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Noggin Hoggin' Challenge Starting on Monday June 8, 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)
Past challenge questions have talked about the age of the universe and the age of the branch of life that started the genus that ended up as humans. Assuming the ages discussed to be exact, if the lifetime of the universe rounded to the nearest hundred million years were compressed into one year, how many seconds ago would our early ancestors have appeared? Round your answer to the nearest second, and keep in mind that in the late 1500s, the way we define our year was changed, and it may now refer to a different length of time than you might expect.

Acceptable answers:
4607 seconds
4,607 seconds

The first step of the problem is to look back at past Noggin Hoggin' Challenge questions to determine what was discussed about the ages of the universe, and that of our genus (Homo). You will find those to be 13.7 billion years, and 2 million years, respectively.

If the lifetime of the universe was to be compressed into one year, those 13.7 billion years would be sped up into one. As such, the 2 million years would now become:

2,000,000 ÷ 13,700,000,000 = 0.0001459854 years

Don't forget that since we want our final answer to be to the nearest second, it is important that we keep as many significant digits as possible in our intermediate calculations.

Now, we have to determine how many seconds there are in a year, which we can do by finding out how many days there are in a year. If you thought there were 365 days in a year, you forgot about leap years. Thousands of years ago, we realized that the true length of a year was much closer to 365.25 days. So in 45 BC, Julius Caesar created the basis of the calendar we now use, and introduced the concept of leap years. Every 4 years, an extra day is added at the end of February, making the average length of a year 365.25 days. This was called the Julian calendar.

This worked reasonably well for awhile, but after about 1500 years, people realized that the calendar was slowly drifting away from the seasons. The reason was because the year still wasn't exactly 365.25 days long.

So in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decided to do something about it. He decreed that Thursday, October 4, 1582 would be followed directly by Friday, October 15, 1582, effectively dropping 10 days and bringing the calendar back in step with the seasons. He also decided that the decision to have a leap year every 4 years would have to be changed if the problem were to be avoided in the future. So instead, he decided that any year that is divisible by 4 is a leap year, unless it is a century year (divisible by 100), unless it is also divisible by 400. With this approach, years like 1804, 1904, 2004, 2104, etc. would all be leap years. But the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 would not be leap years (they would have been so in the old Julian calendar). But 1600, 2000, and 2400 would still remain as leap years. Most people lived through February 29, 2000 as a leap year day like all the ones they experienced every 4 years prior to that, without realizing that if the year 2000 were not divisible by 400, there would not have been a February 29, 2000 and we would have gone 8 years between leap years. This is exactly what happened 100 years earlier in 1900.

Not all countries adopted this Gregorian calendar at the same time, but now everyone follows it and it is considered an international standard. In any case, the average year length in the Gregorian Calendar (which we now use) is exactly 365.2425 days.

Now that we know this, we can calculate that the 0.0001459854 years that we determined previously is equivalent to:

0.0001459854 years × 365.2425 = 0.05332007 days
0.0533207 days × 24 = 1.27968 hours
1.27968 hours × 60 = 76.7809 minutes
76.7809 minutes × 60 = 4606.85 seconds

This rounds to 4607 seconds, the number we are looking for. Fortunately, the difference between a Julian and a Gregorian year isn't that large, and if you were to have used a Julian year length of 365.25 days, the answer would have rounded to the same number of seconds. But give yourself a pat on the back if in your research for this question you learned the difference between Julian and Gregorian years.


Question for Monday June 8, 2009:

I have been a privately owned island in the Pacific Ocean since the mid 1800s when I was purchased for $10,000 in gold. I have an area of 180 km2 and my highest point is 381 m above sea level. I am relatively arid as I am situated in the rain shadow of a much larger island.

My native population was measured at 350 in the late 1800s, though it had dropped to 160 inhabitants in 2000. I am considered forbidden to most people, as only relatives of the island's owners, a few government officials, and invited guests are allowed to visit.

You would have reason to think that I was the mystery island on which the fictitious Swiss Family Robinson found themselves shipwrecked, but I am not.

