Cracking Walnuts!


Q1. ‘Sikandar’ is a word used in Urdu or Hindi for someone who is young and a rising talent, and is believed to be derived from Persian. However, another theory suggests that it is derived from the name of an extremely successful ancient Greek ruler, who is believed to have died a few millennia ago. His death was perceived as a result of a disease, but foul play was also suspected.

Whose name is the word ‘Sikandar’ derived from?

Q2. The Talkatora Garden is a Mughal-era garden that is located in Mother Teresa Crescent in New Delhi. It is now known for the Talkatora Indoor Stadium that is named after it and located within it. The renovated stadium was used as the venue for boxing events of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

In January 2016, this place was again abuzz with activity, with people being given free entry to the stadium to witness a project that became popular later that year.

What was the project?

Q3. Since 1953, the Credito Emiliano bank in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, has been accepting a peculiar kind of collateral — something that Italy is quite famous for.

The collateral is stored in refrigerated vaults for years together, until the full loan is paid back with interest. If the borrower fails to repay the loan, the bank is then free to sell the collateral to recover the dues. The benefit for the borrower is that they get free storage for their collateral for the term of the loan. The collateral also gets better as time passes. As a result, some borrowers delay payments on purpose.

What is the collateral?

Q4. In 1901, Hubert Cecil Booth observed that the majority of cleaning done was done through blowing away garbage.

He observed a demonstration of a ‘pneumatic carpet renovator’ and was inspired to make a device that could clean most surfaces of the house. He initially tested it by putting a handkerchief on a chair and sucked air through that. He named that prototype the ‘Puffing Billy.’ Initial models had to be pulled by horses because of its size, but he later made a smaller, electric one.

What did he invent?

Q5. Stephen Hillenburg was a marine biologist at the Orange County Marine Institute. He found interacting with kids and teaching them about marine life to be much more fulfilling than scientific research.

So, he created a comic based on anthropomorphized marine life, with a protagonist who was a sea sponge. After multiple rejections, he created a very popular animated TV show based on the comic.

What did Stephen create?

Q6. One of the supposed origins of this common greeting, known also as dexiosis, was to check if the other person was carrying a weapon or as a gesture of peace by showing the lack thereof. Having two parts to it, the clasp is to check if the person is clutching something and the part that followed, was to check if they had a weapon stashed in their sleeves.

What is this greeting that is believed to have originated in Ancient Greece?

Q7. Harry Colebourn was a cavalry veterinarian who purchased and rescued a black bear from a train stop on his way to volunteer to serve in World War I. He named it Winnipeg, after his hometown in Canada.

When he had to leave to France, he left it with the London Zoo, where it was adored by many for its playfulness and gentleness.

Among its fans was a little boy who loved the bear so much that he changed his teddy bear’s name from ‘Edward Bear’ to ‘Winnie.’

Who was this boy, who was also in popular consciousness a few months ago?

Q8. Sticky Rice mortar was invented using organic materials in inorganic mortar. Sticky rice soup was mixed with slaked lime, to create a mixture that had high adhesive strength and waterproofing capacity and prevented weeds from growing through, and rivals modern cement.

This application was used in the construction (around 500 CE) and renovation (around 1400-1600 CE) of a very famous monument.

Which monument?

Q9. Gerridae are a family of insects that have a unique ability in the insect world. They can walk/skate on water! They have two front legs and two hind legs which are far apart enough to create a wide surface and take advantage of the water’s surface tension to stay on the water.

Since they use their front legs to row and their hind legs to propel themselves, they move at speeds of over 1m per second.

Given their ability to walk on water,

what is the popular nickname given to these insects?

Q10. In the book Asterix and Cleopatra which is set in Egypt, Obelix climbs and steps on a part of a monument and modifies it to how we know it today.

In real life, the ‘modification’ is allegedly attributed to a Sufi Muslim Sa’im Al-Dahr, who was angry at the devotion shown by villagers to that monument.

What are we talking about?


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  • These questions can be attempted by any one above 5-6 years old. Remember, one is never too old to learn something new!
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