0.12 billion years was published. Rounded to the nearest hundred million years, the answer we are looking for is therefore 13.7 billion years.

Despite the original 2 year planned lifetime of WMAP, it is still going strong 8 years later. It is hoped to continue operation until September 2009, or possibly longer if further mission extensions are granted.

A successor to WMAP is due to be launched by the European Space Agency on May 14, 2009 - only a week away. The Planck spacecraft will lift off from French Guiana to study the cosmic microwave background to an even higher level of sensitivity and detail than WMAP is capable of.


Question for Thursday May 7, 2009:
A 19th century American poet penned an epic poem based on an important event in Canadian history. Two beautiful statues, located in Nova Scotia and Louisiana, commemorate the story's tragic heroine, a symbol of suffering and endurance.

It has been widely told and believed that this fictionalized work was actually based on the thwarted love of two "real-life" individuals. It has been proven, however, that even those individuals are equally fictitious. Nevertheless, there stands to this day a living monument representing the location where this second pair was supposedly reunited. If you were to travel to this site, you are likely to find a musician playing the accordion. What is his last name? (Do not include French accents)

Acceptable answers:


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was one of the most popular American poets of his time. He was part of the romantic literary movement and wrote in a lyrical style. "Evangeline", a long narrative poem, is one of his most famous works. It is a work of fiction about the tragic lost love of two Acadians following The Deportation, or Great Upheaval.

In 1755, after failing to secure the allegiance (by oath) of the 23,000 French Acadians living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the ruling British government ordered their expulsion from the territory. The Acadians were loaded onto prison ships and deported to various places including France, Britain and Louisiana. Thousands died on the trip. Families were torn apart, farmland, towns and homes were either seized and granted to British immigrants or burned to the ground.

Longfellow, who had never even been to Nova Scotia, learned about the fate of the Acadians through a friend and was so moved by the tragic events that he penned "Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie" (1847) in response. The epic poem follows Evangeline, the story's heroine, as she spends a lifetime in search of her fiancé, Gabriel, from whom she was separated during The Deportation. Although she comes close to finding him on a number of occasions, they are ultimately only reunited when she finds him on his death bed, and he dies in her arms.

The tragic story of Evangeline has been adopted into the Nova Scotian and Cajun cultures and stands as a cultural symbol of perseverance and determination. Two beautiful statues of the heroine have been erected, one in Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia, and the second in St. Martinville, Louisiana.

Grand-Pré, NSSt. Martinville, LA

Following the success of Longfellow's poem, other writers and historians expanded on the subject making claims about the "real life names" of Evangeline and Gabriel. Since many loved ones had been torn apart by the Great Upheaval, a great number of Acadian families had passed similar stories down through the generations and sincerely believed, or hoped, that Evangeline may have been based on their family story.

One such claim, which was widely accepted as historically accurate for some time, held that Evangeline Bellefontaine was really "Emmeline LaBiche" and that Gabriel Lajeunesse was actually "Louis Arceneaux". They have since been proven to be equally fictitious characters. Nevertheless, the story of Emmeline and Louis has also infused itself into the Cajun culture and an oak tree under which they were supposedly reunited stands in St. Martinville, Louisiana. This tree, known as the Evangeline Oak, is actually the third to bear this name as the first two died and had to be replaced.

On Mondays through Saturdays in Evangeline Oak Park, when the weather is good, you will usually find Mr. Ophé Roméro there, playing his accordion.


Question for Friday May 8, 2009:
One of the most fundamental areas of research for paleoanthropologists is to try and learn details of the origin of humans. Of particular interest is determining at what point in history humans and their ancestors first came on the scene and what they were like.

The scientific classification of modern humans is "homo sapiens", which is our genus and species. In the early 1960s, a prominent paleoanthropologist discovered what he claimed to be the earliest example of the genus "Homo", living about 2 million years ago. But his classification of that fossil would be disputed, by none other than a member of his own family. One of his sons had reluctantly followed in his father's career choice, but had gone on to become famous and respected in his own right. Often running into conflict with his father, he maintains that this species' small size and primitive attributes make it more suitable for inclusion with the genus "Australopithecus".

Science and discovery were always a part of the family's experiences as the children grew up, and another of his sons also became a world-renowned scientist, though in a different line. What did this other son become an expert in?

Acceptable answers:
tropical plant pathology

Between 1962 and 1964, renowned paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey and his wife Mary found various fossils in Tanzania which led them to realize they were looking at a new species of early man. They named it "Homo habilis". Their equally renowned son, Richard Leakey, feels that it exhibits traits more similar to Australopithecus, and should therefore be called "Australopithecus habilis". What is agreed upon, however, is that the species does represent a transition from the genus "Australopithecus" to "Homo", and it is this which makes it scientifically significant.

