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War of the Minds - Archive - War XIII

An Internet Contest


We have a winner of War XIII

Alexis Darrasse - A young Greek studying Applied Mathematics in Bordeaux, France has accumulated 1120 points.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Archives - War XIII

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Archives of Previous Battles - War XIII

War XIII - battle 11
1. Forestry
I have decided to sell some of the hardwood timber from my woodland. To decide where I can get the best price I decide to check prices at nearby sawmills. Mr. Jones at a sawmill about ten miles from my woodland says, after I have described the timber to him, that he can probably pay me an average of $300 per thousand board feet. I then continue on down the road another five miles to Mr. Smith's sawmill. He says he can pay me $275 per thousand board feet.
"Sorry", I say, "But Mr. Jones is willing to give me $300 per thousand."
"Yes," says Mr. Smith, "but Jones has a 1/4 inch kerf circular saw and buys on doyle log scale. I, however, have a 1/8 inch band saw and buy on international 1/8 inch log scale, so you should sell to me."
What is Mr. Smith talking about? Where will I get the best price for my logs?
see Answer
2. Computers
I have a hard disk drive with a capacity of 120,000,000,000 bytes. How many gigabytes is this? How many megabytes?
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
What are these?
  1. Hand Gonne - circa 1400
  2. Serpentine Lock (Early to Mid 1400's)
  3. Matchlock - Mid 1400s
  4. Wheel Lock - circa 1517
  5. Snaphaunce - circa 1570
  6. Flintlock - circa 1612
  7. Percussion Cap - 1805

Which one of them is represented above?
see Answer
4. History
The first battle of the modern age featured Gustavus Adolphus with Lennart Torstensson on artillery, Johan Baner on Calvary and Gustav Horn leading infantry. The opposite team saw Tilly's tercios supported by Pappenheim's calvary. Where and when did this occur? Who won? What features of this battle made it the first of the modern age?
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
There are three ways to measure logs: by weight, by cubic foot (or cubic meter), and by board foot log rules. The last is the most commonly used in the U.S.
A board foot log rule uses the small end diameter (inside bark) and length of a log to predict the number of board feet of lumber that can be sawn from the log. I've read that over 100 different board foot log rules have been devised. There are assumptions built into each log rule, such as the thickness of the saw kerf, the minimum width of board, and the thickness of boards being sawn.
The three log rules in most common use are the Scribner, the Doyle and the International. Two different International scales are used: the 1/8 inch and the 1/4 inch (assuming 1/8 inch kerf and 1/4 inch kerf, respectively). The International 1/4 inch rule predicts 90.5 percent of the volume predicted by the International 1/8 inch rule. Of these log rules, the International is the only one that assumes log taper, at the rate of 1/2 inch increase in diameter for each 4 feet of log length.
The International log rule is the most consistent of the three in predicting the volume of sawn lumber across the whole range of log sizes, and the Doyle is the least consistent. The Doyle and Scribner are particularly bad for smaller log diameters, where the Doyle scale is less than half the International scale for some log sizes. For 20 inch diameter logs, the difference between the Doyle and International scale is in the range of 10 percent, and varies depending on leg length.
So, in our case, we might not know the log size we are dealing with but we can say that Mr Smith's offer is better. We know that the international scale gives at least the same results with Doyle and that the 1/4 inch gives 90.5% of the 1/8 inch. Since the price offered by Mr Smith is more than 90.5% of Mr Jones' price, we don't need to look further.
2. Computers
In the contrary of the common meaning of Kilo, Mega, Giga etc. which is 1,000 1,000,000 and 1,000,000,000 times the measure in question, when applicated to bytes they mean 1,024 1,024^2 and 1,024^3, or 2^10 2^20 and 2^30, which are more convenient when working in binary. So 120,000,000,000 bytes are 114440.91796875 Megabytes and 111.758708953857421875 Gigabytes.
3. Philosophy and Science
These are firing mechanisms for firearms.
See http://www.silcom.com/~vikman/isles/scriptorium/firearm/firearm.html
The one represented is the matchlock.
See http://www.silcom.com/~vikman/isles/scriptorium/firearm/match.html
4. History
FIRST BATTLE OF BREITENFELD
September 15, 1631 - Thirty Years War
Eleven days after marching into Saxony, Field Marshal the Count of Tilly's army of the Holy Roman Empire (Ferdinand II) seized Leipzig, on September 15, 1631. The Catholic invasion of Saxony had prompted John George I, elector of Saxony, to join forces with the Swedish army of Gustavus II. The combined Protestant army (26,000 Swedes, 16,000 Saxons) hurried southward across the Elbe to intercept Tilly. This force reached the village of Breitenfeld, six miles north of Leipzig. Tilly, outnumbered by several thousand soldiers, hoped to withstand the enemy behind the barricades of the city. But his second-in-command, General Count Gottfried zu Pappenheim, committed the Catholic army to a major battle just north of Leipzig (and east of Breitenfeld) that same day.
Tilly advanced on Breitenfeld, his infantry in the center, cavalry on both wings. On his left, Pappenheim's cavalry struck the Protestant right flank (commanded by General Johan Baner) but was stopped by a skillful Swedish deployment of alternate squares of horsemen and infantry. On the Catholic right, however, the Imperial horsemen under Count Furstenberg charged and routed the Saxons opposite them. John George's raw troops fled in panic, abandoning their guns. The Elector himself rode 15 miles eastward to Eilenburg. Gustavus, however, turned his Swedish infantry to seal off the breach in his left flank (which was under Field Marshal Gustaf Horn). Meanwhile, his well-drilled musketeers continued to pour volleys into the Imperials at three times the rate and effectiveness of Tilly's return fire. This heavy volume broke up every charge of the Catholic cavalry for seven hours. Then late in the afternoon, the Swedish king brought up his reserve of a thousand horsemen to lead a furious counterattack. The assault on the now-weary Imperial army shattered their lines. Tilly himself was wounded in the neck, chest, and right arm. His army bolted, losing heavily in a vigorous pursuit by the Swedes.
The battle of Breitenfeld marked a turning point in the Thirty Year's War. It was the first major Protestant victory and, as such, strengthened resistance to Catholic Hapsburg rule all across Europe.
Breitenfeld, a victory of movement and firepower over weight of formation, has been called the first battle of the modern age, and Gustavus the father of modern warfare. His tactics were still in use by Marlborough, 70 years later.
 
 
 
 

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War XIII - battle 10
1. Forestry
A virginia creeper vine has climbed up and around to the top of a cylindrical pine tree trunk in a helical manner. The tree trunk has a height of 375 inches and a circumference of 40 inches. If the creeper covers a vertical distance of 75 inches in one complete twist around the tree trunk, what is the total length of the creeper?
see Answer
2. Computers
Try to answer the question below.
What color is the sky on a clear day ?
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
The American biologist, Lynn Margulis, espouses a theory that evolution is driven more by cooperation, symbiosis, among organisms rather than, as Darwin theorized, by competition. According to this theory new species can be created by endosymbiosis and the biosphere itself is simply a mass of cooperating bacteria. Explain the genetic basis for this theory and the evidence supporting it and its implications?
see Answer
4. Math
The distance between Cairo and Damascus is 1000 miles. Your mission is to move a 10,000 kilograms load of grass from Cairo to Damascus using your camel, but you have two problems:

The camel won't budge unless you let it to continuously chew grass - it consumes 1 kilogram of grass per mile.
The camel's maximum load is 1000 kilograms.

Can you manage to get ANY of the grass to Damascus?
What is the maximum amount of grass that you can get there?
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
length per twist = sqrt ( 40*40 + 75*75) = 85 inches
twists for total tree = 375/75 = 5
total creeper length = 85 * 5 = 425 inches
2. Computers
Right now in Paris it would rather be #009ACD but in a nice summer day in Crete it would be #87CEEB. Either way it is considered blue.
3. Philosophy and Science
This theory holds up the best for the origin of chloroplasts (in this case a photosynthetic prokaryote such as a cyanobacterium would be the endosymbiont) and mitochondria (perhaps an aerobic heterotroph). The progenitor of the mitochondria or chloroplast could have gained entry into a host prokaryote as undigested prey or as an internal parasite after which the "arrangement" quickly became mutually beneficial to both .partners (the "host" cell and the endosymbiont). As they became more interdependent an obligatory symbiosis evolved.

The chemical process that can dramatically alter the genetic code of an organism to incorporate the genetic code of another organism may exploit the very peculiar structure of the DNA double helix and the very peculiar behavior of sex. Both the genetic apparatus and the sexual apparatus seem to be involuntarily conceived so as to facilitate the fusion of organisms.

While single-organism evolution may explain only gradual and localized changes in skills, the formation of composite structures would certainly result in higher levels of complexity which in turn would result in higher levels of organization.

Unfortunately, we have no idea of how the DNA of a new organism can be synthesized from the DNA's of two organisms, i.e. how a new species can be created by the symbiotic union of two species. The chemical process that allows for the fusion of two codes has not been discovered yet, but may turn out to be a relatively simple "algebra" of the four bases of the DNA.

We now know that the immune system is itself an evolutionary system. How does it know which repertory of antibodies to start with? How are new antibodies created? The answer is probably the same answer to the very mystery of the origin of species. The immune system is but a miniature representation of life on Earth. It may prove to be the ideal laboratory for researching that elusive chemical process.

