Mar 31, 2014


"Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" is a 2014 TV series about the history of physics and astronomy, that is inspired by the famous 1980 series "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage". The 2014 show is presented by astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson, and produced by among other, the actor and animator Seth MacFarlane, and writer Ann Druyan.

Druyan was associated with the 1980 show and has written episodes of the new show. How was her husband associated with the 1980 show?

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This day last year: Q.913

Mar 30, 2014


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The fashion magazine Vogue put this couple on the cover of its April 2014 edition, causing a lot of ruckus among readers and commentators who felt this was more of a victory for social celebrityhood rather than fashion. Defending the decision, Vogue's editor Anna Wintour wrote of them as those "who stir things up, whose presence in the world shapes the way it looks and influences the way we see it." and "that role is currently being played by ___ and __ to a T. (Or perhaps that should be to a K?"

Who was on the cover?

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This day last year: Q.912

Mar 29, 2014


The Pritzker Prize is the highest award in architecture. 2014's award went to the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who is especially known for his innovative use of materials and his work on building humane structures for people who find themselves in humanitarian crises.

One of his best known creations was a replacement building of a church in Kobe, Japan in 1995 which had been destroyed in that year's earthquake. This was largely made of tubes which used what unusual material?

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This day last year: Q.911

Mar 28, 2014


Based on a guest question by Vaibhav Bajpai | contribute questions

"Look Who's Back" is a contemporary take on history by Timur Vermes. The novel carves a black and brilliant satire of modern media-bloated society, seen through the eyes of a historical character as a protagonist coming to life in the 21st century. The character is by turns repellent, sympathetic and hilarious, but always fascinating. The novel was a German bestseller in 2012 and an English translation is to be published in April 2014.

Who is this historical character in the novel that wakes up to a modern day life in the 21st century ?

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This day last year: Q.910

Mar 27, 2014


In March 2014, the peninsula of Crimea controversially voted to leave the Ukraine and become part of Russia (which swiftly obliged). In a surprise move, another part of Europe - also surrounded by much water - took part in an unofficial online poll to announce its interest in floating away from its parent country.

Which former city-state is this?

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This day last year: Q.909

Mar 26, 2014


Hockey, which was among those sports that could have been struck off the Summer Olympic programme for 2020, is trying to make itself snappier and more spectator-friendly. Among the rule changes announced in March 2014 (especially intended for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games) is the reduction of the playing time by ten minutes to a total of sixty minutes.

Apart from rules about time-outs and breaks, what other major change will be introduced, that can be considered 'extra-divisive'?

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This day last year: Q.908

Mar 25, 2014


Did you catch our first ever IZ quizletter on the weekend?

With help from lexicographers who work on the Merriam-Webster dictionary, words like "Po" and "Da" will be added to this list, in an update in mid-2014. In what is undoubtedly a marketing exercise, one word will be chosen from an online poll in April 2014.

Run by the company Hasbro, to what list are these changes being made?

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This day last year: Q.907

Mar 24, 2014


Based on a guest question by Sameer Dharur | contribute questions

Speaking about the launch of a political party in Pakistan in March 2014, its rebellious founder Arslan-ul-Mulk said in his founding address:

"Is today's Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had envisioned? Is this a state where all are equal and enjoying the fruits of freedom? The present leadership, both political and bureaucracy, has lost the essence of why Pakistan was created."

He also announced that the leaders of his party would sit on strike in front of the Punjab Assembly demanding acceptance of the Police Reforms and Anti Torture Bill 2014.

What is this party appropriately named?

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This day last year: Q.906

Mar 23, 2014


Based on a guest question by Vaibhav Bajpai | contribute questions

A well-known brand, synonymous with facts, has a long standing history of sponsoring an annual festival in memory of a historical British figure named Maewyn Succat, who later came to be known as "Father of the Citizens". In March 2014, the brand withdrew its sponsorship after organisers in New York refused participation of groups displaying pro-gay signs, which prompted other similar sponsors to back out as well.

Which brand took this bold step in March 2014 and attempted to show solidarity in supporting equality in human rights? And what was the occasion?

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This day last year: Q.905

Mar 22, 2014


In 2011, this country stopped import of any cars except of the electric type. In its bid to eventually become a "zero emission" country, it signed a deal with Nissan in 2014 to supply its "Leaf" electric cars for all government cars and taxis. Nissan will also supply about fifty charging stations which should cover the entire country.

Which country?

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This day last year: Q.904

Mar 21, 2014


In Sept. 2013, a group of religious leaders in Indonesia went on a field trip organised, among others by an Indonesian university and the country's chapter of the WWF. This trip took them through villages and jungles in Sumatra.

In March 2014, what unusual step did the highest clerical body of the country take as a result, which should give a boost to local wildlife conservation?

