Riddle Me This, Google, Part Three

Happy New Year everyone!  Let's start 2005 off with another episode of Riddle Me This, Google. 

Yes, once more, I've looked through the 43500 google queries that have resulted in page hits on my blog in the last six months. (Over 200 a day!) For most of those hits, Google delivered the searcher to a page that had something to do with their query. But several of the questions typed into google got referred to pages which did not answer their questions.  As a public service, I'll answer those questions now.

I've added capitalization, etc, but otherwise these queries are pretty much as they were typed into Google.  As usual, we'll start with...


How do you know when a 12 year old girl has a crush on you?

Does she giggle when you walk by?  Whisper?  Point?  Chase you around at recess yelling "girl germs! girl germs!" ? 

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions then she's a 12 year old girl who may or may not have a crush on you. 

Remember, the only sure way to tell is to send a note that says "Do you love me? Check one: yes [] no []"

How the heck do I ask a girl out?

Studies show that "Would you like to go to the movies with me some time next week?" has significantly better chance of success than "Hey baby, how about a scotch and sofa?"

If a picture paints a thousand words then why can't I paint you?

I'm not sure. Perhaps you need more practice. But I do know that if the world should stop revolving, spinning slowly down to die, I'd spend the end with you. And when the world was through then one by one the stars would all go out. Then you and I would simply fly away.

What does 'it's not you, it's me' mean?

It means it's OVER, kiddo. Sorry.

What does it mean when an ex calls?

Either they want you back, or they want their CDs back.

Why doesn't Google love me?

I know you're bummed out now, but that company was never any good for you. You were just bickering all the time, and ever since Google went public, you just didn't get the attention you deserved. Spend some time by yourself for now and maybe you two can be friends again soon.


What's the difference between a Canadian and an American?

The biggest difference is that Canadians think there's a difference.  Americans don't.

How are Newfoundlanders different from other Canadians?

Newfies wear skates when they play street hockey.


Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz. What does it mean?

Well, why wouldn't jackdaws love your big sphinx of quartz? It's a lovely sphinx of quartz.

(This is a pangram -- a sentence which contains all 26 letters. "Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim" is even shorter, but that proper noun is irksome.)

What is codified orthography?

A codified orthography is an organized system for standardized spellings of words.


How to change Celcius to Kelvin, for kids?

Adding 273 is the same whether you're a kid or a grown-up.

If you flip a coin x number of times what are the chances you get y heads?

I assume that you mean "exactly y heads", not "y or more heads", and that the coin is fair.  In that case, it's a binomial probability distribution. Chances are x! in y! (x-y)! 2x.  So, for example, the chances of 3 heads in 5 tosses are (5x4x3x2x1) in (3x2x1) (2x1) 25, which is 120 in 344, or 5 in 16.

What makes the giraffe a mammal?

Giraffes are warm-blooded, give birth to live young, produce milk, and are covered with hair; that makes them mammals.

What is the different between finite automata and non determinate finite automata?

As far as their expressive power goes, there is no difference. Every NDFA has an equivalent DFA which can be constructed algorithmically from the NDFA specification.  We can therefore reason about regular languages using NDFAs when it is convenient, knowing that we can construct an equivalent DFA automatically. That's the only difference -- NDFAs are simply easier to think about. (Now, as a practical matter, there are n-state NDFAs where the smallest equivalent DFA has 2n states -- which isn't so bad, that's just n bits.  But listing the state transition rules would be a pain in the rear!)

The same is NOT true for nondeterministic pushdown automata. There are NDPDAs that cannot be turned into deterministic PDAs.

Nondeterministic Turing machines are simulatable by universal Turing machines, but the simulation can take a long time. It is unknown whether polynomial-time nondeterministic Turing machines are simulatable by polynomial time deterministic Turing machines; it is widely believed that they are not.  Proving this conjecture is one of the major unsolved problems in the theory of computability.

Oddly enough, I've been working on a series about exactly this topic, which I may blog later this year.

Practical Advice

Why is it not good to drive slow?

Driving slow is fine.  But if you are going to drive slow, for crying out loud, stay in the right-hand lane already!

How to tell if your modem is going bad?

Squeeze it. Does it feel pleasantly firm, like a ripe melon, or is it squishy and gross?  Does it have a pleasant, fresh smell?  How far past the sell-by date is it? 


I hope that clears a few things up.

[This is Riddle Me This, Google Part Three.  See also Part One and Part Two.]

Comments (29)
  1. Pangrams-R-Us says:

    My favorite pangram:

    Cwm, fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz.

  2. mike says:

    I wonder what part of "slower traffic keep right" people don’t seem to understand. I cross the I-90 bridge every morning, and I am always amazed that people feel like they can park their ol’ cars at some set speed in the leftmost — that would be the PASSING — lane.

