Text message trivia: Answers in minutes

In three years, the trivia experts at Any Question Answered have tackled nine million queries sent in by mobile phone. So what exactly have they learnt? Well, where shall we begin?
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It's a simple idea: send a question via text message to 63336, and one of 1,000 researchers will text you the answer in minutes. That's the simple idea behind AQA (or Any Question Answered, to give it its full title). The service launched three years ago and now its crack trivia team answers 16,000 questions a day, including these. And yes, someone really did send in each and every one...

How come mother hedgehogs aren't stabbed during labour?

Baby hedgehogs are born with very soft, pliable spikes, which are aligned to allow easy birth. These quickly harden to provide protection for the hoglet.

How do you say "I love you" in binary code?

I love you in binary code is: 01001001 (I) 01101100 (l) 01101111 (o) 01110110 (v) 01100101 (e) 01111001 (y) 01101111 (o) 01110101 (u).

What creature in the animal kingdom has the biggest heart in relation to the size of its body?

The hummingbird has the biggest heart of all, for the size of the animal. In flight, it pumps 1,000 times a minute so it can hover like a helicopter.

What country has killed the most extinct animals?

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) documents 784 extinctions since AD1500 (when historical scientific records began). Mauritius has lost the most (44), followed by Australia (35).

Are there more cows than cars in the world?

Yes, there are more cows in the world than cars: an estimated 1.4 billion cows compared to about 1 billion cars. Cows produce 20 per cent of all methane.

Can a turtle breathe through its bottom?

Yes. Many species of turtle have special sacs opening off the cloaca (anal chamber) permitting take-up of oxygen. Sea-cucumbers also "buttbreathe".

Do cats dream?

Most mammals dream, including cats. Dreaming helps brains to grow, by exciting the neurons. Newborn babies dream about eight hours per day.

Are sheep more tolerant of loud noise from music festivals than, say, cows and horses?

Sheep appear to acclimatise to noise more easily than other animals. This has been tested through their body and behavioural responses to aircraft noise.

What is the biggest living thing?

The biggest living thing in the world is an underground honey mushroom fungus in Oregon, USA. The entire organism covers 890 hectares – almost 1,665 football pitches.

How old was the oldest goldfish?

The oldest known goldfish was Goldie, and was owned by Pauline Evans of Devon. Goldie lived for 45 years after being won in 1960 at a fairground.

Who would win in a fight between a sperm whale and a giant squid?

A sperm whale would have a giant squid for breakfast – literally. Giant squid form 80 per cent of its diet; the rest being octopus, fish, shrimp, crab and shark.

What is the smallest bird in the world?

The world's smallest bird is the Cuban zunzun (Mellisuga helenae). Also known as a bee hummingbird, it measures a mere 6cm in length and is the weight of four paperclips.

How do bats give birth?

Baby bats (called "pups") are born upside down and are caught by their mother's wings. They hang on to the mother bat's nipples using hooked milk teeth.

What is the speed of acceleration of a chameleon's tongue?

The chameleon's tongue whips out faster than the eye can follow, speeding at 26 body lengths per second. It hits the prey in about 0.03 seconds.

From what animal does injected insulin come?

Insulin is now manufactured for widespread clinical use using genetic engineering techniques. In the past it has come from cows, horses, pigs and fish.

Who has the world's biggest TV set?

The biggest television in the world is owned by the Japan Racing Association. The new Mitsubishi Diamond Vision HD LED display is over 8,000 square feet.

How many oranges would need to be placed end to end to make it to the Moon?

The Earth is 238,900 miles from the Moon. You would need 13,411 oranges to cover a mile, so to the Moon you would need 3,203,935,680 oranges balanced end to end.

Why does alcohol make you drunk?

Alcohol makes you drunk because it slows the function of the brain and increases the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is related to pleasure.

In which town or city in the UK do people have the highest life expectancy, and what is that age?

The London borough of Kensington & Chelsea, at 80.8 years (men) and 85.8 (women), has the highest life expectancy. Glasgow, at 69.3 and 76.4 years, has the lowest.

