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Two YouTube musicians battle it out to see who shall sing a song of victory.

Hosted by: Michael Aranda

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Michael: Ladies and gentlemen and non-binary friends, welcome to SciShow Quiz Show, the only quiz show where musicians pit off against each other in their knowledge of science.  Today, musician #1: Hank Green, best known for such hits as "Shake-a-Booty"  

Hank: Oh, sure.  You didn't pick a science song.

M: Nope.

H: 'Cause you didn't want to show the advantage that I have, thank you.

Tessa: Ooh, I didn't think about that.  Is it too late to get out of this?

M: Musician #2: Tessa Violet, who sings songs about deep meaningful stuff in life.  

H: Yeah.  True.

T: True.  

H: It turned green.

M: As a special thanks to our supporters on Patreon, we picked two of you at random to win some prizes that Hank and Tessa will earn.  Hank, you're competing on behalf of Abraar Akhter.  

H: Hello, Abraar.  

M: Tessa, you're competing on behalf of Chel Maxfield.

T: Let's do it, Chel.  

M: Stefan, show our players what they could win today.

Stefan: Welcome, Abraar and Chel.  Only one of you can be the winner today, and only one of you can be the loser.  But to find out who will be what, we'll have to see how our contestants perform.  Both of you are gonna walk away with signed cards from our final round today, but the winner will receive the wonderous 'I Won SciShow Quiz Show' pin and a bushel of SciShow swag from, but the loser will be able to soothe their pains with the pin that brings all the boys to the yard, the 'I Lost SciShow Quiz Show' pin.  But enough flabber jabberin' from me, let's get this show started.

H: What--what was this?  Was this for like, (?~1:37)?

T: I'm like, fighting.

M: Yeah, it's like an anime power boost.  

T: I was imagining a--

H: You turned into fire, (?~1:43)

T: Like, explosion behind me.  

H: Okay.

M: Alright, get ready.  Here's question one.

H: We're gonna start.

M: Our first category, appropriately enough, is about music.  Specifically, music in the animal kingdom.  Humans are sometimes considered unique because of our ability to compose new music, but as it turns out, we aren't that special.  

 (02:00) to (04:00)

According to studies, at least one other animal composes song with other members of its species.  

T: Whales?  

H: There--it's a multiple choice, but did she get it right?  Ah, dang it.  Dang it.  

T: Me and Chel bringing it home.

M: I think this is a first in SciShow Quiz Show history.  

H: That has never happened.

M: I've never had an answer before I started listing the answers.

H: That's--oh man.

M: The answer is C, humpback whales.  Most people know that humpback whales, at least the male ones, sing beautiful haunting songs under the ocean, but what's more surprising is that these whales don't have a pre-set tune.  Instead, their songs change things like rhythm and pitch over time.  They compose new, original songs.  That makes them different from most birds, which mainly just repeat things that they've heard before, and even if a bird does make up a new song, it's usually not through collaboration.  In humpbacks, these changes are often led by one or a few males and then the rest of the group listens and joins in.  Although people started recording whale songs in the 1960s, it was a few years before one researcher noticed they were actually composing new songs and she only did because she was a musician herself.  Scientists still aren't totally sure why these whales riff and improv new songs under the sea.  Some think it could be a form of sexual selection, where a male who comes up with a variation on a song is seen as more attractive, but we're not positive.  Still, if that's true, who could really blame them?  Everyone loves a good musician.

T: Feeling good.

M: I think we should just call it now.  Thank you for watching this episode of SciShow Quiz Show.  Congratulations to Tessa and Chel.  Question two, humans respond to music in all kinds of ways.  A pop song might get us hyped up, while we might get a little sniffly at Celine Dion, but research has shown that most animals actually prefer silence to human music.  

H: Yeah, that is definitely true of my dog, who hated when we played music, and it made the house a little less fun, honestly.

T: Surprising.

M: As it turns out, though, this might just be because they have different tastes.  Some researchers have designed music for cats and even monkeys based on sounds they make and the animals seem to be fans.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

T: Aww.

H: Oh, cute.  

M: Or at least they respond to it.  

H: Yeah.

M: But it's not like the animals could just tell the scientists that they appreciated the music, so for the monkey specifically, how could the researchers tell that the monkeys were into one of their specially designed songs: they started moving almost like a dance, they started humping stuff, they made similar calls like they were singing, or they got calmer?

H: I'll just go ahead and guess, because you're not and say, I think they got calmer.

M: That is correct.

T: Dang it!  Noo.

M: The answer is D, they got calmer.  Besides being fun to create and listen to, music is also important for researchers studying communication.  After all, the inflection of your voice often has a bigger effect than the words you're saying.  It's why a baby might cry if you snap at them, but they'll calm down if you use softer tones.  For a while, researchers wondered if these effects were unique to humans or if the behavior of other animals in influenced by pitch and tone, too.  In 2009, one team ran an experiment to investigate this. 