What is my name?

Acceptable answers:
Ni'ihau Island
Niihau Island
Nihau Island


Known as the Forbidden Isle, Ni'ihau (pronouced "Nee-ee-how") is located in the Pacific Ocean in the Hawaiian chain of islands. It is the smallest inhabited Hawaiian island in the chain.

In 1864, Elizabeth Sinclair-Robinson purchased Ni'ihau and parts of Kaua'i from King Kamehameha of Hawaii for $10,000 in gold. When purchased, Elizabeth made a commitment to the maintenance of the Hawaiian culture on the island. The island is currently run by Bruce and Keith Robinson. Keith Robinson has worked hard to keep numerous plants from becoming extinct. Keith has expressed concern about his family's ability to continue to maintain the island's private ownership due to pressures from government and environmental groups. The island is heavily taxed.

This island maintains many of the traditional ways of life, fishing and hunting for their main staples. Some of the diet is supplemented with supplies brought in by the owners of the island. Most of the inhabitants converse in the traditional Hawaiian language. In fact, Ni'ihau is the only Hawaiian Island which considers the Hawaiian language to be a primary language.

The Robinsons have been offered over 1 billion dollars US for Ni'ihau, but have turned it down. They repeatedly express hope to keep Ni'ihau to preserve the environment and traditions of the 150 to 200 native Hawaiian inhabitants. The Robinsons have spent millions of dollars to keep locals employed, housed, and fed in times of need. They have used their profits from agricultural companies on the neighbouring island of Kaua'i to subsidize the locals.


Question for Tuesday June 9, 2009:
There is a contemporary Canadian fiction writer who is world renowned and one of the most acclaimed and honoured authors of our time. Amazingly, this person was not regularly or formally schooled until the age of eleven! This novelist and poet's works and research have theorized about, and greatly contributed to, the dialogue on Canadian identity.

Most recently, this individual has been asked to write the libretto for an opera based on the life of another noteworthy, but lesser-known, Canadian author. This second individual was also commemorated, on the hundredth year since their birth, with an illustration of his or her engraved likeness on what object?

Acceptable answers:
a stamp
postage stamp
a postage stamp


Margaret Eleanor Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist born in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1939. She is the recipient of more than 55 prestigious awards and honourary degrees, both nationally and internationally. Her most notable works include The Handmaid's Tale, Cat's Eye, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake, and Surfacing.

Although she was born in Ottawa, Ms. Atwood spent most of her childhood in the northern backwoods of Québec and, therefore, did not attend school full-time until she was 11 years old. She began writing when she was only six years old and knew that she wanted to be a professional writer by the age of 16.

In addition to her contributions as a novelist and poet, Ms. Atwood has authored a number of works theorizing on Canadian identity and its expression through Canadian literature. She is also an outspoken political activist with strong views on environmental issues.

In March of 2008, it was announced that Ms. Atwood had accepted the task of writing the libretto for her first chamber opera commission "Pauline". This opera is based on the life of Emily Pauline Johnson, a Canadian writer, performer and artist that lived between 1861 and 1913.

Notably, Miss Pauline Johnson was of mixed race and very much in touch with both the Mohawk and English aspects of her family heritage. Her work, including the well-known poem "The Song My Paddle Sings", greatly contributed to the conception of a distinct Canadian literature.

Her memory has been honoured by the erection of a monument in Vancouver's Stanley Park in 1922, as well as the release of a commemorative stamp bearing her image in 1961, on the centenary of her birth. Incidentally, this made her the first woman, other than the Queen, to have her likeness immortalized on a stamp.


