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Sally Le Page joins us on Quiz Show this week, where we celebrate the submission of her doctoral thesis with the most peaceful, relaxing questions we could devise, assuming you don’t count the volcanoes or screamed-at caterpillars.

Hosted by: Ceri Riley

Sally's Channel:

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Medicinal plants


Krakatoa clouds

Nacreous clouds

Sperm storage

Space weather

Top quark

 (00:00) to (02:00)


Ceri: Hello and welcome to SciShow Quiz Show, the only quiz show where they pull in writers as last-minute hosts.  

Sally: Yaaay!

C: I'm your host, Ceri Riley, and today's contestants are Hank Green, one-fourth of the amazing new science podcast that's not for children, SciShow Tangents.

Hank: Ceri is also on Tangents.

C: Yeah.

H: We got half of us here.  Well, 2/3--well...

S: (?~0:34)

H: 3/4 if you count the one that Sally guest-hosted.

S: Yeah, I was a guest.

H: And Sam's right there.

Sam: I'm here, too.

C: So we're all in the room and Tangents is great.  All the way from the UK, we have evolutionary biologist, PhD, and our friend, Sally Le Page.

H: Hello.

S: Thank you very much.

C: We're very excited to have her.

H: I'm gonna lose.  

S: You say this.  I don't know.  I think I'm prone to overthinking the questions.

H: I lose a lot.  

S: Okay.  

C: As a thank you to some of our amazing supporters on Patreon, we've chosen two of you at random to win some prizes that Hank and Sally will earn for you.

H: Who is it?

C: Hank will be competing on behalf of Amanda Piazza.

H: Hello, Amanda.

C: And Sally will be playing for Kelvin Dueck.  

S: Hi, Kelvin.  Great name.  It is a great name, though.  

H: Yeah.

C: Stefan, show our players and audience what they can win.

Stefan: Where am I?  What's--wait a second.  I know what this is.  This is the Prize Zone.  Prize Zone!  Prize zone.  Alright, let's get into it.  Our two contestants today, Amanda and Kelvin, will both have a chance to walk away with some prizes, though I must remind you that these prizes do not have a cash value.  You can't just like, walk into a pizza place and be like, here's a pin, give me a pizza.  Everyone's gonna be taking home autographed cards from our final round and the winner gets the lovely 'I Won SciShow Quiz' pin and exactly one bushel of SciShow swag from  But wait, there's more!  The loser of the show, the one with the least points but also the one with the most heart, will get the 'I Lost SciShow Quiz Show' pin, which just lets the world know that you're proud of who you are and the fact that you lost an internet game show, and who wouldn't be?

 (02:00) to (04:00)

Alright, good luck, contestants.  Game on.

C: I'll start you both off with 1,000 points.

H: Heyy!

S: Ooh, that's a lot.  Can I just leave now?  

H: I mean, often it is the better strategy.

C: If you get a question right, you get 200, and if you get one wrong, you'll lose 100.  

S: Okay.

C: So you'll still stay pretty high no matter how you do.  

H: I've gotten negative.  

C: But you can't have negative points because that's an added rule now, so.  Says on my card, no, you cannot have negative points.

H: Yeah, well.  I made it happen one time.  

S: Impressive.

H: I worked really hard.

S: I think that is a skill in itself.  

H: No, no, it wasn't.

S: I think you should get points for managing to make negative points.

H: I did actively work toward it and the comments were very insistent that we dock me future points, but then we didn't do that.

C: And in honor of you submitting your thesis, Sally--

S: Yaaaay!

C: Congrats.

S: Thank you.

C: All of the categories in today's quiz show are about pure and restful things.  

H: Oh.

S: That's good.

H: I'm so glad it's not about evolutionary biology.

S: I was gonna say, is it about the history of people submitting their theses and it going wrong?

C: Yeah, all about fruit flies.  

H: That would be very bad.

C: But our actual first category is meadows.

H: Oh, meadows are peaceful.