We have not found any evidence of multiple beings integrating in one being, but there is plenty of evidence that individual single-cell organisms sometimes join in creating "collective beings" which are better equipped to survive.

Single-celled bacteria form large colonies in countless ecosystems, particularly visible in seaside locations.

Soil amoebas join together in one huge organism that can react quickly to light and temperature to find food supplies.

Sponges are actually collections of single-celled organisms help together by skeletons of minerals.

Lynn Margulis proposes that the ancestors of eukaryote cells were symbiotic consortiums of prokaryote cells with one or more species (endosymbionts) being involved. This theory holds up the best for the origin of chloroplasts (in this case a photosynthetic prokaryote such as a cyanobacterium would be the endosymbiont) and mitochondria (perhaps an aerobic heterotroph). The progenitor of the mitochondria or chloroplast could have gained entry into a host prokaryote as undigested prey or as an internal parasite after which the "arrangement" quickly became mutually beneficial to both partners (the "host" cell and the endosymbiont). As they became more interdependent an obligatory symbiosis evolved.

Not surprisingly, Margulis subscribes to the vision that the Earth as a whole is a living being.

Protoctists were born about 2 billion years ago from the fusion of bacterial cells. "Endosymbiosis" is the process by which a being lives inside another being.

Eukaryotes (living beings who cells have a nucleus and whose DNA is confined in that nucleus) evolved from those protoctists.

Mitochondria are visible remnants of this process of endosymbiosis.

Experiments by the Korean biologist Kwang Jeon showed that even virulent pathogens can become organelles. Margulis deduces that predators can become symbionts, that a deadly infection can become a bodily part.

Margulis extends this paradigm to bodies made of several organs, and suggests that those organs also were accumulated the same way, that they are also due to the fusion with independent organisms by endosymbiosis.

While Darwin was emphasizing competition as the driving process of evolution, Margulis is emphasizing cooperation.

Margulis also introduces the novel idea that life has "free will" and has used it to influence its own evolution. It is not only humans who can affect their environment to direct their own evolution: the whole environment is doing the same. Living beings make decisions all the time and are thus responsible in part for their own evolution, as first speculated by Samuel Butler, a contemporary of Darwin.

For more information:
4. Math
this problem can be solved in 2 ways to get very similar answers
1) assuming that decimal fractions of miles are allowed
9000 kg over 19 one-way trips, moving 52.63 miles
8000 kg over 17 one-way trips, moving 58.82 miles
7000 kg over 15 one-way trips, moving 66.67 miles
6000 kg over 13 one-way trips, moving 76.92 miles
5000 kg over 11 one-way trips, moving 90.91 miles
4000 kg over 9 one-way trips, moving 111.11 miles
3000 kg over 7 one-way trips, moving 142.86 miles
2000 kg over 5 one-way trips, moving 200.00 miles
Take 1000 kg directly to Damascus, comsuming 200.08 kg on the way, leaving
599.84 kg and take back 200.08 kg to eat on the way back.
Take the last 1000 kg directly to city B, comsuming 200.08 kg on the way, and
depositing an additional 799.92 kg of grass for a total deposit of 1399.77 kg.

2) the second method assumes that the camel can only move in increments of one
mile

you consume 19 kg to move the remaining 9981 kg 1 mile
after 53 miles/trips you reach have 8993kg left and from that point need only
17 kg per mile
after 59 miles (112 total) it is 7990 -15/mile
66 more (178) will get to 7000 kg -13/mile
77 more (255) is 5999 - 11/mile
91 more (346) is 4998 - 9/mile
111 more (457) is 3999 - 7/mile
143 more (600) is 2998 - 5/mile
200 more (800) is 1998 - 3/mile
final 200 (1000) needs 600 kg leaving you with 1398 kg

It is possible to get a more optimised solution by using smaller and smaller
increments but that would get insanely complex once you get to the inch level
First, the easy part. Yes, we can get some grass to Damascus. The idea is to forward all the grass to smaller distances. If we cut the distance in four and use 3000 kg of grass, we can manage to get 500 kg to Damascus. Here's how:
0       250     500     750     1000
X
10000   0       0       0       0
        X
9000    750     0       0       0
X
9000    500     0       0       0
        X
9000    1250    0       0       0
X
9000    1250    0       0       0
        X
8000    2000    0       0       0
                X
8000    1000    750     0       0
        X
8000    1000    500     0       0
                X
8000    0       1250    0       0
                        X
8000    0       250     750     0
                                X
8000    0       250     0       500

Now, to get as much grass as possible to destination,
we must understand why cutting the distance in pieces
works. What we are trying to do is to minimize the
distance (let's call it D) made by the camel since the
grass that will reach Danascus will be 10000 - D. The
simplest is to come and go 10 times but this will make
D=2*10000=20000 which is way too much. The fact to
notice is that if we move all the grass to 250 miles
from Cairo, we have already D=2*10*250 - 250 = 4750
but there is much less grass left, which means less
come and goes to come. We can see it this way: since
there is no way to get even half of the grass in the
second half of the distance, there is no reason to
come and go ten times that distance. So, if we take
that idea further, we can think that if we cut the
distance in more parts, we will reduce the total
distance. Now, let's calculate.

If n is the number of equal pieces in which we cut the
distance, the total amount of grass left will be:

10000*[(1-2/n)^n] + 500*[1 - (1-2/n)^n] --> 9500*e^-2
+ 500 = 1785.6852 kg which is the maximum amount you
can transport, actually you can get as close as you
want to that but never reach it.
 
 
 
 

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War XIII - battle 9
1. Forestry
What are these?
see Answer
2. Computers
My first desktop computer, the 4k TRS-80 model I, did not have a hard disk drive. It also did not have a floppy disk drive. As a matter of fact it was simply a keyboard with 4,000 bytes of RAM memory and a connection to a modified television monitor. The first computer program I wrote for business was an accounts receivable program for a coal company. I stored this program by typing the command, "CSAVE". How was the program saved?
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
In human genes the DNA sequence TTAGGG - repeated over and over indicates what?
see Answer
4. Literature
Add at least two names to this list and name the author for each.
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
They are all National Forests, located in California. I'd try to describe them, but they are so diverse, each with its own unique features, that I'd only end up slighting them. I've often considered moving back to S. California, where I briefly lived as a child. Even in the cloudiest months in LA basin, you can typically hike/climb under glorious blue skies just an hour away in the mountains [this is particularly impressive because in LA's clogged and tortuous highway system *everything* is at least an hour away.] If mountains and forests aren't your thing, you can take your pick of farmlands, canyons, desert, seashore...
See: http://ceres.ca.gov/ceres/calweb/nfs.html
2. Computers
CSAVE saved to an audio cassette - the standard "personal computer" data/program storage devices of that time were audio cassette (via a 1/8" jack) or paper tape (esp for build it yourself hacker types). The command was simply CSAVE (or CLOAD to load) - no file name! IIRC you needed the level II BASIC enhancement to save or load to a named file, because many of those early personal computers had no file system whatsoever. They simply read/wrote tones over the audio port. To store multiple files on a cassette (there was plenty of room), you had to manually label the tape with the counter readings where each file started (or estimate the "start time" if your recorder didn't have a counter). To load a file, you'd manually rewind to the beginning and fast forward to the correct location before issuing the CLOAD command to the computer.
3. Philosophy and Science
It indicates the end of the chromosome and is called a telomere. The TTAGGG sequence is common to all vertebrates and every eukaryotic organism has a specific sequence indicating its telomeres (insects have TTAGG for example).
Telomeres are believed to be essential in such organisms as yeasts and probably most other eukaryotes, as they allow cells to distinguish intact from broken chromosomes, protect chromosomes from degradation, and act as substrates for novel replication mechanisms. Telomeres are generally replicated in a complex, cell cycle and developmentally regulated, manner by "telomerase," a telomere-specific DNA polymerase. However, telomerase-independent means for telomere maintenance have been described. In recent years, much attention has been focused on telomeres, as telomere loss has been associated with chromosomal changes such as those that occur in cancer and aging.
It seems that some animal clones, including Dolly, have short telomeres that could lead to premature ageing..

