Silly Question: The right leg wins yet again

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SOME weeks ago, we questioned whether anti-clockwise races favoured athletes with longer right legs. Ian Selbourne has added significantly to the theory by pointing out that in one 400-metre lap, the right leg would travel nearly 63 centimetres more than the left.

Over 10,000 metres, this would add up to more than 15 metres, making the left leg finish more than 1.5 seconds behind the right with equal strides. His solution is simple and elegant: 'Fit insoles into the right running-shoe of all the 'Long Lefties', and into the left for the 'Long Righties'. He recommends an insole of 1.57mm for each 400 metres. Sadly, the left-hand side of his letter arrived too late to be included in this discussion.

On another topic, Mr J Kay produces a relative explanation of why bathers arrive too late for telephone calls. 'Being in a bath causes time dilation, due to the increase in body heat. While, for you, thirty seconds have elapsed, for the caller one minute has gone by. This explains why, when you find out who the caller was, they insist they hung on for ages, while you are sure they hardly waited at all.' He also supplies the statistic that the average number of rings a caller will wait is 7.83.

Jonathan Pinnock, while unable to shed any light on why Italian composers' names end in 'i' while painters' end in 'o', does feel that it explains why the music of Berio and Nono is so hard to listen to, and why Leonardo da Vinci was such a clever-dick polymath.

Tim Varley, seeking a new and powerful energy source, asks: 'What causes pens to unscrew themselves inside jacket pockets?'

Other questions to think about:

How do fish in a shoal know when to turn as one? (Adam Wilsher)

Why, on the London Underground, does Earl's Court take an apostrophe while Barons Court does not? (Anne Wilkinson)

How is it possible to grow seedless grapes? (Peter Homan)

Why are blank cassette tapes exactly half a chorus or guitar solo shorter than the album you are trying to tape? (Ian Selbourne)

Answers and more questions should be sent to Silly Questions, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.