What is the world's oldest tree?

At more than 4,800 years old, the oldest living tree is "Methu-selah", a bristlecone pine in the White Mountains, California. Its exact location is a secret.

How much does an elephant poo in its life?

An elephant would produce around 2,492,000kg of excrement over its lifetime. On an average day, the average elephant produces around 100kg. For a human, the daily amount is around 250g.

How deep is the deepest point of ocean on earth? And how far down can the best submarines go?

The deepest point of the ocean is 10,924 metres below sea level in the Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean. The US Navy bathyscaphe Trieste reached the bottom in 1960.

What time is it at the poles?

Time zones divide along lines of longitude and meet at the poles, causing them to be in all time zones. The South Pole is on the same time as New Zealand.

Is there anything in the average household that would act as an antibiotic?

Garlic is a natural antibiotic found in the average house, which kills infecting bacteria and protects the body from bacterial poisons. Another is honey.

What is the biggest car park in the world?

West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has the world's largest car park, with space for more than 20,000 vehicles.

What inventions have come from Canada?

Canadians voted the top five Canadian discoveries and inventions as: insulin (1921), the phone (1876), the light bulb (1874), five-pin bowling (1908) and the Wonderbra (1964).

Who made the first ever mobile phone call?

Motorola's Martin Cooper made the first mobile call to his Bell Laboratories rival Joel Engel on 3 April 1973. The UK's first was by Ernie Wise on 1 January 1985.

Which Underground station had the first escalator installed?

Earl's Court was the first Tube station to install escalators, on 4 October 1911. One-legged "Bumper" Harris rode them to assure passengers of their safety.

How many US flags have been left on the Moon?

Six American flags were placed on the Moon – one for each of the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 missions. However, the force of the engines as the craft left the Moon may have knocked some over.

What were the last words spoken on the Moon?

The last words spoken on the Moon were: "We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."

What's the oldest living plant species?

King's Lomatia of Tasmania is the oldest living plant species. Its fossils have been dated back 43,600 years. As it's sterile, the plant clones itself when a branch falls.

Who invented the twistable lipstick dispenser?

American James Bruce Mason Jr patented the first swivel lipstick tube in 1923. The first tubes of lipstick were manufactured by Maurice Levy of Connecticut in 1915.

Is it possible to make your own hair gel/wax?

To make hair gel, mix 1 teaspoon of gelatine with 1 cup of warm water. Keep it refrigerated. This gel is not suitable for vegetarians.

When and where was the first ever car crash?

French engineer Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot developed the steam car. In 1771, he had the first-ever car crash when his vehicle hit a wall at the Paris Arsenal.

How many sheets of A4 paper would be made if all the world's trees were cut down?

If all 170 billion of the world's trees were cut down and used to make paper, 2 15,000,000,000,000,000 (or 215 quad-rillion) sheets of A4 could be made.

How old is the Moon?

The Moon is around 4.5 billion years old. It was formed by a collision between Earth and a very big object. It is about 384,400km from the Earth.

What was measured in Gillettes?

The strength of early lasers was unofficially measured in Gillettes, named after the power needed to burn a hole in one razor blade.

How many atoms make up a beer mat?

There are 26 quintillion atoms in a grain of sand, so AQA estimates a beer mat contains 520 sextillion atoms – more if it's topped with spillage.

What month is the Earth closest to the Sun?

Earth is nearest the Sun (perihelion) in January and furthest away (aphelion) in July. The dates vary: in 2008, 3 January is the perihelion, 4 July the aphelion.

Did Richard Hammond break the world record for the fastest car-crash survived?

Richard Hammond doesn't hold the record. Craig Breedlove crashed at around 675mph in 1996 and survived.

Do Chinese mobile phones have Mandarin keypads?

Chinese mobiles use algorithms to translate keystrokes into Mandarin, or to recognise characters written on the screen.

Any Question Answered by AQA 63336 is published by Profile Books (£5.99). You can text a question to 63336 (£1) or 57275 in the Republic of Ireland (€2). To order a copy (free p&p), visit www.independentbooksdirect.co.uk

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