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Showing posts from December, 2012


When Joseph Woodland, who died in December 2012, was a master's student, he was sitting on a beach in his grandfather's property thinking about how to encode information about products. He was doodling in the sand, when he happened to see he had made four lines in the sand.

What, dubbed the "Universal Product Code", would he eventually be the father of?

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This day last year: Q.456


Kamal Haasan's next movie release is "Vishwaroopam" (made both in Hindi and Tamil) and will make its way to theatres in January 2013. In addition to a standard theatrical release, the producers are also planning to release it in what unusual medium?

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This day last year: Q.455



This is part of the new logo for which Indian company, which was unveiled in September of 2012?

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This day last year: Q.454


Who connects the following:

  1. a South African returned barrister
  2. a housewife named Anuradha who once used to sing
  3. the younger brother of Durga
  4. a Rajput princess who was a devotee of Krishna
  5. The Philosopher's Stone
  6. a dry fruit seller from Kabul

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This day last year: Q.452


American President Barack Obama was voted by Time magazine to be its "Person of the Year". He joins a small group of people who have been so selected more than once (he also became "Person of the Year" in 2008 when he was last elected).

Who, also a US President, is the only person to be Time Person of the Year thrice? (in 1932, 1934, and 1941.)

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This day last year: Q.449


2012 was a great year for British sport, with their sportsmen and women winning several medals at the London Olympics, with Andy Murray finally winning a Grand Slam, and several other such feats.

Which is why this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year award was keenly looked forward to. Who won the title, for his feats in and out of the Olympics?

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This day last year: Q.448


One of the heroes of the 2012 US Presidential election was the New York Times columnist Nate Silver who runs a popular electoral analysis blog called FiveThirtyEight. The blog often makes predictions about elections based on highly analytical processes, the likes of which are seen in sports such as baseball. Given its success, both the blog and Silver have been highly sought after.

So the question is: why is the blog called 538?

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This day last year: Q.447


Australian cricket is often known for introducing innovations in match telecasts. The ongoing 2012 KFC Big Bash League (Australia's domestic T20 competition) sees the advent of the Zing system, a set of lights that blink when something happens.


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This day last year: Q.446


What precipitous and calamitous phrase was made popular by Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, when he warned the House Financial Services Committee of something that would happen on January 1, 2013? (obviously, he does't think much of the Mayans and their theories.)

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This day last year: Q.444


In Feb 2012, a short story called "The Cats of Copenhagen" was published by Ithys Press, a Dublin based publication house. This was originally written by an author in 1936 in a letter to his grand-son. (The press doesn't seem to have taken permission from the author's literary estate, but the press claims the letter is now in the public domain.)

Who is the author?


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This day last year: Q.442


What is common to the current Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East (the quartet consists of the UN, the US, EU, and Russia) who is charged with mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the current UN Special Envoy on Global Education? The former took on the responsibility from 2007, the latter in 2012.

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This day last year: Q.441


The Suvarna Vidhana Soudha is a new legislative complex built in Karnataka and inagurated on October 11, 2012 by the President of India. Some critics say that this was built just to prove a point in an ongoing and often fractious inter-state rivalry.

Where has this come up?

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This day last year: Q.440


MOMA, or the Museum of Modern Art, is located in New York. It has a wide array of exhibits under a variety of themes: apart from the usual paintings and sculptures, it also houses examples of industrial design, photography, books, and films.

In November 2012, MOMA acquired fourteen examples in a very new genre, which they will put on exhibit in 2013. This was seemingly an odd choice, so MOMA defended this by saying:

"Are ___ ____ art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The ___ are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design - a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity."
The oldest of these acquisitions was from 1980, and the latest 2009. (Yes, you'll be able to view them in first-person next year.) What did they add?

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This day last year: Q.439


"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is the first installment of three movies on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" book. The movie, which released in December 2012, has been receiving some unusual criticism: some people claim that watching the movie can induce nausea.

This is being attributed to the way the film has been shot (and not just because of it being available in 3D), in order to increase clarity and make motion smoother and sharper. So, cinematographically speaking, what's different about this film?

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This day last year: Q.437


This week's IZzie

Image for this vIZual comes from

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This day last year: Q.436


Oscar Niemeyer died in December 2012, after a distinguished career as one of the world's best known modern architects. He won the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1988.

He is perhaps best known for his work in designing many buildings in his country's capital, a planned city that came up in the late 50s. Which capital city?

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This day last year: Q.435


The title of her upcoming film (billed as the story of "the greatest manhunt in history") is a military term "for 30 minutes after midnight, and it refers also to the darkness and secrecy that cloaked the entire decade long mission". The story is about the American effort to nab Osama bin Laden.

What's the title, and who is the director?

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This day last year: Q.434


The principle of "male primogeniture" has been done away from the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, and other European nations such as Belgium and Netherlands. The United Kingdom began the legislative process of doing the same in late 2011, which will also require other countries in the Commonwealth to pass laws. Obviously, this no longer makes much sense in the progressive twentieth century.

Why has this come back into prominence in late 2012, thanks to a hospital admission in London?

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This day last year: Q.433


K. Adam Christiansen, who describes himself as "A web developer who enjoys some good old-fashioned shenanigans and video games" holds the Twitter handle that you might have expected to be this world leader's first choice, now that he is joining Twitter. Instead, his team and he have opted for "@pontifex", which additionally means "bridge builder".

Which leader?

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This day last year: Q.432


It's time to bring out the end-of-year lists, and few get more attention than TIME's Person of the Year. Like in previous years, a panel will choose a person or entity that in their minds had the biggest impact in 2012. There is also an online poll.

Of the forty nominees for this year, which are the only two non-humans (and non-humans have won this 'title' in the past)?

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This day last year: Q.428


In August 2012, a mountain rescue worker and his neighbour discovered a diplomatic mailbag from Mont Blanc. This was established to have come from the remains of an Air India Boeing 707 that had crashed into the mountain in 1966. The mail was handed over to the Indian embassy in Paris.

The most notable passenger on board this crash in 1966 was an Indian scientist, whose life was cut short at age 56. Who?

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This day last year: Q.427