A Guide to QI. Series I, Episode 13 'Intelligence'

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How do you get a goose interested in a volleyball?  Well...

[Konrad] Lorenz once put a football-sized model egg by the nest of a bird. The bird tried to retrieve it using the same action pattern it would use for a normal sized egg. If a normal egg was placed alongside the giant one, the bird made fruitless attempts to retrieve the big egg while neglecting its own normal-sized egg. Lorenz called the exaggerated sign stimulus a supernormal stimulus. Supernormal sign stimuli are bigger or more intense than normal. They elicit a larger-than-normal response from the animal.

There's much more at this link:

or if you prefer your information in book form, we recommend
'Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose' by Deirdre Barrett:


Birds are more intelligent than you might think, just spend 10 minutes of your time to watch this talk by Joshua Klein - you'd be amazed:

The best place to research the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, is without doubt the park itself, though Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay is well worth a read.

We made a couple of errors in this part of the show, which have been pointed out to us.  Firstly that Colossus was the first computer - it's a tough thing to put a time on, but the Zuse Z3 certainly predated Colossus:


And secondly, the team who built Colossus was headed by Tommy Flowers, not Alan Turing:


Much of our work on Interviews came from the excellent How Would You Move Mount Fuji by William Poundstone

and the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which tells you whether or not you're incompetent can be read about here:


Our Ingenious Interlude involving non-Newtonian fluids worked surprisingly well, but not as well as some people's on Youtube.  Check out these Morphs making love:

Here's the website of Asimo - the wonderful robot who came on the show:


He's learned a new trick since we last saw him - prepare to be amazed!

The number of piano tuners in the UK is an example of a 'Fermi Question' where the skill is to make reasoned guesses and estimates.  The style is named after Enrico Fermi who supposedly loved the problems, here are some examples:


How many times do a clock's hands overlap in a day?  Well as we said, the answer is 22, but we didn't explain quite why.  One of the members of our wonderful forum, djgordy, explains it as well as any we've seen:

Suppose there are two people on a running track. If one person does 24 laps and the second person stands still then the person doing the laps will draw level with the person standing still 24 times. Now suppose that the person standing still decides to do some walking laps but is much slower and does 2 laps in the time that the running person takes to do 24 laps. The running person will now be level with the walking person only 22 times.

By taking 2 laps himself, the walking man cancels out 2 laps advantage that the running man had over him. If each lap is 100 meters, the running man does 2,400 to the standing man's 0 metres. But in the second instance the running man does 2,400m to the walking man's 200 m giving him an advantage of 2,200 meters. Because the running man has only done 2,200 m more than the walking man he can only be level with him 22 times on a 100 m track.

Time Immemorial originally meant 6th July 1189, but we didn't have time to tell you that the meaning has now changed.  In 1832 the law was changed and re-defined time immemorial as "time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary". This meant that rights which had been enjoyed for twenty years (or thirty years against the Crown) shouldn't be forbidden merely because it could be proved that they hadn't been enjoyed before.


and finally, the Dutch Antilles did slightly better than Jamaica in the 2-man-bob in 1988:


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I understand that its already been mentioned that Tommy Flowers was responsible for building Colossus & not Turing. However, there was no mention of William (Bill) Tutte who was the young mathematician that worked on Lorenz & deduced on what basis it must be working. What's ironic is that Tutte was interviewed & rejected by Turing when he first arrived at B/Park but went on to provide one of the most valuable contributions to shortening the Second World War. This was covered in an excellent episode of Timewatch back in October. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017ssjg


Yes indeed poor Tommy Flowers, still no recognition and now blatantly left out this programme. What doers this poor man have to do? Maybe because he wasn't the old school tie brigade and his cockney accent got in the way!!
As for Tutte Capesthorne is correct, Hugh Alexander recommended a young man called Yoxall.
Disappointed that a programme of Q1's stature could get this so wrong.

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This page contains a single entry by eggshaped published on December 5, 2011 2:46 PM.

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