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Six Degrees of Celebration

By Mark Mason on 17-04-12 21:07. Comments (0)
Fancy a game of the Six Degrees of Celebration? One of the most beautiful things about trivia, I think, is the way it works along tangents. One fact reminds you of another, which reminds you of another, and so on until within a few short steps you're on a completely different subject. That's why conversations with another trivialist are always such fun. One of you mentions, say, that Carlsberg Special Brew was invented for Winston Churchill ...

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Walks

Inspired by my book Walk the Lines: the London Underground - Overground, each of these trivia-packed walks uncovers London’s history by following a section of a Tube line ... at street level.

Podcasts

Aural delights from the world of trivia

Content

Rubik's Cube

A Rubik’s cube has more combinations than light travels inches in a century. This is my favourite illustration of how a very small number of factors can produce an absurdly complicated situation. A silly little toy, with only three squares in each of its three dimensions. How can that get complicated? Well, as anyone who's ever tried to solve one just by guessing will tell you, it gets very complicated. The number of possible combinations is 43,252,003,274,489,856,000. Forget billions - that's 43 quintillion and change. (In fact the cube's manufacturers just said ‘billions' in their advertising, figuring that no one would know what a quintillion was. It's a billion billion.) The number of inches light travels in a century, meanwhile, is a mere 37,165,049,856,000,000,000. Or thereabouts.