This sequence (read 5' -> 3' in the direction of the end of the chromosome) is characteristic of the Telomere, the "ends" of a chromosome. Since DNA is complementary, the other strand would read AATCCC 5'->3', but heading toward the center of the chromosome. [3' and 5' are the standard numbering of the carbon atoms in the deoxyribose sugars that make up the backbone of DNA. The A-T and G-C (Adenine-Thymine and Cytosine-Guanine) base pairs bridge the two sugar backbones like the rungs of a (helical) ladder.]
Most of the length of our choromosomes is wrapped around proteins (called histones) in a manner that resembles beads on a string. The DNA is wrapped several times around a core made of three histones, and a fourth histone "ties the knot", then the DNA proceeds to the next histone 'bead. DNA wrapped in this fashion is more manageable (and safer from the ravages of the cell) but it is inactive. To be transcribed (or to serve as a control sequence) a section of DNA must first be unwound. In a give cell, at a given time, barely 1-2% may be unwound. These mechanisms are absolutely crucial to the stability of the genome, as proven by the fact that the histones are possibly the most highly conserved proteins in eukaryotes - meaning that the histones of a pea plant are almost identical to the histones of a cow or a man. This is one area where making changes is likely to get an organism killed. There's little room to experiment.
Telomeres, however, aren't wrapped up in the histone beads. They are massive tails, typically thousands of repeats long, which bind special telomeric proteins, but are more "exposed" to the machinery of cellular metabolism than the "coding" DNA which contain the recipes for proteins and constitute "genes" in the common parlance. One might see why they don't need the protection of histones, but one might also wonder if they are exposed to serve a specific purpose. As far as I know (I have a degree in molecular biology, but its over a decade old, and that's an eon in biotech) the full functions of the telomere are still not provably known, though there are many very plausible hypotheses, which many researchers (and the popular media) treat as fact.
The massively repeating structure of the telomere was once considered expendable "junk DNA", that served only to bind special proteins to keep the double strand from "unraveling" but in the past 20 years, it seems increasingly likely that the length of the repeats is related to aging, cancer, and other conditions: as a general rule, the telomere shortens a bit with every cell division. Cells with telomerase (an enzyme that extends the telomere by appending more repeats) seem to suffer much less from cancer and cellular aging. Certain cloning techs from adult cells start with the shorter telomeres of an adult, and might therefore suffer more rapid aging or increased cancer. I'm not sure if we've yet confirmed/disproved this effect.
The particular telomere subunit sequence listed here is not universal. It's used by vertebrates, filamentous fungi, and a few protozoans, but other branches of eukayotes (i.e. species with true nuclei) use variations on this general theme, adding extra a few base pairs or changing one or two. If one looks at yeasts (which are eukaryotes, albeit single-celled) one finds a great deal of variation. That doesn't mean that our sequence is "more highly evolved": the Yeasts have been evolving longer than we have; they simply didn't choose to got in our direction. In fact, the evolutionary distance between Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewer's yeast, used in beer) and Schizosaccharomyces pombe (a common fissioning yeast) is greater than the distance between either of those species and Man!
Some interesting links:
http://futuresedge.org/hayflick_limit.shtml
http://www.geocities.com/uconnyanglab/background.html
4. Literature
C. Auguste Dupin - Edgar Allen Poe's detective in the classic "Murders on the Rue Morgue" and "The Purloined Letter" and other works (but not his equally classic "The Gold Bug") Poe is, of course, famously known as the "father of the (American) Short Story"

Sergeant Cuff - The Scotland Yard detective from "Moonstone" (1868) by Wilkie Collins. Though Collins is hardly a household name today, he is considered the father of the "English Detective novel" (by the British literary establishment anyway) and given credit for pioneering features that are staples of the Genre: the country house robbery, the 'inside job', the celebrated but amiably eccentric policeman, the bungling local constabulary, 'standard detective procedures', false suspects, 'the least likely suspect', the locked room murder, reconstruction of the crime, and the final plot twist. His short story ('A Stolen Letter', 1854) is often called 'the first British detective story, but like many of his "firsts", I think the key word isn't "first" but "British". I can think of examples which predate him (e.g. Poe *died* in 1849 - before Wilkie's first story) but they aren't strictly part of that narrow Genre. His fans credit him with the first woman detective, canine detective and humorous detective, but when they say 'A Terribly Strange Bed' (1852) was the first appearance of a policeman in fiction - well, come now! Exaggeration demeans what he actually *did* accomplish! Even if he wasn't the first -or even the first Brit- he was remarkably influential. Many detective icons (e.g. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes) were openly and admiringly inspired by his works.

Lord Peter Wimsey - an upper crust British "amateur sleuth" who starred in dozens of Dorothy L. Sayers stories between 1921 and 1942, evolving and growing in his skills - a trend that is still very popular in modern BBC/PBS detective series (as contrasted with many of the advocates of "pure deduction" who seemed to begin and end as somewhat superhuman characters, for whom each new adventure simply served as a platform to display their superior talents) An unfinished Sayers novel ("Throne, Dominations") was completed and published by Jill Paton Walsh several years ago.

Miss Jane Marple - just one of many Agatha Christie many ongoing characters, but, some say her favorite. Miss Marple's appearance and manner varied greatly over the years, but one thing remained constant she was always "old". She reports herself as being 65 in her first appearance in 1930, so by her last book in 1971, she'd have been 106, but I'm told the novel itself says that she was 110! (I suppose there comes a point where one ceases to lie about ones age!)

Ellery Queen - The name "Ellery Queen" is almost synonymous with "mystery to many Americans, largely due to the popular mystery magazine by the same name. As with many popular 'characters turned franchise', each of his countless radio shows, movies, TV series, mini-series, magazine serializations, comic books, etc. portrayed him somewhat differently. But in EQ's case, even his original books described a contradictory squad of characters that shared little beyond the name, the talent for deduction, the Ivy League education and a father who was a homicide detective in the NYPD. Sometimes he was a meticulous supercilious aristocrat, sometimes he was a slob with a rather common touch (Some say the producers of the 70's EQ part of the "Bold Ones" anthology series- went on to turn him into Columbo) He was the product of two mystery writers (the cousins Fred Dannay and Manfred B. Lee) who signed themselves as Ellery Queen, and sometimes the Ellery Queen they wrote was also a mystery writer who wrote about a fictional sleuth named Ellery Queen! Synonymous with mystery indeed!

Philip Marlowe - Marlowe was a dick. No, not that kind of dick, no matter what his ex says. He was tough enough to take a punch -or ten- but not too tough to squeal like a little girl when he did -(though his author Raymond Chandler always edited that part out)- and not necessarily smart enough to get out of the way, either. He could, he bragged, speak English if he had to, but his real skill was being more hard-bitten than a meat-sneakered ten-year old trailing a foot over the side of the boat on a crocodile farm. In the world of detectives there are thinkers and there are doers and Marlow would take a fifth of Dewars any day. Maybe a whole case.

Hercule Poirot - I noted that Agatha Christie had many ongoing characters. The tiny bald, overly meticulous Belgian refugee detective with the somewhat ironic name of Hercule was her first, originally written in 1916, and published in the general flood of mystery writers ca 1920. She was still writing Poirot stories and novels right up to her death in 1976. If I recall correctly he was both the first and last published character in her long and remarkably prolific career.

Now comes the tough part ... adding two names of my own.

Sherlock Holmes - Well, it had to be said, didn't it? Arthur Conan Doyle based his character on a legendary surgeon-pathologist named Bell, who'd taught Doyle in medical school, but the novels and the eccentric character in them are an archetype all their own. One hardly needs to say more than the name. He's that familiar.

Charlie Chan - He's the right era, and as well known as many of the fictional detectives of that era. Besides he's a refreshing change from the relentless Eurocentrism of the list. In fact, he was created because Earl Der Biggers read about the adventures a real life Honolulu detective Chang Apata while vacationing in Hawaii in 1919, and was blown away by the very idea of an Oriental detective. I'm not sure how he thought 1/3 of the worlds population solved crimes and maintained order, but I doubt he'd even considered "the orientals" at all outside of the stereotypes in those days, when the majority of US physicians favored eugenics and accepted to some degree various theories of racial superiority (in some ways, those views were actually more prevalent in the US medical establishment than in pre-Nazi Germany). That's not to say that Der Biggers was a bigot. Though he didn't hesitate to play off stereotypes as necessary to make the character a success, he did write with some insight into a large subculture few white Americans ever imagined and created a hero for many 1930's Chinese-Americans (even if some didn't care for some of the character portrayals)

Also Horace Dorrington by Arthur Morisson
 
 
 
 