Question for Wednesday June 10, 2009:
On a flight between Toronto International and Calgary International Airports, the First Officer requests the current enroute weather conditions. He soon receives the following information via a digital link in the plane:


METAR CYYZ 032000Z 31012G17KT 15SM SCT056 BKN074 BKN240 18/07 A3003 RMK CU3AC2CI1 SLP171
METAR CYYZ 031900Z 14008KT 15SM SCT053 BKN078 OVC250 16/07 A3003 RMK CU3AC2CI2 SLP172
METAR CYYZ 031800Z 14008KT 15SM BKN052 OVC250 16/07 A3005 RMK CU5CI2 SLP178
METAR CYTZ 032000Z AUTO 23003KT 9SM FEW063 SCT070 14/06 A3003 RMK SLP170
METAR CYTZ 031900Z AUTO 21005KT 9SM FEW068 FEW097 13/07 A3004 RMK SLP173
METAR CYTZ 031800Z AUTO 19005KT 9SM FEW060 FEW070 FEW090 13/08 A3006 RMK SLP180
METAR CYHM 032000Z 28007KT 15SM BKN054 BKN250 18/08 A3005 RMK SC5CS2 CU ASOCTD SLP177
METAR CYHM 031800Z 32008KT 15SM FEW042 BKN250 18/09 A3007 RMK CU2CS5 SUN DMLY VSBL SLP184
METAR CYSN 032000Z 26006KT 15SM FEW055 OVC250 20/09 A3003 RMK SC2CI6 SLP169
METAR CYSN 031900Z 26006KT 15SM FEW050 FEW160 OVC240 19/08 A3004 RMK SC1AC1CI6 SLP173
METAR CYSN 031800Z 00000KT 15SM FEW050 BKN240 17/06 A3007 RMK SC1CI6 SLP182
METAR CYKZ 032000Z 25007KT 15SM SCT055 SCT066 BKN260 19/07 A3002 RMK CU3AC1CI2 SLP168
METAR CYKZ 031900Z 25004KT 15SM SCT051 BKN071 BKN260 19/08 A3003 RMK CU3AC2CI1 SLP170
METAR CYKZ 031800Z 27008KT 15SM SCT046 BKN069 BKN260 20/08 A3004 RMK CU4AC2CI1 SLP174
METAR CYKF 032000Z AUTO 28011G16KT 9SM FEW040 FEW084 16/08 A3006 RMK SLP176
METAR CYKF 031900Z AUTO 31010KT 17/08 A3006 RMK SLP178
METAR CYKF 031800Z AUTO 29011G16KT 9SM FEW040 FEW061 FEW079 17/09 A3007 RMK SLP182
METAR CYBN 032000Z AUTO 33012KT 9SM FEW091 15/06 A3005 RMK SLP181
METAR CYBN 031900Z AUTO 35014KT 9SM CLR 15/06 A3005 RMK SLP181
METAR CYBN 031800Z 32010G15KT 10SM FEW040 BKN250 16/06 A3006 RMK CF1CI0 LAST STFD OBS/NXT 041100 UTC SLP185
METAR CYVV 032000Z 26007KT 15SM FEW025 FEW250 12/06 A3010 RMK CU1CI0 SLP198
METAR CYVV 031900Z 27008KT 15SM FEW025 FEW250 11/05 A3010 RMK CU1CI1 SLP199
METAR CYVV 031800Z 27010KT 15SM FEW025 FEW250 12/05 A3010 RMK CU1CI1 TR CU SLP200
METAR CYAM 032000Z 30014G21KT 15SM SKC 11/M00 A3017 RMK SLP222
METAR CYAM 031900Z 30015KT 15SM FEW030 11/01 A3018 RMK CF1 SLP225
METAR CYAM 031800Z 30012KT 15SM FEW030 10/03 A3018 RMK CF1 SLP227
METAR CYWG 032000Z 28010G20KT 15SM FEW050 BKN080 OVC140 21/M01 A3004 RMK CU1AC5AS2 SLP178
METAR CYWG 031900Z 30013G18KT 15SM FEW050 BKN100 BKN250 21/M01 A3006 RMK CU2AC4CI1 SLP183
