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Another Host vs Host edition of the SciShow Quiz Show!

Hosted by: Michael Aranda
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Carnivorous Plants




Michael: Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to SciShow Quiz Show, SciShow's favorite quiz show. Today on the show we have the guy sho Signs my paychecks, Hank Green. That's a really nice shirt, you look really nice today.

Hank: We do direct deposit, anyway.

Michael (Over Hank): Have you lost weight?

(Both Laugh)

Michael: Going up against Hank we have resident insect expert, Olivia Gordon, who is our newest host on SciShow.

Hank: Hello Olivia

Michael: That makes today's show host against host.

Hank: Did we put a bunch of insect questions in there, because I'm not, I'm not gonna do well. 

Michael: Hmmmm, we'll have to see, won't we?

Olivia (Over Michael): I hope not, 'cause if I don't do well...

Hank: That does, that always makes me nervous, when there's like a biochemistry question and I'm like "God, a Krebs cycle, Krebs cycle!" (Sighs) 

Michael: As usual, today our contestants are competing on behalf of Patreon patrons. Hank today you are playing for Chris Peters.

Hank: Chris!

Michael: Olivia, today you are playing for Thomans Flanigan.

Olivia: Thomas. I think we're gonna make a good team.

(All laugh)

Michael: Okay, as usual, I'm starting both of you off with one thousand points. Each time you answer a question you will win or lose some number of points, depending on how good your answer was. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins some special SciShow prizes for their Patreon patron. Stephan, show our contestants and our audience what they're playing for today. 

Stephan: Thanks Michael. Both Chris and Thomas will be taking home autographed cards from the final round with our contestants final guesses and wagers on them. The lucky winner will get a lovely 'I Won SciShow Quiz Show' pin, and the lucky loser will win the highly coveted 'I Lost SciShow Quiz Show' pin. And the winner will also take home some secret SciShow swag from Back to you, Michael.

Michael: Okay, you guys ready?

Hank: Right, let's do the thing where we answer questions...

Michael: Round One is all about carnivorous plants.

Hank: Okay, that's not an insect.

Michael: Most plants get all the important nutrients they need, like nitrogen, from the soil, but carnivorous plants usually live in nutrient-poor places and survive by capturing and digesting other living things. The pitcher plant, for example, is basically a slippery cup of sweet smelling nectar that's full of digestive enzymes and bacteria. 

Hank: Oooh, just like... never-mind.

Michael: What? (Both Laugh) Okay, excellent. Darwin first called them insectivorous plants, because he only saw them trap invertebrates, but since then, pitcher plants have been seen digesting small amphibians, mammals, and other organic matter that you might not expect to find in there. So, what else do some pitcher plants eat? Fruit, fallen leaves, animal poop, chunks of tree bark.

Olivia: Animal poop

Michael: That is correct.

Hank: It does seem like it would be a good place to get nitrogen from.

Michael: Pitcher plants have the digestive power to break down vertebrate and invertebrate tissues, but, a couple South East Asian species attract mammals for their nitrogen rich poop. Instead of tricking the animals into falling into the digestive fluid soup, it's more of a mutualistic relationship. Three plant species produce sugary nectar on their inner lids and rims, which tree shrews love to eat. The shrews squat down to dine, and use the plant as their personal toilet. Some other pitcher plants, meanwhile, act as comfy roosts for woolly bats. The bats can climb in and out without touching the pool of digestive fluid. So, they get a safe place to sleep during the day, and the pitcher plants get their nutritious guano. 

Michael: That is a hundred points for Olivia.

Hank: Well the good news is that I have a thousand, and I didn't even do anything to get them. Like, basic income, SciShow Quiz Show edition. 

Michael: Now, I think it's important that we take a moment to pay tribute to one of the unsung carnivorous plants, the bladderwort. Despite having a kind of unfortunate name, the bladderwort...

Hank: Yeah, I had those in college

Michael: It's a pretty noteworthy plant, it's probably the most widespread carnivorous plant, and it has one of the coolest trapping mechanisms, which it uses like a boss. The bladderwort lives in water or waterlogged soil, and has a bunch of little underwater chambers, that actually suck in its prey, like larvae or small crustaceans, and it traps them with a cute little lid that snaps down. So with all of this in mind, what is the bladderwort better at than any other carnivorous plant? It has the fastest reaction time, it can hold and store more prey than any other carnivorous plant, it captures the biggest prey relative to its size, or it gets all of its nutrition from its prey and none from photosynthesis.  