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War XIII - battle 8
1. Forestry
When hardwood is sliced into veneer sheets for use in furniture and door surfaces, etc. the sheets are carefully kept in the order that they came from the log. Why is this order important?
see Answer
2. Computers
What are these?
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
It is considered a test of your eyesight to first find Mizar and then to see if you can see Alcor. What and where are these?
see Answer
4. History
Before becoming isolationist in the 15th century, China was a seafaring nation. The head of the Chinese armada of treasure ships was a Muslim, a eunuch and a warrior. He vastly outdid his approximate contemporaries, the Western naval heroes who helped define the global Age of Exploration. His armada of giant junks was several times bigger than any of the fleets Columbus commanded nearly a century later. And his ships were five times longer than those of the celebrated Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. With more than 300 oceangoing vessels and a crew of nearly 30,000 men, He helped transform China into the region's, and perhaps the world's, 15th century superpower. He exacted tribute, brought Sultans to their knees and opened up trade routes that helped develop the enduring taste abroad for Chinese porcelain and silk.
Born in 1371, He died in 1433. Between 1405 and his death in 1433 during six major voyages, He and his men found the:
ostrich in Oman,
the giraffe in Kenya,
the Tooth of the Buddha in Sri Lanka,
the Rhinoceros in Sumatra,
the riding elephant in Java,
and the water buffalo in Viet Nam.
What was the name of this man who, some argue, may have even discovered America for the Chinese before Columbus?
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
In order to be able to later to the matching, which consists in making a regular pattern from several pieces of veneer, it is imperative to keep the sheets in an order. There are actually various methods for matching:
Book match
Turning alternate adjacent sheets of veneer of a flitch over so that their grain and figure form a mirror image of the adjacent piece;
Mismatch
The joining of veneer to create a sharp contrast in both grain and colour;
Pleasing match
The matching of face veneer components for a pleasing appearance;
Reverse match (swing match)
Turning alternate adjacent sheets of veneer of a flitch end for end;
Sequence match
A method of arranging veneer faces such that each face is in order relative to its original position in the tree and, therefore, contains features of grain and figures similar to adjacent faces. Three or more such related faces are required to constitute a sequence;
Slip match
Laying adjacent sheets of veneer of a flitch without turning;
Unmatched
The random joining of veneer without regard to grain or colour.
2. Computers
MSCs are MMC (Microsoft Management Console) files that specify Snap-ins hosted by the MMC. Some MSC snap-ins are standalones that add directly to the MMC console, while others extend the functionality of utilities already part of the console (MMC extensions). They are especially useful in remote management and administration of large groups of systems.
CERTMGR.MSC     Certificates Manager 
CIADV.MSC       Indexing Service     
COMPMGMT.MSC    Computer Management - users and groups
DEVMGMT.MSC     Device Management - system hardware configuration
DFRG.MSC        Disk defragmentation/disk performance optimization
DISKMGMT.MSC    Disk Management - disk partitions
EVENTVWR.MSC    Event Viewer - system event logs (display)
FSMGMT.MSC      Shared Folders/shared files
LUSRMGR.MSC     Local Users and Groups
NTMSMGR.MSC     Removable storage (pools, queues, requests, etc.)
NTMSOPRQ.MSC    Removable Storage Operator Requests
PERFMON.MSC     Performance Monitor
SERVICES.MSC    System services
WMIMGMT.MSC     Windows Management Infrastructure (Instrumentation service)
3. Philosophy and Science
The tale of Mizar and Alcor is a story of twins within twins.
Mizar and Alcor, stars separated by 11.5 arc minutes in the handle of the Big Dipper, were considered to be a test of vision in medieval times (when the skies were much darker than today) which is actually a bit surprising, since they are readily distinguished by good eyes even in today's less favorable conditions. Studies suggest they have not moved apart.

The brighter Mizar (magnitude 2.4) is actually a system of four stars, which could be seen in medieval times as an apparent binary (probably the first binary seen through a telescope, 1650). Some claim it can still be seen as two apparent stars by the naked eye under exceptional conditions, and in "good seeing", they are readily distinguished with a modest telescope or possibly binoculars. It is now known that A and B are each a separate spectroscopic binary pair rather than single stars in their own right. [Spectroscopic binaries are too close to distinguish visually, but are detected by shifts in their spectrum. Other pairs, even harder to distinguish, are "eclipsing binaries" seen when they eclipse one another; or interferometric binaries, at the limit of current detection]

In fact, as it turns out, most stars are binary stars, or in multiple star complexes!

Alcor is a faint nearby star (3 light years - about 3/4th the distance between our sun and its nearest neighbor) that is rarely mentioned except as a companion ("Mizar and Alcor"). It is "faint" only in its apparent magnitude from the Earth - in reality it is a fourth magnitude white class A5 star with a temperature of 8000 K and a luminosity 12 times that of the Sun. For a while, Alcor thought to be a possible double star too, but it now appears that it is a single, slightly pulsating, rapidly spinning star, spinning 100x as fast as our sun.

There is some controversy about the relationship between Mizar and Alcor. While it is generally considered an independent star, some say that the error bars of the measurements make it possible that it is 1 light year or less from the Mizar system, and it may be gravitationally bound to the known quartet.

A point of Trivia: Mizar and Alcor figured prominently in the movie "Deep Impact". The 'rogue comet' was first seen as an apparent companion to this well known pair. (In reality, most comets are discovered by dedicated amateurs with far more than the small telescope shown, when they are thousands of times dimmer than it could distinguish)

For more info:
4. History
The name of this, arguably the greatest, Chinese navigator is usually transliterated as Zheng He or Cheng Ho. It would be impossible for me to do him justice, but here are some links.
 
 

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War XIII - battle 7
1. Forestry
Of these Appalachian hardwood tree species: Which cannot reproduce and survive under a closed forest canopy?
see Answer
2. Computers
In Windows XP my user name is Duane. What is the purpose of the file I find on my computer:
"\Documents and Settings\Duane\NTUSER.DAT"?
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
A poem by Henry Schriver:
Through winter's cold and summer's breeze,
She's the author of our milk and cheese;
When she's gone and at last she rests,
She leaves us numerous bequests;
The briefcases that she leaves behind,
protect the plans of all mankind.
But belts are her halo and crown;
They keep our pants from falling down.
Who is she?
see Answer
4. Math
Andy and Barney set off on a fishing trip driving to the old fishing hole 120 miles away in a lake upstate. On the trip to the lake Andy drives and, being the laid back soul he is, takes it easy averaging 40 miles per hour. On their return after a successful fishing expedition Barney drives and, being anxious to return home, averages 60 miles per hour. Barney says, "We both drove the same distance and since we averaged 40 miles per hour going and 60 miles per hour returning, our overall average speed was 50 miles per hour." They drove a total of five hours, three hours there and two hours back. At an average speed of 50 miles per hour driving for five hours they should have driven 250 miles, but the total round trip distance was only 240 miles. What gives?
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
The black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) has a short lifespan and does not reproduct under closed canopies.
Black locust tends to be a pioneer hardwood that is replaced by other hardwood species. I understand that it is planted as seedlings or clones in monoculture stands and groves for erosion control and land recovery and serves very well, if the soil isn't too plastic and is well drained, but I've never seen it grow to multigeneration stands or groves on its own. I only recall seeing it near the outskirts of woods, in meadows, etc. It can choke out and outgrow weeds and other undergrowth, especially in disturbed or open land, but it isn't nearly as tall as most other trees on this list, and could end up being canopied over by, say, yellow poplars, before subsequent generations of locust could take hold.
I think I've seen all the other trees on this list in the midst of fairly mature closed-canopy forests, either in Georgia or New England, but some of the species are so long-lived that I can't be certain that some weren't simply surviving early pioneers. I knew little about the history of the various woods where I roamed as a youth. A few seem to have been old-growth or nearly old-growth forests, but most, especially up north, were clearly farms, pastures, or woodlots that had been abandoned at various times in the previous 20 -100 years.
Even back then, housing was encroaching fast on the southern suburban woods where I grew up. I wonder how many of them survive today?

Black cherry and yellow poplar are also shade intolerant species and so cannot reproduce and survive under a closed canopy.
2. Computers
The Ntuser.dat file contains all the user-specific configuration settings in the Registry, specifically from the HKEY_CURRENT_USER subtree, locally.
This NTUSER.DAT contains user-specific desktop and configuration registry entries, specifically the HKEY_CURRENT_USER subtree. If you somehow delete it, it will be replaced with the default NTUSER.DAT, and you will lose your user configurations, which can accumulate over time to a substantial (and rarely documented) loss. If you have extensive customizations or features that you rely upon (e.g. "visually impaired" settings) it may be worthwhile to change your "default" settings (or create a "backup user") now. Failures always happen at the wrong time, and restoring old configurations (when you can remember them) is always that much harder when working in the 'alien environment' of the pristine default config. Not every user setting setting you'd want to preserve is in NTUSER.DAT, but I don't use XP, so I can't comment on the specifics.
3. Philosophy and Science
She is Good ol' Bossie, the cow. She gives us milk, from which we make cheese. And when her life is over we use her skin to make briefcases and belts.
4. Math
(60*2 + 40*3)/5 = 48 mph is the real average, not 50. The average speed is equal to the total distance divided by the total time. Barney added the two speeds and divided them by two, this would be correct only if they had droven the same time, not the same distance.

In brief terms, speed is distance over time. Andy and Barney managed formulate their discussion so that first time and later even distance appeared to drop out of the equation entirely. They ignored the fact that they traveled 40 mph for THREE HOURS, but only traveled 60 mph for only TWO HOURS, so naturally, the ultimate average would be closer to 40 than 60. The temptation of a quick answer lured them to treat the distance as the denominator instead of time, because they knew the distance would "cancel out" of their calculations ("We both drove the same distance")
The effect would have been more striking if the difference between the two speeds had been more remarkable. Imagine if you will, a rock from a Pacific volcano. It may fly out 2000 miles offshore at 300 mph and after several hours (on a high arc), land 1000 miles closer to India, but then spend 100 million years at a 2cm/year tectonic crawl to cover the remaining 1000 miles. Clearly, the average of 300 mph and .0000000014 mph (just over 150 mph) doesn't describe its trip at all.
But we shouldn't be too hard on Andy and Barney. My first draft of this answer (which I discarded as too tedious) described the different mathematics of averages (which real world time rates always are) and proper quantities which happen to be ratios. I realized that this same conflation of a rate and a proper quantity is what separated classical physics from relativity, and physicists took centuries to notice that one. [i.e. the speed of light was a true rate to Newton, but a "quantity which happens to be a ratio" to Einstein - changing that one detail forced a complete reworking of the physics and math!)
 