METAR CYWG 031800Z 29015KT 15SM FEW080 BKN260 22/01 A3009 RMK CU2CI2 SLP192
METAR CYPG 032000Z 29016G21KT 15SM FEW060 SCT090 BKN250 22/M00 A3006 RMK SC2AC2CI3 SLP186
METAR CYPG 031900Z 24012KT 210V280 15SM FEW084 BKN250 22/00 A3008 RMK CU2CI2 SLP192
METAR CYPG 031800Z 24012G18KT 170V260 15SM FEW065 BKN250 22/01 A3010 RMK CU2CI2 SLP199
METAR CYBR 032000Z 29011KT 15SM FEW100 OVC260 22/M01 A3006 RMK CU2CI4 SLP190
METAR CYBR 031900Z 26014G19KT 15SM FEW090 OVC260 22/M01 A3009 RMK CU2CI4 SLP199
METAR CYBR 031800Z 26007KT 15SM FEW080 OVC260 22/M01 A3012 RMK CU1CI4 SLP208
METAR CYEN 032000Z 29012KT 15SM FEW092 FEW270 22/M01 A3014 RMK CU1CI0 SLP217
METAR CYEN 031900Z 27006KT 15SM FEW092 FEW270 21/M02 A3016 RMK CU1CI0 SLP223
METAR CYEN 031800Z 28015G22KT 15SM FEW088 FEW260 21/M02 A3018 RMK CU1CI0 SLP229
METAR CYQR 032000Z 30019G24KT 15SM FEW100 BKN300 23/M02 A3009 RMK CU2CI0 SLP202
METAR CYQR 031900Z 28009G26KT 15SM FEW089 FEW300 23/M02 A3012 RMK CF1CI1 SLP211
METAR CYQR 031800Z 27018G25KT 15SM FEW100 BKN300 22/M03 A3014 RMK AC1CI1 CONTRAILS SLP217
METAR CYMJ 032000Z 30014G20KT 15SM FEW100 BKN270 23/M02 A3012 RMK CF1CI2 SLP209
METAR CYMJ 031900Z 25009G17KT 15SM FEW096 BKN270 22/M02 A3014 RMK CF1CI2 SLP216
METAR CYMJ 031800Z 27008G16KT 15SM FEW096 BKN270 22/M02 A3017 RMK CF1CI2 SLP224
METAR CYYN 032000Z AUTO 28015KT 9SM CLR 22/M03 A3015 RMK SLP214
SPECI CYYN 031938Z AUTO 31012G18KT 9SM CLR 21/M04 A3017
METAR CYYN 031900Z AUTO 26003G16KT 9SM CLR 20/M04 A3018 RMK SLP224
METAR CYYN 031800Z AUTO 27005KT 9SM FEW087 19/M04 A3019 RMK SLP230
METAR CYKY 032000Z 28012KT 15SM FEW060 FEW100 BKN260 23/M04 A3011 RMK CU1AC1CI0 SLP204
METAR CYKY 031900Z 24014KT 15SM FEW060 BKN260 23/M04 A3014 RMK CU1CI1 SLP211
METAR CYKY 031800Z 24012KT 15SM FEW090 BKN260 22/M04 A3015 RMK AC1CI0 SLP217
METAR CYSD 032000Z 24012KT 25SM BKN270 22/M03 A3018 RMK CI2 SLP220
METAR CYSD 031900Z 23005KT 25SM SCT270 20/M02 A3020 RMK CI1 SLP225
METAR CYSD 031800Z 21009KT 25SM FEW270 20/00 A3022 RMK CI0 SLP231
METAR CYYC 032000Z 04007KT 40SM FEW260 21/M03 A3018 RMK CI1 SLP225
METAR CYYC 031900Z 03004KT 40SM FEW260 21/M03 A3019 RMK CI1 SLP230
METAR CYYC 031800Z 03004KT 40SM FEW220 20/M01 A3020 RMK CI1 SLP232
METAR CYBW 032000Z 05006KT 30SM FEW240 20/M02 A3019 RMK CI1 SLP231
METAR CYBW 031900Z CCA 36002KT 30SM SKC 19/M02 A3020 RMK HZ SLP235
METAR CYBW 031900Z 36002KT 30SM SKC 19/M02 A3020 RMK SLP235
METAR CYBW 031800Z 36004KT 30SM FEW230 18/M02 A3021 RMK CI1 HZ W SLP238

