Baby I'm Iambic

...for better or verse!

Published: 17th September 2016 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2016 11:50 AM   |  A+A-

I get a lot of flak from the lit club lovers for running masses of physics stroke math probs (and they’ve even time travelled to actually quote this time’s ‘But Google This Now’ as two more examples). Therefore we’ll give them something now that’s super artsy yet antsy. Enjoy!

There’s a certain Shakespearean play where a particular line begins with the word “my”. Going upwards, if you check the first letters of the first words of the preceding four lines they spell out the word “w-a-n-t”. Similarly, going downwards, the first letters of the first words of the succeeding four lines spell out the word “b-a-b-y”. In sum, WANT MY BABY. It’s as if the bard was sending a hidden message to some lady he fancied. Question: In which play is it?

Too complicated? Or easy? Complicated I guess; so here’s a hint: I just gave it. But you still have to find out where in that play the lines occur. (Okay okay Act I; Scene 1. But which play?)


(The problem was: “A stone thrown in a lake produces round concentric waves. What form will the waves take if a stone is thrown in a flowing river?”)

Even in fast flowing water, the waves produced by a stone are circular. Let us treat the motions of the particles of the waves as a combination of two movements: (i) Radial -- from the centre of oscillations and (ii) Translational -- downstream. Now in still water, the waves will be circular. If the water is moving, the motion is only translational. So what will happen to the circular waves? They will only undergo a downstream movement without any distortion. Meaning they will remain circular while moving downstream. – S Navin, 

(The second problem was: “Everyone knows manhole covers are round so that when they are taken out for whatever reason they don’t fall into the manhole. So why are manholes in industrial boilers elliptical?”)

It is elliptical as the holes are installed with manhole covers on the inside. This is so the pressure from the boiler will help hold the cover against the gasket and the manhole. The only to do this is to have an elliptical hole. If the round was circular they would not fit into it and if it was square they tend to crack at the corners. -- Advaith Ram Ravichandran,

The manhole lids on boilers are mounted from the inside. This is because the pressure inside would help to keep it tight. Elliptical shape means they can be taken out easily. Also, the cross section of the manhole is elliptical. A 12×16 inch elliptical opening is smaller than a 16 inch round one, resulting in smaller surface area. -- Saishankar Swaminathan,

Manholes in industrial boilers are elliptical in shape because the cross-section of a man (or of most men) is elliptical. A worker can easily wriggle through it. Since space is limited on boilers, circular holes are avoided. Most manholes these days are of 12 inches by 16 inches in size. It is significantly smaller than a 16 inch diameter circular hole. A smaller opening means a smaller surface area of the backing plate so that the smaller plate will have less overall force acting upon it. -- Narayana Murty Karri,

In industrial boilers manholes are fitted from inside and bolted from outside. So ellipse is easier to insert and second strongest shape. -- Ganesh Ram Palanisamy,

(The third one was: “If someone can solve the following anagram, they definitely deserve a pat: “BET THINGS RATTLE MORE IN ROAD”. Hint: It deals with India’s recently concluded Olympic outing!)

Solution to the anagram puzzle: GIRLS DO BETTER THAN MEN AT RIO. -- Ramakrishna Bhogadi,

The answer to your anagram riddle is as follows: GIRLS ARE BETTER THAN MEN AT RIO. -- Shobha Hebbar, (Why an extra letter SH? -- MS)


1. Why is it that tea leaves at the bottom of a glass or cup (which means that they’re heavier than water) don’t move towards the walls under the influence of centrifugal force when stirred but assemble at the centre of the bottom?

 2. If you’re allowed to climb either one or two steps at a time, what are the total number of ways you can ascend a flight of 14 steps?

— Sharma is a scriptwriter and former editor of Science Today magazine.(

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