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This day last year: Q.903

Mar 20, 2014


"Better Together" is the leading campaigner for one of the two sides involved in this 'contest', which will be decided in September 2014, and has taken a 'nae' view of things. "Yes ____" is the leading campaigner for the other, more positive, side. What word fills the blank?

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This day last year: Q.902

Mar 19, 2014


"La Course by le Tour de France" is the name of a special race that has been introduced to the Tour de France cycling tournament (July 2014). This will be held on the last day of the Tour, just before the final stage that traditionally ends at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Originating from a campaign, which riders will be in this race?

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This day last year: Q.901

Mar 18, 2014


Note: the IZ Mailing List is here

"Bombay Velvet" is Indian director Anurag Kashyap's next film and is set in the Bombay of the 50s-70s (the film is in production in 2014, and expected to release by the end of the year). Given the challenges of recreating the period in modern-day Bombay, in which country is much of the film's exteriors being shot?

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This day last year: Q.900

Mar 17, 2014

Announcing the IZ Weekly mailing list

Infinite Zounds is available through the web, Facebook, Twitter, and a syndicated feed. However, not all readers like to use these channels. Some simply prefer email-based options.

So here's announcing a new IZ channel: the IZ weekly mailing list. Weekly, because all of us already get lots of email, and we don't want to add to your burden. The weekly IZ letter will have all the questions and answers from the preceding week, and the rare IZ announcement. We're using MailChimp, so there's a likelihood that GMail users will see emails going under tabs such as "Promotions" - they may want to re-route such emails to other tabs.

We will be tweaking this new form of communication as we go along, so expect a few bumps - but hopefully, the ride will smoothen out pretty soon.

To subscribe, visit this link

Some people occasionally have trouble signing up - in that case, send us an email (to infinitezounds[at] with your name ad we'll sign you up)


Tony Benn, who passed away in March 2014, was a highly popular British Labour Party politician, who had also served as a cabinet minister holding portfolios of industry and technology.

In 2003, he was one of the invited guests to mark the final run of a project that he was closely associated with, since its inception in the mid-60s. This project, which made a big noise in the world of transportation, had shut down for being unprofitable. What?

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This day last year: Q.899

Mar 16, 2014


A guest question by Sameer Dharur | contribute questions

Adhering to annual tradition, the 2014 edition of 'Udyanotsav' in New Delhi will feature 200 varieties of roses, 250 bonsai plants, 80 varieties of cactus along with other ones like Dahlia, Calendula, Gerbera, Linaria, Larkspur, Gaznia, Verbena, Viola, Pansy Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Marigold, Salvia in full bloom.

The striking feature that separates 2014 from previous years is the import of close to 5,000 tulips from Holland which shall be on display. The dominant colour scheme of this year's ornamental flowers has been chosen as yellow.

Where exactly would you find this opulent display of flora?

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This day last year: Q.898

Mar 15, 2014


The Russian Grand Prix is a new addition to the F-1 calendar, making its debut in the 2014 season. This is going ahead after obtaining the go ahead from another international organisation which had been given the power to veto this Grand Prix, and push it to 2015 if preparations for the GP interfered with something else.

Which organisation, and why?

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This day last year: Q.897

Mar 14, 2014


DigitalGlobe is an American company that calls itself a leader in 'geospatial information'. In 2013, it acquired "Tomnod", a website that uses crowdsourcing to solve various 'challenges'.

In March 2014, Tomnod became involved as one of the biggest amateur groups to unofficially undertake what mission?

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This day last year: Q.896

Mar 13, 2014


Based on a guest question by Vaibhav Bajpai | contribute questions

Rebecca Skloot is a freelance science writer and New York Times bestselling author. However, she is also a proof-reader. In March 2014, she had tweeted about a mistake in a New York Times article, published on 20th January 1853, and related to a violinist's kidnapping from Washington county. The paper promptly issued a correction giving due credit to Rebecca.

How was the mistake pointed out by Rebecca connected to a decade-plus confinement?

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This day last year: Q.895

Mar 12, 2014


"300: Rise of an Empire" is a 2014 action film that is based on the Battle of Salamis involving the Greeks and the Persians. It is made by largely the same crew behind the 2007 film "300", and like it, is based on a Frank Miller graphic novel.

Since much of the film's story largely runs parallel to the main events of "300", the terms 'prequel' or 'sequel' don't apply well. What clunky term has been used to describe its relation to "300", which some may look askance at?

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This day last year: Q.894

Mar 11, 2014


A guest question by Abhinandan Sheshadri | contribute questions

After retiring his most famous creation in 1995, this artist/author had decided never to license, resume or create new works based on the characters of his earlier work. After 19 years of his life away from the public eye, he submitted his first illustration, a poster for an upcoming documentary titled "Stripped" (to be released in April 2014).