 

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War XIII - battle 6
1. Forestry
Which one of the list below does not belong and why?
see Answer
2. Computers
If I put the following line
127.0.0.1     x.acme.com
in the file c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
I can stop my teenage son from accessing the acme web site from my windows XP computer.
Why does this work?
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
Why do groups of women living in the same household often have synchronous menstrual cycles? What scientist discovered this?
see Answer
4. Math
What is the missing number? Why this number?
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
A sycamore, like Platanus occidentalis, does not fit the Christmas motif. The others are used in decorating for Christmas.
2. Computers
To connect to a web site you give your navigator an address generaly invoking something meaningful to human beings, so that they can retain it (like x.acme.com). Actually this address is not enough for your computer to communicate with the site you want to see. It needs an IP address that is a suite of four two-digit numbers of base 16. Example: 192.220.116.62 for webcom.com. To get this address, the computer makes a query to a DNS (Domain Name Server). But before doing this it looks at his hosts file to see if he already has the address. If he does, he doesn't query the DNS and uses the IP address found in the hosts file. The address 127.0.0.1 is always the address of your own computer. So if you put an address preceded by 127.0.0.1 in your hosts file, when you will try to access that address, instead of conecting to the corresponding site, you connect to your own computer. And unless you run a web server, you will get a Cannot find server or DNS Error.
The location of the hosts file is not the same in every version of windows. Here's where you can find it:
Windows 95/98/Me c:\windows\hosts
Windows NT/2000/XP Pro
c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
Windows XP Home c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
3. Philosophy and Science
This is known as the McClintock effect, named after Martha McClintock who first reported this observation in 1971. It seems to be due to two pheromones emitted by women at different moments of their menstrual cycle and that cause the variations in the length of the cycle of the women that get in contact with them. However these pheromones have not been chemically identified and even though there is no doubt on the presence and the operational state of the vomeronasal (or Jacobson's) organ in human, it's actual physiological or psychological effect is not certain. An interesting article on this topic:
http://www.newscientist.com/lastword/
4. Math
6
It is the first perfect number. A number is called perfect when it is equal to the sum of his factors.
6, 28, 496, 8128, 33550336, 8589869056 are the first six perfect numbers.
Actually all perfect numbers known today are of the form 2^(p-1)*(2^p-1), where p is a prime number.
Better, when 2^p-1 is prime, 2^(p-1)*(2^p-1) is perfect. Also it has been proven that all even perfect numbers are of this form. No even perfect number has been found, but it has not been proven that one does not exist.
6       =       2^(2-1)*(2^2-1) (p=2)   2^2-1=3 is prime
28      =       2^(3-1)*(2^3-1) (p=3)   2^3-1=7 is prime
496     =       2^(5-1)*(2^5-1) (p=5)   2^5-1=31 is prime
8128    =       2^(7-1)*(2^7-1) (p=7)   2^7-1=127 is prime
33550336   =    2^(13-1)*(2^13-1)       (p=13)  2^13-1=8191 is prime
8589869056 =    2^(17-1)*(2^17-1)       (p=17)  2^17-1=131071 is prime
More information on perfect numbers:
http://pachome1.pacific.net.sg/~novelway/MEW2/lesson2.html
More on numbers with notable properties:
http://home.earthlink.net/~mrob/pub/math/numbers.html
 
 

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War XIII - battle 5
1. Forestry
The cambium is between the xylem and the phloem. Further describe these three types of cells and their functional purpose. If I say, "Xylem up and phloem down", of what processes am I reminding myself?
see Answer
2. Computers
Diskeeper is a defragmentation program. What does such a program do and why is it useful?
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
Several centuries B.C. Siddhartha married a neighboring princess named Yasodhara and she bore him a son whom they called Rahula. What was Siddhartha's surname? After his life changing experience the world knew him by another name. By what name is he better known?
see Answer
4. Math
Andy and Barney set off on a fishing trip driving to the old fishing hole in a lake upstate. On the trip to the lake Andy drives the first 40 miles and Barney drives the rest of the way. On their return after a successful fishing expedition Andy drives the first part of the trip and Barney drives the last 50 miles. Which fisherman drove the longest distance and by how many miles?
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
Xylem is a tissue composed mostly dead cells, tubules, etc., that conducts water and minerals from the roots to the leaves. While the details of the physics are complicated, one wouldn't be too far off in thinking of it as simply a mesh of tiny siphons, with the "suction" provided by the evaporation of water from the leaves. Most of the other effects simply help the water along. Clearly, there is going to be a limit on how high a given tree species can (practically) siphon water, based on its xylem structure and that is one of the factors limiting the height of various tall trees. [See Science Vol. 291 (26 January 2001) for more information on the functions of xylem. I haven't read it myself -it's been on my "to do' list for a while- but it is supposed to be good.]
Phloem is a living, metabolically active tissue, that transports (e.g.) hormones locally and saccharides (sugars and chains of sugars) from the leaves to the roots. Its cells are connected via fine pores (ca .1 micron if I recall correctly) at the end but there seem to be active (selective, energy-using) transport of specific molecules, along with the general diffusion (I'm not sure if the details are known, but recalling my molecular biology days in the 80's I find it hard to believe that they aren't) There would certainly be active elements at the "input" (actively pumping certain compounds into the phloem) and "output" (active absorption of desired substances by the target cells) but even enhancing the gradient this way, it could take weeks for a molecule to pass from leaf to roots by diffusion alone. Phloem has a fairly high protein content compared to the xylem and cambium (making it a favored choice for winter browse for deer) and that protein may be involved in its active transport functions.
[While animal use proteins [e..g collagen] for structure, along with lipids [fats] in the cell membrane, plants use sugars - e.g. pectins (complex cross-linked sugars) and cellulose, a branching network of glucose, the same sugar our cells use as a major fuel source. Alas, cellulose is linked in a way that we can't break down (but the bacteria in a cow or termite stomach can); otherwise be a great food.. Proteins are used by both plants and animals for functions like pumping, chemical synthesis and breakdown, selection, motion, etc., because their versatile structural and chemical capability far exceeds (poly-)sugars (saccharides), nucleic acides (RNA, DNA), and lipids (fats). Therefore, the phloem's protein content implies a metabolic function.]
Cambium is the "mother of wood", much as the inner layer of an oyster is "mother of pearl". It's the actively growing and dividing layer that generates the body of (e.g.) a stem or tree. We see its growth in the annual annular rings of a tree trunk ("annual annular" isn't redundant: 'annual' is from the Latin 'annus, meaning 'year', while "annular" is from Latin 'annulus' or 'ring', and is a dimunitive of 'anus', meaning... well, we won't go there) We also see dead cambium shed as the external bark or cork of many trees. The cambium is essential to the tree: cutting a shallow ring around the tree to sever its cambium will kill it (slowly). Not only will it prevent further phloem or xylem from being produced in that region, but it will "break the seal" on the "open vascular system" of the xylem and phloem (which the cambium and bark protect). Some "primitive" plants, with "closed vascular systems" can survive disruption of the cambium better.
*AHEM* I guess that just goes to prove: the less I know about something, the more I end up saying. Next week, I plan on writing an entire encyclopedia on "women".
[1] Glycogen, a differently linked poly-glucose structure which we *can* break down, is a medium-term high-energy storage fuel made in our liver, well known to every marathon runner. (Excuse me while I pat my once-rock-hard belly and remember "the days"). Still, humans do use the stored energy in cellulose extensively as a food source for our cattle and as a combustible fuel (wood, charcoal, methanol, etc.)