Since most of the passengers happen to be Americans, he would like to announce the weather they can expect when they land, in terms familiar to them. What is the most recent temperature reported for the destination of the flight, expressed in degrees Fahrenheit? Just write the number by itself rounded to the nearest degree - do not include units.

Acceptable answers:

Current weather conditions for pilots are issued in a format known as a METAR. Surprisingly, though the format was first used as recently as 1968, precisely how the term "METAR" originated is lost to history. It is suspected that it may have been contracted from the French MÉTéorologique Aviation Régulière, and is now a standard format used all over the world.

It should have been reasonably straightforward to determine what the format is called, since nearly every line in the weather report starts with "METAR". But in order to decode it, you will have to have found a reference that describes the format in more detail. There are lots of online resources that do so, such as the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metar.

The METARs listed contain current weather for various airports along the flight path. We are interested in the weather information for Calgary International Airport. In learning how to decode a METAR, you will see that the first item of information after the word "METAR" itself is something called the ICAO airport code. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is responsible for defining four letter codes to airports around the world. The ICAO code for Calgary International Airport is CYYC.

Incidentally, if you have flown before, you may be more familiar with three letter codes. These are known as IATA (International Air Transport Association) codes. For example, the IATA code for Calgary International is YYC and that for Toronto International is YYZ. The reason there are two standards is that IATA codes came first and are what people became familiar with, but there soon grew to be too many airports around the world to be uniquely identified by just three letters - some smaller airports don't receive an IATA code at all. ICAO assigns every single airport in the world a unique four letter code, for the most part trying to make them similar to their IATA codes (for example, all ICAO airport codes in Canada start with the letter 'C' and are then followed by their three letter IATA code if they have one. In the continental United States, a similar pattern is followed by prefixing their IATA code with a 'K'). This pattern unfortunately doesn't work everywhere - for example, London Heathrow Airport's IATA code is LHR, whereas its ICAO code is EGLL. In any case, though IATA codes are more well known by passengers, ICAO codes are used by pilots for flight planning and weather due to their more global relevance. Fortunately for this question, the distinction can be largely overlooked since CYYC and YYC are so similar.

In any case, looking only for the weather at Calgary International, our search is limited to the following lines:

METAR CYYC 032000Z 04007KT 40SM FEW260 21/M03 A3018 RMK CI1 SLP225
METAR CYYC 031900Z 03004KT 40SM FEW260 21/M03 A3019 RMK CI1 SLP230
METAR CYYC 031800Z 03004KT 40SM FEW220 20/M01 A3020 RMK CI1 SLP232

Note that if you simply picked the last entry in the list assuming it to be the destination, you will actually get the weather for CYBW, which is Springbank Airport, a bit west of Calgary and past the destination.

The question asks to find the most recent weather reported for Calgary. The second item of information in a METAR is the time it is valid for, in the format of day, hour, and minute followed by a 'Z' to indicate "Zulu time", or GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Converting the time in GMT to that in Calgary fortunately isn't necessary though, as we just need to find the latest time. In this case, it is the first line reported for Calgary, which was taken on the third day of the month, at 20:00 GMT (which incidentally does convert to 2:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time).

Now that we've narrowed down on the specific weather report we need, we continue to follow it across a few fields dealing with wind direction, visibility, and cloud cover, and then end up at 21/M03. This specifies the temperature (21°C) and dewpoint (–3°C).

Incidentally, conventions used in aviation have been standardized across the world, due to the international nature of many flights. But this official standardization uses neither metric nor imperial units exclusively, but rather a combination. An airplane's height above sea level is always expressed in feet, not metres (even in Canada). Distances on the ground (such as visibility - how far a pilot can see in hazy conditions) are given in miles. But temperatures are always given in Celsius, not Fahrenheit. And just to add a further bit of confusion, the speed of an aircraft is given in nautical miles per hour (knots), not miles per hour or kilometres per hour.

So, we just have to convert the temperature from 21°C into its equivalent Fahrenheit representation. Various online calculators can do this, but to do it manually:

°F = °C × + 32
°F = 21 × + 32
°F = 69.8

Rounded to the nearest degree as the question asked leaves us with an answer of 70.