C: One of the most beautiful parts of meadows are the wildflowers, but they're more than just fun to look at.  Over the years, humans have also found dozens of medicinal uses for them, but our ways of identifying which plants to use haven't always been reliable.  Take one idea called the doctrine of signatures.  According to some scholars, it is said that a plant is safe and useful if it meets what condition?  A: It releases a dark liquid when crushed, B: It has a strong or bitter smell, C: It looks like the thing you're trying to treat, or D: It leaves a mark if you rub it on your skin?  

H: I'm gonna say C, it looks like the thing you're trying to treat, 'cause that sounds like the kind of messed up thing somebody would think.

C: Yep, you're right.  

S: That's--yeah.

H: Yeaah!  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

Stefan: It's C!  It looks like the thing you're trying to treat.  The idea behind this doctrine is that if a plant looks like the thing you're trying to treat, then it's there to help you.  So if you find a plant like bloodroot, which releases a red-orange compound, then it can probably help heal blood conditions, or if you find one that looks like a brain, like a shrivelly walnut, that can probably help your head.  Obviously, though, that's not exactly super scientific and some historians today actually argue that this doctrine was never used to find new medicines at all.  Instead, it was just a way to help remember which ones were safe.  A lot of these plant stories haven't been documented, so there's a good chance we'll never know the full answer, but one thing's for sure: just because a plant looks helpful totally doesn't mean that it is.

C: Question number two, depending on the types of plants and the time of year, you might also find caterpillars lurking in meadows.  Besides being all cute and fuzzy, it turns out that some of these critters are a little sensitive.  For example, one type of caterpillar in Peru doesn't like being yelled at, which, like, same.

S: Awww.

C: If you scream at it, you'll trigger its defense mechanism.  So what does it do?  A: It screams back at you, B: It unfurls tentacles, C: It spits out a toxin, or D: It releases noxious gas?  

S: Oh, that's none of the things I was thinking it might be.

H: Uhh, okay.  First of all, this--I thought this meadow was supposed to be relaxing.  Now there's screaming caterpillars.  Not into it.

S: Or are there screaming caterpillars?

H: Well, I mean, it probably spits out a toxin.  Ohh, that was too easy.

C: Yeah.

S: Do I buzz?  

H: Yeah.

S: Noxious gas?  

C: It's not noxious gas.  

S: Ohh.

H: Does it scream at you?

C: No.

Stefan: The answer is B, it unfurls tentacles.  It isn't totally clear why this caterpillar, which is part of the nematocampa genus, unfurls its tentacles, but scientists have a few ideas.  One researcher suggests that it could help the insect blend in.  By unfurling its tentacles, it could look more like a flower blowing in the breeze.  It could also keep the main part of the caterpillar from being eaten, basically by increasing the chances that a predator would bite one of those limbs instead of the insect's main body.  

 (06:00) to (08:00)

They could even be predator-detectors.  There are little hairs at the end of each tentacle called setae, which could be used to pick up vibrations from animals that make a lot of noise like birds, or maybe it's all three.  Whatever the answer is, these caterpillars can be a lot of fun for the researchers who find them.  In 2015, when a few ecologists came across them in Peru, they got to spend the next several hours screaming at insects, which is all you could ever hope for in a job, really.

S: So weird!

H: I'm not scared of that at all.  Any one of you could unfurl tentacles at me, and I'd be fine.  

C: I feel like if you screamed and then someone raised their arms, like waved them around, would that be--?

S: I think that'd be an appropriate response if it was their arms.  I think it goes--any--yeah.

C: So, on to the next category.  While you're relaxing in a peaceful meadow, one thing you might want to do is watch some clouds go by.  So these next questions are all about clouds.  

S: How nice.

H: I've looked at them from both sides now, 'cause of airplanes.

C: Oh yeah, the top and bottom.  They look so comfy.

S: From up and down, and yet somehow, cloud's illusions.