cambium - Primary growth in plants is accomplished by the apical meristem, which accomplishes the elongation of the plant. Secondary growth is made possible by the lateral meristem, which increases the girth of the plant. This actively growing tissue is generally only present in woody species and is called the cambium. It produces xylem and phloem.
phloem - A complex tissue that contains sieve tube cells with their associated companion cells. They move photosynthates downward from the leaves. Found also in the phloem are structural fibers and parenchyma cells. The food conducting tissue in plants. The phloem circulates the products of the leaves, which include sugar, down to the roots.
xylem - Xylem complex tissue that contain vessels and tracheids, which are water and nutrient conducting cells. Found also in the xylem tissue are fibers from structural support and parenchyma cells. Primarily, the water conducting tissue in plants, though it also carries dissolved nutrients. The xylem pumps the water from the roots into the stem and leaves of the plant.
You can find pictures of these cells here: http://www.humboldt.edu/~dll2/bot105/second/secgrow1.htm
Function is the transport of water and nutrients absorbed by the root system to various parts of the plant. The general direction of movement of water and nutrients is upward. Therefore, you xylem up and phloem down.
2. Computers
Diskeeper is a defragmentation program, which, coincidentally, I first tried this weekend, and gratuitiously blame for the wholesale destruction of an entire 60 GB Hard drive [Okay, okay - the drive had probably been dying since I got it, but I have to blame something other than my own stupidity in not noticing the bit-rot sooner: on reformatting there were many widely scattered "new" bad sectors, comprising less than 0.1% of the ddrive, suggesting that it may have been been the -er- root of many inexplicable problems over the past several months, and my system *had* become much more stable when I moved my OS to a newer 80 GB, and demoted the 60GB to bulk data storage. ]
Seriously, Disk defragmentation is an excellent idea. One can think of a drive as storing data in rings (called tracks), and reading them in a manner not unlike a record player ("a *what*?") -er - a CD. Actually, for convenience and efficiency, the tracks are divided into smaller pieces, called sectors. (the number of sectors per track is no longer constant - the larger outer tracks have more of them, and the internal electronics of the drive keeps track of them all)
Moving from track to track is a time consuming *physical* process (which would make sense to those of us fossils who remember the phonograph) which according to the drive specs typically takes 5-10 milliseconds - an eternity in the nanosecond world of the processor and databus. Actually, it can take 100's of ms to move from one desired tract to another in real life use, but the competitition among drive manufacturers is fierce, and they play some very funky games with timing definitions to stay competitive.
By contrast, moving from one sector to the next is zippity quick. Today's drives spin at up to 15K RPM (though 7.2-10K is more typical of the current generation) and each track contains hundreds of sectors, so the drive head could, in principle, read 15 million sectors in a second (67 ns or .00066 milliseconds/sector vs. say 100 milliseconds to move from one desired track to another)
Clearly, it would be best to write all your files on consecutive sectors on the same track, and switch tracks only when absolutely necessary. Unfortunately that's not practical - or even a very good idea in actual use.
For one thing, as you write and erase files, you create a patchwork of "used" and "available" sectors on your disk -- and you write and erase files far more often than you think. Let's say you open a file, change a single letter, and then save it again. For many reasons, it's faster and safer to write the newly saved copy in a separate place, then (after it's completed and checked) rename it to the old file name and 'erase' the old copy. (Actually, nothing ever actually gets erased, unless you use a special program. The computer just assigns the file's sectors to the pool of 'available' sectors and it gets written over with new data when its number gets called) You may think you just changed one bit, but you really copied the entire file to another location, leaving a 'hole' in the range of used sectors.
Another problems is that hard drives aren't really digital. They're analog magnetic recordings, just like audio cassette -- oh don't give me that look, I *know* people still use those. After reading each sector, the drive has to decode the analog reading into a digital code (it's not a just a matter of +=1 and -=0; reliability demands more complex rules) and check it for errors, etc. By this time, the next sector has come and gone. For this reason, drives are "low-level formatted" with "logical sector numbering", so that the secotor that passes under the read head after the drive has done all that thinking will probably be the next "logical" secotor to read. If the drive takes 3 (physical) sectors worth of spin-time to crank out the binary translation of the analog recording, then the drive will be 1:3 interleaved -- it will read and write the logical sectors 3 physical sectors apart, and (usually) no time will be wasted. (well, sometimes it misses the train, and has to wait for a full rotation of the drive platter, but the manufacturers don't like to talk about that - and it's still over 100x faster than switching tracks)
My point is: the life of a hard drive is much more complicated than you think, and it's really rather remarkable that our drives aren't reduced to gibbering spagetti inside of a week of solid use. Part of that is careful design and algorthms, and part of it is because we are simply such slowpokes that the computer spends almost all its time waiting for us. In fact, the reason Microsoft became so dominant in the software industry has *nothing* to do with its operating system, but is due to the fact that they wrote the BIOS (a chip containing hardware and peripheral instructions for a given computer) for the IBM PC, and IBM forgot to specify that they couldn't sell or modify that BIOS to anyone else. MS also "wrote" (i.e. "bought and modified") the DOS or Disk Operating System. They sold versions of the BIOS and DOS to other companies, allowing the creation of IBM clones, which created the "open PC market" (as opposed to the "closed" Apple monopoly) So you see, the tangled life of a disk drive is responsible for the entire shape of the computing industry.
Still, over a period of weeks or months, it'd get harder and harder for a drive to find a perfect spot to park your files in consecutive sectors. As a practical matter, they don't even try. They just stash it whereever its convenient, and if it doesn't fit, they stash the rest somewhere else. (drives are already by far the slowest part of a standard computer, so they really can't afford to waste much time thinking). They keep track of where they stash the various pieces in a separate file (called a File Allocation Table or FAT in many Operating Systems, like Windows) The FAT is like a card catalog to a library where no one makes any effort to keep the shelves in any order. Each file entry contains an ordered list of sectors, which maybe scattered all over the drive. Without that list, you're hosed, the only way to reconstruct the file would be to read the contents of every sector, and *guess* what belonged together.
By this point, it should be obvious that "defragmenting" - copying and rearranging all the files so all their sectors are in consecutive logical sectors, with fairly minimal trackswitching, is a good idea. It can speed up your drive by a factor of two or more. There is some difference between programs however. Some are more reliable. Some use faster writing code. Some try harder to truly optimize the file placement (there are many clever ways to do this, but they're often contadictory while others just try to clean up the messiest files (most results in the least time). In general, better solutions will take more time to calculate the optimal file placement, but more importantily to repeatedly move files around like a party puzzle until everything is in the optimal location. This can be particularly tricky on a nearly full drive.
Incidentally, since the FAT is a disk file, and must be stored in a predictable location, it becomes an unavoidable reason to switch tracks. In OS's with drive-based FATs, all drives are *automatically* slowed down by a factor of ten or more (except in some highly specialized situations) by the need to switch all the way to the FAT, and then to the data - not counting all the hopscotching to read the actual files themselves. You'll *never* come close to the performance implied by the specs on your drives. If it weren't for this inherent inefficiency, defragmenting a badly fragmented drive might routinely speed it up by a factor of 10-100 or more!

When you save or install a file, that file is normally copied into one location on your hard or floppy drive. Occasionally, blocks of files are written to disk noncontiguously. When this occurs, your hard drive has to find the parts of a file it needs to perform a task, and this slows down your computer. Also if there are chunks of free space here and there, it takes longer to read and write files, even if the files themselves aren't fragmented, because the used parts of the disk are spread out. When you use a defragmentation program, it searches the drive for fragmented files, moves the blocks of files together, and moves the chunks of free space together so your hard drive can find the information it needs to operate quickly.
3. Philosophy and Science
Siddhartha's "last name" is commonly given as Gautama. However, it is rather questionable if that is his proper name. His mother, Maya Devi (Queen Mahamaya), passed away seven days after he was born (according to legend) and he was reportedly given the name "Buddha Gautama" after his father's second wife, Gautami, who raised him (as much as Indian queens raise their sons, anyway) This tale is filled with as great a tangle of theologically murky symbolism as Moses in the bullrushes. For example, "Maya" means "illusion" and Mahamaya means "the great illusion", which Buddha made famous as his central tenet of "Maya, the illusion of the earthly world".
Buddha was born 566 or 563 BC, married Yasodharma in 547 BC (at 16 or 19) and probably died in 483 BC. Rahula or Rahul (Sanskrit for "able and efficient") was his first son, but some say he had others. He became disillusioned with his life of comfort in his late 20's (Some say 29, middle-aged in his era, and the legends all say he was troubled by the prospect of aging - arguably one of the most productive midlife crises in history), and became a wandering hermit known by the name of "Shakyamuni Buddha" (It was actually not particularly unusual for -generally much older- men in his era to become hermits or holy men).
For two centuries after his death, his "bhikkus' or disciples were a small sect of yellow robed wanderers little noticed among the many thousands of similar Hindu (as they considered themselves) sects in India in that era. Buddhism only 'took off' after the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka adopted it. The rest, as they say, is history
Ashoka was an interesting character. He is believed to have risen to power (275 BC) by systematically assassinating all his brothers. He felt that the only way to consolidate his family's power was to not merely defeat, but devastate the surrounding kingdoms. His armies massacred hundreds of thousands in single conflicts abroad, while at home, he instituted capital punishment for the smallest of offenses, and instituted a network of spies to monitor even the gossip among his people -- I imagine that speaking ill of the King was likely one of the 'minor' capital offenses at his discretion.
However, once he'd secured his kingdom to fully defensible geographic boundaries, he stopped and turned attentions to improving the lot of his people, and became very concerned with the welfare of all humans and animals. He established extensive protections of both wildlife and domestic animals, and convinced most of his subjects voluntarily became vegetarians (which later spread to much of India and Asia). He built 84,000 stupas across his kingdom, housing sacred relics of Buddha (Gautama), sent extensive pilgrimages abroad, and held massive assemblies so holy men from all over Asia could discuss philosophy.
I don't know what became of Rahula. his grandfather Suddhodhana (Siddhartha's father) was a Raja (chieftain-king) over Kapilavastu (a small district on the slope of the Himalayas on the India-Nepal border), but I don't know if Rahula ascended to that position in the absence of his father. I've never known him to be called King Rahul, only Prince. According to legend, Siddhartha left his son only his begging bowl as an inheritance.

