OK, so there’s no Anne A. Cowtins.  Although it seemed like a perfectly reasonable guess at the time.

Well, that’s not entirely true either.  The question was to solve anagrams to make famous scientists’ names – in this case, “CONTAINS AWE”…  I’ll give you that Isaac Newton is a more famous scientist than Anne A. Cowtins (inventor of the self-tapping screw and first person to use the word “plinth”).

There were a bunch of other questions we didn’t do so well on, either.  Turns out I know bugger all about chemical elements compared to what I thought I did…  Having recently been looking at maps of the Shetland Isles I thought it entirely reasonable that Yttrium might be an element named after a Scottish village (turns out that one was Strontium), or that an element named with the Latin word for “purple” might be Iridium (it was Iodine – if only they’d given us the clue that it sublimated from a solid to a gas!), or that the element used in bleach and bulletproof vests could be Titanium (I mean come on, who the hell really knows what Boron does?).

Alright – guessing that the universe was 650 billion years old was probably a wild misstep.  Although I genuinely wished I could’ve played the Pancreas song when we got that one right:


Catchy, isn’t it?  It would have probably been equally as irritating as the future-y sci-fi music noises beind put through the PA, which were a sort of optimistic 70’s/80’s Jean Michel Jarre-esque thing crossed with the soundtrack from the Commodore 64 game “Paradroid“.

Our hosts were the bizarrely identically-dressed M@ and Martin, who led us through quite compassionately and kept what could have been a fairly hard slog of a night quite light and fun.

During the marking phase there was a disturbing amount of self-satisfied & triumphant but quiet “YES!”s being issued from various nerds around the room.  Might have to take my whacking bat next time.  It’s probably counterproductive to focus on the other things we didn’t know.  Still, we had a very good evening.

The next pub quiz at the Royal Institute is on March 21st at 7pm, in the controversial but pleasant Time & Space Bar, for only £2 per head.

On the way home, Matt & I took a shortcut via one of the lifts in King’s Cross Station (you’d never know if it was a shortcut – it’s that labyrinthine, Matt – a person who has used the station for the last 13 years – was able to declare with conviction, “I’ve never been in this corridor before”).  It’s not groudbreaking, but it is slightly bewildering as to who thought the following infographic would make anything at all clearer:

Got it?

A celebration of the life of Anne A. Cowtins, scientist emeritus
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