They created two kinds of music for cotton-headed tamarin monkeys.  One was based on their staccato aggressive calls that sounded a lot like bad dubstep.  The other was based on their smooth soothing calls and it sounded like a weird slide whistle solo.  None of the exact rhythms in the music were identical to monkey calls, so it would have sounded like gibberish to them, but they still responded to it like they would actual calls.  After listening to the aggressive song, they moved more and became more agitated.  After the slow one, they calmed down. 

This doesn't necessarily mean that they liked one song more than the other, but it does suggest they took notice of the music and that their behavior can be influenced by tone and pitch, just like with humans.  We just never noticed before because we weren't playing them the right songs.  Also, if you were curious, the monkeys in this study and others didn't show any response to human music, well, unless you played them Metallica, which also calmed them down for some strange reason.

T: I would have gotten it wrong.  I was going to pick something else.  Nice.  

H: Yeah.  You think they were gonna shake their little booties?

T: Yeah, I think so.  

H: Yeah.

T: That's what the parrot does.  

H: Yeah, the parrot.  Uh-huh.  

 (06:00) to (08:00)

That's what my son does when he likes a song.  It's so cute!

M: So our next category.  In the spirit of all things nerdy, these next questions are about actual science inspired by geeky things.  In 2017, a citizen science project launched that encourages people to keep track of the status of their local streams and tributaries.  Things like whether they're flowing, dried up, or frozen.  This makes sense, seeing as these outlets play a major role in the water supply of the United States, but what's more surprising is the mobile app this project was inspired by.  Was it Zombies, Run!, geocaching, Pokemon Go, or Google Expeditions?  

H: I'm gonna say Pokemon Go.

M: That is correct.

H: Alright!

T: Dang it.  

M: The answer is C, Pokemon Go.  When Pokemon Go was released in 2016, it seemed like everyone in the world jumped onboard, and that included scientists.  Before the game came out, two hydrologists from Colorado State University were trying to study water flow through some of the large rivers in their area.  The problem is, to understand those big rivers, you also have to understand the activity of the hundreds of little streams that flow into them, and for a small team of scientist, that's kind of an impossible undertaking.  Then, Pokemon Go came out.  Inspired by the game, this team got funding from NASA to start the Stream Tracker Project, which you can download as part of another citizen science app.  Instead of chasing after Caterpies and Pikachus, it encourages people to go out and catch their local streams in action and then tag their location with a digital GPS marker.  In the app, you can log things like whether the stream is obscured, whether it's flowing, or whether it's all dried out.  Then scientists across the country can use that data to learn how water channels change throughout the year and how water is moving all across the US.  If you're interested, this project is actually still happening and participants are welcome and I'm sure you can expand your Pokedex along the way, too.

H: That seems like everybody's inspired by Pokemon Go.  I know I am.  I'm inspired to go out and get me some Pidgeys.  

M: I'm after those Dittos.  So keeping up with the theme of recent games and apps, a new addition to the Legend of Zelda franchise, Breath of the Wild, came out in 2017.

H: I remember.

M: But many of the game's structures and artifacts were inspired by something much older, art from the--

 (08:00) to (10:00)

H: Fortnite

M: Yup. Art from the Jomon civilization in Japan.

H: Oh, cool

T: Fortnite! No!

M: The Jomon were around from about 1500 to 300 BCE.

H: Wow! That is a whole civilization and a long one.

M: Mhmm. Among other things, this group was different from others because it lacked certain kinds of otherwise common technology. What missing piece of tech in particular might have influenced their iconic artwork.

H: They didn't have fortnite. It's a tragedy.

M: Was it stone tools, potters wheels, ways to bake clay, or colorful stains and dyes?

H: I don't think they had a potter's wheel. I don't think they had a potter's wheel.

M: You are correct!

H: I was right!

T: I need to be quicker on this.

M: The answer is B: potter's wheels. The potter's wheel - the spinning tables you make pottery on - were widely used throughout Europe and the Middle East by 2400 BCE, but it took much longer for them to get to Japan, probably because it was a comparatively isolated island. Unlike the modern versions, these so called fast wheels were pretty simple. They were circular platforms balanced on an axle which you could kick or puch to get spinning. You might think it would have been easy for the Joman to come up with a design independently, but it turns out they hadn't yet been introduced to a key piece of technology - the wheel itself. See, the wheel wasn't actually invented until around 3500 BCE, and it wasn't a simple invention either. Some researchers think this is because the wheel and axle system took a while to figure out, or maybe because it required metal tools to perfect. Either way, once the wheel was created, it was mainly used for making pottery, not transportation. And as the design spread, people began developing similar styles of art. In the meantime, the Joman continued making the same type of artwork that they had thousands of years - coil pots. These pots are made by stacking layers of coiled clay, then smoothing down the sides and throwing everything into a bonfire to bake and harden.

