Wisdom Of The Crowd: Monuments, Tamagotchis And Cassette Tapes

May 22, 2020

Couple-testants Nico Santos and Zeke Smith compete against Ask Me Another listeners in this numbers-based guessing game.

Heard on: Hong Chau & Nico Santos: Superheros And Superstores.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

We're playing games with Nico Santos from "Superstore" and Zeke Smith from "Survivor." OK, Zeke. I have to ask you this. Is there anything from your "Survivor" contestant skills that is applicable to now?

ZEKE SMITH: Oh, my goodness. Here's the thing about "Survivor" - is, like, you know it has a definite endpoint. So - right? - you can get voted out at any time, but you know at least, like, 39 days, and I'm out of here.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

SMITH: You know, I do have a backpack with a machete and fire-starting material in case things really...

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Yeah.

NICO SANTOS: Yes.

SMITH: ...Like, go down the toilet. So...

SANTOS: Yes.

SMITH: It's good for backup skills, but I don't know that any of my "Survivor" skills directly apply here.

COULTON: (Laughter).

SANTOS: It's - listen. It's great having Zeke as a partner during this pandemic because he is prepared.

SMITH: I've got 14 gallons of water, a hand crank radio, a sunshine - a solar-powered phone charger. Like, we're, like, ready.

SANTOS: I'm like, how am I going to fit this all in my Gucci backpack?

(LAUGHTER)

SANTOS: I don't think it's going to fit.

EISENBERG: I guess you'll need another Gucci backpack. That's the solution right there.

SANTOS: You know what? I guess I do.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's definitely the solution (laughter). OK, so this next game is - you know, it's kind of tricky, so you are going to work together as a team, which I feel like you want to do anyways (laughter). Yes.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: It's called Wisdom of the Crowd. So we've asked our social media followers to guess various quantities - for example, how many bumps are there on a basketball? - like, things that nobody just knows...

SMITH: Right.

EISENBERG: ...Right? And then we calculated the median of their guesses because people always write and complain to us about using average instead of median. So I just want to explain that we're using the median, which is the middle value. And the average, of course, is the sum, and then you divide the number by the number of items...

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: ...That you have in your data set. Just so you know, people, we get it.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: So I'm going to ask you the same questions, and we're going to find out who comes closer to the real answer, you or the crowd. OK, so here's your first one. Every summer in Paris, the heat causes the iron in the Eiffel Tower to expand. How many inches does the Eiffel Tower grow every summer?

SMITH: I want to say seven inches.

SANTOS: Seven, really?

SMITH: Yeah.

SANTOS: That feels like a lot. But I guess the Eiffel Tower's a huge...

SMITH: That's a lot of metal.

SANTOS: That's a lot of metal.

SMITH: I mean, we can go - do you think more like four inches is more appropriate?

SANTOS: Why do we split the difference and say five?

SMITH: Five. OK.

SANTOS: Yeah. Five.

SMITH: We'll say five inches.

EISENBERG: I love the way you worked that out. That was beautiful.

SANTOS: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: OK. So your guess is five. Our listeners...

SANTOS: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...Guessed six inches, and the actual answer is six inches. So basically...

SANTOS: Ah.

SMITH: Ah.

EISENBERG: But you were all just there. You were all in the right place. Yeah, the Eiffel Tower is 984 feet tall, but the height changes slightly due to thermal expansion. And then engineers account for that in the Eiffel Tower and other structures with expansion joints so they absorb seasonal expansion and contraction.

SANTOS: That's amazing. I never thought of that.

SMITH: I know. We're bringing also back so many concepts from high school that I haven't revisited since then.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I know.

SMITH: She's like - you were like, mean, median and mode. And I was like, oh, my God...

COULTON: (Laughter).

SMITH: ...I know what those things are.

COULTON: You break into a cold sweat.

SMITH: Or, like, yeah, when it's cold, like, you know, atoms stay closer together. When it's hot, they all are more energetic. This is what I come to NPR for...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Well, that's right.

SMITH: ...Education.

EISENBERG: We're here for you.

