Oct 31, 2011


Nicknamed "The Blackberry Crumble", a significant portion of Research in Motion's Blackberry service was down for up to three days in Oct. 2011, causing a great deal of inconvenience and consternation among users.

The problem was caused due to failures in a data center in England. This is situated in a town in England which has always been the butt of jokes because of its association with dull corporate culture, made even more notorious for being the setting of the British mockumentary "The Office".

Which town in England?

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Oct 30, 2011


The erstwhile Nawab of Pataudi, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, recently passed away after a lung ailment. He was a Test cricketer and India's youngest Test captain.

Two accidents had significant impacts on his life: the first involved 'Tiger' himself, when he found himself in a car accident that cost him an eye. The second involved someone else, who was hit on the head by Charlie Griffith in a match against Barbados in 1962. Who was hit and how did it affect Pataudi's life?

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Oct 29, 2011


This publishing group operates a 'universe' consisting of many characters, each with their own storylines. In 2011, the group decided to launch "The New 52" series, in which all existing lines were stopped, and 52 new series (including 'rebooted' stories about existing characters) were launched.

Which company is this?

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Oct 28, 2011


Billed as the equivalent of Twenty-20 cricket in its sport, this new format for this game is designed to encourage faster play and more goals. The number of players per team are reduced by 2 (thus giving this form its name), the match is just 15 minutes per half, and there is a "face-off" instead of a penalty shot where the striker approaches the goal (instead of taking a single shot at it) and has to beat the keeper within 8 seconds. The goal is also much wider.

Which new sporting format, designed by Ric Charlesworth, is this?

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Oct 27, 2011


Image: Dennis Ritchie's homepage

On the left in this image is Dennis Ritchie, the famed computer scientist who made enduring contributions to the field through his work on the programming language C and the operating system Unix, among others.

In this picture, is his close collaborator, who wrote B, the predecessor to C, and started work on what would ultimately become Unix. Both these men jointly received several awards, such as the ACM Turing Prize, the IEEE Hamming Medal, the National Medal of Technology, and most recently, the Japan Prize.

Who was this close friend of Ritchie's?

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Oct 26, 2011


The project's formal genesis was in an agreement between India (represented by Rajiv Gandhi) and the then Soviet Union (Mikhail Gorbachev) in November 1988. However, with the break up of the Soviet state in the next few years, it stuttered through many problems before construction began in 1997.

Only to run into protests by locals, especially this year. Where in Tamil Nadu, and what?

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Oct 25, 2011


This is the cover of TIME from a magazine edition in August this year. The lead story, as is evident, was about the debt crisis that has swept the American economy in 2011, even leading to its downgrade by a leading credit rating agency.

Who is depicted on the cover? (Hint: A US President)

Image: TIME.com

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Oct 24, 2011


At the GOTO conference (a software development conference) in October this year, Google showed off a new programming language designed to run inside web browsers. It is called "Dart" (earlier nicknamed "Dash").

Via Dart, Google's main aim is to provide an alternative to which extremely popular programming language that they consider as having "fundamental flaws that cannot be fixed merely by evolving the language"?

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Oct 23, 2011


The "History Channel", a TV channel that meshes information and entertainiment, relaunched in India once again in October this year. This time, the channel has partnered the TV house TV18. What unusual choice of brand ambassador have they made for the channel? (which probably makes sense, given the channel wants to be noticed by less urban audiences in the years to come)

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Oct 22, 2011


The edited out portion in this comic (click to see a bigger image) gives the name of a new Apple iPhone app that's making the right noises (well, depending on the accents involved). It's not quite clear what the name means: various theories from Scandinavian words to old company names have been bandied about.

So what's in the white-washed portion above?

Image: Slate/Doonesbury

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Oct 21, 2011


This graphic novel, issued in 2011, is written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Leland Myrick. The subject is a non-fictional biography of a legendary twentieth century figure, known for his contributions to quantum physics, education, and for popularising science. He was also an amateur musician and painter.

Who is this book about?

Image: Amazon

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Oct 20, 2011


CNES (or Centre National d'Études Spatiales) is roughly the French equivalent of ISRO in India. Both these space agencies have recently collaborated on a satellite mission to research meteorological questions, especially relating to the water cycle in the tropical areas. This satellite was successfully launched in October this year.

Appropriately, the mision has an Indo-French name. Called "____-Tropiques", the blank is from the Sanskrit word for "cloud". What word?

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Oct 19, 2011


Jagjit Singh, the singer particularly renowned for his ghazal singing, died a few weeks after he developed a brain haemorrhage on Sept 23 this year. This prevented him from performing in a show in Mumbai that day, as part of a series called "Fever Unplugged" (which began in Delhi earlier that month).

With which other legendary contemporary was he to share the stage that day?