 (10:00) to (12:00)

M: Even once the wheel arrived, many people continued making these traditional pots. And today, the remaining shards of Jomon pottery we have are some of the oldest in the world. And it's distinctive enough to design a video game with.

1200 points; 1600 points. Okay.

T: Oh my!

H: I don't think we've gotten a single question wrong!

T: It's true. We're great!

H: That never happens.

M: Whoo! Now for our last category. It is inspired by Tessa's new album called Bad Ideas.

T: Oh, I hope it's something I know!

M: Specifically, it has to do with some totally wrong but seemingly reasonable ideas people and scientists ised to have about the world.

T: Hm.

H: We sure had some (?) bad ideas.

M: Until the mid 1800s, a surprising number of Europeans and Americans went out of their way to avoid eating, of all things, tomatoes. But it wasn't because they didn't like the taste; many people thought they were poisonous. The fruits even picked up the nickname 'poison apples' because, among other reasons, there were many cases of wealthy people getting sick and dying after eating them.

H: Ah

T: huh.

M: But it wasn't the tomato's fault. So what was really making those people sick? Was it improper canning practices, the plates they were eating off of, early dangerous pesticides, or mold in the herbs they put on the tomatoes. Wow! I wasn't the only who spilled something today.

T: Sorry everybody. I'm gonna say it's the mold.

M: I'm afraid that's incorrect. 

T: Dang it! Twice! Dahh (?) wrong twice.

H: It's the plates, it's the plates, it's the plates!

T: What??

M: It is the plates!

T: But why would it be just the tomatoes?

M: The answer is B - it was the plates they were eating on. For many years, wealthier classes ate their meals on pewter plates. Today, pewter is a mixture of tin and copper, but back in the 17- and 1800s, it was mainly a mix of tin and lead, and that's just never a good sign. During a meal, the citric acid in tomatoes - the same stuff that's in lemons and limes - would react with the lead in the plates to create a molecule called lead citrate, which seeped into the food. So the more tomatoes people ate, the more lead built up in their systems...

 (12:00) to (14:00)

When lead gets in to the body, it starts displacing other atoms your cells need to function, stuff like calcium and zinc.  This ultimately leads to headaches, abdominal pain, and memory problems, and eventually, if enough lead builds up, it can cause irreversible damage and death.  Thankfully, by the late 1700s, the ingredients in pewter had mostly been changed so this problem began to disappear as wealthy people bought new plates, and let me just say, thank goodness, because no matter how great pesto is, pizza would just not be the same without tomato sauce.

M: So we've reached our last round.

T: Oh no.

M: This means that you guys get to bet any or all of your points on your answer to the next question.

T: Okay.

M: You've got 1100, you've got 1800.  

T: I'm gonna bet 1100.

H: You're within striking distance.  You're within striking distance.  I have to--I have to bet.

M: While you guys place your bets, we're gonna go to commercial break.  Welcome back.  You guys ready?  

H: Points.  

M: Take that as a yes.  In the 1600s, scientists finally discovered gametes, sperm cells, and egg cells.  It wasn't totally clear what these cells did though, which led to some weird ideas about how human embryos formed.  One, from the 16 and 1700s, was called preformationism, and its name is a good hint to what it was about.  There are a few competing versions of preformationism, but what was the general idea: a uterus always contains a tiny pre-formed fetus and gametes stimulate it to grow, each gamete contains half a human body and they connect during fertilization--

H: It kinda makes this noise: ppft.

T: Gross.

M: One gamete contains a fully formed miniature human, both gametes contain fully formed humans but only  the strongest develops?  

H: Okay, I don't know the answer.  

T: I think I do know the answer.  

H: Alright, well, let's sh--

T: Maybe not if I'm wrong though.

H: Show the cameras.

M: Reveal your answers.

H: I said C, too.  

T: 'Cause I'm pretty sure they thought it was specifically that the sperm was the entire baby and the uterus was just where it was kept.

H: Yeah, I do remember that.  I do remember--yeah.  

T: But--

M: You were both correct.

T: Yay!  We did it!

H: We tied.

M: Congratulations.  

 (14:00) to (15:15)

The answer, somehow, is C, one gamete contains a fully-formed miniature human.  If you think about it, it's not totally weird that we didn't understand where babies come from.  The link between sex and pregnancy isn't always obvious and even once we found gametes, we weren't sure what they did or which one, if any, was more important.  Enter preformationism.  There were two versions of it, but both suggested that one gamete, either the egg or the sperm, contained a fully-formed miniature human.  Then, during pregnancy, it just got bigger until eventually, out popped a full-sized baby.  Depending on the version of preformationism, scientists thought that the other gamete stimulated the fetus to grow or just wasn't that important at all.  This hypothesis was eventually debunked by the 1800s when better technology allowed researchers to see that the very early embryos actually looked like a clump of cells.  Thanks, science.

Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Quiz Show.  If you want to learn more weird science with us, you can find more videos on our channel.  If you want to hear more of Tessa Violet, you can find her at and on Spotify.