Richard Mason Answers Life’s Persistent Questions

  1. If you leave a light bulb on, does it use more or less electricity than if you turn it off and on?

  2. Can the radiation from illicit nuclear warheads be detected from space?

  3. What’s the difference between a 2-stroke engine and a 4-stroke engine?

  4. If I'm in an elevator and the mechanisms fail causing the car to plunge at terrifying speed, if I jump at the very last second before the car crashes into the ground will I be okay?

  5. Does it make sense to power high-altitude aircraft from the ground with laser beams?

  6. In the movie Blade Runner, is Deckard a replicant?

  7. What did you think of the movie I, Robot?

  8. Should academic tenure be abolished?

  9. Why don’t explosions hurt your ears more?

  10. Why can’t I sell myself into slavery?

  11. What is the market for robot fish?

  12. Is biotechnology the best route to nanotechnology?

  13. Is homosexuality associated with a green beard effect?

  14. Could Captain Kirk’s Enterprise whip Darth Vader’s Imperial Star Destroyer?

  15. Will we ever find a way to unlock 100% of the energy available in a mass?

  16. How can micropayments work?

  17. Do they use money on Star Trek or not?

  18. Is it effeminate to check a mall directory?

  19. If I get in a helicopter and go straight up and just hover there for 12 hours will I come down on the other side of the world?

  20. Should redundant overvotes be counted?

  21. Why would you want a company to pay dividends instead of retaining earnings or buying back shares?

  22. Should you bet everything on a wager with infinite expected return?

  23. Why does my garage door get heavier when the weather is cold?

  24. Why do diesel engines deliver more torque than gasoline engines?

  25. Do you believe in Efficient Market Theory (EMT)?

  26. How light would I have to be to walk on water?

  27. Do IVF births always end up in the ICU?

  28. Why does light reflect off a silvered surface but scatter off a painted wall?

  29. Why is there a national helium stockpile?

  30. Is the airline industry peculiarly vulnerable to price wars?

  31. Could you build a robotic baseball outfielder?

  32. Why aren’t there sports teams named after the Athenians?

  33. Should Australia become the 51st State?

  34. Why would a rich person want to live in an egalitarian society?

  35. How do you change the Region on a Daewoo DVG-3000N DVD player?

  36. How do you beat the first boss in Sketchfighter Alpha 4000?

  37. If you could buy a ticket for a lottery for $1 and you had a 99,999 in 100,000 chance of winning $1,000, but a 1 in 100,000 chance of being killed, would you take the gamble?

  38. In case the parking brake fails, is it best to place a concrete block under the back tire or the front tire?

  39. Will nanotechnology be viable within the next fifty years?

  40. Will nanotechnologists accidentally or deliberately create a “gray goo” which will devour us all?

  41. Is it really risking anything to bet money already won from the house?

  42. Isn't it painful to see “they” used in the singular?

  43. Why is morning light so hard and cold and evening light so warm and soft?

  44. Is the Judeo-Christian tradition particularly suitable for scientific progress?

  45. On Jeopardy, are you blocked from ringing in until the question has been completely given or can you ring in as soon as you know the answer?

  46. What is good acting?

  47. Which superheroes are circumcised?

  48. Why isn’t The Lord of the Rings as controversial as Harry Potter?

  49. What are P and NP?

  50. What does the third derivative signify?

  51. Why is there an X in Xmas?

  52. Why don’t I need a satellite dish for my satellite radio? Why do I need one for satellite TV?

  53. What is Gresham’s Law?

  54. Why do people buy books instead of borrowing them from a library?

  55. What causes a “hot hand” feeling in basketball?

  56. Why do the media ignore the threat from asteroid impacts?

  57. Why do you only lose one sock?

  58. Would a libertarian society be much different from the world of powerful national governments we live in today?

  59. Why doesn't Caltech have the reputation of MIT among the public despite being on the same level of academic excellence?

  60. What are some of your favorite quotes?

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