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Oct 18, 2011


This famous British author's first ever book was called The Narrative of John Smith and was completed in 1884. It is about a man suffering from gout. This theme is in no way reflective of the kind of books the author was to become famous for a couple of years later.

In fact, the book was lost in the mail after being sent to a publisher. The author wrote it again, but never published it, even quipping: "My shock at its disappearance would be as nothing to my horror if it were suddenly to appear again - in print".

The British Council is now releasing this novel with the permission of the author's literary estate. Who is this author?

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Oct 17, 2011


This is Patrick Makau of Kenya in a race held in Berlin this year. What astonishing feat is he completing here? (incidentally, the last four previous versions of the same feat have also been performed at Berlin)

Image: Wikipedia

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Oct 16, 2011


The Swiss business giant Nestlé has a dog food product called "Beneful" (under its Nestlé Purina pet care company). What unusual ad, targeted at their real customers, have they launched on Austrian television in October this year?

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Oct 15, 2011


Tomas Tranströmer is the 2011 Nobel Laureate for Literature. Though his poetic work has often centred around nature, he's been personally involved in several political causes. In 1984, he took part in a poetry session in an Indian city to mark a major event earlier that year.

Which city?

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Oct 14, 2011


This picture is from a photo-call for a film that has been in the works for a while now, and is set for release in late 2011. You can see Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg here.

Which film?

Image: Horiwood.com

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Oct 13, 2011


Adbusters Media Foundation is a vociferous Canadian advocacy group that is against consumerism in many forms and runs many "subvertisements". Earlier this year, they made a call for a series of protests in New York, against big businesses and various socio-political inequalities.

Which place is the focus of their protests, which is termed "Occupy ___ ___" (the blanks being the name of the place)?

Image: Wikipedia

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Oct 12, 2011


The New York Times has launched a new India-centric blog, whose logo you see above. The name of this blog is one that has been invoked before in relation to India and writing, and comes from a product once deeply associated with the country (though there have been claims that the product was first made in China).

Made from soot, what is the name of this product, and thus the blog? (which also enables the logo designers to use a blotchy effect for India's map and avoid cartographic problems in the North)

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Oct 11, 2011


"Saakshaat" is a mission of the Indian government to promote education through information and communication technology. Which is why "Saakshaat" was the earlier rumoured name for a product associated with the mission. This product will be available for purchase under the name "Ubislate" (Datawind, the manufacturer, already has a product called "Ubisurfer").

But by what name has it become known in India?

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Oct 10, 2011


The "World Earth Catalog" was created by Stewart Brand in 1968 and published continuously for a short duration of four years (there was the odd issue now and then after 1972). The catalog would document various tools, information, products, and ideas that appealed to those who subscribed to the counterculture movements of the 60s in the US. These were people who were interested in ecology, the environment, sustainable living, etc.

The image here is of the back cover of the last issue in 1974, with a four word phrase (blanked out) on it. In 2005, this burst into prominence and has been with us in one form or another. Once again, in early Oct 2011, it was once again widely quoted.

Which phrase? Image: The Car Free American Blog

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Oct 9, 2011

1Z Quiz - Answers and Results

45 people entered the 1Z Day contest. First, the answers:

1. Anant Pai, who created the Amar Chitra Katha series of books (he passed away in 2011).
2. Hermann Kallenbach, a close friend of M.K.Gandhi (seated to the left), and subject of a controversy arising out of a book on the life of Gandhi this year.
3. Aron Ralston, whose harrowing exploits while canyoneering resulted in the self-amputation of his arm and inspired the film "127 Hours".
4. The Big Mac Index, which also included India this time.
5. South Sudan, the youngest nation on the planet.
6. Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian Google employee who became a visible face of the protests in that country.
7. Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie.
8. Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots for the 2012 London Olympics.
9. K. Balachander, the latest recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
10. Benoit Mandelbrot, the famous French mathematician (the figure in the background is called the Mandelbrot Set).

And now for the results. 19 people turned in all-correct entries; after this tally, we added one more first prize in response. So the two winners (randomly chosen from the 19) are Swathi Rishi and Abhimanyu Sanghi, who win Rs. 200/- vouchers each. Congratulations to them (their Flipkart voucher prizes will be sent via email in a day).

The other prize was a random pick among everyone who got at least 3 answers right. This prize goes to Kunal Naik. He wins a Rs. 100/- voucher.

Thanks to everybody who participated - hopefully, we'll be running more such contests in the days to come.


Guest question by Ajay Bhat

Orianthi Panagaris is a 26-year old guitarist and singer-songwriter from Australia. In addition to recording and releasing her own music, she's played with a number of well-known artists. Most recently, she has received a lot of attention in India due to her work with A.R.Rahman on the song "Saadda Haq" from "Rockstar".

In 2009, she was chosen by another famous artist to be stage guitarist for his musical tour (marking his musical return) which got canceled by his untimely death.


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Oct 8, 2011


Here are some clues for some English terms. Who (and not which tree) is common to these words?

