Previous: Motor Proteins: Tiny Pirates in Your Cells
Next: How Dogs Really Listen to Us, and How Pufferfish Puff



View count:234,914
Last sync:2023-01-01 02:15
Hank goes head-to-head with Minute Physics’ Henry Reich to test their wits about the winter solstice, reindeer, and the science of snow!

Minute Physics:
Minute Earth:

Hosted by: Michael Aranda
Like SciShow? Want to help support us, and also get things to put on your walls, cover your torso and hold your liquids? Check out our awesome products over at DFTBA Records:

Or help support us by subscribing to our page on Subbable:
Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet?

Thanks Tank Tumblr:

(SciShow theme music plays)

Michael Aranda: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to SciShow Quiz Show, the only quiz show made of science. Today on the show we have Internet hotshot Hank Green -
Hank: Today I cleaned my fingernails so I'd look good for the show.

Aranda: Fantastic. And we've got on the other side of the table, um, MinutePhysics wonder boy Henry Reich.

Reich: All shows are probably made of science. You know, there's that -
Aranda: OK, anyway, (all make chuckling/throat clearing sounds) moving right along - each of you will start out with 1000 points, if you get a question correct, you will win some number of points that I will make up at that point in time, if you lose a question

Hank: You lose it. That's right.

Aranda: Yeah. Sure. You lose points.

Reich: I'll lose the question and the points.

Aranda: (laughs) if you lose the question, you will lose the question and the points. Hank -

Hank: Yessir.

Aranda: You will be competing on behalf of Max Loutzenheiser
Hank: We're going to hack some Max.
Aranda: (Swears - beeping noise)

Aranda: Hank, you will be competing on behalf of Max Loutzenheiser
Hank: Hello, Max!
Aranda: And Henry, you've got Florian Stinglmayr.
Reich: Hello, Florian. That's an amazing name, by the way.

(Someone laughs)

Aranda: So Stephan, what can our contestants win today?

Stephan: Thanks Michael! Today our contestants will have a chance to go home with this Pizza John key-chain or perhaps a Pizza John lapel pin. Back to you.

Aranda: If you'd like one of these lovely people to play for you, you can go to (Clears throat) Round number 1 is called "The Winter Solstice Lightning Round!" (1:33)

Hank: Oooh it's fast.

Aranda: It doesn't actually involve any lightning.

Reich: Thundersnow?

Hank: (dramatic) Thundersnow.

Aranda: (Laughs) OK. So this is a true or false question --

Hank: Oh dear.
Aranda: True or false: The day of the winter solstice has both the latest sunrise and the earliest sunset of the year.

(Table dings)
Reich: False.

Aranda: Correct! 100 points for Henry!

Aranda-in-lab-coat: False. But it's a common misconception. The day of the winter solstice does have the fewest hours of daylight but the days with the latest sunrise and the earliest sunset occur about a month apart. In the United States for example, the sun sets at its earliest about a week before the winter solstice, while the latest sunrise of the year occurs in early January.

Hank: Nice.
Reich: I have made a video about this.
Hank: I'm gonna get - I'm gonna get destroyed. Is - is the entire set of questions from MinutePhysics videos? (2:18)

Aranda: Round Number Two!
Hank: Are there also MinuteEarth videos? 
Aranda: Um...
Hank: Should I have watched more MinuteEarth and MinutePhysics videos before coming in today?

Aranda: Yes. OK, true or false: While astronomical winter begins on the day of the solstice, meteorological winter always begins on December 1st.

(Table dings)
Hank: I'm going to go true.
Aranda: You are correct! A hundred points to Hank.
Hank: I didn't know that. It seemed like something that would be true.

Aranda-in-lab-coat: Meteorological winter is a thing. It's the three calendar months with the lowest average temperatures, and, in the northern hemisphere, the coldest months are December, January, and February, so meteorologists begin tracking winter weather patterns on December 1st. By the same token, meteorological spring begins on March 1st.