H: Cloud's illusions.  I still, even today, don't really know clouds at all.

C: Mhmm, well, we'll test your knowledge.  

H: Ceri, do you know what we're talking about?

C: I don't.

H: Ceri doesn't listen to any music.

C: I don't.  Is this a song?  

S: Yes.

H: Yeah.  

C: This is my bit.  I don't want it to be my bit, but it's become that.  

S: It's a song that they play in Love, Actually and it (?~7:19).  It's Joni Mitchell.  

C: Oh, okay.

H: Good, that was great.

C: Thanks.

H: I enjoyed that bit.  

C: Question three: In 1883, the famous Krakatoa volcano erupted in Indonesia.  Like other eruptions, this spewed a bunch of ash into the air, but what was unusual is that it also created a previously undocumented type of cloud, which is probably not what you'd expect from a huge volcanic eruption.

H: Sure.

C: What kind of cloud was it?  A: a thick shelf cloud, B: a round mammatus cloud, C: a wispy noctilucent cloud, or D: a UFO-shaped lenticular cloud?

S: B.  

 (08:00) to (10:00)

A mammatus cloud.  I don't know why.  I just liked the name of it.  

C: Yeah.

H: Yeah, I feel like I know that it's not D, and that's all I've got, but I have to go.  I hope it's not D now.  That would be really embarrassing.  Let's just go with A.  

C: No.

H: It's C?

C: It's C.

H: Oh, okay, good, it was not D.  

Stefan: The answer is C, wispy noctilucent clouds.  Noctilucent clouds are some of the rarer clouds out there, but they're also some of the most beautiful.  They're best seen around dawn or dusk and look like feathery, translucent streaks across the sky.  Thanks to recent studies, we know they're normally spotted near the poles, since they need really cold, dry air to form, but the first time someone recorded seeing them was after the violent krakatoa eruption in the 1880s.  When the volcano erupted, it launched dust and ash dozens of kilometers high, so far into the atmosphere that the air was cool and dry enough for noctilucent clouds to form.  Then, water vapor condensed around that ash and dust, creating a bunch of these rare, wispy clouds.  This probably wasn't the first time noctilucent clouds formed on Earth, whether at the poles or from volcanoes, but from what historians can tell, this was almost definitely the first time someone documented seeing them.

C: Question four, like noctilucent clouds, nacreous clouds also form high in the atmosphere and are best seen around sunrise or sunset, but usually, they're not good news, and this time it has nothing to do with volcanoes.  Why do skywatchers dread seeing them?  A: They're a sign a blizzard is coming, B: They're a sign the temperature is about to drop, C: They're nearly invisible to planes so they're dangerous, or D: They damage the ozone layer?

H: I love the idea of a dangerous cloud.  We didn't see it coming!  It's like black ice in the sky.  The plane skidded out.  I don't think it's that one.  Maybe I should have left that one open, but maybe--or maybe I'm tricking you and it is that one.

S: Maybe.  Well, luckily, I don't think it's that one either, so.  

H: Okay.  They're a sign that a blizzard is coming?

C: No.

S: Are they harmful for the ozone?  

 (10:00) to (12:00)

C: They are.

H: Oh.

S: Yaaay!  

H: Wow.

Stefan: It's D, they damage the ozone layer.  Nacreous clouds are also called type II polar stratospheric clouds, and they're not great for the ozone layer, the layer of our atmosphere that protects against a ton of radiation.  Chlorine-containing gases can cling to the particles of these clouds, and then react with each other to eventually form single-chlorine atoms.  These atoms are highly reactive and can tear apart thousands of molecules in the ozone layer before they're finally neutralized by something like nitrogen.  Without the clouds, these reactions can still happen but they tend to be less common.  There is a silver lining here, though.  Nacreous clouds definitely aren't the worst thing for the ozone layer, and things that are more dangerous, like chloroflourocarbon or CFC emissions, have been much lower in the past few decades.

S: It feels very much like that game where there's a goat behind a door and you've gotta pick the other door.