Louis had four sons - Colin with his first wife Frida, and Richard, Jonathan, and Philip with his second wife Mary. Despite originally rebelling against following in his father's footsteps, Richard went on to be a very prominent paleoanthropologist. Jonathan started up a company to distribute and export snake venom and medicinal plant materials, and is an internationally recognized herpetologist. Philip got involved in politics within the Kenyan Parliament, and then went on to export handicrafts made by the Maasai people of Tanzania. Colin became a plant scientist in the UK, and is a world leading expert in beans, having published 24 papers on the subject.

Since Colin and Jonathan are both internationally known in their respective fields, we accept answers relating to either of their areas of expertise.


Question for Saturday May 9, 2009:
People around the world have long struggled with infestations of rats moving into areas of human occupation. History has shown them to be a true pest, contaminating untold quantities of food. Their tunneling undermines foundations of buildings, sewer infrastructure, and water lines. Their ability to gnaw results in holes in floors, walls, and insulation. The negative reputation of rats was cemented when it became known as a carrier of the flea that spread bubonic plague throughout Europe and Asia.

Believed to have originated in Northern China, the brown rat has now spread to all continents except Antarctica, and is considered to be the most successful mammal on the planet other than humans. Alberta is the only place in North America where rats do not live. In fact, the only other areas in the world free of brown rats are the Arctic, Antarctic, a few conservation areas in New Zealand, and some very isolated islands. In the 1950's as the rat spread across North America, Alberta put into place an aggressive plan to keep rats from migrating across its borders. To this day, the province maintains a strong rat patrol program along the Alberta - Saskatchewan border from the edge of the USA up to Cold Lake.

Nonetheless, there is a place in Alberta associated with rats to which adventurists flock. Getting down and dirty with the rats is an unforgettable experience. To visit this place, one must be accompanied by a tour guide. To meet the tour guide you first need to assemble at:

51° 5' 29" N
115° 21' 16" W

Part of the journey involves navigating through a passage named after a weekly household chore. What is its name?

Acceptable answers:
Laundry Chute
The Laundry Chute

The geographical location referred to in this question is a parking lot in Canmore, Alberta. It is there that public guided tours of Rat's Nest Cave in nearby Grotto Mountain start.

Rat's Nest Cave is home to pack rats - the only rats in Alberta allowed to survive in their natural environment, largely because of the unlikelihood of their spreading beyond the well defined ecosystem they find themselves in there.

The cave itself is truly a showpiece of the Canadian Rockies, though still relatively unknown. It is not a "developed" cave with lights, handrails, stairways, and such, but left in its fully natural, and largely pristine state. Yet, accompanied by a guide, even those who have never entered a cave before can enjoy an unforgettable and educational experience.

Just inside the entrance to the cave is a pit in which countless bones of animals can be found, some up to 7000 years old. Further inside, cavers can squeeze through a narrow, mostly vertical passage called the "Laundry Chute" which connects the upper system of caves with a lower level. Though not a place for those with extreme claustrophobia, it is surprisingly accessible to anyone with an adventurous spirit.


Question for Sunday May 10, 2009:

You have grown up to be an airline pilot. All your studying has paid off and you are now able to travel the world while being paid to do it.

This week you have been assigned a new route to fly between 6 international airports. Their locations are listed below:

Flight Departing FromArriving At
A45°30'19"N 012°21'07"E55°57'00"N 003°22'21"W
B55°57'00"N 003°22'21"W41°23'00"N 002°11'00"E
C41°23'00"N 002°11'00"E47°26'22"N 019°15'43"E
D47°26'22"N 019°15'43"E46°14'13"N 006°06'32"E
E46°14'13"N 006°06'32"E59°39'07"N 017°55'07"E
F59°39'07"N 017°55'07"E45°30'19"N 012°21'07"E

What is the name of the largest city serviced by the airport you will be landing at after flying the flight which is the longest distance, assuming that air traffic control allows you to fly directly between each airport?

Acceptable answers:
Stockholm, Sweden

Unconstrained by roads and bodies of water, travel by air has the advantage of being able to allow a pilot to fly in a straight line between two points. Since the Earth's surface is curved, however, a true straight line on a globe may appear as a curved line when plotted on a conventional flat map, which can be seen in the following map showing the flying you would do between the points specified.

These straight lines between points on a globe are called "Great Circle Routes", and there are many online calculators that allow you to calculate great circle distances. Doing so will yield the following results:


A1600 km
B1669 km
C1513 km
D1011 km
E1685 km
F1617 km

If you determined similar results, but found you were off by a few kilometers, you likely used a great circle calculator that assumed the Earth was perfectly spherical. Such calculations are considerably easier to do, but since the Earth is a bit flattened at the poles, they are not quite as accurate as those which take the true shape of the Earth into account (which the distances above do). Regardless, you should still have determined the same flight as being the longest of the six.

The longest leg is flight E, which ends up at the geographical latitude and longitude of 59°39'07"N 017°55'07"E. At this location, you will find the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport. The largest city serviced by this airport is Stockholm, Sweden.