  • Someone in London who sits in a black car and has "The Knowledge"
  • A police department that is found in many countries that the English once ruled
  • Someone who stays in your house with you but pays for it
  • What the Indians called the Cellular Jail in Port Blair
  • A type of textbook that is especially useful just before exams.
  • The man that Tribhovandas Zaveri and their likes most fear
  • What you ask for when the police come to arrest you
  • What Leela Samson does when she is not dancing
  • The Americans address Dr. Manmohan Singh this way
  • What the CBI has been busy filing in 2011

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Oct 7, 2011


What do the following clues point to?
  • Started in 1980 and came to a close in 2011
  • The name was derived by randomly choosing three letters from a dictionary
  • Common misconception: the name is a reference to a stage experienced during sleeping, especially when one is having dreams, which is visibly manifested in the eyes
  • Involved Michael Stipe, Bill Berry, Mike Mills, and Peter Buck

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Oct 6, 2011


The English cricket season typically opens with the "Champion County" match, in which a team representing the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) plays the current English county champions. This year, as in 2010, the match was held at Abu Dhabi in March, and was a four day match played in day-night fashion.

India's Rahul Dravid was part of the MCC team, and starred, scoring a century to help them win. He was reportedly happy with an experimental addition to the match. This is being trialled around the world with a view of being implemented in a day-night Test scenario. What significant change to cricketing equipment was made in this match?

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Oct 5, 2011


The noted Japanese author Haruki Murakami wrote a book called "1Q84" a couple of years ago, which achieved critical and commercial success. An English translation of this book is being issued in 2011.

The book's title is part homage, part wordplay. The title alludes to a classic (English) book, which will also tell you when the events in "1Q84" are set. In Japanese, "Q" sounds the same as a number.

Which English book is being referred to?

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Oct 4, 2011


The ecommerce giant Amazon.com recently made a few product announcements, including their new tablet called "Kindle Fire". This device will use a new browser developed by Amazon, and is being dubbed a "split browser": computation will happen both on the tablet and in Amazon's cloud platform.

According to Amazon, the browser's name stands for the idea that a thread of a particular material "is an invisible yet incredibly strong connection between two different things". What's the name?

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Oct 3, 2011


A graduate from IIT Bombay, the lately departed Jag Mundhra switched to films as a career. He soon became known for two classes of films, one pandering to common tastes and the other depicting real-life events involving women's issues.

Examples of the latter (the internet will help find the former!) are films on the case of Bhanwari Devi ('Bawandar') and Kiranjit Ahluwalia ('Provoked'). One of his earliest films was 'Kamla', based on a true story involving an Indian Express reporter called Ashwini Sarin and a villager called Kamla. What was this case about?

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Oct 2, 2011

The 1Z Quiz

Presenting the 1Z quiz contest, a simple set of ten questions to be solved. Here are the details:

1. There are 10 questions in the embedded presentation below
2. Each of the answers has featured on Infinite Zounds in the past year (in case you need that sort of help)
3. The last slide has the instructions on how to send in the answers
4. The quiz is open to everyone, till the 7th of Oct (Friday)
5. There are two prizes (Flipkart vouchers):
a. the top scorer (in case of multiple top scorers, by random choice)
b. a random pick among those who got at least 3 answers right

6. Please write to 'infinitezounds'[at]gmail if you can't view the presentation below.


Following a local referendum in the province of Catalonia in Spain, a famed national practice has come to end in that state. The last of its kind was held in Barcelona; Jose Tomas was the key ringleader.

This does not affect the practice in the rest of the country. What practice?

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Oct 1, 2011

1Z Day

Infinite Zounds turns one today. Between a 'tweener and a 'trino have been a lot of people, places, events, and ideas. This blog hopes it was able to share its excitement of how immensely interesting the world around us really is.

And so it will remain. Hopefully, the questions will get better and you'll get even more out of it in the days ahead.

As before, we strongly encourage you to write in to "infinitezounds" [-at-] "gmail" if you have any comments or suggestions. If you like the wares on this blog and think others would like them too, please tell them about this blog (they can also find it on Twitter, via RSS, or on Google Buzz - remember that? :-))

Or just give us a pat on the back via Facebook.

Before we end, please note that in the coming week we'll be running a contest that begins on Sunday. Details will be up tomorrow. Do participate!


In a review/blurb of this book, author Philip Pullman wrote:

"Exhilarating. The clearest and most beautifully written introduction to science I've ever read. Again and again I found myself saying "Oh! So that's how genes work!" (or stars, or tectonic plates, or all the other things he explains). Explanations I thought I knew were clarified; things I never understood were made clear for the first time. My favourite adjective of praise has always been "clear", and this book has clarity all the way through."
"The Magic of Reality" is this author's first book for a younger audience. Who is this best-selling scientist-author?

Image: Wikipedia

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