Siddharta surnamed Gautama is today known mostly as Buddha. Buddha means "one who is intuitive, awakened, or enlightened".
Here is a biography of Buddha: http://www.san.beck.org/EC9-Buddha.html
4. Math
We know who drove the 'first' (most proximal) 50 miles, going and coming: Andy drive 40 miles on the outward leg, and none returning; while Barney drove 10 miles of the outward leg and 50 miles return, for a total of 60 miles. Of the rest of the trip, Barney drove the entire outbound leg, and Andy drove the entire returning leg, so those legs cancel out.
Result: Barney drove 20 miles more than Andy (assuming they followed the same route both ways)

Consider T the total length of the trip.
Andy drove 40 + (T - 50) = T - 10 miles.
Barney drove (T - 40) + 50 = T + 10 miles.
So Barney drove 20 miles more than Andy
 
 

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War XIII - battle 4
1. Forestry
Some of the following do not belong here.
Which do not belong and why?
see Answer
2. Computers
If the following batch file is run in the Windows XP command interpreter, what will be the final directory entered?
cd \temp
pushd \bak
cd \work
popd

see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
What are these? Tourists in Hawaii are warned to avoid them.


see Answer
4. Literature
"Babies, like tough steaks, or the modern Greek olive trees, are invariably the better for beating- but, poor woman! she had the misfortune to be left-handed, and a child flogged left- handedly had better be left unflogged. The world revolves from right to left. It will not do to whip a baby from left to right. If each blow in the proper direction drives an evil propensity out, it follows that every thump in an opposite one knocks its quota of wickedness in. "
The baby in question was Toby Dammit, he who lost his head.
How did he lose it and who tells us this story?
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
Ursidae - the family of bears
Canidae - the family of dogs, foxes and wolves
Felidae - the family of cats
Mustelidae - the family of weasels, ferrets, badgers, otters, etc.
Otariidae - the family of sea lions and eared seals
Odobenidae - the family of the walrus (one surviving species)
Phocidae - the family of earless seals
Procyonidae - the family of raccoons, coatimundis, kinkajous, etc.
Otariidae, Odobenidae and Phocidae -- do not belong in a category headed "Forestry"
2. Computers
(e.g. starting in C:\)
C:\> cd \temp
C:\temp\> pushd \bak
C:\bak\> cd \work
C:\work\> popd
C:\temp\>
3. Philosophy and Science
This is the Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish, Physalia spp.
Family: Physaliidae, Order: Siphonophora, Class: Hydrozoa, Phylum: Cnidaria
More info here:
http://www.aloha.com/~lifeguards/portugue.html
4. Literature
The story "Never Bet the Devil Your Head" is told by Edgar Allan Poe.
Here is the text:
http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/4220/bet-your-head.html
 
 

Jump back to the top.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

War XIII - battle 3
1. Forestry
Specifically, what are these?
see Answer
2. Computers
What will be the output of the following basic program?
PRINT (8 IMP 4)*(8 EQV 4)
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
Please add the fourth line to the following:
Aries   Ram     Head    Mars    Fire
Taurus  Bull    Neck    Venus   Earth
Gemini  Twins   Chest   Mercury Air

see Answer
4. Logic
What is a fraction whose numerator is less than its denominator, but which, turned upside down, will remain of the same value?
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
These are various families of the order Coniferales (also known as Pinale), which are arguably the predominant trees of the Mezozoic. Most have needle or scale-like leaves, and of course, the characteristic seed cones, which mark them as gymnosperms (plants without ovaries, unlike the more common angiosperms). A few genera have a widespread distribution and many species, but most have only a few species or limited distribution today.
See http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/IB181/VPL/CorCon/CorCon3.html

Araucariaceae - 3-4 genera of narrow to broad-leafed conifers, now limited to a relatively few species in the southern hemisphere, but widespread in both hemispheres in, say, the Jurassic period. Many surviving species are quite large -both thick and tall, especially compared to other trees in those regions- and are important local sources of lumber.

Individual specimens are reliably recorded to be over 1000 years old. One species, the Wollemi pine is a recently famous "dinosaur tree" discovered in 1994 in what may be the closest thing to a surviving Miocene forest (in Wollemi gorge, just 100 mi from Sidney, but with terrain so rugged that it remains untouched and rarely visited). This species had previously been known only from fossils dating back 200 million years or more to the Jurassic, when Australia, South America, Africa and India formed one continent, Gondwana.

Trees evergreen, dioecious or monoecious, with relatively large pith in trunk and resin in cortex. Leaves spirally arranged or decussate, sessile, decurrent. Cones unisexual. Pollen cones axillary or terminal on branchlets, solitary or clustered; microsporophylls numerous, spirally arranged, sessile; microsporangia 4-20, external, suspended, arranged in 2 rows, filiform; pollen sacs split longitudinally; pollen nonsaccate. Seed cones solitary, terminal on branchlets, maturing in 2nd or 3rd year; bracts numerous, spirally arranged; ovulate scales degenerate or ligulate, connate with bracts on 1 side, each with 1 ovule at base abaxially; ovules connate with ovulate scales or with bracts (when ovulate scales degenerate); bracts of mature cones deciduous, flattened, woody or thickly leathery, bearing 1 seed in basal part (if developed), sometimes adnate with ligulate seed scales in center of adaxial surface, apex triangular or caudate. Seeds connate with bracts or detached, flattened, winged or not. 2n = 26.

Araucariaceae images:
http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/FLORA/imaxxaru.htm
http://web1.manhattan.edu/fcardill/plants/gymno/araucari.html
Woolemi pine

Cephalotaxaceae
A single genus of fairly short (6-10 m) conifers found mostly in Asia and off-shore islands, with a few species ranging down towards Australia. Formerly classed the Taxus (found in North American, and recently made famous by a class of anti-cancer drugs found in it bark, a trait shared by Cephalotaxus)
The genome of Cephalotaxus seems remarkably versatile: it has been argued that all species on the Asian mainland may be one species, with variation caused by different local environments.

Trees or shrubs evergreen, dioecious (occasionally monoecious); bud scales persistent. Leaves 2-ranked, pectinately arranged and leafy branchlets elliptic to obdeltoid in outline, decussate or opposite, sessile or subsessile, basally somewhat twisted; blade linear, linear-lanceolate, or occasionally lanceolate, midvein green abaxially, elevated on both surfaces, stomatal bands 2, abaxial, each comprising 11-24 rows of stomata, usually appearing white because of powdery covering, as wide as or usually wider than midvein, marginal bands green, as wide as or narrower than midvein, resin canal abaxial. Pollen cones borne on branches of preceding year, aggregated into capitula of 6-8; capitula axillary, solitary, pedunculate or subsessile; peduncle usually with several spirally arranged scales, rarely naked; cones subtended by 1 ovate or triangular-ovate bract; microsporophylls 4-16, each with (2 or)3(or 4) pollen sacs; pollen nonsaccate. Seed cones borne from axils of terminal bud scales, 1-6(-8) per bud, long pedunculate; floral axis with several pairs of decussate bracts each bearing 2 erect, axillary ovules. Seeds ripening in 2nd year, drupelike, completely enclosed by succulent aril, ovoid, ellipsoid, or globose, apex mucronate. Cotyledons 2. Germination epigeal.

Cephalotaxaceae images:
http://www.dipbot.unict.it/orto/0441-1.html
http://www.botanik.uni-bonn.de/conifers/ce/ce/harringtonia.htm

Podocarpaceae:
A family of trees and shrubs that includes Huon Pine, Celery-topped Pine and Mountain Plum Pine. Generally short, sometimes remarkably fleshy, often found in damp undisturbed environments.

Trees or shrubs evergreen, dioecious or rarely monoecious. Leaves decussate, subopposite, or spirally arranged; blade scalelike, subulate, or linear to elliptic, stomatal lines abaxial or present on all surfaces. Pollen cones terminal, solitary or clustered in leaf axils, or borne in spikelike complexes; individual cones pedunculate or sessile; microsporophylls numerous, spirally arranged, with distinct adaxial and abaxial surfaces; microsporangia 2; pollen 2(or 3)-saccate in Chinese species, (rarely nonsaccate). Seed-bearing structures terminal or axillary, solitary, occasionally spikelike, comprising few to several spirally arranged bracts; all or only apical bracts fertile, smooth or warty; basal bracts sometimes fused and succulent (together with peduncle) to form a "receptacle," or obsolete; ovule (inverted) or inclined in Chinese species. Seed drupelike or nutlike, wholly or (in Dacrydium) partly enveloped in a sometimes colored and succulent epimatium derived from fertile ovulate scale. Cotyledons 2.

Podocarpaceae images:
http://www.museums.org.za/bio/plants/coniferophyta/podocarpaceae.htm
http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/Madagasc/podocarp.html

Cupressaceae - the true redwoods
Trees or shrubs evergreen, monoecious or dioecious. Leaves decussate or in whorls of 3, scalelike and then often dimorphic with flattened facial leaves and keeled lateral leaves, or needlelike particularly in juvenile plants, often with an abaxial resin gland. Pollen cones terminal or axillary, solitary, maturing and shed annually; microsporophylls 6-16, decussate or whorled, each bearing (2 or)3-6(-9) pollen sacs; pollen wingless. Seed cones usually terminal, solitary, globose, ovoid, or oblong, dehiscent or indehiscent when mature in 1st or 2nd(or 3rd) year; cone scales developing after ovules originate in bract axils; bracts almost completely enveloped by cone scales, free only at apex; ovules 1-numerous per bract axil, erect; cone scales of mature cones 3-16, flat or peltate, woody, leathery, or succulent, 1-20-seeded. Seeds winged or not; wings derived from seed coat. Cotyledons usually 2, rarely 3-6. Germination epigeal.