O: Oh, it didn't light up.

H: I was there first.

O: We established this at the beginning.

H: A.  It has the fastest reaction time of any carnivorous plant.  

M: It sure does. Hank Green, you get 100 points. 

H: All right, tie ballgame.  

M: Scientists have studied the traps or bladders of a couple bladderwort species with high speed cameras, and they all have similar trapping mechanisms. Basically, internal structures pump water out of the little bladders, so there's a lower pressure inside, and a trapdoor keeps a watertight seal, so it's ready for action. When something like a tiny crustacean bumps up against trigger hairs on the door, it opens in about half a millisecond, then the walls expand, sucks in water and the prey, and closes in about 2.5 milliseconds. The next fastest, by comparison, are pimpernel sundews. When something stimulates the tip of its tentacle, its tentacle snatches the prey in about 75 milliseconds.  

Okay, we're moving on to round two, and since Olivia knows all about insects, this section is all about bugs.

H: Bugs are kinds of insects. Wait. What's the difference between a bug and an insect? Is that a question? You just tell me.

O: Bugs are terrestrial arthropods.

H: Okay, what are some non-terrestrial arthropods?  

O: Lobsters.

H: Oh. A lobster is an insect?

O: Uh, it's not an insect, it's an arthropod.

H: I see. I got it. I see, I see. So a bug is broader than insect.

O: Yes.

H: Okay, got it.

M: So the kind of bug that we're talking about, technology related ones. In computer programming, the term 'bug' means some sort of mistake that makes the program not work the way it was supposed to. The word was first used to describe technical failures in late 1800s, like Thomas Edison referred to errors in telegraph signals and electrical circuits as bugs, but there's this almost folkloric tale about how engineers started using 'bug' and 'de-bug' in the language of computer programs.  In 1947, the Mark II computer at Harvard University, which was designed to perform math calculations, wasn't working. What was the problem? It was making a buzzing noise like a bee, there was a moth stuck inside--

H: That one. Can I do--can I--do we have to wait for all of them?  

O: What are the rules here?

M: There are no rules, Olivia, there are no rules.

H: Yeah, there really aren't. Hey, it's green!

M: You are correct.  

H: There was a moth stuck inside.

M: That's 200 points for Hank Green.  

H: Oh, I get 200.

M: Yeah, it's round two.

O: There is the photo of that in the Smithsonian, in the America — in the Museum of American History.

H: Was it a dead moth? 

O: Yes.

H: Did it die in there? Did it get, like, zapped?

O: Probab--I would imagine. I wasn't there, exactly how it transpired, but--

H: Or were there, like, physical parts closing together in this giant machine. I don't know how the Mark II worked.

M: It seems like a--one of those video games where you have to--

H: Squash the moth! It's good. Take that.

M: The story goes, the Mark II computer was being tested by a team of engineers, including pioneering computer scientist, Grace Hopper. Mark II was designed to run using electromagnetic relays, small switches that control and are controlled by electric currents, and when the computer wasn't working, engineers opened it up to find a moth trapped inside one of the relays. They extracted it and taped the insect into their logbook with the note, "First actual case of bug being found."  

Okay, we're gonna move on from software bugs to surveillance bugs, also known as a covert listening device or those things in the spy movies where the bad guys are like, he's wearing a wire!  

H: I'm wearing a wire. We're all wearing wires.

M: You're all wearing wires right now. Most simple bugs include some sort of microphone, which receives sound waves and converts them into an electrical signal and then a transmitter, which sends out radio waves. Perhaps the most famous, or infamous bug, of all time was a device known for decades only as "The Thing." In 1945, Soviet schoolchildren in Moscow presented a gift to the US Ambassador, Averell Harriman. The gift was a thick wooden plaque emblazoned with the great seal of the United States, but behind that seal was "The Thing," a tiny mic connected to a transmitter. The most ingenious thing about "The Thing" was that it worked without any wires or batteries. The back of the seal was hollow, and the mic was on the front, so the whole device acted like a drum, amplifying the vibrations from sound waves that hit it. Soviet spies in a van outside the embassy could aim a high frequency signal at the bug and only then would it transmit a signal.  

H: That's cool. I didn't know about this. This is all new information.  