COULTON: When they were building the - you know the St. Louis arch, that famous arch? So when they were building that, they built two sides and then had to get them to meet in the middle. And on the day that they were going to get them to meet in the middle, one side had the sun shining right on it, and it had expanded by several inches, and they weren't matching up. And so they had to get a bunch of firetrucks out there and spray the thing down with a hose so that it would shrink down enough so that they could join the two sides.

SANTOS: Oh, my gosh.

COULTON: Isn't that crazy?

EISENBERG: Yeah.

SMITH: That's so cool.

SANTOS: That's insane.

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: All right, here's another one for you. According to NPR's Robert Krulwich, how many eggs does a female octopus lay?

SMITH: You know, he does Radiolab, right?

COULTON: That's right.

SMITH: The - I just listened to it in the car this morning. The most recent Radiolab is about an octopus mother.

COULTON: No kidding.

EISENBERG: What?

SMITH: Yeah.

COULTON: Well, so...

EISENBERG: Do you know this answer?

COULTON: ...Then you know the answer.

SANTOS: So do you know the answer?

SMITH: I don't actually know the answer.

(LAUGHTER)

SMITH: I just knew why it was significant.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That's amazing.

SMITH: Yeah. I want to say 25.

EISENBERG: Twenty-five eggs.

SMITH: Yeah.

SANTOS: Twenty-five eggs. Is it more than that?

SMITH: I - that's - I would go higher as well.

SANTOS: Yeah.

SMITH: What do you think?

SANTOS: I almost want to say, like, 50.

SMITH: I'll go with 50.

COULTON: Fifty - 50 eggs.

SMITH: Fifty eggs.

SANTOS: Fifty eggs.

COULTON: You are close to what our listeners guessed. Our listeners guessed a hundred. The actual answer is 56,000.

SMITH: (Laughter).

SANTOS: Fifty-six thousand?

EISENBERG: One or two becomes an actual adult.

SANTOS: Wow.

EISENBERG: They must feel very pressured to become a lawyer.

(LAUGHTER)

SANTOS: Oh, is the octopus my mom? Is that...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I know. I know. Exactly. All right, this is the final one. According to the instruction manual for the original Tamagotchi virtual pet...

SANTOS: Ooh.

EISENBERG: ...How many days is the high end of how long you can expect to keep your Tamagotchi alive?

SANTOS: I never played with Tamagotchi.

SMITH: You never played with Tamagotchi. This is all me. I'm going to say 59 days.

EISENBERG: How long did you keep yours alive?

SMITH: I never had interest more than, like, four or five days. And then, you know, well, like, you would get, like, really into it. And then it would be the weekend, and you forget about it. And then you come back, and, you know, it would have drowned in its own feces...

COULTON: (Laughter).

SMITH: ...You know? Because that was a big part of it was, like, cleaning up its poop.

COULTON: Yeah.

SANTOS: Really? Wait, for real?

SMITH: Yeah. It was, like, this little - like, you know, baby on a computer like we have an app game.

SANTOS: Yeah. I didn't know that was part of the thing.

SMITH: And you had to feed it, and you had to clean up its poops. And yeah, those were the basic functions.

EISENBERG: And you couldn't stop it. Once you started it, you couldn't stop it.

SMITH: Yeah.

SANTOS: This is why I only play with Barbies because you don't got to clean up Barbie's poo.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Nope.

SANTOS: Or with the Transformers. Transformers don't poop.

COULTON: Also do not poop. That's right.

SANTOS: Yeah.

SMITH: Yeah.

EISENBERG: So our listeners guessed 100 days, but the amount of days on the high end of how long you can expect to keep your Tamagotchi alive is 23 days. So yeah, let's see. You got that one, yeah.

SMITH: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah, so the instructions say that you're the best caretaker if your Tamagotchi stays alive for 23 or more Tamagotchi years. And I guess one day is one Tamagotchi year.

SMITH: And then what happened? Did, like, the Tamagotchi, like, go to college, you know? Or is it just like, no, it will die after 23 days.

SANTOS: No, it moves back in with you.

EISENBERG: You - nope.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You guys did amazing. That was fantastic. You know a lot. You know a lot of stuff.

SMITH: Well, I think we got most answers wrong, so maybe we don't know as much as we thought (laughter).

EISENBERG: Coming up, Jonathan and I will pitch some new film concepts to actor Hong Chau from HBO's "Watchmen" and the series "Homecoming." I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.