    Incidentally, another way to tell if your modem is going bad is if it’s a dial-up modem. Any such modems should be removed immediately and dumped in the trash. πŸ™‚

  3. Milkshake Man says:

    My Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz.

    They’re like, "It’s better than yours".

    Damn right, it’s better than yours.

    I could teach you, but I’d have to charge.

  4. RichB says:

    People in the UK, Australia and Japan have just crashed their car…

  5. Eric Lippert says:

    Just another one of the perils of poor localization.

  6. AndrewSeven says:

    I’ll stick with easy to remember, but often wrongly written, with ‘jumped’, pangram.

    The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

  7. JD says:

    That’s hilarious! I love your sense of humour!

    My site has started getting hits from Google Search and I will start similar post when I see something interesting!


  8. Sorry, i’ve got to say it:

    That pangram with the jackdaw? Where’s the f? πŸ™‚

  9. Eric Lippert says:

    In the sixth word.

  10. tekumse says:

    anybody else remember about the study(test) that people seem to always miss the "f" in "of"? It was quite fascinating to read(FYI: I missed them as well).

  11. Shawn says:

    "Hey baby, how about a scotch and sofa?" — that probably has an even *lower* chance of success than asking her for a scotch and soda … of course depending on what you plan to do on the sofa … πŸ˜‰

  12. Bugger me, the f was right there! I read and reread that sentence looking for an f, and i couldn’t see it πŸ™‚

  13. Florian says:

    To nitpick:

    I don’t think saying that as far as expression power goes there is no difference between NDFA and DFA answers the question what the difference between them /is/.

  14. Kristen says:

    Dan Bern does a song called Tiger Woods in which says:

    If certain girls don’t look at you,

    It means that they like you a lot,

    If other girls don’t look at you,

    It just means they’re ignoring you.

    How can you know, how can you know,

    Which is which, who’s doing what?

    I guess that you can ask them,

    Which one are you, baby

    Do you like me or are you ignoring me?

    Do you like me or are you ignoring me?

    So, I suppose you could just start giving all girls who are ignoring you a note as quoted in your post so that you will know. But according to Dan Bern all you need to do that is one good pair of big balls. I think I’m lacking in those. Perhaps I should google on how to get a pair of big balls, eh?

  15. Peter Torr says:

    Asking the girl if she loves you is no indication of whether or not she has a crush on you.

    Or maybe there’s no difference when you’re 12…

  16. RPM says:

    Florian: How about saying that NDFAs are capable of Non-Deterministic transitions. It’s in the name, and it is the difference. There are also the implications of the FA possibly being in many different states at once, but that is just a result of the non-determinism. But the truly interesting thing as has already been pointed out is that NDFAs and DFAs are equivalent in terms of expressive power. If you can solve a problem with a DFA then you can solve it with an NDFA and the NDFA is often more concise. The flip side is also true, if you aren’t sure what and NDFA accepts then convert it to a DFA and the resulting explosion of states will often show you the different sets of things that it can accept, relieving the need to remember sets of states when applying subsequent transitions.

  17. Post-It-Dude says:

    Yep, the ex calls question, always she wants ya back. I dumped a girl and was P.O.d that night. The next day she called my # no less the 38 times. Not to say I picked up…..

  18. How to tell if a girl likes you:

    YOU CAN’T.

  19. One of the reasons why I do all this technical stuff in a blog is to leverage the power of search engines…

  20. I knew this would end up being an agony column. 

    Of the 29950 Google-referred hits since the last…

  21. Elbie says:

    The difference is that Canadians say "Hey baby, how about a scotch and chesterfield."

    You’d be totally unsurprised by how often that works.

  22. Jon Galloway says:

    I’m anxiously awaiting Riddle Me This, Google, Part Four! I’m not shaving until it’s posted!

  23. Jon Galloway says:

    Beard getting long! My kids do not like "scratchy face!"

  24. Jon Galloway says:

    People are getting used to the beard now. Some people tell me it makes me look distinctive, educated, and Parisian. Others have commented that I now convey a more mysterious, sinister persona.

    Perhaps these are two sides of the same coin.

  25. Eric Lippert says:

    The maintainers of the blog software changed how referrers are logged.  It is much trickier now for me to write a screen scraper which searches for the google queries, so I haven’t done it lately and have no plans to any time soon.  Get used to the beard.

  26. slowly approaching the off-topic area... says:

    …but this may be of interest to some (if you read all the postings up to this point I assume you may be oddball enough to continue): http://chass.utoronto.ca/~chambers/couch.html

  27. wait a minute says:

    mammals are mammals due to mammary glands, nothing else… kind of fits don’t you think?  hilarious stuff though.  i like it.

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