Question for Thursday June 11, 2009:
To hear today's question, turn on your computer speakers and then click on the little "play" triangle button below. Then provide your answer to that question in the blank.

Acceptable answers:

This question is provided entirely in Morse Code, a communications system invented by Samuel Morse in the 1840s, and still used to this day. It encodes characters as various combinations of short signals (dots) and long signals (dashes). If you are to listen to the Morse Code, write down the various sounds as groups of dots and dashes, then consult a table to convert those into letters, you will end up with the following:












Or, put all together:


On December 19, 1846, the first message was transmitted in Canada between Toronto and Hamilton in Morse Code, so the answer we are looking for is 1846. The message itself was rather uninspiring:

How does your machine work?
First rate. How does yours?
Rather stiff.

The first telegraph ever sent in Morse Code was sent by Samuel Morse himself on January 6, 1838 over 3 kilometres of wire, saying "A patient waiter is no loser". The following year, the message "What hath God wrought" was the first ever sent between two cities (Washington and Baltimore).

Though the invention of the telegraph and development of Morse Code took place quite some time ago, it truly did change the world. It enabled people for the first time to communicate virtually instantly anywhere and with anyone, as opposed to the weeks it had taken before to send messages by ship. Even the modern Internet owes its very existence to invention of the telegraph more than 170 years ago.

Though telegraphs themselves are mostly a thing of a past, Morse Code does live on. Being a very simple communication system of just turning a signal on and off for varying lengths of time, it is relatively easy to implement and can be adapted for use by signaling with light, radio waves, or sound, in addition to electrical impulses along a wire. Modern aircraft still use it to identify various radio beacons they use to navigate. It is also very efficient - 2000 simultaneous morse code transmissions can take place in the same radio frequency range as a single FM radio station.

The sampling of Morse Code you listened to was very slow - just 5 words per minute - to allow a beginner to have enough time to interpret what they hear. Ham radio operators and others who learn Morse Code can get much quicker. Some faster individuals can send and receive Morse Code at up to 40 words per minute. Click the "play" triangle button below to hear what this same message would sound like at 40 words per minute:

The world record for hearing and interpreting Morse Code is actually nearly twice as fast as this, held by Ted McElroy, at 75.2 words per minute.


Question for Friday June 12, 2009:
The following song is associated with a prominent Canadian-born individual:

Which city did he or she first call home?

Acceptable answers:
Sudbury, Ontario
Sudbury, ON

The song is the theme from the well-known TV quiz show "Jeopardy". Click the play button below to hear it:

The host of the show is Alex Trebek. Though he became a citizen of the United States in 1998, he was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario.


Question for Saturday June 13, 2009:
In the late 1980s, an astronomer discovered an explosion of light from a faraway object in the night sky that was so bright that it could be seen without a telescope or binoculars. For this particular type of object to appear so bright was a very rare event indeed - the last time one appeared that could be seen without optical aid was nearly 400 years ago, before the invention of the telescope.

Since the object was not expected to remain so bright for very long, astronomers around the world immediately turned their instruments towards its location in the sky, to learn as much as they could about it before it faded from view. If you were an astronomer back then, you would have directed your telescope towards the following coordinates:

α (Right Ascension): 05h 35m 28.0s
δ (Declination): –69° 16' 11.8"

Initially brightening even more than when it was first discovered, within 6 months it had faded so that a telescope was necessary to see it. Yet, even from the moment of its discovery, it was already old news. It is located so far away that it became bright nearly 170,000 years ago (right around the time humans began to take on their modern appearance) and the light has only just reached us.

Now only faintly visible by very large telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have used its appearance to learn a great deal about our universe. It is still being studied today.


What is the name of the astronomer credited with having discovered this object?

