One of the things I really enjoy doing in Second Life, is running trivia games. I’ve done it on and off for the nine years I’ve been in that virtual world. I started at the Shelter when I was under a year old and ran my first trivia game show there (“Trivial Obsession”) for about three years at the punishing pace of two shows a week. I currently have a weekly show—"A Trivial Entertainment"—at Caledon Oxbridge Lecture Hall (warning: SLURL), Tuesdays at 7pm SLT (Pacific Time).
(Virtual Me on the set of “A Trivial Entertainment” in Caledon Oxbridge)
So here are some actual trivia questions, written by me, from the most recent shows. If you do well on them, come on down and play next week!
(I draw my questions from the following categories: Arts, Literature & Books, Science, Bio & Earth Science, Geek Culture, Second Life, Sports, Entertainment, Geography, and History.)
Q1: What commonly used projection of the round Earth onto a flat map surface has parallels and meridians that are all straight lines, resulting in size distortions to the North and South?
Q2: What is the length of an Astronomical Unit (149,597,870 km) based on?
Q3: What controversial change did writer/director George Lucas make to the cantina scene in his “Special Edition” revision of Star Wars?
Q4: What 19th century French artist is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism and is famed for his paintings of ballet dancers, including “The Dance Class (La Classe de Danse)”?
Q5: Paul McCartney and Carl Davis collaborated to produce McCartney’s first classical work in 1991; what was the name of this piece?
Q6: How much tier-free land do the Second Life lifetime memberships sold in mid-2003 now include?
Q7: What Bond villain had the unusual physical characteristic of polythelia?
Q8: From what continent did the tomato originate?
Q9: Who were the three founding members of DC Comic’s Legion of Super-Heroes?
Q10: What three things does an athlete throw in the decathlon?
(I use the “answer followed by a factoid” format to make the game more interesting.)
A1: Mercator Projection (The polar distortion is severe. On a Mercator map, Greenland appears to be about as large as Africa; when in reality Africa is over twelve times as large.)
A2: The average distance from the Earth to the Sun (There are ~63,241 AUs in a light year.)
A3: Hans Solo doesn’t shoot first (In the revised—and reviled—scene, bounty hunter Greedo shoots first, somehow missing Hans at point blank range.)
A4: Edgar Degas (Degass once said, “No art is less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and the study of the great masters.”)
A5: Liverpool Oratorio (McCartney subsequently released more classical work: “Paul McCartney’s Standing Stone” and “Paul McCartney’s Working Classical”.)
A6: 4096 square meters (At the time, those lifetime memberships cost 225 US$. Sounds like a good deal, but in the wake of the dotcom bust of 2000-2001, it was a risky proposition.)
A7: Francisco Scaramanga (from “The Man With the Golden Gun”) (Polythelia means having one or more extra nipples.)
A8: South America (It was brought to Europe by the Spanish. Italians initially thought it was poisonous due to its resemblance to the nightshade plant, but by the 18th century it had been embraced there and met its destiny with the pre-existing pizza and pasta.)
A9: Saturn Girl (Imra Ardeen; telepathic powers), Lightning Lad (Garth Ranzz; lightning powers), and Cosmic Boy (Rok Krinn; magnetic powers).
A10: Discus, Javelin, and Shot Put (The other seven events of the Decathalon are: 100 meter race, the long jump, the high jump, the 400 meter race, the 110 meter hurdles, the pole vault, and the 1500 meter race.)