By Gareth Edwards

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Alien Chocolate and Fossilised Tartar Sauce

Welcome to another installment from the internet blog that answers your questions about anything in our universe or, on a clear day, other nearby universes.

Grazlewacky asked Which came first: lemons or chocolate?
The earliest lemon in the fossil record was a roughly-cut wedge discovered near Charmouth, Dorset next to the remains of several Early Cretaceous fish and a patch of fossilized proto-tartare sauce in what paleontologists believe was the nest site of a large piscivorous dinosaur known as the “Findusaur”. That makes lemons at least 100 million years old. Chocolate of course came to us from space though exactly when is the source of much controversy. Erich Von Daniken’s less famous brother Ernieh posited that the giant Nazca grid patterns in the deserts of Peru were representations of vast chocolate bars, functioning as a giant order form to be read by aliens, who he believed delivered the confectionary in vast inter-galactic craft. This would mean that chocolate in its modern form has been on earth at least since the lines were traced circa 650 AD, long after the first lemons. On the other hand chocolate the element has been present in the galaxy ever since the formation of the first stars.

Caroline Rebecca asked Hedgehogs. Why?
Perhaps you don’t know this charming Norfolk folk-rhyme that answers your question better than I could ever do…
Weasel be the climming clatter,
Stoat doth firling cleep!
Pokel teeps his porthing tatter,
Fotherel they’m fleeps!
But spickled blatter bain’t no pathard!
Him be narkled fair!
‘Twince pokel, weasel, stoaty mathered
Spickle’s runty’s bare!
“Spickled blatter” is a dialect word for hedgehog of course, and “porthing” is the collecting of cob nuts. I think the rest is pretty self-explanatory.
The Fifth Horseman asked Why don't the characters I type agree with the characters half-hidden in the inkblots, even unto the third and fourth attempt?

I take it you mean the CAPTCHA tests that are designed to prevent evil spamming robots from subscribing to on-line magazines and buying shoes on e bay. These tests work on the principle that unlike humans, evil spamming robots find it difficult to read blurry wiggly made-up words confusingly laid-out on a blotchy background. I’m afraid your question leads me to only one possible conclusion, namely that you are an evil spamming robot. So let me say just this… Go and get a proper evil hobby like taking over the planet or destroying your maker. Enough with the spam!

Nance asked is it true that every snowflake is different?

No. In 1984 Larmonie K. Isotope was working late in her laboratory in Not That New York, Nebraska when a freak gust of wind blew a snowflake through an open window and right under her microscope. Most scientists would have swept it out of the way without a second thought, but as Larmonie stared down at it she couldn’t believe her eye: this snowflake was THE SAME. Determined to prove her identical snowflake wasn’t unique she worked at night in winter with the window open for the rest of her career, gradually becoming ostracized by colleagues who regarded her as cold. Twenty years later Larmonie’s incredible discovery lead to her being mailed the prestigious Women Grudgingly Honoured by Science Some Years After They Have Died medal, but sadly she had died some years earlier.

I’ll leave it there for now in case somebody else out there is waiting to use the internet, but do keep the questions coming if there’s anything else out there you feel needs some kind of explanation.


  1. Why is it spelled CAPTCHA anyway?

  2. I'm paying hand over fist for my electricity, but I seem to be getting magnetism and gravity for free. Can you confirm the government has no plans to privatise other fundamental particles or forces?

  3. As Britain gets very little sun, how does the Shadow Cabinet function?

  4. What is empathy? :)

  5. Why are people so horrible to me when I am already having a bad day?

  6. Why when a man reaches a certain age does he invest all his worldly wealth in lycra and bicycling equipment? And is there a way of making them stop?