1. A number of revolutions have been associated with colours: the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the Rose Revolution in Georgia. Why was the revolution in Iraq called the ‘Purple Revolution’?
2. One safety feature that was present in houses that were close to each other was a dividing wall of nonflammable material that separated the two houses from roof to floor so that a fire in one house did not spread to the next one. What was this safety feature and what term do we derive from it?
3. According to many ancient texts, the kingdom of Sumeria traded with three important centres: Magan (modern Oman) and Dilmun (Bahrain). The location of the third is hotly debated but it is sometimes identified with the Indus Valley civilisation of Harappa from where sesame oil was imported. The Sumerian word for this oil is illu (Akkadian: ellu). In Dravidian languages el or ellu stands for sesame. What was the name of the third place that finds a mention in a bestseller?
4. Because Saturday is a day of rest, Sunday, May 16, 1948 was the first business day in Israel after independence was declared on which stamps could be sold. The first set of stamps was entitled Doar Ivri (‘Hebrew Post’). Why was this name chosen?
5. In what unusual way does Hergé introduce the fictional countries Syldavia and Borduria in King Ottokar’s Sceptre?
6. This international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986 began in Italy with the founding of its forerunner organisation, Arcigola, in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome? It promotes sustainable foods and local small businesses and is against globalisation. Name this movement and what animal features appropriately in its logo?
7. Between April 2008 and September 2011, at least 41 of these objects, some dating back to the 19th century, were stolen from museum displays across Europe. The places included several private homes, museum displays, an auction house, a zoological exhibition and even a Czech castle! These thefts were well organised and fuelled by Asian rumours of a cancer cure. What was stolen?
8. The Pactolus is a river near the Aegean coast of Turkey. The river rises from Mount Tmolus, flows through the ruins of the ancient city of Sardis, and empties into the Gediz River. The river once contained electrum (an alloy of gold and silver) that was the basis of the economy of the ancient state of Lydia. According to legend, how did the river come to be a good source of electrum?
9. During the Rushdie controversy at the recent Jaipur Literary Festival, articles brought to public attention that it was possible to legally read, possess and download copies of The Satanic Verses in India. How?
10. Alexander Mitsos and Corey Noone, two MIT researchers, investigated a more compact and energy efficient way of arranging solar panels. Existing concentrated solar-power plants, have their mirrors arranged in concentric semicircles facing a tower, on top of which the boiler and the turbine sit. That arrangement sometimes results in the mirrors shading each other as the sun’s position in the sky changes, even though the mirrors are usually attached to robotic arms that track the sun as it moves. In their new design, each element is set at a constant angle of 137° to the previous one. What is the name of this design named after a French lawyer and amateur mathematician and ironically where is this design commonly seen in nature?
11. Why does the current series of the Swiss 10 Franc banknotes carry the design of the Indian Palace of Justice on their reverse?
12. According to news reports, what did the CIA organise in Abbotabad with the alleged help of a Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, in their search for Osama bin Laden and why?
13. Traversing a distance of 4286 km over 82.30 hours starting from Station Code DBRG and ending at Station Code CAPE, this express numbered 15906 is the longest running train in India, and 8th longest in the world. What is the name of this train and what do DBRG and CAPE stand for?
14. England’s National Air Traffic Service is working with a particular team of people to use their software, in modified fashion, to map Heathrow’s air traffic. The Great Ormond Street Hospital is working with the same team to learn lessons in split-second timing and efficiency, which they can then apply to the handover between surgery and intensive care. What does this team of people do for a living?
15. In June 1903 at the Royal Institution’s lecture theatre in London during a demonstration of an emerging technological wonder by the physicist John Ambrose Fleming, several messages were received by the gathering, among them “Rats, rats...” and a limerick that went “There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily...” besides quotes from Shakespeare. What was being demonstrated, and what was the significance of these messages?