Panel Questions Reach For The Moon, The Rat Race.

Panel Questions

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BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Roxanne Roberts, Peter Grosz and Roy Blount Jr. And here again is your host at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City, Peter Sagal.



Thank you so much everybody. And thank you, Bill. In just a minute, Bill premiers some new limericks at the Rhyme Dance Film Festival. If you'd like to play, give us a call at 1-888-waitwait, that's 1-888-924-8924. Right now, panel, some more questions for you from the week's news.

Peter, NASA just unveiled their new spacesuits. And after millions of dollars spent and several years of development, they happily report that, for the first time, astronauts wearing them will be able to do what?

PETER GROSZ: Is it something silly, like fart?


SAGAL: No. They've actually been able to do that since the beginning.

GROSZ: Oh, OK. That was like, all right. Before you can breathe regular oxygen, I just want to makes sure I can fart this thing.


GROSZ: You could do this in the spacesuit. I don't know. I'll take a hint.

SAGAL: Now they can reach the jar of Tang on the top shelf.

GROSZ: You can raise your arms...

SAGAL: Exactly. For the...

GROSZ: ...Over your head?

SAGAL: ...First time ever, astronauts will be able to raise their arms over their head.


SAGAL: We could put a man on the moon. But until now, a man wearing a spacesuit could not point up at it.


SAGAL: The original spacesuit has lots of problems. For one, it was stiff and offered a limited range of movement. And also, it only came in white, which was a nightmare for anybody going to the moon after Labor Day.


GROSZ: I can't believe that that never came up. After every single space mission, they were like - or they - debriefing. And they're like, again, we need to reach stuff that is higher than our shoulders.


SAGAL: Yeah. It was really hard, of course, when they're asking for volunteers to go to the spaceship. Who wants to go? (Grunting).


GROSZ: Do people who don't live in New York have those, like, reacher grabber things for, like, high shelves? Because every bodega, like small deli and stuff in New York - they stack everything up. So they're like - important stuff is up there, like toilet paper - which, like, you need toilet paper.

SAGAL: Now you - but...

GROSZ: They should have one of those.

SAGAL: This is great because now American astronauts - men and women - will be able to shop in a bodega.


GROSZ: In their spacesuit.

SAGAL: Exactly.

GROSZ: So they can be all badass walking around. Oh, I'm - no. I forgot to take this off.


GROSZ: I didn't realize I'm wearing my spacesuit. But I will take some toilet paper.


SAGAL: Roxanne, scientists at the University of Richmond have, for the first time, trained rats to do what?

ROXANNE ROBERTS: My - this is my favorite story this week.

SAGAL: I knew it would be.

ROBERTS: I just love this story. They have trained rats to drive in little, tiny cars...


ROBERTS: ...To get Froot Loops at the end (laughter).

SAGAL: That's exactly right...


SAGAL: ...Roxanne.


GROSZ: So this happened - like, day wise, was this before the astronauts could reach above their shoulders...


GROSZ: ...Or afterwards? Because I want to know, like, who was...

SAGAL: I'm just saying it was a big week for science...

GROSZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...Peter. The advances - anyway. So this is true. They trained these rats to drive these little, you know, motorized plastic cars. The rats, which previously had been forced to take public transportation...


SAGAL: ...Steered their little cars. They steered them in exchange for treats. Though to get those little treats, they had to wait in an interminable drive-through lane.


SAGAL: They were trying, actually, believe it or not, to test their levels of stress - their emotional resilience. So they put all the rats in traffic behind another rat who was staring at his phone and waited all the way through...


SAGAL: ...One green light until it turned red again.


ROBERTS: Didn't it make them happier?

SAGAL: It did. This is true. They tested the stress level of the rats. Don't ask me how. And they found that driving relaxed the rats. They were happier. They were less stressed. However - and this is also true - it did stress out the rats that were forced to ride as passengers.


SAGAL: No, don't turn right. There's a cat there.


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