Aranda: Yes. Yes.
Hank: That's interesting. Meteorological winter.
*much talking over each other in this next piece*
Henry: I didn't even know that was a thing.
Hank: Who decides that?
Henry: Meteorologists?
Hank: Probably.
Aranda: I mean, it might not even be true! I'm just reading the script! I don't know!
(Hank laughs)

Aranda: OK. Um, true or false: Earth is closer to the sun at the winter solstice - (table dings) -
Hank: False.
Aranda: - than it is at the summer solstice. It is true. I am very sorry Hank. You just lost a hundred points. (3:25)
Henry: It's closer to the sun. It changes around.
Hank: Mer-ger. Fergergergergerger.
Henry: To be fair, I was also going to say false, because I didn't actually think about what the question was saying.
(Hank laughs)
Aranda: Fehergerherger herger, ferherger herger(3:36)

Aranda-in-lab-coat: True! The winter solstice occurs about a week before perihelion, when the Earth is closest to the sun in its orbit. In fact, Earth is 5 million kilometers closer to the sun in January than it is in July, but the difference in temperature that we experience between the seasons doesn't have to do with our proximity to the sun; it has to do with the angle of the sun's rays that each hemisphere receives.

Aranda: OK, next round is called The Science of Christmas.
Hank: Oh.
Henry: Uh-oh.
Aranda: All right. Scientists unfortunately tell us that reindeer.... cannot fly. However, reindeer do have a lot of really interesting facts about them.
Hank: Oh good.
Aranda: So which of these four is not true?
Henry: Not true.

Aranda: A. Reindeer can see ultraviolet light. B. Reindeer and caribou are the same animal, C, reindeer have been known to live in desert climates, or D, reindeer mate in the spring instead of the fall due to changes in daylight.
(Table dings)
Henry: I'm going to go with C.
Aranda: Incorrect!

Bejacketed-Aranda: The fake fact is D. Reindeer do mate in the fall just like other kinds of deer, but unlike most large mammals, they can readily see ultraviolet light, which allows them to see things like urine left by predators and lichens which are a precious food source in winter. And while reindeer, which live in Northern Europe, are smaller than their North American cousins the caribou, they're considered the same species, Rangifer Tarandus. It's also true that reindeer have been found to live in desert climates. As recently as the 1800s, caribou were found in the northern reaches of the Great Basin desert. (5:07)

Aranda: The chemistry of Christmas trees! Scientists from Nova Scotia Agricultural College conducted a series of experiments on cut evergreens to figure out how they can prolong the life of Christmas trees and prevent them from dropping their needles.
Hank: That's good. I, I like this line of research cause it's really annoying.
Aranda: (laughs) So this one weird trick kept them fresher longer than anything else. Was it (a) hanging lights on the tree, (b) not watering the tree, (c) keeping a bowl of fresh fruit under the tree, or (d) keeping the room warm.
Hank: That's a bunch of weird. (Table dings) I'm gonna go bowl of fruit, because it's the weirdest of the tricks.
Aranda: Incorrect! The correct answer is (a), hanging lights on the tree!
Hank: Oh yeah?
Henry: Hanging lights?
Hank:Well, I do that! I've already done that!
Aranda: Congratulations!
Henry: So basically this is completely useless advice.
Aranda: Yes!
Hank: Well, unless you don't use lights!
Aranda: Entirely!
Hank:  A lot of people don't use lights!

Bejacketed-Aranda: Experiments using different colors of electric lights and control trees with no lights at all found that trees decorated with white full-spectrum lights retained their needles 30 days longer than trees with no lights at all. And this is because the decorated trees were able to use the white light to produce food, while the tree kept in the dark had to draw from its energy reserves to stay alive. Interestingly, though, trees hung with blue lights died faster than any other trees in the experiment. The scientists also noted that giving your tree water is vital to keeping it alive longer, of course, and cooler temperatures, not warmer, help them keep their needles. As for the fruit, the experts said that if you want your tree to stay fresh, keep it away from fresh fruit at all costs! And that's because ripening fruit releases a gaseous hormone known as ethylene, which is the same hormone that triggers the death process in plants. So keep that fruit basket away from your tree.

Aranda: So when you think of Christmas plants, other than Christmas trees, you might think of things like mistletoe and holly and poinsettias, all of which are super poisonous, but there are some plants that are so dangerous that you'd never bring them into your house and put presents around them. So -- this has nothing to do with Christmas -- what is the world's most poisonous plant? Is it (a) the castor bean plant, (b), the strychnine tree, (c) oleander, or (d) common ivy?