Who are we talking about?

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This day last year: Q.893

Mar 10, 2014


In March 2014, a team at the Aix-Marseille University, France announced the discovery of a species of virus, which they named 'Pithovirus sibericum'. 'Sibericum', because it was found in a dormant state in a sample of soil taken from the Siberian permafrost, after which it was revived and found to infect an amoeba.

The prefix 'pitho-' comes from the Greek name of large containers. It is apt because this 'giantvirus' has a large body which is largely empty, it has a 'cork'-like structure at an opening, and as the French team leaders joked, they had to put in a reference to something. What is this something, which is also what such containers typically held?

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This day last year: Q.892

Mar 9, 2014


Andrew Hussey is a British historian and author, known particularly for his works on the modern culture of France. In 2014, he published a book about the upheaval in French society and politics involving Arab immigrants and their descendants in France, trying to understand events such as the 2007 Paris riots and tracing causes back to France's colonial past.

The book is called "The French ____: The Long War between France and its Arabs". What word is blanked out, which is perhaps best known as a prominent Arab uprising elsewhere?

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This day last year: Q.891

Mar 8, 2014


Daniel Dobson, a British man, was arrested at the 2014 Australian Open on charges of 'courtsiding' - this charge was withdrawn in March 2014, due to lack of evidence. In summary, Dobson (who works for a company called "Sporting Data") was accused of using a device sewn into his shorts to do something, which could be considered illegal in Australia.

The first ever case of its kind, what is 'courtsiding'?

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This day last year: Q.890

Mar 7, 2014


Kevin Maher is a New York-based investor who, in March 2014, filed a class action suit in a New York court against five international banks: HSBC, Barclays, Bank of Nova Scotia, Deutsche Bank, and Societe Generale. He alleges that these banks are involved in illegal manipulation of something that they do twice every working day.

What do these banks do?

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This day last year: Q.889

Mar 6, 2014


Shao Renleng died in Hong Kong in Jan 2014 at the age of 107, after an astonishingly successful career in entertainment and philanthropy. His brother (Shao Renmei) and he together became the most powerful makers of films in the China region, and were largely responsible for popularising the genre of films associated with Hong Kong.

The brothers adopted the first names "Run Run" and "Run Me" and a last name that anglicised their family name. Some anecdotes had it that their father gave them these first names because of how the family name sounded like a popular transport facility in the region.

How were these brothers known together? Incidentally, they were paid homage to by director Quentin Tarantino in the beginning of his film "Kill Bill Vol. 1"?

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This day last year: Q.888

Mar 5, 2014


A guest question by Sameer Dharur | contribute questions
In early 2014, US-based passenger train service Amtrak recently announced the possibility of a novel travel programme on demand, after a few hopeful suggestions for the same on Twitter were met with unexpectedly prompt and positive responses.

The idea is to enable a certain section of people to acquire the best possible requirements to fulfil their job. Initial test-applicants described it as an extremely unique experience and one that helps to come out of the normal way of life to something completely different.

The test-run has now resulted in what Amtrak describes as 'overwhelming demand' for more of the same across USA. It is supposed to provide the ideal conditions for people of a certain profession.

What does this travel programme aim to do?

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This day last year: Q.887

Mar 4, 2014


A guest question by Vaibhav Bajpai | contribute questions

The "Mayaguez Incident" in 1975 is is considered as the last official battle of the Vietnam War. It is also officially classified as the first incident of a certain kind for United States. A second such incident happened in April 2009, when Abduwali Muse committed a robbery of $30000 along with 3 others. He was convicted and sentenced to 33 years in a US Federal Prison.

What incident happened in 2009 that was considered as an offence under the Law of Nations? This was bought to world attention by a 2014 Oscar-winning film.

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This day last year: Q.886

Mar 3, 2014


In February 2014, which business deal was signed on the door of a out-of-use North County Social Services office in Mountain View, California, because one of the people involved was used to draw food coupons from the government as part of welfare services, as his family had very little income then.

What deal?

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This day last year: Q.885

Mar 2, 2014


Olof Palme was the Prime Minister of Sweden from 1982 till 1986 when he was mysteriously assassinated in Stockholm (he was accompanied by his wife Lisbet). This case has not been solved till date, spawning several conspiracy theories.

The case came back to national prominence with the news that a former Swedish journalist (now deceased), who had conducted his own investigation, had given police some papers and the name of a possible suspect. This made headlines because of the fame of this journalist, who had died a few years after the turn of the millennium.

Who was this journalist?

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This day last year: Q.884

Mar 1, 2014


Tina Maze won Slovenia's first ever Winter Olympics gold medal in the women's alpine skiing downhill competition at the 2014 Sochi Games. The race's conclusion was even more significant for what unusual event?

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This day last year: Q.883


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