Welcome back to None of the Above Quiz Time. This blog is like NOTA, in that I ask my dear audience multiple choice questions. It’s unlike NOTA in that you probably won’t learn anything and my car is not a Ford Ranchero. But if it was, I would stop tempting fate by detonating garden sheds and ping pong balls around it. You’re gonna lose what you have if you take it for granted, Shaw.
“Blast Off” kicks off our hour of street science and it’s not long before we’re introduced to the bizarre sandbox experiment. Four volunteers are challenged to dig their way into sand up to their waist using either a leaf blower, a blast of nitrogen, a small explosion of air in soda bottle, and a digger. (The heavy machinery version, not one these guys…)
The nitrogen blast seems like the surefire winner because it’s so out of left field compared to the other methods… and sure enough, it is. By forcing nitrogen into the sand from below, it gets between the grains and forces it to become liquid-like. Essentially, they’ve created dry quicksand and it leaves one of the science-buddies pretty stuck. Amazingly, dry quicksand was thought to be mythical until recently when it was created in a lab and hypothesized on a scale that could threaten humans and even entire vehicles. My question: just how recent was this discovery?
Incredibly, it took until D) 2004 to prove that dry quicksand could exist in nature. That, after hundreds of years poor desert valets trying to explain the sudden disappearance of the sultan’s entire caravan. Anyway, Tim has had enough and he bails, leaving his volunteer partially buried in the desert sand, which is exactly how you die in a Martin Scorcese movie.
Actually, wait, no. We’re staying in the desert. This time, Tim has rigged four model rockets along long wires which are — OF COURSE — tethered to the back of his car. (Dude seriously has no respect for a classic.) Fueling these rockets are foodstuffs and a
magical chemical compound to help them burn. The question: which will send its rocket the farthest down the line?
Pure powdered sugar crushes this experiment, although peanut butter makes a good showing. Both of these foods are high in calories, i.e. energy. The sugar happens to be lighter and an easier mix for the
magical chemical compound that helps it burn. It’s borderline insane to see this rocket blow right off its wire because there’s just so much energy from the sugar. With that in mind, how much sugar does the average American consume in a year?
D) Over 200lbs
While there’s some discrepancy depending on the study, most agree that the average American consumes a hearty C) 100-150lbs of sugar per year. That’s a ton. Well, not literally, but I digress. Think about how much energy your body is processing (or storing in fat) just from sugar alone. Seems like we should be able to put that to better use, maybe come up with a sugar powered rocket and ignite it on an unscripted cable TV show.
“Defying Gravity” is the name of the game at 10:30pm, although what I’m going to discuss has little to do with that. I would rather focus on the Shaolin Monk because how often in the course of your daily life do you get to focus on the Shaolin Monk? When Tim suggests there’s a way to pop a balloon behind a pane of glass without shattering the glass, one of the possible poppers is a plain old needle. None of the other options (laser pointer, flashlight and mirror, stud finder) seem to be doing the trick. But how is the needle supposed to work?
Guest star Emile couldn’t throw the needle using his noodle arm style. But enter a Shaolin Monk who can fling that little pointy bugger at 90mph and POP goes the balloon. Of course, it’s not actually the needle doing the popping; instead the tiny surface area of the needle head plus the absurd force of the monk’s throw actually break small shard of glass from the pane and into the balloon.
Now, legends abound surrounding Shaolin fighting styles and it is known that before there was the Shaolin Monastery, there were plenty of fighting monks. So when exactly was the Shaolin Monastery founded? Was it:
A) 40 BCE
B) 497 CE
C) 1309 CE
D) 1619 CE
You need a long time for mythical status to set in. The Shaolin Monastery was established in or around B) 497 CE. Though texts conflict as to the exact year, that’s still over 1500 years of Shaolin martial arts. I mean really, there’s probably a monk who’s been standing there flicking the same tree this entire time. Word to the wise: don’t fight him.
Calculate your score!
0 correct – your score isn’t “Defying Gravity”… it’s gravity’s whipping boy
1 correct – it’s amazing how fast you can sink in dry quicksand
2 correct – nice job, you’ve earned a sugar-free reward
3 correct – someone takes their quizzes SHAOLIN STYLE
Don’t miss new episodes of None of the Above Mondays at 10pm and 10:30pm on the National Geographic Channel.