H: Oh, the Monty--

C: Hall?

H: Hall.

S: Yes.  There we go.  

H: Thanks everybody.  That was--

S: Teamwork.  

H: Yeah, you did it.  Good job.

C: You got the points, and right now, Hank has 900 points.

H: Not bad.

C: And Sally has 1000 points.

S: Yes.

C: So we've got net negative but...or neutral.

S: No change at all.

H: Overall.

S: I love it. 

H: It's good.

C: And with that, our last category is about tea, arguably one of the most relaxing beverages.  

S: Is this the point where I say as a Brit, I don't really like tea?

H: Oh no!

S: No.

H: Yesterday, Sally was just drinking hot water mixed with orange juice.

S: It's really good for sore throats.

H: Okay.

S: So if you are presenting on camera, I would highly recommend.  

C: What did you call it?  

S: Hot orange.

C: I like that name a lot.

H: Is that a thing that people say?

S: No.  But you don't have squash here, as in like cordial.  We call squash.  So orange squash is like orange cordial and you mix that with hot water and that's hot squash.

H: I don't know what any of those words mean.

S: It's like a fruit syrup, I suppose.

H: Okay.

S: And it's shelf-stable and you just mix it, dilute it down with water and then you have a fruit-flavored drink.

H: The flavored thing.  Okay.

S: And if you mix it with hot water, it's what you usually have (?~11:55) hot squash is a thing in the UK.  You don't have this.

H: We don't have any of that stuff.

All: No.  

 (12:00) to (14:00)

S: You have those sachets of cider powder you mix with hot water.  

C: Apple cider powder, yeah, yeah.

H: Okay, I don't know about that.

C: If you wanna make apple cider, it's like you can get your hot chocolate powder, your apple cider powder, yeah.

S: So imagine that but there's a concentrated liquid instead of a powder.

H: Right.  I'm super into calling packets of Kool-Aid 'sachets' now.  

S: Do you not call them sachets?

H: No, because that's way too fancy.  It's Kool-Aid.

C: Okay, so with all that in mind, instead of the questions being about tea--

S: Oh, that was what we were talking about.

C: Yeah.  The start of this tangent.  They're about something that starts with the letter 'T'.

S: Oh, okay.

H: Sure.  

C: These animals have been known to lay fertilized eggs up to four years after mating thanks to special sperm storage compartments in their bodies.  What are they: A: Tawny owls, B: Tawny frogs, C: Texas map turtles, or D: Tiger salamanders?  

H: I was almost definitely thinking invertebrate but there, I was wrong.

S: I'm gonna go for salamanders, 'cause they do weird stuff.

C: It's not salamanders.

H: Definitely don't think--I mean, I know that some, like, sharks do weird stuff like this.

S: They do.

H: So my initial perspective was definitely not owls.  They're way too complicated to do something like this, but now I'm gonna say owls, 'cause who knows?  I was wrong though.

C: It's not owls.  

Stefan: It's C, turtles.  You probably don't think all that often about how turtles mate, but it's actually pretty cool.  All female turtles have sperm storage tubules in their oviducts, the tubes eggs pass through, and they can keep viable sperm cells in those tubules for years, which allows them to continue producing offspring even if they haven't mated in a while.  This is obviously helpful if there aren't many male turtles around, but some researchers also think it allows females to influence who fathers their babies, even if they've mated with multiple partners.  So if she decides one male is healthier or generally better than the other, she could choose to pass his genes to her offspring.

C: Question six is scientists observe weird weather all the time on other planets and moons and our research methods have even become good enough to detect some types of weather on exoplanets.  

 (14:00) to (16:00)

So far, what weather have we found evidence for outside of our solar system?  

H: Ooh.  I feel like I should know that.

S: I feel like you should know that.  

H: Yeah.

C: A: Thunderstorms, B: Tornadoes, C: Tsunamis, or D: Typhoons?  