Acceptable answers:
Ian Shelton
Ian Keith Shelton
Nicholas Sanduleak

In the early morning hours of February 23, 1987, Canadian astronomer Ian Shelton, who worked for the University of Toronto's observatory at Las Campanas, Chile, was testing a relatively small (10 inch diameter) 50 year old telescope that he had refurbished himself. It was not going easily - the roof of the observatory had jammed, and he had to move it by hand. But he managed to make a three hour exposure of the Large Magellanic Cloud - one of the nearest galaxies to our own Milky Way. Shortly afterwards, high winds slammed the roof shut and blew the telescope over, so Ian's testing was done for the night.

He then developed the test plate to see if the telescope was working properly, and was astonished to discover a bright star in the picture where none should have been. In fact, it was so bright that he rushed outside and saw that he could see it without a telescope at all. He realized that he was looking at a star that had just exploded - a supernova. No supernova had ever been seen with the unaided eye since October 8, 1604, when one was observed by none other than Johannes Kepler, famous for developing the first accurate laws of planetary motion and in doing so helping to confirm Isaac Newton's theory of gravity. Of course, back then Kepler had no idea what it was, though he studied it extensively. He wrote a report on it called De Stella Nova (the new star), and it is from this that we got the name that we now give to this phenomenon.

In any case, Ian excitedly told one of the night assistants on the mountain, Oscar Duhalde. It turned out that Oscar had seen it too during a break (actually a couple of hours before Ian developed his photographic plates), but had not realized its significance and had temporarily forgotten about it when he had gotten back to work. Ian quickly notified the scientific community, and by the next morning the news was out. It became known as SN1987A (SN = supernova, 1987 = the year of discovery, A = the first supernova discovered of the year).

It turned out that Robert McNaught in Australia had actually photographed SN1987A 20 hours prior to Ian's discovery, but he hadn't developed the film until afterwards. As well, Colin Henshaw in Zimbabwe and Albert Jones of New Zealand independently discovered the supernova that night before news of the discovery had come out, but since Ian Shelton had reported it first, he is officially credited with its discovery.

Through analyzing the supernova in radio, ultraviolet, visible, and infrared wavelengths, as well as observing bursts of neutrinos that came from the explosion, astronomers have made great strides in using SN1987A to verify and modify theories and further expand our knowledge of the universe. Prior to SN1987A, it was thought that only red giant stars could explode and become supernovas, but this star that exploded was blue. Even now, more than 20 years after the supernova occurred, scientists still actively study and learn from it.

We also accept Nicholas Sanduleak as an answer to this question, who first identified the original star in a catalogue of stars in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. The star which became SN1987A was originally designated Sanduleak -69° 202a.


Question for Sunday June 14, 2009:
To return garden gnomes to the wild, pranksters have been known to steal gnomes, taking them on worldwide adventures and photographing them in interesting places before returning them to their owners. The ExamBank Noggin Hoggin' Gnome, Larry, went missing last fall and postcards have been coming in regularly giving us clues to his whereabouts. Help bring Larry home by solving the postcard clues to come. Do it fast and you will be rewarded!

The first postcard arrived on October 25th, and although there was no return address on the postcard, the postmark was stamped with a postal code of B4G 1E8. What community was this card sent from? But do not enter that as your final response for this question, as you've just begun your quest; instead, use the name of the community to go to the following web address:


Substitute the name of the community (do not include the province) for the blanks, and don't put any spaces in the web address. Then follow the instructions for the next step at the web page you will see. If you get a "Not Found" error, it means you haven't determined the right answer, so try again!

Once you have found all the clues, come back here and enter your answer below to the final question you will discover.

Acceptable answers:

To solve the first postcard, you need to determine the name of the community with the postal code of B4G 1E8. Canada Post has the official resource to do postal code lookups, available at:


But even if you didn't find this, a Google search for this postal code would find lots of resources to inform you that the community served by this postal code is Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia. Substituting the name of the community, we would then visit:


The next clue reads:

The second postcard arrived on November 27th, which stated "Relaxing in luxury at the lodge in Chaminuka". What country is Larry in?

