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Panel Round Two

Friday, August 29, 2014

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

More questions for the panel: Three Mice Who May Or May Not Be Blind; The Potatoes Have Eyes.


BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Roy Blount Jr., Adam Felber and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host, at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, Peter Sagal.



Thank you Bill. Thank you so much. In just a minute, Bill strips off all his clothes, paints himself red, puts on some goggles and heads to the Rhyming Man Festival in our listener limerick challenge. If you'd like to play, give us a call at 1(888)WAIT-WAIT. That's 1(888)924-8924. Right now, panel, some more questions for you from you the week's news.

Roy, scientists reported this week in an interesting memory experiment, in which they were able to use a laser to replace bad memories in mice with good memories.

ROY BLOUNT JR.: And mice have lots of bad memories.

SAGAL: Oh, they do.


SAGAL: Now put that aside.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Remember the time...

SAGAL: But how the laser...

ADAM FELBER: I can't go back there, man.


FELBER: It was like I was trapped in a maze. Right turn, left turn, right turn, left turn. Oh my God. Where's my cheese?


FELBER: Just give me the cheese.


POUNDSTONE: Minnie just kept badgering me and badgering me about badgering me.

SAGAL: Now what I want you to do is I want you to forget about the bit about changing good memories into bad with the laser. We don't know what that was about and maybe it will be useful someday. What we're interested in is how - 'cause they needed to do this experiment and they needed to give the mice a bad memory, which they did with electric shock - but they needed to also create a good memory for the mouse to conduct these experiments. And they gave each of the male mice what?


BLOUNT: A memory of a, you know, of a female mouse.

SAGAL: Well, not a memory - well, they did not but not just one. I'll give you a hint, it's sort of like a mice-age a trois.


BLOUNT: A memory of doing it with two female mice?

SAGAL: Yeah, they basically...


SAGAL: They basically, in order to give these mice good memories that they could then experiment with, they gave the mice threesomes.

FELBER: It's always been a fantasy of mine.


FELBER: Never said it out loud, it's like these guys know me.


SAGAL: So with...

FELBER: I'll be right back.

SAGAL: ...It's like the scientists are sitting around, right, and they're thinking about what would give a mouse a good memory? And just, you know, as one of the scientists was about to say, well, we could go with cheese, another scientist shouts out threesome.


SAGAL: Threesome.

POUNDSTONE: One scientist said how about fishing with their dad?

BLOUNT: And the mice all said no, no, no.

FELBER: No, no, no, no, listen to the first guy, listen to the first guy.


BLOUNT: What's the bad memory? Do we know?

SAGAL: Oh, it was the electric shock.

POUNDSTONE: You give them an electric shock. Yeah, yeah. The bad memory was being on a wheel while the guy with the threesome was in the other tank.


SAGAL: Trying to get over there to join in. You don't get anywhere.

POUNDSTONE: I feel like I'm getting closer.


SAGAL: Roy, spies who are trying to listen in on private conversations now have a new tool at their disposal. Sophisticated new technology developed at MIT will allow them to eavesdrop on people using what?

BLOUNT: Drones?


BLOUNT: Oh. It's a high-tech kind of thing?

SAGAL: Well, it's high-tech but it actually relies on an element in the process that's very low-tech and familiar. Maybe I'll give you a local hint. Here in Massachusetts, you might use Cape Cod brand to eavesdrop.

BLOUNT: Cape Cod brand potato chips?

SAGAL: Potato chips is the answer. Yes.


SAGAL: Scientists at MIT have figured out a way to eavesdrop on conversations by filming a bag of potato chips in front of the person talking. Their cameras are so incredibly accurate and high definition that they can catch vibrations in the bag that computers can then translate back into the sound that made the vibration. Right? So all you need is a film of the person's potato chips or any other sort of flexible object around them while they're talking.

FELBER: But, but, but...


FELBER: How close does the bag have to be?


POUNDSTONE: If you're going to film the bag, why wouldn't you just come over with a tape recorder?


POUNDSTONE: Or why wouldn't you just turn the - so people are on a quilt out picnicking and they have a bag of chips and somebody with a camera filming their chips?

SAGAL: Why doesn't he just turn on the microphone on the camera?

POUNDSTONE: Well, precisely. Just turn...

BLOUNT: And what if they aren't eating potato chips?

FELBER: Well, then they get away with it.


BLOUNT: Well, yeah...

POUNDSTONE: Then as a nation, we're done for.

FELBER: Here's my question - if you can film the bag of potato chips, why can't you film their lips?


FELBER: Or is this just for like really corpulent mobsters who hold that bag right up to their mouths?


FELBER: To hide from the cameras.

POUNDSTONE: You know...

SAGAL: Well, you actually - you know what's going to happen is the really sophisticated criminals are going to start picnicking with Pringles.

FELBER: Right. What are you going to do now coppers? I got a can.

(LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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