H: Thunderstorms, 'cause they're the most chemically active of those things.

C: Mhmm, yes, you're right.  

Stefan: The answer is A, thunderstorms.  In 2009, astronomers discovered a planet about 120 light years away called HAT-P-11b.  We find exoplanets all the time, but what was especially strange was that in 2013, another researcher suggested there were radio signals coming from this planet.  As usual, though, they probably weren't from aliens, because they never are.  Instead, some scientists think they're evidence of huge thunderstorms.  One 2017 conference paper suggested that if this planet had storms with at least a couple hundred lightning flashes per kilometer per second, that would be enough electricity to generate the radio waves we've observed, and since we have seen that kind of flash density during some volcanic eruptions, it's not unheard of.  Like a lot of things in space, we just need more observations to confirm.

C: And now for the last question.  

H: Oh, okay, now (?~15:11).  You were lying before.  

C: I was lying before.

H: This is your first try.

C: This is--I'm doing my best!

S: Very impressive.

C: I didn't know that I was doing this today, but now I am.  So, you can get ready to place your bets.

S: Oh, this is the betting round.

C: This is the betting round.  So over the last two questions, we've swapped places.  Hank has 1000 points.  Sally, you have 900 points to bet.  

S: Oh, there's so much game theory in this now.

H: No, not at all.

C: And before you do, I'll tell you that this question is about another thing that starts with T, the top quark.

H: Ooh, it's about the top quark.  

S: The only thing I know about quarks is your song.  

H: Me too, largely.  I know everything I know about quarks, I know from writing that song or having Henry from MinutePhysics tell me how it's wrong in a bunch of ways.

C: Right.  Let's go to a commercial break.  And now we're back, maybe, from the break, with our final question.  

 (16:00) to (18:00)

The existence of quarks, tiny particles that make up things like protons and neutrons, was proposed in the 1960s, but it took until 1995 for scientists to officially discover all six of them.  The last quark found was the top quark.  It's the most short-lived of these particles, but it's also the heaviest.  

H: Dang it, that's the only thing I knew about the top quark!

C: So the final question is, which of these has the most similar mass to a top quark: A: A hydrogen ion, B: A helium atom, C: A gold atom, or D: A lead atom.  

H: Groaning noises.  I mean, that's a big quark, man.  

C: Okay.

H: Okay.  

C: Ready?

H: Ready.

S: Yeah.

C: You can show your answers.

H: We said the same thing.

C: And you're both wrong.  

H&S: Ehh!  

C: The answer is a gold atom.


C: Which seems extremely massive.

S: No way!

H: I guess that's why it's so--

S: I thought that they're supposed to be sub-atomic particles.

C: Yeah.

Stefan: It's C, gold.  A gold atom weighs about 197 atomic mass units, which is just a teeny tiny fraction of a milligram, but it's still one of the heavier atoms on the periodic table, which makes it pretty amazing that one quark, one of the building blocks of matter, weighs about the same.  Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what the top quark does, since it doesn't make up protons and neutrons like other, lighter kinds of quarks, but they think it could have something to do with giving other particles their mass, which physicists have been trying to understand for a long time.  

C: So I guess that leaves us with Hank with 201 points and Sally with 1 point, so Hank's the winner by 200 points.

H: Hey!

S: Congratulations.  

H: You're welcome, Amanda.  

S: I'm sorry, Kelvin.  

C: If we took away that for your going negative, you would be at one and you would have tied and CROSSTALK (?~17:57)

 (18:00) to (18:40)

C: The universe is balanced, and thanks for playing, and thank you for watching this episode of SciShow Quiz Show.  If you'd like to see more of Sally's work, you can go check out where you've done a video with Hank maybe by this point.  

H: Probably.  

S: I--it will have been filmed.  Will it be up?  Who knows!  Subscribe to find out.  

C: Yeah.  Get those notifications on, and for more Quiz Shows and cool science facts, you can go to and subscribe.

H: Good job, Ceri.