Again, Google is your friend here, and you should quickly be able to discover that this luxury lodge and nature reserve is located near Lusaka, Zambia. So our next address to visit is:


On December 15th, the 3rd card arrived, this time from California. It appears to be a museum with a Saber-tooth cat. The card states this museum is home to over 3,000,000 fossils from the last ____________.

This photo was taken in the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, an amazing natural paleontological site that just happens to be located adjacent to downtown Los Angeles. Between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago, countless animals became trapped in sticky tar deposits that seeped from deep underground to the surface. Once there, the animals died and their bodies were preserved. The period of time during which these tar pits accumulated their amazing diversity of animal specimens was during the last Ice Age. So from here, we go to:


The next card did not arrive until February 19. We began to worry about Larry as it had been over two months since his last communication. When the card arrived, we realized he had been having trouble finding a place to mail his postcard until he returned to Ushuaia, Argentina on a Russian Research Vessel. Which continent had he just come from?

The Emperor Penguins shown in this picture are only found in Antarctica. Travel to the continent requires a bit more preplanning than just purchasing a ticket to a resort there, as there are none. Scientists who work at the various research stations in Antarctica are often flown directly to them. But the most common way for tourists to visit the continent is by boarding research ships headed there. Some ships (often icebreakers) have been pretty much converted over to roles specifically for tourism (though much more rustic than your typical Caribbean cruise). Others still conduct research, and take on tourists to help offset the costs of doing so.

In any case, a common departure point for these ships is the city of Ushuaia, Argentina, which happens to be the southernmost city in the world, at the tip of South America in Tierra del Fuego.

Our next address to visit is therefore:


The next card arrived promptly on March 5th, All that was written on the back of the postcard was "Home of my ancestors! It is so beautiful".

Which letter appears most frequently in the last name of the original creator of the garden gnome?

The garden gnome we are all familiar with was first created by Philip Griebel in Gräfenroda, Germany. According to myth, gnomes would help gardeners at night when nobody was watching. His unique creations quickly exploded in popularity. Though a large number of manufacturers now make them, Philip's descendants still carry on the tradition and make them to this day.

The picture in the postcard is that of the town of Gräfenroda.

The last name of the garden's name original creator, Griebel, contains two e's, so the next address to go to is:


Larry must have spent some time in Germany relaxing with all his relatives as he had not ventured too far away by April 18th when the next card arrived. This one came from a UNESCO World Heritage site in Bulgaria that was founded in the 10th century.

What is its name?

According to UNESCO, Bulgaria has 9 locations on its World Heritage List (a full list can be found at whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/bg). Scanning through this list will find that the description and picture match that for the Rila Monastery, founded in the 10th century by St. John of Rila. Our next location to visit is therefore:


The last card to arrive came on May 31st. From the picture, we initially thought he had been lost in a dense forest, but there is a raised walking trail in the background so it must be a touristed site. Larry said he enjoyed the zip lines, water falls and cloud forests. In the corner of the back of the postcard, Larry scribbled the following:

10°18'51.32"N 84°49'30.08"W
I must return some day.

What is the second word in the name of the country which he visited on this trip?

The geographical latitude and longitude given correspond to the town of Santa Elena, adjacent to the Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde, or the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve in Costa Rica. Due to a unique topography and geographical location, it is almost always foggy, damp, and humid, which has resulted in a spectacular habit for species, many of which can be found nowhere else in the world. But even this area is not isolated from the effects of climate change - a general drying trend is affecting the species which call the location home. For instance, the golden toad is believed to have just recently become extinct, with the last documented sighting of one there in 1989.

Using the last word in the name of "Costa Rica" brings us to:


Finally, we read:

Help bring Larry home safe. He has been away for 10 months.

Using the first letter of each of your answers for the traveling postcards, unscramble the term Larry would use to describe the Noggin Hoggin' Questions Development Team. Log back into your Noggin Hoggin account and enter this word as your answer to the final question of this challenge.

Hopefully you kept track of the answers you gave to arrive at this point. Using the first letter of each of the answers, we get:


Unscrambling, the word most appropriate to describe the Noggin Hoggin' Questions Development Team would be:


the final answer for this final question of the challenge.