Monday, January 23, 2012

Underthinking Awkward questions

So I missed Friday's entry sorry about that, was slightly busy being a Doctor.

Can I use a misquote in a community newspaper on an Academic CV?
So my apologies, in the weekend I was reading an article that suggested it had the top 10 most awkward questions asked my kids. I was looking forward to reading this article, to see some cringe-worthy questions. I was expecting "Where do babies come from?", "Why were you and Uncle Francisco wrestling on the bed last night?" and "How long until you give birth dad?"

I would say Sextuplets in the next few minutes.

Instead what I got was a list of questions that were reasonably difficult to answer on the spot, but anyone with a normal education should have an educated guess at, or a smartphone could answer in 3 seconds.

"And that kids is where babies come from.."
The only thing awkward about these questions was the fact you weren't clever enough to give the answer or know how to find it out immediately. I knew the article was off to a bad start when it listed three question in what it claimed was order of increasing difficultly.

1/. "Would a shark beat a dinosaur in a fight?"
2/. "Why is the sky blue?"
3/. "How much does the earth weigh?"

It claimed question 3 was near impossible to answer, where as it is probably the easiest to answer as it has a numerical answer, something do with Newtons laws and what not but a quick trip to the google machine nets an estimate of 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg.

That possibly doesn't take into account earth's new exercise regime.
Question 2, I guess slightly more abstract and you can mumble things about the light spectrum and rainbows, until google tells you it is because of the Rayleigh scattering.
Question 3. which they claim is simple is probably the hardest of all the questions due to the lack of information in the formation of it. Google was no help at all. First of all what kind of shark and what kind of dinosaur are we talking about. If it was a dogfish vs a Raptor then probably a Raptor as evidenced by these photos.

Round 1 : Dinosaurs.

Even if you knew the species in the fight, the location of the fight would probably have a large effect on the outcome, on land - Dinosaur, in the deep sea - Shark. In the Shallows then all bets are off. Would the t-rex's short arms prove a hindrance? Would it just be able to fall on the shark? In which case is there even a winner?

"Ok Billy, you really have stumped Mummy, I will build some scale replicas and we will run some simulations on it"
So here for your eyes is the list of the most "awkward" questions children ask.

The 10 most awkward questions:
1. Why is the moon sometimes out in the day? 
2. Why is the sky blue?
3. Will we ever discover aliens?
4. How much does the earth weigh?
5. How do airplanes stay in the air?
6. Why is water wet?
7. How do I do long division?
8. Where do birds/bees go in winter?
9. What makes a rainbow?
10. Why are there different time zones on earth?

Most of these questions can be answered with some basic knowledge for example, Question 10. Why are there different time zones on earth? the earth is spinning on its axis, that creates the day and night, therefore different areas will have the sun rise at different times so we have arbitrarily decided to peg sunrise to about 6-7 am to do this we need split the earth into timezones. How arbitrary are they you ask? Well Russia decided it had too many so just got rid of 2 of them.

"I have change watch too many times, get rid of some."
Some are slightly more zen. Question 6. Why is water wet? There is no real answer to that. Go try and answer it. - I will concede that one

Also how old are these kids? If we are talking under 7's - what are they asking how to do long division for? 

"Dad I have worked out the average size of a lego block and the size of my castle can you teach me long division so I can estimate the number of legos I have?"
One brightspark suggested all you needed to do to answer these questions was to check out which sounded like a wonderful resource where librarians teach kids how to answer questions. And too be fair for how to find out things like selling NZ land it gave good links.
For more knowledge based questions it suggested you use "Google" or as a hot tip try using "Wikipedia", because a 10 year old kid wouldn't have tried there first. You could rewrite that entire website, so it was just a landing page that had a link to Google.

"Come here kids, and I will teach you a secret, I don't know anything either. Just google it"


  1. Ha, this list made me lol a little bit, just because it proves most Parents in NZ think they are stupid. These aren't questions to be fearful of. Google solves everything.
    I can understand the one about long division though

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