Posts Tagged what is it?

What Is It? #17

In the last edition of What Is It? we asked you to tell us where this picture came from:

It is page 92 of Lord Robert Baden-Powell’s ‘Scouting For Boys: A Handbook For Instruction in Good Citizenship’, originally published in 1908. This scan comes from the 1963 edition.

Only two days in and Weol got in there first with the correct answer, followed swiftly by Nemo. Other suggestions we recieved were an illustration from the ‘The Giant Book of Fantastic Facts’, or drawings of Mike, Marsh and myself (who’s who, I wonder?), presumably as part of a bizarre promo for Skeptics With a K!

So, you’re here, you’re reading, let’s have a look at the next picture. What/who are we looking at in the picture below?



What Is It? #16

Sorry it’s late. Someone fed a mogwai when they got in from the pub after closing time and gremlins got into the machinery, but it’s all solved now!

Last week (sort of), we asked you what this picture was (it would be a crap competition if we didn’t):

The answer is (insert drumroll here)… a dying nerve cell, photographed using an optical microscope. No right answers, although most of you were on the right track in suggesting cells of various kinds, so handclaps all round. Cancer cells were suggested, as was phagocytosis, blood cells and breast tissue. So well done to all who made those suggestions.

As usual we got some more left-field suggestions too, such as the light show at a Hawkwind gig, a curled up caterpillar and a Van Gogh painting. Personally, I think it actually does look like a Van Gogh, though I’m not sure about the other two suggestions! That said I’ve never been to a Hawkwind show. If their light shows are anything like the picture above, then that’s probably a good thing.

Anyway, I guess you’re all reading this to find out what the next picture is, so I’ll shut up now. Ready? What are we looking at in the picture below?



What Is It? #15

Last week, we asked you what this was a picture of:

No-one actually supplied the correct answer, although Johan Strandberg did post a link to a websearch he had done to find the answer, complaining that it was too easy to find. Which kind of defeats the point. We may be geniuses here at the MSS, but regularly defeating search engines is beyond our capabilities! It’s always possible to search quickly for the answer, but we want you to use your own knowledge to get the answer, not steal Google’s. So I propose a second rule to the What Is It? competitions, beyond the one in the title itself: no search engines. Dissenters will be poked aggressively in the shoulder with a disapproving finger.

For those who didn’t follow the link, the image is of an influenza virus, taken via a TEM (Transmission Electron Microscope). Special mention should go to Alex, who suggested Cowpea Mosaic Virus. Hopefully none of you out there are currently suffering the results of infection by this beautiful blue and yellow bastard (the flu virus that is, not Alex). If so, you now know the face of your enemy.

So, well done to, er,, apparently! Lets move on from flu and search engines and have a look at the next What Is It? picture. Put your thinking caps on, lean into your screen and tell us what it is you are looking at in the picture below:



What Is It? #14

Last week, we asked you what this picture was:

Most of you decided to make jokes about the severed heads, which is fair enough! Jo suggested it was an early ventriloquist double act, while Michael Gray offered the notion of a lost property auction. Jon D suggested the man on the left was showing off his homeopathic Roman legion. We’ve always room on here for a homeopathy joke.

Don’t worry though, someone did get the right answer. Paul Smout got in there early on with the second comment. It is, of course, the founders of Rome: Romulus and Remus.

The image shows the brothers marching triumphantly from Alba Longa. Romulus, on the left, bears aloft the head of his treacherous uncle Amulus, while Remus carries the head of the wild priest Camers, who counselled the King to drown the twins. The illustration itself comes from “The Lays of Ancient Rome”, 1881.

So there.

That one was got rather quickly, so let’s see if we can fox you all for a little bit longer with this week’s image. No severed heads in this one. You know the rules by now (there’s only one). See if you can tell us what this is a picture of:



What Is It? #13

Last week, we asked you what this picture was:

We got some interesting answers for this one. Gittins suggested it was the design for a pair of socks that he had bought from Primark. It isn’t, although I think I have a pair of the same socks he’s talking about. Nigel put forward that it was an aerial view of a field of genetically engineered plants, while Rob thought that it might be a piece of tribal art, the bit on the right being a hand, the left being the side of a face.

All wrong, I’m afraid, although I like the tribal art answer. Closer was Jon D’s contribution, which suggested it was a nano-motor of some kind. Closest of all though, close enough in fact to call it a win, was Michael Gray’s answer:

“An etched silicon circuit.”

The picture is of a silicon tower complex at a height of 100 nm. It is a test piece for new semiconductor designs. So there you go! If we had a prize, it would go to Mr Gray.

Right, we’ve another off the wall offering for you this week. It’s quite a different picture from the last one. We like to keep things fresh!

You all know the game by now: what are we looking at in the picture below?



What Is It? #12

Sorry it’s been so long since the last ‘What Is it?’ It appears we were wisked away by aliens and subjected to long-winded diatribes on the nature of change… or was that the election? Either way, we’re back, so throw on your thinking caps and get yourselves ready for another ‘What Is It?’   

Last week, we asked you who the man in this picture was:   

What Is It? #11

What Is It? #11 (Click to embiggify)


It wasn’t Paul Simon, Jim Carrey or a member of the Polyphonic Spree. It was Claude Vorilhon, facial hair enthusiast and self-proclaimed alien contactee, who changed his surname to Rael and founded the bonkers Raelian movement after his supposed visitation by alien beings.   

There was no messing about this time around. Rob got the correct answer with the very first comment:   

“Claude Rael – Founder of Raelian Movement and apparently the beneficiary of a visit by aliens. Also started Clonaid who claimed to have cloned a baby called Eve.”   

Hopefully, this week’s puzzle will give you something to chew over for a bit longer. It’s a classic ‘What’ rather than a ‘Who’ this time round. So, what is it we are looking at in the picture below? Answers on a postcard. Well, not really. On the comments board below will do nicely!