M: As it happens, this device was designed by one of the Soviet Union's most famous engineers. Who was the mastermind behind "The Thing"? Was it Igor Sikorsky, inventor of the helicopter, Pavel Cherenkov, discoverer of Cherenkov radiation, Mikhail Kalashnikov, developer of the AK-47 assault rifle, or Leon Theremin, inventor of the theremin?  

H: I didn't know that guy was Russian.

M: Is that you buzzing in or are you turning the light off?

O: Looks like you're gonna have to answer that question.

H: Yeah, oh, I had to turn it off and then — I'd have to answer, 'cause I touched it.  Uhh, the Cherenkov, I'm gonna go with Cherenkov, 'cause he works on radiation.

M: Sorry, but you just lost yourself 200 points.  

H: Oh man!  See, the thing about that, though, is it was a guess, but I felt like it was the best guess, so I should just — I don't need points, but can you give me some credit?

M: I — you have my sympathy.  

O: Does that mean I have to answer?

M: Yeah.  

O: Uhh, D.  

M: You are correct.

H: Ohhhh! That's cool. I guess, yeah, he also worked with sound stuff.

M: Yes.

H: And electromagnetic fields, sure.

M: He did, he did do those things.  

H: And also, we did an episode on him, so probably some writer figured that out and couldn't work it into the theremin episode and was like, oh, put it in quiz show, I should have known!

M: Theremin is most famous for inventing the electronic musical instrument that bears his name and whose spooky sounds appeared in cheesy sci-fi movies in the mid-20th century, but after he made that, Theremin used his expertise in both electronics and acoustics to design "The Thing," which hung, undetected, in the US Ambassador's office until 1952.  

Finally, we've reached our double or nothing round, wherein you can wager any number of your points on your answer to the next question, and since we've been talking about sound, this next question is about the loudest sound.  

H: Ohh.  

M: Well, you guys make your wagers, we'll be right back after these commercial messages.

Welcome back. We know that sound is created by vibrating objects, which makes waves that travel through something like air to our ears, which allows us to hear, and we describe the intensity of sound in terms of decibels, so something like the conversation we're having right now would be around 60 decibels, but if you were listening to something at 120 decibels, that would actually be sort of painful to listen to.  

H: Can I give you 120 decibels in your ear right now?

M: No, I don't want that.

H: All right.

M: Because of the physics of sound waves, there is a limit to how loud a sound can be and still be considered normal sound. There is a point at which sound waves become shock waves, which can cause sudden changes in pressure and temperature. So there is a certain decibel level that is literally as loud as sound can get and still be a sustained sound. So on Earth, at sea level, what is the loudest that sound can be? Is it 140 decibels, 188 decibels, 194 decibels, or 200 decibels?

H: Oh. Oh, well. I've got... I feel like I've got a 50% chance.

M: Okay.

H: I should have bet 0. You could tell by listening. Could you tell what I just wrote?  

O: No.  

M: I could, you know. I could tell. You guys ready?

H: Yes.

O: All right.

M: Show off your answers.  

H: Oh. Ah.  

M: Well.

H: What?

M: Well.

H: What? We were both wrong?

M: Hank Green, you just lost yourself 1100 points.  

H: Hey, it's all the same to me.

M: Olivia, you just won yourself another 400 points.  

The loudness of a sound is determined by the amplitude of its sound waves, and generally, there are areas of high pressure where the sound waves are and areas of low pressure in between. Once a sound generates waves of 194 decibels or higher, there's no air between the sound waves and the vibrations essentially create a vacuum, and in a vacuum, there can be no sound. So it's totally possible that sounds can be generated with amplitudes higher than 194 decibels, but when that happens, they create shock waves that are asymmetric and distorted, rather than sustained sound waves.  As for the other answers, 140 decibels is the sound of a jet engine from around 50 meters away. The other two were recorded sounds in water. A blue whale's call has been measured up to around 188 decibels, and the pistol shrimp can snap its claws shut really fast to create and pop a bunch of bubbles, producing shock waves over 200 decibels that can stun small prey.

I do believe that makes Olivia and Thomas Flanigan —

O: Thomas.

M: — our winners of this SciShow Quiz Show.

H: Aw man. I knew it was one of those two.  

M: Whoo! Thank you, boys and girls at home, for joining us for this SciShow Quiz Show. If you'd like to support us making more videos like this, you can go to, and don't you forget to go to and subscribe.