Taxodiaceae - bald cyprus, giant and sequoia redwoods, and various ornamentals
Trees evergreen, semievergreen, or deciduous, monoecious; trunk straight; main branches whorled. Leaves spirally arranged or scattered (decussate in Metasequoia), monomorphic, dimorphic, or trimorphic on same tree, lanceolate, subulate, scalelike, or linear. Microsporophylls and cone scales spirally arranged (decussate in Metasequoia). Pollen cones borne in panicles, or solitary or clustered at branch apices, or axillary, small; microsporangia with (2 or)3 or 4(-9) pollen sacs; pollen nonsaccate. Seed cones terminal or borne near apex of previous year's growth, ripening in 1st year, persistent or late deciduous; cone scales developing after ovules originate in bract axils; bracts and cone scales usually spirally aranged (decussate in Metasequoia), sessile, opening when ripe (falling in Taxodium), semiconnate and free only at apex, or completely united; bracts occasionally rudimentary (in Taiwania); ovules 2-9 per bract axil, erect or pendulous; cone scales of mature cones flattened or shield-shaped, woody or leathery, 2-9-seeded on abaxial side. Seeds flat or triangular, wingless (in Taxodium), narrowly winged all round or on 2 sides, or with a long wing on proximal part. Cotyledons 2-9. 2n = 22*.

Pinaceae - modern cedars, pines, spruce, larch, hemlock, etc.
Trees or rarely shrubs, evergreen or deciduous, monoecious. Branchlets often dimorphic: long branchlets with clearly spirally arranged, sometimes scalelike leaves; short branchlets often reduced to slow growing lateral spurs bearing dense clusters of leaves at apex. Leaves solitary or in bundles of (1 or)2-5(-8) when basally subtended by a leaf sheath; leaf blade linear or needlelike, not decurrent. Cones unisexual. Pollen cones solitary or clustered, with numerous spirally arranged microsporophylls; microsporophyll with 2 microsporangia; pollen usually 2-saccate (nonsaccate in Cedrus, Larix, Pseudotsuga, and most species of Tsuga). Seed cones erect or pendulous, maturing in 1st, 2nd, or occasionally 3rd year, dehiscent or occasionally indehiscent, with many spirally arranged ovulate scales and bracts; ovulate scales usually smaller than bracts at pollination, with 2 upright ovules adaxially, free or only basally adnate with bracts, maturing into seed scales. Seed scales appressed, woody or leathery, variable in shape and size, with 2 seeds adaxially, persistent or deciduous after cone maturity. Bracts free or adnate basally with seed scales, well developed or rudimentary, exserted or included. Seeds terminally winged (except in some species of Pinus). Cotyledons 2-18. Germination hypogeal or epigeal. 2n = 24* (almost always).
2. Computers
117
8 = 00001000
4 = 00000100

00001000        IMP
00000100        =
11110111        = - 00001001 = - 9

So, 8 IMP 4 = - 9

00001000        EQV
00000100        =
11110011        = - 00001101 = - 13

And 8 EQV 4 = - 13

(8 IMP 4)*(8 EQV 4) = (-9)*(-13) = 117

11110111
11110011        *

11110111
11101110
01110000
11100000
11000000
10000000        +
01110101 = 1 + 4 + 16 + 32 + 64 = 117
3. Philosophy and Science
Cancer    Crab    Stomach/Breasts    Moon       Water
4. Logic
6/9 or
-1/1
-1 < 1
-1/1 = 1/-1 = -1
 
 

Jump back to the top.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

War XIII - battle 2
1. Forestry
Pycnidia, apothecia, mycelium. To what am I referring?
see Answer
2. Computers
What will be the output of the following basic program if the user inputs 100 at the first prompt and 50 at the second?
INPUT X
INPUT Y
PRINT X OR Y
PRINT X XOR Y
PRINT X AND Y
PRINT NOT X
PRINT NOT Y
PRINT X IMP Y
PRINT X EQV Y

see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
What is the term for a repeating pattern of interlocking shapes such as that below? Please give web references to other examples.


see Answer
4. Math
What is the next number in the series? Why?
0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144 233 377 610 ....
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
All of these terms have to do with Lichens

APOTHECIUM
An ascocarp in which the hymenium is exposed at maturity. Generally cup- or saucer-shaped, apothecia can also be long and narrow (lirellae).
Here is a photo.
and another.

PYCNIDIA
Small, flask-shaped structures that are filled with simple or branched hyphae from which bud numerous asexual spores (conidia). They may be confused with perithecia (which contain the sexual ascospores) since they both are immersed in the medulla and open through a pore in the cortex. This pore (or ostiole) appears as a brown to black dot in the upper cortex of the thallus.
Here is a photo.

MYCELIUM
Belongs to the vegetative system of fungi made of microscopic filaments (=mycelial hyphae) which become visible when these filaments join into a thick network outside the tissues attacked by phytopathogenic fungi.
2. Computers
The output will be (on successive lines): 118; 86; 32; -101; -51; -69; and -87.
3. Philosophy and Science
It is called a tesselation.
http://library.thinkquest.org/16661/index2.html describes the concept, and Maths Forum has links to a number of examples of tessellations.
You can create your own here.
4. Math
987. It's the Fibonacci suit. Here u(0)=0, u(1)=1 and u(n)=u(n-1)+u(n-2) for n>1.
Each number (from the third term onwards) is the sum of the previous two terms.
 
 

Jump back to the top.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

War XIII - battle 1
1. Forestry
This rare tree of the legume family is native to Kentucky, Tennessee and part of Missouri. The heartwood of this tree is a striking yellow color. What tree is it? (Scientific name please.)


see Answer
2. Computers
In the history of computer gaming rank these in order of appearance. Give approximate years.
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
The Field of a Hundred Fissures near Mihintale, Sri Lanka is a series of caves created by what geological phenomena in what year?
see Answer
4. Geography
Which one does not belong and why? There are at least two correct answers to this question.
see Answer
 
 
Points on this battle were won as follows:
 
 
1. Forestry
It looks like Cladrastis kentukea to me. I can see why you didn't want the common name "Yellowwood". In its favor, it does have that nice "Kentucky" tie-in, even if it is horribly mangled ("kentukea"? Yeech!) I never realized that it was a legume, though the twigs do smell like beans if crushed.
2. Computers
Uh oh. Most of what I know about computer games comes from brief exposures, and friends who seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject. I didn't have time, since I spent every waking hour chasing girls (with mixed success). Um, strike that. If any of my ex's see it, I'm dead meat.

Hunt the Wumpus must be older than 1975, because that was the year it was published in Creative Computing (oh the memories!) and I'm told it was floating around before that. Its actual history is lost in a maze of twisty passages, all alike. No wait. That came later. 1972 actually.

Advent was written about 1975, the year I moved to Boston. ADVENT (aka 'Colossal Cave') was inspired by a trip Crowther took to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky in 1972, and the game map was based on part of the real cave. In many ways, it was the archetypal MUD. 1976 actually.

The program now called "Zork" was written ca 1977-78, though it was actually called "Dungeon". "Zork" was just a generic term for any unfinished program at MIT at least as early as 1976. In this case, the term stuck in people's heads. (and it's dark in there -- it's a wonder it wasn't eaten by a grue)

MUD-1 must have come soon after Zork, because I first heard it described as a multi-user Zork, and at the time, I'd heard of, but never really played, Zork. On the other hand, I know it was before January 1980. Call it 1979. 1978 actually.

Tradewars? I'm not entirely sure I've even heard of that pone. Star Traders does ring a bell. This would make it either pretty recent or pretty ancient. I think I recall a card- or board-based RPG by this name in the early 80's, so I'll say.. 1982-83.

IRC was written in 1988, though I could swear I used it earlier. Then again, I'm not a real IRC guy, and it's all been a bit of a blur since the quasi-realtime RSCS chat-like programs in he 70's and BITnet ("Because It's There" net) relay chat ca. 1980 - a godsend for a young geek trying to keep the life in a long-distance relationship. It's amazing - I've been proselytizing the wonders of essentially free, instant communications for, gee, over half my life, and folks are finally starting to catch on.

I actually recall DOOM well. My knee went out on me, I'd just upgraded to a *gasp* 486, I spent a few 16-hour days over a period of months playing it and marvelling at how it beat the pants off the graphics of everything else I'd seen. I wasn't in the first wave, so I'll guess it was released in '93 or '94. 1993 actually.

I first started using Mosaic in beta in late '93, early '94. Since you're probably looking for the 1.0 release, it's more likely '94, after DOOM 1993 actually also.

I'm tempted to say 1996 for quake, but I think DOOM was still cooking then. Maybe 1997. No, call it "sold!" at 1996

I still haven't played Everquest. In fact, for the first couple of years, I thought everyone was talking about a 80's vintage game with a similar name. I'm so far out of the loop on this one that there's a toucan with a rainbow beak looking for me. Um... mid 1999? Sorry, I'm spacing on this one. And you know how tragic Space:1999 can be.
3. Philosophy and Science
"Field of 100 fissures"? Sounds Columbo when the Archeology season starts. But that wouldn't be precisely geological, so I assume you mean the earthquake of April 14, 1615. Stone bridges and fortifications collapsed, fissures opened spouting flames and sulfurous fumes. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The US Federal government cleverly and secretly stages an annual re-creation of this calamity... tax filings are due on April 15.

And you thought *you* were the only one gnashing your teeth on the 14th? Hardly.
4. Geography
I'll cheat and take the easy way out: Sicily isn't a nation.

or, Switzerland doesn't have a seacoast.
 
 

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Standings in the War - XIII

 
 

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