(Table dings)

Hank: Castor bean.
Aranda: Incorrect! (7:24)
Hank: What?!
Aranda: The correct answer is (c), oleander!
Hank: I knew oleander's pretty poisonous, but doesn't - isn't -
Henry: Is it the most poisonous to eat? Or just to be around?
Hank: Oh, no, I'm totally wrong, totally wrong. I'm wrong! I was thinking of something else.
Aranda: Good.
Henry: I'm taking, like,
Hank: I'm down to 800!
Henry: I'm taking the SAT strategy which says not answering is often better than answering and getting it wrong.
Aranda: Yeah, just letting Hank self-destruct over there!
Hank: It makes for really uninteresting content, though.
Henry: It does. I'll have to start --
Hank: So what's more important to you?
Henry: Winning.
(All laugh) (7:54)

Bejacketed-Aranda: All of these plants are terribly poisonous, but the most poisonous is considered to be (c), oleander, which, like holly, mistletoe, and your Christmas tree, is an evergreen. While the fruit of the castor, strychnine, and ivy plants are all poisonous to humans, oleander is different in that every part of the plant is deadly to both humans and other animals, as they contain multiple types of toxins. The most potent of them is oleandrin, and it works by blocking the enzymes that allow your cells to use and store energy, especially cells in your heart. It's so powerful that ingesting a single oleander leaf can kill you, and people have even been poisoned by eating honey made by bees that had eaten the nectar of an oleander plant.
Aranda: So this next round is called "Know your Snow," it's going to be about snow, and this is where you can wager some number of points. You have a thousand; you have eight hundred, um, so while you guys decide how many points you want to wager, we're going to go to a commercial break... or something.
Aranda: Welcome back! Which of these statements about the formation of snow is not true?
Hank: OK.
Aranda: (A), all snowflakes have six sides, (b) snow can't form below -20 degrees Celsius, (c), snow absorbs red light more than blue light, or (d), the shape of a snowflake is determined both by humidity and by temperature. Go ahead and write your answers on your cards.
Hank: Which one of those things is not true?
Aranda: Which one of those is not true. (9:22)
Hank: (whispers) I have no idea. That's cool though. I'm interested in --
Henry: I agree with you.
Hank: You agree with me?
Henry: I saw your answer. You were showing it to me.
Aranda: Whoa. Cheater. I'm going to...
Henry: Luckily I had already written my answer down.
Aranda: Oh. Show your answers to the camera!

Hank: We went with the same guess!

Aranda: Wow. Both of you are wrong.

Henry: I completely disagree.
Aranda: The correct answer is (b), again according to the script -- I didn't write this! This guy knows a lot of stuff so maybe he's right!
Hank: We'll see!

Bejacketed-Aranda: The answer is (b). At around -20 degrees it does become less likely that snow will form, mostly because most of the moisture in the air will have precipitated out at higher temperatures, but it is a myth that it can get too cold to snow. And as evidence, I give you... Antarctica. Temperatures there are rarely above -40 Celsius, but the place is no stranger to snow. As for the other answers:
Due to the shape of the water molecule, water molecules always form six-sided symmetrical shapes. Also, snowflakes absorb red light and reflect blue light more than other frequencies, which is why snow-pack can often look blueish, and snow tends to form in large, flat flakes when it's colder and more humid but forms long six-sided cylinders when it's slightly warmer and less humid. Basically, the wetter the air is, the more complex your snowflakes get.

Hank: That's --
Henry: I've definitely seen non-six-sided snowflakes.
Hank: Siri, are all snowflakes six-sided?
Aranda: Well maybe it's because they start out six-sided --
Hank: Shh. Siri's listening --
Aranda: --and then one of the sides breaks off or something --
Henry: No, because there's like little pellets snow, like there's little crystally snow that looks like this. Let me. Let me show. There's snow that looks like that. It probably is like hexagonal in some fashion because of the way that ice crystals work, but I would argue that this is not a six-sided thing.
Hank: I bet snow on a planet that has extremely high atmospheric density and very cold weather would be, would be like ice 11 snow.
Henry: That... could also happen.
Hank: It would probably be - it would probably be four-sided.
Henry: That's very true.
Hank: Or rhomboidal.
Henry: It's a different - it's a different phase of ice.
Hank: Ice has like fifteen phases.
Aranda: It's a different phase of ice, ladies and gentleman. Hank ended up with 0 points, Henry ended up with 300 and ninety nine point nine nine nine nine nine - I don't know how many zeros you put on there - congratulations Henry! You won on behalf of Florian--
Henry: Congratulations, Florian. May the best name win.
Hank: I... I am unsurprised by the outcome of this particular round of SciShow Quiz Show.
Aranda: Neither am I. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Quiz Show; if you'd like one of these contestants to play for you, you can go to and don't forget to go to MinutePhysics at
Henry: And MinuteEarth.
Hank: And MinuteEarth.
Aranda: And MinuteEarth at Goodbye!